Choosing The Right Wedding Photographer

As an experienced wedding photographer based in eugene and working out of Spokane I’ve seen all kinds of couples go through the stress of finding the perfect photographer. In writing this blog I hope I can help alleviate some of that stress.  Whether you are doing a low-budget backyard wedding in Cheney or a giant storybook affair on Lake Coeur ‘d Alene with half of the town invited these helpful hints can get you on your way to finding the perfect photographer for your special day.

Finding the right photographer for you on your wedding day is one of the bigger decisions you have to make. After the guests eat the cake and the tux goes back to the rental shop and the flowers have wilted the photos that you display around your home are going to be the most enduring reminders of your wedding day.

What makes choosing the photographer so difficult is that you don’t get to see the finished product before committing. You are paying for a service based on a good feeling. A lot of couples look for a photographer based on price and unfortunately you get what you pay for. Do you really want to trust capturing the most important day of your life to an inexperienced discount photographer when there are no second chances?

Some questions to ask before booking with a photographer include:

  • Experience- What is the experience level of the photographer? Hiring a photographer who is still wet behind the ears my not be the best idea. An experienced photographer will be better prepared to take control and make things run smoothly. Fewer hang ups in the photographer means less stress for you. This way you KNOW they are covering every detail.
  • Packages- What is included in the photographers packages? Are there any additional fees? What ala carte products are available and what is the cost to add products and services?Is there a product you are looking for that is not listed? Ask about it!
  • Pricing- Price shouldn’t be your determining factor on a photographer. The average photographer will cost around 15% of the total wedding budget though so you can use this as a guideline to help determine if someone is in your price range. Also don’t be afraid to barter, most photogs are flexible and offer specials and discounts, make sure to ask!
  • Delivery & Format – Does your photographer offer prints or a disk or both? What about online proofing where family and friends can order prints? How long does it take to get your proofs up and how long will it take to make prints, design and print an album, or ship out a disk with all of the final images?
  • Contract- Make sure your photographer has one! God forbid it come down to it, but if any legal action has to be taken only what is in writing will stand up in court. Also having a contract helps the photographer keep track of what services each couple requests so they can make sure to not miss a single detail.
  • Assistants & Back-up Equipment- The last thing you want to hear from your photographer is that they missed a moment while changing lenses or they are going to have to find another camera or something of that nature because they are not prepared. Make sure you find a photographer who has a back-up with them and who has an assistant or second shooter to help things run as smooth as possible.
  • Scheduling- Do it early, some of the more desirable photographers are booked a year out! As soon as you have a date start contacting photographers to make sure they are available that day. Most photographers only do a limited number of weddings per year to ensure the best quality photos for their clients, by making early contact you can make sure you get the photographer that you want on the day you want.

Planning early and making sure you find the right style of photographer for you, with all of the right attributes will take a load of pressure off of you once it gets to crunch time. Interview all prospective photographers over the phone or in person and make sure they’re going to be someone you can work with between now and your nuptials. The best photographer in the world may still provide undue stress if you don’t mesh properly. Make sure that once you’ve got a candidate you get your deposit in and sign a contract as soon as possible to reserve your date. As a photographer I can tell you certain weekends are far more popular than others for a wedding and a photographer can’t guarantee you that your date is reserved until they have got a contract in their hand.  Good luck!

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