Tips for choosing a wedding photographer?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by cherylynne1, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. cherylynne1

    cherylynne1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My cousin is getting married (yay!) and they asked me to photograph the wedding. I think my exact response was, "No. Nononono. *slightly maniacal laughter* NO. But I'll help you choose a good one!"

    Now I'm searching through the hundreds of choices and I feel like I'm going crazy. I found one that I love, so I'll definitely recommend meeting with him. Then I found a few that look pretty good, but have a few pictures in their main portfolios with pretty major flaws (missed focus, white balance issues, haloing from sharpening, etc.) However, the majority of their pictures are excellent.

    And then, of course, there are little things that tend to throw up red flags. One photographer seems to only display photos shot in natural light (so do they know how to use flash?) One says they never use a second shooter. One has great candids but poor lighting in the posed shots.

    On top of all this, I know they're already worried about money, so I'm afraid that I might scare them off with a $5,000 photographer and they'll end up with a $500 Facebook photographer that will do a worse job than even I would have.

    Or maybe I'm just being too critical. I can't tell anymore.

    Basically, what would you look for if you were choosing a wedding photographer? What would be a deal breaker?


     
  2. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    To me, the three main important things I advise my clients to look for:

    1. Personality
    2. Past references
    3. Full wedding galleries

    Personality is important because you have to click and feel comfortable with your photographer.
    Past references because you want to know if this person did a good job and took care of past clients.
    Full wedding galleries (at least 3) because you want to see how consistent this person shoots from day until night, indoor to outdoor, different lighting, etc. Also, the consistency in editing and editing style (ie color correction and skin tone). Not every single shot will be perfect, but can the photographer tell a beautiful story of the day without major distractions?

    Most brides who come to me already know my price range and have followed my work for a while, so I usually don't need to discuss budget but it's also an important factor.

    Also to add, the bride must love her wedding photos. If she doesn't then even $300 it is too much for her to spend on her wedding photographer.

    Happy hunting
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
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  3. JacaRanda

    JacaRanda Hobbyist Birdographer

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    Find out how much they can spend. If I could only afford a $300 wedding photographer, then that's what I would get.

    Yes, I'm a wee bit cynical on the whole thing.
     
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  4. pixmedic

    pixmedic I am the Lord thy Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    first, find one that meets budget. no sense in looking through ones they cant afford. (except for ideas maybe)
    when you compile a list of affordable ones within your area, start looking through their portfolios.
    find a few that produce work you like. then start calling them and ask for a meeting. see how you like them personally.
    see if they are available for the dates and times you need.
    then ask the technical questions. (assuming you are happy with the quality of their work)
    how many weddings do they have in their portfolio? (are they veteran wedding photographers, or just getting into it?)
    do they carry the proper liability insurance (some venues require it)
    what is their turn around time?
    what deposits do they require?
    do they have backup equipment in case something fails? (we brought two or more of everything to a wedding..cameras, flashes, light stands, brollys...everything)
    find out what their contract looks like, and READ IT. (a few times)
     
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  5. robbins.photo

    robbins.photo Yup, It's The Zoo Guy Supporting Member

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    My favorite quote from my grandfather, I was sitting next to him at a distant cousins wedding. This particular cousin was not exactly what one would considered a "catch" by most, he had a long history of unemployment among other issues. His bride to be was also probably not what most people would consider to be a person of great renown. My grandfather turns to me after the ceremony and says, "Well, at least neither one of them took anyone that anyone else would want". Lol

    Well maybe the best thing to do would be to start with a price range they feel comfortable with, see if you can find someone in that price range that might be worth recommending, worst case scenario you can always offer to do it for them as a wedding present.
     
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  6. cherylynne1

    cherylynne1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for the responses so far!!

    I forgot to mention budget.

    Okay, so here's the thing. My aunt told me that her family has saved up $25,000 for her. However, both she and my cousin are very practical and want to use most of it for a down payment on a house. So I think they're trying to stay around $6,000-8,000 for a wedding of 150 people. So....there is money, but there would have to be a very good reason to spend it. Of course, it'll be mostly up to the photographer to actually make the sale, I just don't want to recommend someone that turns out to be terrible.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I think most wedding portfolios are a bad guide to how skilled the photographer is. Most portfolios show the same, basic poses, the easy stuff, and many include second shooter images. A collection of 100 simple, classic, cliche, traditional images curated from 10 or 20 weddings does not really say much about how good the photographer really **is**. Ask to see one, whole wedding. You'll often see that the reception images suck, and the dancing images show absolutely no ability to shoot in low light, or with flash, or both. Ask to see an entire wedding. Look the photographer right in the eye, and ask if any of the images are from a second shooter--and then try your best to determine if he is lying to you or not. See if you can spot a major white-balance or color rendering issue or difference. See if there's a major issue with too many horizontals, indicating a LAZY, un-trained, un-studied photographer that really doesn't understand how to compose. If you see a tendency toward leaving too much top space above the heads, especially on horizontally composed shots, it's a dead give-away that somebody's composition skills suck, OR that there's a second shooter's work mixed in.

    Be really, really critical if evaluating a portfolio that is a "best of", culled from 20,000 to 30,000 digital images. There are some people who are actually very good photographers, and there are the other 90% who are really journeyman level, or lower, pretending to be wedding photographers. Again...ask to see the results from one, entire wedding, all the way from first to last.

    Web sites are the same: so,so many today show four or five of the very best shots from 10,15,20 weddings...that tells you almost nothing. A good photographer will be willing to show you one, whole wedding, and not hide behind a raft of B.S.. if they are unwilling to show ytou a single, whole wedding, there's a serious problem.

    If the B&G or the family wants lovely, posed formal shots of the groups, pay special attention to those. If they have no idea of how to pose people so they look good, they're probably not going to be able to handle traditional posed wedding photos very well. "Natural light wedding shooter", "candid-only wedding shooter", "non-posed posing wedding shooter"...Guy With a Camera Wedding Shooter.

    I would never consider blowing big money on wedding photography in this century. There's a high percentage chance that they will not be married within a decade. But more than that--wedding photos today mean less than they have ever meant. Spending lavishly on wedding photography today is like buying the new couple a nice typewriter, or an English-made silver tea service...utterly outdated wedding gifts.
     
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  8. budget cruncher

    budget cruncher TPF Noob!

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    Get some references and ACTUALLY TALK to them.
     
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  9. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you ask the photographer if he can do a rush wedding this weekend and they say YES, walk away.

    As for budget, look in their price range, but do not be afraid to look at someone who is moderately over their budget. Which will have more meaning in the long run, $5000.00 in flowers and $1000 photographer or the other way around with a well experienced wedding photographer.

    Final question to ask is what they think of Monte Zucker. If they ask who, run do not walk away. :biggrin-93:
     
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  10. Watchful

    Watchful No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with those that said work within their budget. When my nephew got married in Oct. they hired a photographer. I took my camera with me to capture shots for myself. I then put the shots together in a video set to music that they both like (John Lennon) and gave it to them at our Thanksgiving dinner party. They liked what I had done a LOT more than the hired pro. They said the thing they liked the most were the candids of the guests arriving and milling around before the event, and all the shots that I took of them that the pro overlooked as not being customary. Whoever they hire, go along and get your own shots as a person that knows then and their guests, you'll see so much more than the pro will. For a lot of the shots I got, the pro wasn't even around at the time.
    The wedding was to occur outdoors, but then there was a sudden downpour and everyone moved inside, I got shots of all the rain and people scurrying and going inside that the pro wasn't there to see. I got shots of the lightning during the reception and of a rainbow between showers before the sun set. I used the rainbow for the opening title in the video sequence. You can capture a lot of what is actually happening that the pro isn't even aware of because it's not on their checkoff sheet.
    Personal is always more appreciated than professional. I always like the birthday cards my kids make more than any they buy.
    That's my opinion on wedding photography. I am glad I don't have to do it professionally ever again.
     
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  11. IronMaskDuval

    IronMaskDuval Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Have them do a pre wedding shoot. Thatll let you know right away.
     
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