You've gotten engaged, set a date, and now you need to find a photographer
But which one? There are so many! And so many of them look essentially the same. How do you know if they suck or not? In this blog post I'll help you out with some pointers.
1) Ask to see a full wedding's pictures
It's relatively easy to take a good picture at sunset in the mountains, or to just shoot enough that at least a few of them look good, but how do their pictures look indoors, with dingy and dim yellow lighting?
Now, they will not all be awesome. Many of the images taken will just be recording the day, not artsy, just photojournalistic. But look at those pictures. Is the picture of prep well lit? Is the candid of grandma well exposed and sharp? Are the pictures of the ceremony good? When the lights go down for dancing, are they getting good images?
Does it look like this:
Or does it look like this?
2) See if your personalities are compatible
You are going to around your photographer for a long time on the wedding day. So meet with your photographer before the wedding if you can, or at least a phone call or Skype. See how you get along. If you can, have an engagement session with your photographer. It's a chance to get to know them and see how they work. It's also a chance to get to see what their images of you look like. If you don't get along, give them the boot!
I have it in my contract that if you don't like me or the engagement pictures, I'll refund all money given to me. I haven't had to use it, but I'd rather lose a bit of time than have a client who doesn't like my work. If you don't like what your photographer did on your engagement shoot, done near sunset when everything gets golden and you're relaxed and happy, how will you like what they do in a dim church or in a rushed post-ceremony portrait session?
3) Ask about their equipment
Now, I don't expect you to know the difference between cameras, but maybe ask them such questions as:
How many cameras do you have? (Hint: if the answer is one, run away!)
Do you have high end equipment or does it suck? (High end equipment will work better, be weather sealed and continue to work if it rains, and focus much better than lower end gear)
Do you have a variety of lenses? (lenses fail too! I had one die on me during a wedding once. Luckily I believe in redundancy in all things!)
- Do you have dual card slots in your camera? (Every picture I take records to two cards, so even if one fails, I still have a good copy)
- Are you good with flash? Have any examples of that? (When night falls and the lights get dim, you need, need, need to be able to use flash as a wedding photographer. Otherwise it's like driving around at night without headlights!)
4) But Dan, I don't have the money for a fancy photographer with all the latest equipment! Whatever shall I do?
That is a tough one! You'll have to make some compromises. A cheap photographer will either be someone new to the business (very common), a talentless hack (a good few) , or (most rare) someone who wants to give people a good photography experience at a cheap price. But there are still standards you should maintain, if possible:
- They still have to have two cameras. If one fails, it's game over! Now, the second one may be an entry level camera from Best Buy, but hopefully it's better than nothing.
- It'd still be nice if they have one good camera, and one good lens.
- Try them out for an engagement session. If those suck, you know the wedding pictures will suck. So see if those are any good and go from there.
Lastly, if you need to have a newbie photographer capture this oh so important day, have it in summer so their total lack of flash expertise will not be so very apparent due to abundant sunshine. Better hope it doesn't rain!
Then again, maybe just hire me! It may hurt more than paying your cousin 5 dollars and a stick of gum to shoot your wedding, but I'm definitely on the low end of cost of photographers who know what they are doing.