1. Wedding Photography is an Investment It's your special day so the highest priority is to shop by confidence and quality. If you are shopping by price...well, you already know what you will get. Brides come to me every year with stories of paying between $2000 and $5000 for the perfect venue, $1000 to $2000 for beautiful flowers, and a stunning $700 to $1500 dress. Unfortunately, they only paid $499.99 for their photographer to capture it all. They were left with so-so snapshots, blurry/underexposed guest photos, family formals with feet cut-off, and worst of all...so many missed memories. You have probably even heard this someone you know, but it doesn't have to be your story. Approach your photography with the same care you would when choosing a diamond because you are investing in photographic memories that will last forever!
2. Beware the "Natural Light Photographer" The truth is, some self proclaimed "Natural Light Photographers" are afraid of using artificial light because they haven't yet learned how. Natural light is a beautiful thing and works wonders when enough is available. However, most churches and indoor venues are simply not well lit. Light is the language of photography, so you need someone who can communicate proficiently, making beautiful photographs using every natural and light shaping tool available.
3. Remember the Engagement Session Not only is the engagement session an exciting and unique way of commemorating your desire to be together, but also a valuable chance to know your photographer. You will experience the care they take, see if they fit your style, and, most importantly, have the confidence they can deliver. If you find they aren't your cup of tea, then the value of having a chance to change photographers in time to save your wedding far exceeds the loss of one small session fee. When they are the perfect fit, then it is one less thing you have to worry about on your special day, knowing your biggest moments are in good hands.
4. Remember What You are Paying for It is not the about the number of photos, but the quality of the service. Many photographers offer "deals" where they will come and shoot thousands of pictures, leaving you with all the unedited images on CD. Shooting a wedding is only half the job and there is no value in leaving you with the responsibility of finishing the rest. Wedding Photography is about capturing the key, quality memories that will bring life to your home. A good photographer is a service professional who understands you deserve the finest quality, taking complete care of your photographic needs from beginning to end!
5. Is the Photographer Prepared? You don't have to be an expert in photo gear, but it is important you ask about what equipment they are using so you can judge by the thoroughness of their answer if they are well prepared. Your wedding is different from others so you should expect them to be able to give a thoughtful response to how they would make plans for your unique situation. Also, don't hesitate to ask questions about their preparation, experience, backup up plans, and education.
6. Look at the Portfolio This is the most important part of your research. A great landscape, pet, or child portrait photographer does NOT equal a great wedding photographer. Often I hear people tell me "My friend has a nice camera" or "Uncle Fred said he'd do it for free." But I question, "What will Uncle Fred do under pressure?" or "How will your friend be able to take care of you when plans change, or if something goes wrong?" It is the single biggest moment of your life and far too important to take an unnecessary risk. Invest time in finding a photographer who gives you confidence. You need to see great examples of exactly the kind of wedding photography you desire and that they can still deliver exceptional images regardless of circumstances!
7. Be Ready to Ask Questions You have every right to ask your photographer every question that comes to mind. That is what we are here for, meaning no question is insignificant. It gets the answers you need and communicates to the photographer what is most important to you. Write a list in advance of whatever you can think: How many weddings have you photographed? What is your photographic style? What is in the agreement? How do you do your post processing? You aren't working under the table, are you? Can I get references? When will I get my photographs?
The best wedding photographers always book up early, especially in the peak months like July, August, and October, so know your budget and begin researching as soon as possible. Life together is a story and your wedding is the cover!