How to Select the Best Wedding Photographer
There’s no shortage of wedding photographers and hiring a photographer can be an overwhelming process. For most couples hiring a wedding photographer is their first experience with the process of hiring a professional photographer. So where should you start and what’s most important?
There’s more to a good wedding photographer than a good camera. Digital cameras have become accessible to most people including anyone with a mobile phone. Lots of people have digital cameras. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t tell you about lighting or how to be where you need to be in order to capture a moment. Weddings move quickly and you’ll want an experienced wedding photographer who can capture all the key moments without stopping the action to make you pose.
Pictures, pictures, pictures
Whether online or in person, it all starts with reviewing portfolios. You need to be able to make a connection with the images, which should convey a story of the wedding day. Some photographers only show their best wedding images from several different weddings. While this is ok as an initial preview, Its very important to see a larger collection of about 50-60 images from one wedding to see how the complete story was told. Its also important to see the work of the photographer who will be capturing your wedding story. Bigger studios sometimes show a general studio portfolio rather than the portfolio of the the photographer who will be capturing your wedding story. Not only should you see the work of the wedding photographer who will tell your story but you should also be able to choose your photographer prior to signing an agreement. Don’t let a studio assign a photographer to you based on some personality test or algorithm. Sadly, some studios actually do that.
RAW Format – the Ultimate in File Resolution
Raw? As in sushi? No, we are not talking about sushi but rather file format. Professional digital cameras can capture photos in a variety of file formats. RAW produces the best color saturation, more vibrant colors, and superior print quality. The format also allows the photographer more flexibility in the post processing of your wedding photos. Unfortunately, not all photographers spend the time required to post process wedding images which can be time consuming. Make sure to ask the photographers you interview what type if any post processing they do. Many studios shoot in JPEG format because it’s easier and there’s less post production work for them. The images come straight out of the camera “as-is”. Then it becomes your responsibility to color correct the images. Also, JPEG’s don’t have nearly as much information in the digital file which means you can’t make large prints and lose the beautiful rich colors you want. You definitely don’t want a photographer to simply hand over the files without post processing them. Post processing entails color balance (adjust the color), touching up the images, and possibly applying creative effects.
Its always great to support local businesses and that goes for local photography studios versus the big national studios. During your search you will find solo operators, local medium sized studios, and national studios. Because of the size and scope of the national studios they generally don’t offer a personalized service. You most likely will just be a number. From a quick glance they look like a good value but because so many people need to get paid within the studio you wind up loosing something along the way in terms of quality or service. Solo operators can be a good option since you get very personalized service as the photographer is invested in your wedding. They however generally lack a formal infrastructure and back up system. The best of both worlds is a medium sized local photography studio with a handful of photographers. You get the personalized service and attention you deserve. Since the studio has a number of photographers you have the peace of mind in knowing that they have back up photographers. With a small boutique studio, there is greater oversight and the photographers are held to a higher standard since everything they do is reviewed by the head photographer / studio owner.
One Photographer or Two Photographers?
For most weddings one good photographer is sufficient. In some cases like for larger weddings (more than 150 people) a second photographer may be a good idea. This is not to say that an experienced photographer can’t handle a large party on their own, it just depends on the specifics of your event. Are the groomsmen & bridal party getting ready in the same hotel or across town from each other? Do you want both documented? Will your portraits be done during the cocktail hour? Sometimes it just boils down to logistics. Even the greatest photographer can’t be in two places at once. If you decide that having a second photographer is the right choice for you, make sure that you’ll actually have a second photographer and not an assistant. Some studios will bring a “second photographer” who is no more than an assistant who is learning on the job. The coverage by the assistant will probably not be as skillful or complete as the main photographer. Good studios will allow you to choose your second photographer based on their portfolios. The second photographer should have just as much experience as the main photographer, ensuring that your wedding coverage will be complete.
How much ?
As with any important purchase, cost will likely be a key factor in your decision. Just don’t let it be the only consideration. You’ll need to consider all of the above points in order to find the right fit for your big day. After all of your careful planning, you deserve a photographer that will document your day thoroughly & beautifully.