How to: Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
So you’ve decided to “take the plunge” but you have no idea about who is going to take the photos. Determining whether a wedding photographer is worth it, how much they’re worth, and how to go about choosing the best one can be tricky.
With this guide, you’ll be bragging to all your best friends and brand new acquaintances about your special day, and backing it up with phenomenal photographic evidence. After all, aside from the love of your life and wedded bliss, this is the historical proof you’ll be left with.
Do I Need a Photographer?
When in doubt, YES! Time and time again I have heard the woes of brides who didn’t get the distinctly envisioned ‘perfect shot’ to put on display in their homes. Having an issue on the day- like not being satisfied with your cake’s flavour, for example- is unfortunate and annoying, but not having great photos to commemorate the day will have much more far reaching and long- lasting effects. Plus, you can get some great photos of everyone’s embarrassing dancing which you can hold over their heads for AGES (so surely this in and of itself is worth considering the investment).
You can get lovely candids from your wedding guests, but you’ll often find your guests relying on each other for great shots- which can end up being stressful and result in no one really getting the job done properly. A wedding photographer is ideal for absorbing the pressure of taking, editing, and in some cases printing photos.
How Much Should We Plan to Budget For?
Each wedding, like each couple, is unique, so you want to base your photographer budget according to your wedding. More specifically, it’s generally recommended to set aside roughly 10% of your overall budget for photography and videography.
Generally speaking, photographers will present prices per hour, or package prices. If you’re planning a small wedding, seeking a photographer for formal group shots, and planning on sharing them online, it might behoove you to choose an hourly rate and the cost of digital publishing.
If, though, you’re planning a large wedding, with group shots galore, and every tradition in wedding history for the reception, you might want to consider a packaged deal.
Consider what you are paying for:
- Consultation with the photographer
- Hours of endless snapshots and video
- Travel costs
- Hours of staring at your faces whilst editing
- Digital retouching – like a small adjustment to the lighting
- Digital editing – like removing a photo-bomber, singling out meaningful colors, adjusting small details or piecing together multiple photos
- Delivery of products – an online gallery, a cd of raw and edited photos, prints in various sizes, complete albums, etc.
The greater the quality, the more experienced, and the higher the level of professionalism are factors to be taken into account when considering your budget.
How Should We Choose?
There are thousands of photographers, so it really depends on what you’re envisioning for your wedding.
Do you want only formal ceremony shots – leaving it up to the iPhones to catch the rest? Are you looking for someone to stay the entire duration of the wedding and reception? Do you have a specific style you’re set on (I, for example, wouldn’t dream of having a traditional, princess, glamour photographer at my backyard, bohemian, geeky wedding!) Have a discussion with your spouse about what, in terms of looks, content and actual quantity you’d like from your photos (and therefore photographer).
A referral from a friend or family member is a great start to your search. Also, try to use descriptive keywords like ‘vintage,’ ‘fun,’ or ‘romantic’- this’ll narrow down which photographers have similar personalities to you and your spouse and might be more naturally in sync with what you’re after. And always, always, always ask to see portfolios! Going by a teensy pamphlet is like basing your fast-food burger off of a commercial; it’s drastically different. Try to snag raw and edited copies of images so you can see if they are worth your time and money. The most crucial thing here is to find someone who understands what you and your partner want and is genuinely jazzed to deliver the goods. Like making many big decisions, it will, in the end, be your gut feeling which determines whether you say “cheese,” or “please leave” to a photographer.
Are All Photographers Equally Qualified?
The short answer to this is, unfortunately, no. One fundamental qualification to look out for is the Australian Institute of Professional Photography’s (AIPP) accreditation. AIPP Full Members must go through an accreditation process where their portfolio is assessed to make sure their work is up to a certain standard. To find an Accredited AIPP photographer in your area log on to www.aipp.com.au and check out their Find a Photographer section.
Aside from this specific qualification, t’s important to remember that anyone handling a professional camera ≠ a professional photographer. Quality wedding photography is created by a specialised professional who has a creative eye and a genuine love of people and wedding photography. Your photographer will also need to co-ordinate the flow of the day, know all the types of shots that need taking and must be able to do all of this in variable weather and sometimes difficult time constraints.
What Options are Available for Photos and Photography Services?
As with many aspects of wedding planning, there are many options available. Some of these have been mentioned above – the style of editing, the delivery of photos, and the amount of time needed for photography services on the day of your wedding.
Photography options, like wedding décor, are often trend-based and can vary from year-to-year and season-to-season. Once you pick three or four favorite photographers, and look at various packages, you’ll get a sweeping sense of what most will offer you and at what cost.
Though the photographers may have you initially choosing from two to five packaged deals, they are often open to adding additional “sides,” like at a restaurant. These sides can include an extra hour of photography, an assistant photographer for wider coverage of the event, a professional engagement photo session, or a variety of printing options. So don’t be afraid to ask!
Overall you want to find someone who has experience shooting weddings in a similar style as yours, has a portfolio that captures your vision, and can accommodate a package specifically for you. When it comes down to it, the photographer is your employee, and are there to fulfill your needs, so be brave and tell them exactly what you want!