Professional wedding photography is likely to be one of the more expensive items you pay for from your wedding budget, so how do you know you're going to get value for money? Here are a few essential questions – and explanations – which deal with everything you need to know before you hand over any money.
• Is your wedding photographer a full time professional, and if so – for how long?
It seems like an obvious question, but if you do not ask then how will you know? Many wedding photographers are semi-professional, working another job during the week. The implication is that they can not devote them entirely to your photos except at weekends; it may take a while before your proofs arrive. And if they've only been doing it for 6 months, well … you might prefer to trust such an important day to someone with a little more experience.
• How much do they charge?
This question is not as simple as it looks. Most photographers offer Wedding Photography 'packages' in which they outline what sort service you will receive. But you need to know detail too; ie: how many hours coverage are included – and what if you go over? Is an album included? Do you have to pay extra to have a USB / DVD of your images? What are the mileage charges etc … etc …? All this information should be included in the photographer's contract and should form the basis of your discussions with the photographer, so ask to see the contract in advance. What if the photographer has no contract? Simple, do not book them.
• What is their style?
There are three main styles currently in vogue, each of which places different demands on the couple and their guests.
The 'traditional' style is generally what most couples want. The photographer will cover the proceedings from the Bride's departure (from home) until the first dance. There will be plenty of time given to Bride & Groom photos (usually after the ceremony) along with as many formal family groups as are wanted. These couple and group photos typically take at least an hour to complete.
The 'fashion shoot' style; creates chic, highly stylized images of the bride and groom, both individually and together; This is the style most demanding of time on the wedding day and is therefore sometimes arranged for a separate day entirely, with just the wedding service and groups being photographed in a traditional manner on the day itself.
The 'reportage' style – also known as wedding photojournalism. This is the new kid on the block and relations on a very informal approach. There is minimum direction, the photographer aims to create a picture 'narrative' of the entire day from the earliest Bride & Groom preparations until well into the party at the day's end. Some time is set aside for a few formal groups and also for Bride & Groom portraiture, but in general this rarely exceeded half an hour.
Phew! That's enough is not it? Photographing a wedding can not be that complicated! Well, to be honest it's not; at least not for you. A good professional photographer will walk you through all of this to determine what you – the customer- want. And on that note, briefly, here are a few more items that you should also consider:
• If an album is included in the price, ask to see a sample.
• Does the price include a full set of watermark free, high resolution digital image files?
• Who owns copyright? (Typically the photographer will own copyright and give you license to use all images for non-commercial purposes).
• Do they edit and optimize (ie: Photoshop) the images?
• How do you see the proofs?
• What are the delivery dates after the wedding?
• Can they provide testimonials? Follow up at least one.
• How many group photos will they take (spec. For 'reportage')?
• Do they have insurance? (Both public liability and client indemnity are required).
• How will they dress on the day? A t-shirt and shorts is for the beach!
So that's especially it. If you grill your photographer with all those questions you'll have him / her shaking at the knees! But you will be confident in your choice and relaxed on your wedding day knowing that the photos are sorted. And that leads us to the underlining message of this article; do not take the risk, use a Professional Photographer.