There is One Photographer for every 200 people
That’s right, according to my calculations in our area there is a photographer for every 200 people. This is a wonderful thing and a horrible thing for those that are looking for professional photographer.
How It’s Wonderful
Choices! Choices! Choices!
How It’s Horrible
Choices! Choices! Choices!
So How do YOU Choose the photographer for YOU?
Such a monumental task (especially if it’s for something as important as a wedding) when the options can easily overwhelm you. There are some key areas that can help you sort your options so you can get the selections down to just a few choices so you can make the best decision based on your wants and needs.
Buying a Car or booking a Photographer
Using an analogy that another photographer recently used, I am going to liken it to buying a car. We all know there is a big difference in options, styles, size, and price tags of cars. There is a vast difference between a Beetle and Bugatti. We would expect to find the car we want by calling the dealership or local lot and asking how much can I get a car for? That’s way too broad of a question! Do you want a mini van or a sedan. Maybe you want an SUV or a truck? Do you want all the bells and whistles like heated leather seats (those are the best, by the way) or do you just want a reliable car to get you back and forth to work? Maybe you only like red cars…you get the idea. And once you find a car you like are you just going to look at it and then buy it? Well, no. Likely you’re going to at least sit in it. We do this first with my husband and I when looking for cars. He has to sit in it first. Several years ago we were looking for a car and I thought a Pontiac G6 looked like a car that would be good for us. Turns out that my 6’4″ husband couldn’t fit behind the wheel. Obviously not a good fit for us. Next, would likely come a test drive. Does it run well? Does it STOP well? All sorts of things to help you choose the right one for you.
Some Criteria is Needed
So to go about looking for a photographer by posting on Facebook page and saying you’re looking for a photographer without knowing a criteria is like calling the car dealership and asking do you have any cars. Sure…but what are your criteria?
Well, you may not know your criteria yet. Because let’s face it, you are likely to have already purchased a car in your lifetime but may have never had interaction in selecting a wedding photographer. Where do you begin?
Let’s break these down.
Your wedding photographer is the person with whom you will spend the most time on your wedding day. If you are quiet and reserved do you want an “in-your-face” type personality for a wedding photographer? On the flip side, if you’re extremely out going and the life of the party do you want a quiet, reserved photographer? This is why I like to meet with brides and grooms before agreeing to photograph their wedding. If we are on opposite ends of the spectrum personality wise, then I won’t do as good of a job for them as someone who fits them better.
If you’re a big fan of black and white photographs and a potential photographer doesn’t show you any and really doesn’t like them, then your preferred shooting style doesn’t match their shooting style and you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Take a look at a potential photographers portfolio. Do they show lots of photos with “filters” on them? Do you like that? Do you think you’ll like that in 20 years? How about their use of lighting or posing? Can you imagine yourself in some of the photos that are displayed? If not, move on to your next option.
When I have brides that have decided that I know are shopping around, I will give them this list of questions/suggestions so at least they can make a more informed decision on the photographer they do choose:
Color – are the whites white or are they blue or gray or pink? How are the skin tones of the people? Are they slightly blue, too? or Orange? This comes from lack of color correction.Shadows – Check to see if there are harsh shadows. Do the people have “raccoon” eyes. While this can’t be always avoided for outdoor ceremony shots since weddings are typically mid-day, a good photographer will know how to deal with it for any posed shots.Focus – Can you clearly tell who the subject of the photo is. Is there a lot of junk in the background?Exposure – Can you see the details? Is the bride’s dress a white blob or the grooms tux just a splash of black? Is the dress gray because the photo is too dark?Yes, I will admit that all photographers will get shadows or poles in funny places and those are some of the pictures that you will get, too, as I capture all the things that are going on as the day goes by. It’s important to document the moments and it isn’t always pretty. But what I show on my website as my “best” looks out for those things. If a photographer’s best shows funny colors or no detail in dresses, then I’d consider that a factor.Also, you may want to consider if they are a professional or a hobby photographer. You will find hobby photographers are generally cheaper and there are plenty of brides with budgets that this works for. Whether they’ll be around by the time your wedding day is something else to consider. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a priority for you special day.Why am I giving you tips on looking at other photographers work? Because I want you to be 100% comfortable with your decision. I am confident that I can do a great job for you and I want you to have that same confidence.
What are you going to get for you money? Will it be photos straight from the camera? Will you only see your photographer at the wedding and then just watch your mail for the DVD/USB to arrive or will you meet with him/her a few times before and after the wedding? What is the timeline for getting your photos? Will it be 6 weeks or 6 months? Does your photographer offer things that you want like albums or prints? You get the idea. 🙂
Quite often couples will have a cousin, friend, neighbor that has a nice camera and to save a bit of money go with them instead of hiring a full time professional. I get this. Just like in the car buying scenario, sometimes you just want a daily driver with no frills. What I can tell you though is that past brides have more often than not regretted not hiring a professional. Recently a photographer did a survey to past brides. While the main focus was asking them about wedding albums, she did have two questions that stood out to me. “Did you hire a professional wedding photographer?” and “Did you have any regrets?”. There were absolutely no regrets from those that hired a pro and a vast majority of those that didn’t did regret the choice. Below is a screen shot of the survey results for those two questions.
Budget & Coverage
Coverage – This is another area where you can’t possibly know what you need. You’ve not done this whole wedding thing before so how could you. Your photographer should be willing to help you set a sample timeline for your day in your initial consultation so you know how much coverage to actually book.
Budget – Yes, this must play a factor in the decision process. Not every one can afford Joe Buissink (Photographer to the stars that charges $50k for weddings) but most of you fall somewhere between that and the $400 mark. But I would recommend not ruling out a photographer that is a bit out of your budget. Talk to him/her and find out if you fit in every other area. Perhaps you can customize a package to fit your needs. Many photographers, myself included, would love to work something out with you.
The reason I wrote this is that I realize that it is a hard task to find the right photographer. Whether it’s me or another photographer, I truly hope this helps. I believe happy couples can only help all wedding photographers by giving a good tone for the industry.
Has this article sparked other questions? Contact me today and I will do my best to help.