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Selecting a Wedding Photographer

Wedding photography prices vary widely, and couples can be forgiven for being confused and bamboozled by the offerings.  If you are on a budget, be realistic about what you expect.  Rather than going for an inexperienced photographer, or getting a friend to shoot your wedding, perhaps you might be better off still booking that professional, but taking fewer options, booking for less time, or investing in the entry level album.

When trying to decide on your wedding photographer, ask yourself the following:

  1. What do you want for your wedding coverage?  Do you require the photographer to be there for the bridal preparations?Do you want the first dance captured? Speeches?  Family groupings? If so, you are probably looking at least 7 hours commitment from your photographer.
  2. What do you want to do with your photographs?  If you simply want some nice enlargements for the wall, it seems silly to book a photographer who will capture your mother putting on your veil.It is unlikely that you will select this image as a lasting reminder of your day.
  3. Would you like a wedding album?  An album is a particularly special reminder of your day.  Many brides remark to me that they think it will be just left in a drawer.  Well, yes, that’s likely the case.  Left in a drawer, and pulled out on those special times you want to sit back and remember your day.  Or when your children want to learn about their parents and their life before they were born.  Or, when you are gone, when THEIR children are making sense of their family history, where they come from, where they fit in. The album is a lasting reminder of your family ties and bonds.  And when it begins with preparation images, and ends with the bride and groom exiting, it beautifully conveys the day in a story fashion, with style.  If you are considering an album, never skimp on your photographer’s time.  An album that only contains a handful of images does not reflect your wedding day as it was.
  4. Do you require digital negatives? Please bear in mind that when you are granted the rights to print the digital files, you are granted a limited personal license, and it is unlawful to modify or alter these images in any way. Many photographers will offer discount services which include a couple of hours coverage and the files on disk.  You need to be very clear what you are getting with this service. Will the files be corrected for colour?  Will there be full Photoshop edits done on them to remove distracting backgrounds and enhance the images or are they straight out of the camera? Some photographers will charge higher for the digital files and will take the time to fully edit the images to a print ready stage.  This is a time consuming task, and they will be priced accordingly, but will be much better value than straight out of the camera images that you are prevented from altering.
  5. How will your images be archived and protected?It’s a known fact that images on disk have a very limited life span compared to print items, and most couples simply don’t have the backup systems on their personal computers to ensure that the images will be protected long term.  As your photographers what sort of archival processes they offer.  Will your images be available for some time?  Are they removed from the system after a certain date?
  6. How experienced is your photographer?  In this digital era there are many people who own an SLR camera, and many of them who also go into business. But just as owning an oven does not make you a chef, simply having a camera does not make them a photographer. By the same token, there are many people with talent who have no formal training and do a wonderful job.  Don’t select someone who will simply record your day if you value beautiful, well-composed portraits.
  7. Does their style suit you?  Photography is an art form, and like all artists, a good photographer will have developed a strong personal style.  Does this style suit you? Des their work speak to you on a personal and emotional level?
  8. Finally, how do they present. The photographer’s job on your wedding day is much more important than you may think. The photographer is responsible for making sure everyone is on time, and for making snap judgments to alter the plans if that timing is thrown out.  A good photographer will know exactly what you require, and will work out a schedule of shooting to ensure it can all be achieved.  Photographers also need to make you feel relaxed, and to ensure that the time you spend away from your guests for your wedding photos is enjoyable, and a special part of your day.  You need to gel with them, and feel you can put your trust in them.

As with everything to do with wedding planning, there is a lot to consider.  You will need to weigh up your preferences against your budget and decide what you are prepared to compromise on, if anything.  A bad wedding photographer is a waste of money, no matter how inexpensive they are, so make sure you are really getting what you want; this day can’t be redone.

About te author:

Janine Guidera is a wedding photographer based in Perth, Western Australia. Janine also conducts engagement sessions, bridal boudoir and trash the dress sessions.   Her work can be seen at www.figmentsweddings.com.au

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