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    How To Pick A Wedding Photographer
    Photo of couple kissing in wedding dress If you do a quick search on Google, you'll see many guides on how to pick a wedding photographer. Read as many as you want, there are some great tips out there! To be honest, we often look back on what we would've liked better for our own wedding. Now that we are wedding photographers, with a focus on giving our clients the best experience we can, it seemed only appropriate to give our input on this matter.

    Budget
    We are huge Dave Ramsey fans in case you didn't realize it already. We believe that starting off a marriage with a huge pile of debt from the wedding is a REALLY bad way to start off a marriage. So the first step is figuring out how much you realistically have to spend.

    Of that amount, figure out how much you wish to devote to photography. Depending on who you go by, you'll see figures of between 10 and 20 percent for the amount you should spend on the photographer. While this isn't a bad starting place, it misses two key things. First, you need to determine your priorities. What's most important to you on your big day? Is getting the photographer you want more important than getting the venue, caterer or the honeymoon you want? Can you sacrifice a little on X to get Y? What is most important? What is second most important? Third...? You get the point. Having an order will help when the inevitable budget crunch comes and will give you a better idea of what the percentage should be.

    The second part to keep in mind is in cases where that 10-20% range is not reasonable. If your budget is very limited, and you only have a few hundred for photography based on this percentage, you should not expect to receive a professional photographer. An option could be finding a student that has just started getting into photography. It's unreasonable, however, to expect them to get every key moment and to not make any mistakes. After all, the reason their rate is so low is because YOU are their guinea pigs. I'm not saying there aren't cases where this is your only option, but you do need to be fair to the photographer and give them a break because let's face it - you got what you paid for.

    One other thought on this is the idea of having a friend or family member take the pictures. For as many pages on how to pick a wedding photographer, there's just about as many pages on people asking about having a family member or friend take the pictures. If you look at a few of these you'll start to see a theme. In most cases, professional photographers will object to doing this. It's not just because they want your business - it's because they realize how crazy weddings are and having that "friend" or family member's pictures not measure up to what you imagined is a great way to hurt that relationship. We're in the middle on this issue; as we've shot both friends and families weddings and can sympathize with each position. The key thing here is being informed. It may be a friend or family member taking your pictures, but if you do decide to go this route clear communication as well as a contract is a good place to start so that there's no confusion on what's being offered. Something else to keep in mind as well is the possibility that the work done will be of lower importance when it comes time to edit (versus their paying clients). With this in mind, it would also be smart to discuss a clear timeline on turn around.

    Portfolio & References
    Now that you have a price range, you won't waste time on photographers that are above your budget. The next step is to look at photographer's portfolios and to ask friends for references. Think about what style of photography you want. Do you prefer posed studio-style or more candid photo journalistic style? Maybe a mixture? Do you want your pictures heavily photoshopped or are you fine with a more natural look? Once you've looked at several photographers, narrow it down to the top few. Ask to see a copy of an entire wedding so you get an idea of what both their best and overall work is like. If you plan to make larger size prints, be sure to look at it on a large screen; as blurry or noisy images may look "ok" at smaller sizes but you will definitely notice it in the larger prints. Make sure to see at least one wedding shot inside because it's much easier to take photos with a large amount of available light.

    Equipment
    You may not know much about photography, or the equipment involved, but that doesn't mean you still shouldn't ask for a list of the gear they use. A simple Google search will give you an idea of just how much the equipment they're shooting with costs. It's fair to say that the price you pay should easily be several times less than the cost of the equipment they are shooting with. In this list, look for a backup camera and multiple lenses. Shooting a wedding without a backup camera and lenses is a disaster waiting to happen! Having multiple photographers is a good idea as well so that if one shooter misses the shot the other one still gets it. Also, look for at least one flash in the list. Wedding venues are always extremely dark, and while digital cameras have allowed much higher sensitivities than film, a flash is still an indispensable part of a photographers kit. You may see some photographers that prefer not to use flash and this is perfectly fine but they should still own a flash in case conditions require it.

    Personality
    Some people could care less about the personality of a photographer, but we feel it's still important to cover this topic. Your wedding is a huge event in your life where you'll be inviting family and some of your closest friends. While taking great photos is the most important thing in choosing a photographer, having one with a bad attitude can really cast a cloud over your big day. Make sure you mesh well with them since you're going to be spending your entire wedding day with them. You may even wind up becoming friends with them!

    Availability
    If you think you've made your decision on a photographer, check their availability. This is also a good time to ask them questions regarding just how much time you will have with the photographer. Most photographers have a limit on how many hours or how many pictures they'll take at a wedding. Be sure you know about this in advance. Check to see if they will also be at the rehearsal or not; as this is beneficial to avoid surprises on the wedding day. It's also a good idea to ask them what their backup plan is in case they get sick and are unable to shoot your wedding.

    What's Best for You
    We always encourage our clients to do their research and look into multiple photographers. You'll feel better knowing you got the best photographer you can afford! We want what's best for our clients, and in some cases that means having them go with someone else. We recognize that there are better photographers out there that have been shooting for longer than we have, but we feel that in our price range (and for what we offer) you'll be hard pressed to find someone better than us! If you're interested in setting up a free consultation contact us now.