10 Important Steps for Finding your Wedding Photographer.

10 Important Steps for Finding your Wedding Photographer by Charles Ford and Alabama-Wedding.com

 

There are many ways of finding professionals today.  However, when it comes to wedding photographers the phone book isn't what it used to be. With the cost of cameras dropping by the day and the wedding industry growing by the minute, there are more and more "wedding photographers" out there to choose from. How do you know what to look for or who to trust?  More importantly, how can you guarantee that you will be happy with your decision when your wedding day comes?  These questions, like many others, can be answered with some careful thought and planning when you begin your search for the perfect wedding photographer.

Step #1 It's all about the style.
Style is one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your wedding photographs. It will not take long for you to realize that no two photographers are alike. Photography is an art and you are hiring an artist. Your happiness will depend on finding someone who can capture the wedding day in a way you want to remember it. Are you looking for a traditional photographer, a photojournalist, or someone in between?  The best way to decide what you are looking for happens to be one of the most enjoyable parts of your search.  Browse the internet, go to bridal shows and talk to your friends who are already married.  Find out what you enjoy most and this will give you a great starting point in deciding your individual style.

Step #2 Find a list of photographers within the range of your budget.
Getting married is one of the most important days of your life and it's worth every penny you can afford to spend on it, right?  The hardest thing to do when planning a wedding is stick to your budget.  There are many great wedding photographers out there and hiring an expensive wedding photographer doesn't guarantee you amazing photographs. Don't try to stretch your budget. By doing this, you leave no working room for extras and there are always some great extras.

Step #3 Is the photographer available?
Before you hire any wedding professional you must find out if they are available for your date. There are many ways to do this, some better than others. The two most common are, of course, a phone call or email. Keep in mind that your future photographer is probably very busy dealing with past clients and current weddings. While you may get a quick answer with a phone call, you will more likely get a well thought out response with an email. Ask only the basics to save time in your search. Are you available for these dates?  If so, when could we set up a meeting? These simple questions will help you narrow down your options and pave the way for easier communication between you and them.

Step #4 Expertise.
So you've got your list, and you think there are some great photographers on it. Are you sure? With the recent growth of the wedding industry, we have seen many individuals adopt wedding photography as a temporary or 'weekend' job. Your wedding cannot be recreated and neither can the photographs. Ask for credentials, references, multiple wedding samples, and the years of experience they possess. This should not be overlooked because weddings are unpredictable and only experience can guarantee quality results.

Step #5 Are you compatible?
You've found a photographer with the style, price, experience, and availability that you're looking for but if you aren't comfortable with them, you can stop right there.  Compatibility with your photographer is as important as your choice of style. You will be spending most of your wedding day with this person and you want to feel relaxed around them. You should be able to talk freely and openly without feeling any pressure. You are not only interviewing for a photographer but a friend as well. With that in mind,
remember this:  Ask questions to make sure the person you are talking with will be the actual photographer for your wedding. Avoid the dangerous "bait and switch", where you talk with one person and a complete stranger shows up on your wedding day.

Step #6 Packages and Albums.  Are you getting what you want?
Closely examine what is included with the package you are interested in purchasing.  Before you meet with the photographer, make a list of 'must haves' and be clear about what is most important to you.  Do you need an Album, prints, and digital negatives?  If so, these could cost extra.  By keeping a list, you can leave with a real price for what you need rather than a base price.

Step #7 Ask for advice and ideas from someone who's been there.
For most wedding photographers, nothing makes them happier than helping brides. From wedding ideas to backup plans, wedding photographers have been around the block. Take advantage of this by asking questions you don't know the answers to. You will have a greater feel for their personality while in the process gaining valuable information on what is to come in your planning process.

Step #8 How do I pay for this?
The price of your wedding package isn't all you need to know.  Many photographers have installment plans and these can vary greatly. When talking about costs, don't forget to find out payment methods and due dates.  Do they accept credit cards? What types of installment plans are offered? Are there any late fees assessed for missed payments?  All of this will be essential to the financial planning of your wedding.  By knowing your payment plan you can avoid overlapping charges and creating unnecessary strain on your pocketbook.

Step #9 Think it over.
I am an impulse spender by nature. While I enjoy my candy-bars and magazines purchased at the checkout, I know that wedding photography is not where you want to be impulsive.  Many photographers require a non-refundable deposit to reserve a date. Take your time in making a decision and be sure it is the right one.  There is nothing wrong with booking a photographer at the meeting, just be absolutely sure of your decision as it is most likely final.

Step #10 Seal the Deal.
Now that all of the hard work is out of the way, there is one more thing to address when finalizing the deal.  Make SURE there is a contract for the services and goods that you are purchasing.  I cannot stress this enough because without a contract nothing is set in stone, or for that matter legal. A signed contract will give you confidence in your professional and legal recourse should something go wrong. This will also give your photographer confidence in your commitment to pay for the services you will receive.  Also, be sure to read the contract thoroughly before signing and you won't be surprised by unexpected charges or expenses. 

Use these steps as your guide and you will be on your way to having the wedding of your dreams and the photographs to remember it by.

 

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