Choosing a wedding photographer, and questions to ask.

Choosing your wedding photographer can range from a daunting, to a seriously insane process. Some couples get lucky. They pick up a student fresh out of college, and he does an amazing job. Or on the flip side, you pick a seasoned pro to photograph your wedding. They charge you an arm and a leg (and a kidney, and spleen) and you’re not really impressed by the photos. Maybe the photos lack the ‘pop’ you were looking for, and don’t really capture your personalities.

First things first:
What exactly are you looking for from your wedding photographer?
– Do you want someone artistic, someone with talent?
– or Do you want someone just to press buttons?
– Do you just want a print it yourself package, where the photographer gives you a dvd?
– or Do you want an amazing album that family and friends will drool over?

There’s about 1000 questions, and somewhere in the process of meeting with all of these photographers, you might lose sight of what you were originally looking for.

My advice: start shopping early. A lot of the better photographers in the world are booking up 10 – 18 months in advance. Currently I’m sitting at around 20 bookings for 2009, and it’s only just out of September ’08.

You might have to do some digging to find your photographer. There’s a lot of good ones lurking in the shadows, you just have to enter the right search terms into Google. Don’t always settle on the photographers that your venue, caterer, or planner suggest.

Watch out for kickbacks!

A kickback is kind of like a commission for a coordinator, or venue, or anyone who profits out referring a photographer.
Ever go into an electronics store, and the sales person is really pushing one product on you? You’ve done your research at home, and you know there are better options…so why is this guy so adamant on selling you what he wants? Well, products that don’t sell, or need a little bit of a sales boost can offer the best commissions. So it’s in that sales mans best interest to sell you what’s going to make him money. Sadly, the same goes in the wedding world.

So now you’ve found a few photographers you like, and they’re available for your date.
Oh, side note: if everyone seems to be booked, ask the photographer who they suggest in the area. Photographers know other photographers, and know who does a good job. I’m aware of most of what’s going on in the wedding photography market around Southern Ontario – other good photographers will too.

Alright, back to business – you’ve found a few photographers you’re going to meet with. What do you talk to them about? You could bring a huge list of questions from that bridal book you picked up at the wedding show…but some of them look a little bit embarrassing to ask…so lets get straight to the important ones.

– Is it you who is going to be shooting my wedding?
This ones only really important if you’ve gone to a ‘studio’ where they have many photographers working under one banner. If you’re coming to a single photographer…say Taylor Jackson’s probably a pretty safe bet that they will be the one shooting your wedding.
– Can I see a full wedding you’ve photographed?
– Do you have backup gear?
– and Can you control the weather?

I haven’t met any photographers that can control the weather. So, if they say they can, it’s probably safe to assume they’re a liar.

If you get along well with them, they’re within your budget (yes, couples meet with me knowing they can’t afford me), and you like their work, you’re probably in good shape.

From here you’ll likely have to sign a contract, and give some sort of down payment to secure your date with the photographer. If you got an engagement session, great! It’s time to book some time together. Hopefully after you see the photos from the engagement session, you know you picked the right photographer.

Hopefully my scattered thoughts here helped someone.  I’ve met with a lot of couples, and spent a lot of time analyzing every part of wedding photography. If you have any questions, just shoot me an email, and I’ll do my best to help — even if you’re not booking with me.

Kitchener Waterloo Wedding Photographer