Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
We get it.....a perfect wedding comes at a price. By the time you add up the expenses of your first choices in a venue, caterer, flowers, photographer and attire, the price tag may come as a shock. When this happens, it’s only natural for couples to begin looking for ways to trim costs. When trimming those costs, ask yourselves these questions: How many years will the food at our reception last? How long will our flowers stay fresh? How long will we be the VIP couple at our venue?
And after you've asked yourself those questions, ask yourself one more: How long will our wedding photos be around?
When it comes to the longevity of your investments, your wedding day photos win the prize. They will still be around and admired for years to come....by you, your children, grandchildren and extended family. With this in mind, we encourage you to consider more than just the price when selecting your photographer. To aid you in making an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of questions you should ask potential photographers and considerations that you should keep in mind as you shop for this important vendor.
What is the cost of your packages?
There are photographers who will shoot a wedding very inexpensively. While it’s not a guarantee that you will be dissatisfied, this is one area where we especially encourage research as the term ‘you get what you pay for’ often comes into play. The total inclusions, amount of time the photographer is involved and quality of the product you will receive in inexpensive packages can often be far less than you will receive with a higher investment. Before settling for a low end deal, look the package over. Does it include an engagement session? Photo retouching? Disc or print collections? An online gallery? The option to receive a wedding album, a large canvas, or a large wall print? How much time will the photographer spend with you on your special day? Will they limit the number of photos you will have access to? How good is the photographer's equipment and do they use lighting? Do they have backup equipment and insurance in case something goes wrong?
While price should be a factor when selecting your wedding photographer and package, it should not be the only thing that matters. Many couples come to learn that having made a decision based purely on price usually turns out to be a poor one. When you look back at your portraits years or decades later, you don't want to be disappointed and wish you'd done things differently. Therefore, ask your photographer questions and ask to see samples so you know exactly what you're getting before you make a commitment.
What type of equipment do you use?
If the quality of a portrait produced with $500.00 worth of photography equipment was equal to portraits produced with equipment costing three, seven or ten times more, there would be no need or market for the more costly equipment. Many low-end photographers who use inexpensive equipment may make a sales pitch in which they try to convince you that it’s strictly the skill of the photographer, not the quality of the camera, that’s important. While there’s no doubt that skill is a vital component of a good photographer, it doesn’t discount the fact that better quality equipment equates a better photo.
While you might not notice a difference in small prints or may not see a difference in images appearing on the internet or social media, the use of a lower-quality camera, lens, or the absence of lighting will become apparent should you decide to order large prints for your wall art, or, if you ask your photographer to crop a photo and discover that the requested portion of the original image appears blurry, unfocused or grainy. Problems such as these are simply less likely if your photographer has high quality equipment along with the knowledge of it's proper operation. Therefore don't shy away from asking your photographer what type of equipment he/she uses and what kind of results can you expect on the portraits taken.
Will you bring backup equipment to the wedding?
Even the most well-maintained equipment can break or unexpectedly malfunction at any time, therefore you want to make sure your photographer has the capability to continue providing service in the unfortunate event that his or her camera, lens or lighting is dropped, knocked over or simply fails to perform. Your wedding is a one-time event and it's not a situation where you would want to end up having to rely on friends and relatives to capture photos with their cell phones because the photographer arrived with faulty equipment and no backup plan. A reliable wedding photographer will come equipped with more than one camera, lens and flash as well as extra lighting equipment so that, no matter what, they will be able to provide high quality service and photos for the duration of your event, just as you expected.
Do you have liability insurance?
Liability insurance doesn’t just protect the photographer against equipment theft, it also protects you, your wedding party and guests in the event that they might be involved in a mishap involving the photography equipment. Photographers who carry liability insurance have the best interests of their client in mind by ensuring that this protection is in place to cover everyone involved in your event.
Are you comfortable and experienced using lighting equipment and flash as well as natural light?
Some photographers who promote themselves as natural light photographers do so because they simply don’t understand how to use lighting equipment and/or flash. Grainy images, dark facial shadows and overexposed backgrounds are often the result. While there is certainly nothing wrong with using natural light, good photographers should also possess and be capable of using separate flash units as well as camera flash so that the venue lighting or, in outdoor spaces, the presence or absence of the sun has no end bearing on the quality of your portraits.
Do you offer Pre-Wedding Photo Sessions or a Consultation?
We highly encourage you to take advantage of an engagement session or consultation with your potential wedding photographer. These opportunities allow you and your photographer a chance to get to know one another and for the photographer to learn about your preferred style so that, should you decide to hire him/her, it will help contribute to a stress-free experience on your wedding day.
Will you provide a wedding album and/or prints? How will my photos be stored?
While choosing to receive a disc or flash drive of your portraits is fine, having the option to receive a wedding album or prints is something that a good photographer will offer to you as well. Keep in mind that discs and flash drives will become obsolete as technology continues to evolve, and you don’t want to arrive at your milestone anniversaries finding you no longer have a viable access to any of your wedding day portraits. Not all photographers will have the proper resources to preserve your photos, some may not even make the effort, while others may go out of business and become inaccessible only a few years after your wedding. For these reasons, your potential photographer's willingness to offer prints as well as the effort he or she will make to store your wedding day portraits for recovery years down the road are things you should consider when making your selection.
A QUESTION TO ASK YOURSELF: Who is my photographer?
On your wedding day, your photographer will be the person that you will most likely be spending the majority of your time with. He/she will be present when you’re getting ready, when you’re having your ‘first look’, during the ceremony, during the family and bridal party photos, and during the reception and send-off. Because of this it's safe to say that the rapport you share with your photographer can set the tone for the entire day. Therefore, his/her personality and how well his/her vision for your wedding day coincides with your own should command a great deal of consideration when making your decision. If you are a bright and bubbly person who wants to feel at ease with everyone, you may find that a serious photographer who is more drawn to formal weddings won't work well for you. On the other hand maybe your dream wedding day means complete focus and no nonsense on the part of any of your vendors. In this instance, a photographer with a more laid back attitude may not be the best fit. Because personality is so important, an initial consultation or engagement shoot can be vital in helping you to decide if a particular photographer is right for you.
Can we see product samples? What add-ons do the higher-grade packages include? Do you offer a payment plan? Do you offer prints, and what is the price? When do travel fees kick in?
All great questions any valid photographer should have a ready answer for.
Finally.....Look for Reviews!
It would be highly unusual for a well established photographer not to have a review or rating somewhere online. Often by visiting places like 'Facebook', 'Yelp' or 'Google' you can find feedback on how each photographer operates. Each of these resources allow users to offer a star rating and to make comments. Of course, numerous five star ratings and great reviews are what you want to look for when making considerations.
If you don't have any success in these areas, inquire with clients the photographer has served before or, if you have trouble locating any, ask the photographer for references. If you simply cannot access any type of reviews or references for a photographer, it can be a red flag. It usually means he/or she is either too new to the business to have reviews, or he/she may have recently changed their business name. In either scenario, this photographer should not be considered for your wedding. Responsible new photographers should ideally spend one to two years perfecting their craft through family and children's sessions before attempting a wedding, while established photographers hiding behind a new name often do so because they are attempting to hide bad reviews or an unfavorable occurrence (such as a bankruptcy or instance of being sued.) With your wedding being such an important occasion, you don't want to take chances with a photographer who's references, or lack thereof, leave you with questions.
In the end, selecting a photographer should be a days or even weeks long process. That's why it's important to begin your research early and take you time. However, once your decision is made, don't hesitate in making your security deposit. Most high-demand photographers have weddings on their schedules a full 12-18 months in advance. Delays in confirming your choice could mean having to begin the search all over again!
At Scott Kuhn Photography LLC we're proud to say many concerns you might have about photography will not be a concern with us. We have extra equipment, insurance, storage capabilities for your photos, offer prints, can submit samples, are happy to consult with you, offer multiple packages and have great reviews! Give us a call today to discuss your special day!