If you are reading this, you are most likely recently engaged and planning a wedding. Congratulations! You have been dreaming of this day since you were a little girl. The dress, the flowers, the fabulous Austin area wedding venue of your dreams are all coming together just like you’ve always planned it. But how are you going to remember this day? How are you going to relive it as you tell your children and grandchildren about it? A picture is worth a thousand words as they say, but not all pictures are created equally. I know that because I was a very naive bride when I got married 18 years ago. I had the belief that anyone who put him or herself out there as a wedding photographer must be professional, competent, and incredibly talented because it would simply be unethical to take a bride’s money and do anything less than a stellar job photographing her wedding. I honestly knew nothing about photography then and based my entire decision on price. I hired possibly the most affordable photographer in town, who was moonlighting from his day job. Needless to say, I was fairly disappointed in the pictures, I have never made an enlargement or put together a wedding album of my own wedding pictures, and the day still seems like a complete blur to me.
This brings us back to your wedding. After all the hopes, dreams, time, effort and money that you will be putting into it, you need to make sure that you have a highly skilled, professional photographer who can capture the day in all its splendor. When you look through your wedding album, you don’t want to see snapshots, red eye, poor composition, or bad lighting; you want to see beautiful, flawless images that will take you back to each moment.
So how do you choose the right photographer to ensure that your special day is preserved for generations? Now that I’ve been a professional wedding photographer for over 12 years and photographing weddings in the Austin area for 10 years, I have learned a lot of things I wish I had known before I got married, and I would love to share them with you. I believe there are five main selection criteria: style, experience, professionalism, personality, and price.
First of all, you need to fall in love with the photographer’s portfolio. Every photographer has a distinct style, and you are choosing the human lens through which you will see your own wedding day. Maybe you like dynamic, fashion images. Maybe you like soft and romantic portraiture. Maybe you don’t like posing for pictures very much, and you prefer a more photojournalistic approach. Look for a photographer with your preferred style, but always make sure to view an entire wedding. Even though the portrait images of you and your new husband might be the most important, you want to make sure that you hire someone who can expertly capture the details, the special moments during the ceremony, and all the action during the reception as well.
Secondly, ask about how experienced a potential photographer is. Is this his or her full time career? Part-time career? For how many years? Has he or she worked at your venue before? Everything doesn’t always go according to plan at a wedding. Can he or she handle last minute schedule changes, potentially stressful situations, poor lighting situations? You are hiring a professional to take stress off of you, not to add it!
Something that is often overlooked is how professionally a photographer runs his or her business. Does he or she charge for sales tax and have liability insurance? Are credit cards accepted? What sort of backup equipment does he or she have? Does he or she look at wedding photography as a business or as a hobby? Is there an assistant or second shooter included in the packages? How does the primary photographer find a second shooter for your wedding date? What sort of contract is presented to you? What are the payment terms? How long after the wedding do you have to wait for your images? A truly professional photographer will have all the business details worked out.
You will hire many vendors to be a part of your wedding, but you will most likely be spending more time with your photographer than any other vendor. Do you like his or her personality? Do you feel comfortable with him or her? How will you feel with him or her in the bride’s room with you? Make sure that you click!
Now we get to price, which is definitely an important factor, but not the only factor, as you have seen. This is an investment in preserving the memories of one the most important days of your life not just for you but for generations of your families. You need to look at your overall budget knowing that if you skimp on photography, you may not have the best reflection of everything else you are spending all that money on.
I hope that everything I have learned over the years will be helpful to you as you make such an important decision, and I encourage you to give us a call at 512-377-6169 to see if Rebel with a Camera is a good fit for you!