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Need a Wedding Photographer? Five Questions You Must Ask First

I’m a wedding photographer based in Western New York. I’ve done a lot of weddings over the years and wanted to share a some things I’ve observed and learned. Here are five questions you must ask first before hiring a photographer for your special day.

1.  Are they able to capture all the aspects of a wedding day?

Photographers typically show you their absolute best work. Make sure they can provide examples of every part of a wedding day. Getting ready, the ceremony, and the formal dances are just a few of the important ones. Being a good wedding photographer combines two very different sets of skills:

  1. photojournalism:  This is telling a story through photographs. It includes recognizing and capturing special moments as they happen (i.e. the first look, the kiss, first dances, etc.).
  2. portraiture:  This is the artistic representation of a person(s). It includes helping the subject with different poses during the photo sessions. I would also include in this the ability to create an atmosphere for the bride and groom to express true emotion with each other. That always makes for great photos!

Awhile back, a friend was about to hire a photographer. I warned them that the photographer’s portfolio only displayed examples of (incredible) portraiture, but no pictures of the actual wedding ceremonies. My fear was that this photographer was only skilled at capturing one aspect of weddings. This turned out to be true. They ended up with just a few photos from the ceremony, including only one blurry photo of the bride coming down the aisle. Heartbreaking!

2.  Do they have the right personality?

  • Can you work with them? Basically, do you “click” with them? Have other clients clicked with them? You’ll be with this person from morning until night, so if you think they’re not going to be easy to get along with, it’s going to make for a very long day.
  • Can they make you feel comfortable? Let’s face it, most people aren’t that comfortable in front of a camera—especially all day long. It’s important that your photographer can help you relax and be yourself. This will always lead to the best photos.
  • Can they connect with your wedding party and get the best out of them? Sometimes the wedding party can be a handful. Your photographer needs to be the kind of person that can quickly connect with a large, diverse group of people and guide them into positions and from one location to another in a timely manner.
  • Can they take charge (where appropriate)? This is especially important during the “family formals” portion of the day. Sometimes there are 30-40 (or as many as 80!) people to direct and get into place, not to mention the time crunch. Your photographer has to be able to call them up, get them in place and move on to the next photo quickly and efficiently. They also have to be able to have tact and recognize when they might need to back off for a minute for one reason or another.

3.  Can they edit?

This is very, very important. It’s one thing to be able to take great photographs; it’s something entirely different to be a good editor. An easy way to see the difference is to look at your average friends’ Facebook photos versus the photos on the photographer’s website. There should be a fairly large difference. If there isn’t, it might mean the photographer isn’t the best editor.

4.  Do you like their style?

Every photographer has his or her own style. Make sure you like it. Don’t ask, “Can you edit all of our photos to look like this photographer’s style?” It might be wiser to find the style you like and hire that photographer.

5.  Do they have a track record of delivering?

I know of another person who hired a “professional” who also happened to be their friend. They never got anything in writing because they thought the friendship would be enough to ensure follow-through. It’s been 2 ½ years and they’re still waiting for their wedding album. Hire professionals who have a track record of delivering and get the agreement in writing.

I hope this helps! My purpose in writing this is to help brides and grooms find the right photographer for their wedding. I can’t stand seeing poorly done wedding photos and disappointed couples! I hope you will take a look at my portfolio and testimonials page. I might be the right photographer for you!

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