WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?
It's not easy to see what makes a great wedding photographer.
As with anything you can buy, there's a good, better and best version. Think shoes: Do you like Payless or Christian Louboutin?
Let's make sure you find the CLB of wedding photographers.
Here are 4 categories that set apart the good, better, best photographers.
This should be the first item to think about as it's the base-bone of your photography choice. Here's what you should be looking for.
- Does the photographer have good quality images (not too dark, too light, orange, etc)?
- Do the photographs have an altered color or over-effecting to them that's not natural or timeless?
- Does the photographer fit the style of what you're looking for (soft and dreamy, loud and fun, funky and sexy, etc)?
- Do all the photographer's weddings have that similar style that you're looking for? You don't want to hire someone who isn't consistent in giving you the quality and style of photos that you're paying for.
- Do you notice wrinkles, blemishes, unattractive angles, awkward poses or distracting backgrounds in the pictures?
- Does the photographer absolutely guarantee that their 2nd photographer at your wedding will provide the same quality of images?
* A good way to see this for yourself is to ask to see an entire proofing gallery and make sure that the quality of photography is consistent throughout like.
Your wedding album is your first family heirloom that you'll pass on to your children and grandchildren and will be in your family's homes for generations to come. How can you make sure the quality of your products will stand the test of time? Here's the tricks to spotting poor quality albums that probably won't last more than five years:
- Look at the seam of the page. Is there cracking, pinking or discoloration of any kind?
- Look at the corners and sides of the pages. Are they peeling up or not laying flat?
- Look at the book closed and view the sides of the pages. Are they waving or warping in any way?
- Look at the printing itself. Is it colorful, vibrant and matching to the quality of the images you saw on their website?
You simply can't place a value on an experienced professional on a wedding. Your photographer needs to know what will happen before it does, anticipate moments, be flexible on the spot, know how to help you schedule your day-of time-line, and be able to conquer any lighting condition. I would say that about 50-100 weddings is what it takes to acquire and perfect these skills and intuitions. Here are some questions to ask:
- Have you ever done a wedding like mine? Note, it doesn't matter if they've done a wedding at your venue. Because of changing light and circumstantial situations, that's really irrelevant to an experienced photographer. But having them have experience in your type of wedding (Jewish, traditional, Ethnic, etc.) can mean the difference of them knowing what shots to get.
- What do you do when ________? Fill in the blank with any crazy thing you think might happen on your wedding day and see if the photographer can think on their toes!
- Do you put together family photos? Your photographer should discuss with you what family shots you want before the wedding and make suggestions as to what shots to get based on your family members and the amount of time you have for pictures. This shouldn't be your job the day of! I make sure to go over this with all of my brides well before the wedding.
- Do you have a videographer/cinematographer you work with regularly? You'll want your visual artists to be in-sync the day of so that they don't get in each others way, but instead better your final product by working together.
You might find categories 1, 2, and 3 great but end up with a horrible experience over all. Did you know some brides go 3 months without seeing their wedding proofs and years before they get their album?? Here's what to ask to make sure that doesn't happen to you:
- How long will it be to see the proofs? If they say eight weeks, then ask to see proofs from the wedding they shot eight weeks ago and see the date on the invitation picture they took. Don't get caught with someone who over-promises and then doesn't deliver! My brides see their proofs in 6-8 weeks.
- How long does it take to get the album? Find out the album process step-by-step. Often times photographers make you choose your wedding album pictures which could leave you frustrated, over-whelmed and procrastinating the process causing you to not have your wedding album until years after your wedding. My brides have an album design within 8-10 weeks of their wedding.
- Do they have a team of people behind them? Too often photographers get caught drowning in work and end up delivering products late or never replying to your calls because they're trying to do everything themselves from marketing to printing albums. Or, they deliver sub-par products because they're too busy to take the time to do them well or simply don't have the skills needed to do them at an expert level. Make sure your photographer has a team of people on staff so that you know they're running an efficient business (which will help you get your products on time) and giving you the best possible quality.
- Are they a boutique studio? Your wedding is unique and important and you want a photographer that thinks the same way and doesn't just pile you in with one of the 100 brides they're photographing that year. The advantage to having a "Boutique-style" photographer (one that shoots less than 30 weddings a year on average) is that you'll receive more attention and care each step of the way and your wedding photographs will show more of your unique couple personality rather than a cookie-cutter style that is done the same way at every wedding.
- Do you like your photographer? Is their personality one that you'll love working with over the next year or two - because it's practically like you're going to date them for a few years! Your photographer is one of the wedding vendors that you'll have contact with the most before, during and after your wedding, so make sure they have a personality that's knowledgeable, calm and has pleasant demeanor that you'll want around you for a while.