The 5 "Ps" of selecting a wedding photographer
Selecting a Wedding Photographer is probably the most important and possibly the most difficult decision you will make for your wedding. Unfortunately, little in life that prepares you for selecting an excellent photographer. So here are some things to consider in selecting your wedding photographer.
When selecting a photographer for your wedding you should consider what I call the 4 P's - Portfolio, Personality,Professionalism, Price, and Protection.
Portfolio is undoubtedly the most important aspect of selecting a photographer. After all, if you don't like a photographer's images what's the point of going on. That's not to say that you will love every image in their portfolio, but you must like enough images to know that they can photograph your wedding and get Great images.
Review several different wedding albums from a photographer. It is important to see 4 or more albums - why? - two reasons - one because you want to see that the photographer has is consistent in their work. Anybody can have a good day and make a good album, what you want is some who does it consistently.
The second reason is that every couple and wedding has its own style and personality and looking at multiple weddings will give you an idea about the photographer's breadth, and how they adapt to different situations.
My online Portfolio
Personality, the photographer's personality will be a critical part of the your wedding day. After all, on your wedding day you will likely spend more time with the photographer, than anybody else, even your fiancé. Your photographer will be when you are getting ready, during pre-ceremony pictures, during the ceremony, during post-ceremony pictures, at the reception, and sometimes beyond that. You want someone who you will get along with and who will blend in with your friends and family, someone who isn't pushy, but is efficient.
To learn about a photographer's personality talk with the photographer. Read online endorsements made about the photographer, these can usually be found on the photographer's site, and sometimes on independent sites.
Finally, when you have narrowed down your choice to a single photographer, talk to at least 2 of his brides or grooms. They will provide you with insights on how the photographer actually performed at their wedding. Things you might want to ask a bride about the photographer are:
- How well did you like the photographer at your wedding?
- How well did they blend in with your wedding?
- How well did they interact with your guest and family?
- Were the relaxed and calm or frantic during the event?
- Were they dressed professionally?
- Were they efficient taking pictures?
- Did they leave early or sooner than you would have liked?
- Did you get your proofs, prints, or album in a timely manner?
- Would you hire them again?
Feel free to call and talk with me or set up a meeting, 425.402.7000, and as you narrow down your search to one or two photographers, I am happy to provide you contact information for my past couples, so you can talk to them and learn about their experience with me.
You can read what brides think about my services.
Read what brides say about me on an independent web site (click on Customer Reviews once on the page)
Read reviews on YELP
Professionalism, refers to how the photographer approaches, shoots, and handles the prints or album for your wedding. Many factors are part of professionalism: quality of photography, good communication, equipment the photographer uses, insurance, working personality, and their efficiency at the job.
You will learn a great deal about a photographer's professionalism by talking to their references and learning how the photographer handled themselves before, during, and after the wedding. (See the questions above)
Other factors that can contribute to a being a professional photographer and which you may wish to consider are:
Is the photographer a member of a professional photography organization? Although belonging to a professional organization doesn't make you a good photographer, it generally does show that the photographer is committed to their profession and interested in staying abreast of the latest in issues and trends in photography.
I am a member of:
PPA - Professional Photographers of America
WPPI - Wedding and Portrait Photographers International
SPPA - Seattle Professional Photographers of America
PPW - Professional Photographers of Washington
PPC - Professional Photographers of California (I've shot extensively in California for the last 8 years)
Do they participate in regular training to keep fresh and updated? Right now photography is in a major state of flux with the transition to digital photography, staying up on the technology is a difficult task and is probably best done in a training environment. Plus photographers getting together with other photographers and seeing work from other photographers and countries exposes a photographer to new ideas and fresh styles.
Every year I spend 6-12 days in industry specific training
Do they use professional grade equipment? With photographic equipment professional really does make huge differences in the quality of the images, the durability of the equipment and the price. Photographers who are serious about the quality of their work will only use professional level cameras and lenses.
Do they carry backup equipment? This is important because your wedding will only happen once, and the pictures from your wedding can never be recreated. If the photographer doesn't carry backup equipment and something goes wrong, who will take the pictures of your wedding?
Is the backup equipment the same caliber as their primary equipment? This is at least as important as having backup equipment. Two things come into play here, you probably wouldn't want a photographer who carried a cheap camera as their "backup", because you want the quality of your wedding pictures to be the same from start to finish. Ideally the photographer's backup camera should be an exact duplicate of their primary camera, this insures that the quality of the images will be good from beginning to end. Plus the last thing you want in a fast moving wedding situation is a photographer who is trying to learning how or remember how to use their backup camera that is different than their primary equipment.
The backup equipment I use is exactly the same as my primary equipment, Yes, this cost more, but if I have to switch cameras for some reason you get exactly the same quality images.
Price - Price is important, however, my advice is to spend as much money as is required to hire the photographer with the portfolio/style and personality you like the most. You can always get prints and albums months or years after the wedding, however, if you try to save a few dollars and the photographer doesn't capture the images that you want, you will never have them - no matter how much you spend after the wedding or get as part of a wedding package.
Protection - We started this discussions with a very important subject Portfolio, and we end with an equally important subject Protection. A recent local news story really hit home. A couple hired a photographer to shoot their wedding, by all accounts everything went well on the wedding day. But two weeks after the wedding the photographer's car was broken into and a laptop containing all the wedding images was stolen! So now the couple has nothing from their wedding day. This will never happen to you if you book with Heston Weddings. Within 12 hours after your wedding your images are backed up on 3 separate RAID systems in multiple locations.
A Very Sad story about wedding photography