10 things to know when hiring a wedding photographer

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Once the cake is eaten and the flowers have turned to mulch, the only things keeping the memory of your wedding day evergreen are the pictures you take. Because of this, choosing the right photographer is important and should be a high-priority during wedding planning. After all, the quality of the photos is just as good as the skill behind the camera.

So here are some basic things to consider when hiring a wedding photographer for your special day.

Consider their style

The first thing you should consider when choosing a wedding photographer is finding someone whose style matches your vision. Search online for wedding photographers in your area and check out their portfolios. Do they shoot mostly posed or candid? Do you like how they tone highlights in the images or the amount of contrast they use? Do they use natural or artificial light? If their work looks like what you want, it might be worth a call to get more information.

Go local

If you plan on having a destination wedding, it may be a good idea to hire a local photographer. They’ll know the cool places to shoot group portraits of the wedding party and may also have experience shooting at your venue.

On the other hand, if you have a photographer back home that you love, ask if they are willing to travel with you to check out locations before the big event.

Discuss the details

Talk to your photographer about what kind of finished products they will deliver. How will they give you the images after post processing has been completed? Will he put together a slide show, photo book, or online gallery? Do you pay for prints, per image, or will they give you a CD?

Second shooter

Many wedding photographers work with a second shooter. While the main photographer is focused on the obvious big moments (like the bride walking down the aisle, or the look on the groom’s face during the first dance, for instance), the second shooter is free to cover less common angles and different moments (the mother of the bride’s smile during the vows and your baby cousins eating the wedding cake). Having a second shooter helps give you a wider variety of photos and takes some of the stress off of your main photographer, which means they’re able to relax and get the best images possible for you.

Recognize the expense

Just like anything else, the better quality you want the more expensive it’s going to be. Be prepared to get what you pay for and know that the more you want (longer hours, more prints, extra portraits) the more it is going to cost. Your photographer will most likely be dedicating all or most of their day to your wedding and then many more days going through thousands of photos and individually editing them to make them their very best.

Don’t edit

Don’t ask to edit the images yourself as a way to lower the cost. Photography is an art just like painting or writing. You wouldn’t ask a writer for their first draft. Editing is as much a part of the artistic process as all the work done out in the field. When a photographer takes a photo they are seeing more than what appears in the viewfinder, they’re seeing the potential the photo has after it’s been edited.

Remember, the photos aren’t just for you; they are a part of the photographer’s portfolio. Your photographer wants to produce images they are proud of just as much as they want to produce images you’ll love.

Communication is key

One of the most important things your photographer needs to know is the game plan for your wedding day. Before the big day comes, make sure you communicate with the photographer about when and where things are going to happen. Make a list of the shots you definitely want, and print out a schedule of the day for your photographer to carry with them and invite them to the rehearsal. This way they know what to expect and it gives them the opportunity to plan ahead and even scout locations.

If something changes at the last minute on the day of, be sure to keep them informed so they can stay a step ahead and make the best pictures possible.

Outline ‘Plan B’

Be sure to talk to your photographer ahead of time about what their plan is if they’re sick the day of your wedding. Do they have someone they trust that can step in for them?

Photo etiquette

Do your photographer a favor and ask your guests to stow their cameras and phones during the ceremony (at the very least, if not all the big moments during the reception too). Nothing ruins the perfect bride-walking-down-the-aisle photo quite like 100 people leaning into the aisle with their phones to capture the moment for themselves. Your guests don’t need to photograph you, that’s what you paid the photographer for. Ask your guests to put their phones away and offer to provide prints to those who want them.

They’re human too

Please don’t forget that your photographer is a human too, and humans need to eat. Of all the people hired for your wedding day, the photographer is going to be there the longest. They’ll be with you from the time you start getting ready in the morning until you leave the reception late at night. It’ll be a lot harder for them to make beautiful photos if they’re distracted the rumbling in their stomach and how delicious that salmon looks.

One kind of photographer is not going to be right for all weddings, you need to find one that matches your style and can best understand what you and your spouse-to-be wants.

Hannah Hunsinger is a senior in mass communications.

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