This is not your typical checklist of interview questions for potential photographers. In this day and age, everyone has a camera…nice ones…and basic price comparison can find you a hundred “photographers” willing to offer you the world for almost nothing.
The goal of this list is to have you really consider the caliber of images and photographer, as well as examining the importance of photography for you and your family.
10 things to consider when looking for a photographer…
- The pictures on a photographer‘s website are their best images. That photographer has gone through thousands of files and has hand selected the images on their site to represent their work. Why not ask them to allow you to see an entire wedding from beginning to end? When you look at what previous clients see of their wedding day, you can have a better understanding of the caliber of images you will get from your wedding day as well.
Are the photos on the photographer‘s website in focus? What is the photographers focal point? Sometimes you can look at an image and see that the background is more in focus than the person or the shoulder is in focus rather than the eye. Photographers use shallow depth of field often to deliberately draw the eye to certain parts of the image but a simply blurry image with no focus is not artistic; it is just an unfocused picture. (remember, these are supposed to be their best images)
Are the images over or under exposed? That official “photo lingo” explained in layman‘s terms…. has the image lost detail in important parts due to over brightness or dark areas because the photographer did not use their camera properly? A dark background so the eye is drawn to the brides face and dress is lovely…a dark brides face where her eyes look hallowed out is not.
Are the images over photoshopped? The trend to photoshop the heck out of a bad image to try and “save it” is most of the time a bad idea! I like special effects on images in moderation but these are your wedding pictures, your family portraits, the documentation of you as you are at this moment in time. When you show your pictures to your children and your children‘s children, you will most likely want them to remain classically beautiful and not faddish with all sorts of effects.
Your Uncle Bob will not, I repeat, will not get amazing, beautiful wedding day images with his fancy expensive camera and his experience photographing birds! There are details and nuances that often cannot be captured without experience as a wedding photographer. You do not have to spend a fortune on your photographer but as a general rule, you get what you pay for and free family shooting is almost always disastrous.
Photography is not the corner that should be cut! After your wedding, you will have a loving life partner and the pictures from your special day. There will not be eating of the cake 10 years from now. You will likely not recall the dj‘s name. You will probably have forgotten what the food tasted like BUT you will always have your spouse and your pictures!! The photographs will spark your memories and conjure up the emotions of that special day!!
Personality matters. A photographer not only needs technical and creative skills but also has the job of helping people feel at ease in front of the camera. Meeting with a photographer prior to making a decision to book (skype or phone meetings if you are in separate cities) is an excellent way to see if you are a good match. This person will be sharing in one of the most intimate and special days of your life. You‘ll want to feel relaxed and safe.
Style is in the eye of the beholder. You‘ve all heard about the Photojournalistic style of photography, right? What does that really mean? Real “photojournalism” means… no direction. That photojournalist will not guide, direct or pose any of your images. Illustrative? Classic? There are so many labels. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how your chosen photographer will handle your wedding day or family session. Again, a website can show their “best” work but seeing entire galleries will help you determine if a photographer‘s style is suited to your likes.
Professionalism for security and peace of mind: Considering unforeseen circumstances is not pleasant but is important. Is everything that you and your photographer agreed upon going to be put in writing and signed? Does this photographer have liability insurance? Back-up equipment? Back-up photographers in case of disaster and/or emergency? Your wedding will happen one time and a professional photographer will take the precautions to ensure that it will not be missed under any circumstances! And last but not least...
How do the images make you feel? I know…it sounds cheesy but if the photographer‘s website can elicit tears, happy grins or even laughter, you‘ve found your match! Hire them!!