Friday, March 25, 2011

Step 28 - Interview and Book your Photographer

(9 Months to 24 Months before the Wedding)
To insure that your wedding memories are beautiful and preserved, you will need a skilled photographer to capture the special moments of your wedding day. There are an abundance of wedding photographers in your area. However, to find a really good wedding photographer takes a lot of hard work. Almost anyone can take pictures with a digital camera. The great photographer insures you really get a good picture, insures the right lighting, captures a lovely view in the background, insures the subjects have the proper attention span, captures the right pose, picks up the smiles and the laughter and has editing equipment to improve the cropping and enhance the lighting.

To find a great wedding photographer, you can start by checking out wedding related websites, even check wedding vendors and see who they recommend. Even go to Google or a search engine you use, then input the city the wedding is to be and put in "wedding photography", "wedding photographer", and :wedding". You can go to magazine stores or book store with magazine sections and look for magazines about weddings, planning, and photography and some of them even have yellow pages for wedding photographers. You can go to a free classified site such as "craigslist" or find another high volume free classified site and put in an ad "looking for a fabulous wedding photographer to shoot our wedding". In addition, you can find excellent wedding photographers found elsewhere in this blog.

Some photographers have studios and many work out of their homes, some work full time and some part time. Your goal is to identify about a half dozen of them that fit your style and then choose one that best meets your criteria, and you are comfortable in conversation with. You should meet with them in their studio if they have one or meet with them in a central location. Maybe you can arrange with back to back to back appointments, target how much time you need for the interview and stick to the appointed time.

You can meet with them at a table at a bar, the quiet time of a restaurant or reception hall, the eatery of a golf or tennis club, or even at a coffee shop when they are not too busy. Just be sure to find a place that's not too crowded or noisy where you can talk and can get a little space. Don't let your appointment overlap with another appointment, if your first impression is good you can always reconnect. Don't get coerced into a contract until you are finished interviewing.

Often photographer's apply a sales pitch, the discount holds true for today only. If later, you agree to book the photographer, stipulate, you will only book the deal with the original discount offered. Brag, (make him/her feel good), we interviewed six wedding photographers and we decided to choose you. Remember, it's your special day, there are a ton of wedding photographers around, you have the upper hand, you want the best for your wedding.
You should review each photographer's website before interviewing them. As you begin your interview with the wedding photographer, provide him/her with the date and time of the wedding ceremony and reception. Know what your budget is for the wedding (don't divulge the amount at the onset of the interview) and let the photographer know the amount of wedding guests you are planning to invite.

Let the photographer tell you about how he/she operates, does he specialize in traditional format or are his pictures more of photojournalism. (Traditional is more off a wedding checklist whereas Photojournalism tends to be shots that are created with the input from the couple to tell a story). With photojournalism sometimes the shots are done outside of the wedding day, and may include shoots with the wedding party doing action shots such as jumping for joy.

You want the photographer that can work with you, becomes familiar with each person's family structure. Tell him/her about what you are looking for in your wedding planning, what style of  wedding photography that you are seeking. You should be asking him a bunch of questions in your interview such as equipment he uses, how does he operate, does he have any assistants, does he meet with you at each wedding shoot, and does he offer select photography packages.

You will have decisions to make on what pictures you want. You will want pictures for your wedding album, large pictures for framing for yourselves and family members, you might want wallet size photos to share with family and guests and you want proofs as well. A professional wedding photographer can cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000 with a typical package running around $1500.

For your wedding, it's the one time in your life you must get yourself a great wedding photographer, don't even think of having your wedding done by an amateur. You only get married once, these photos are a keepsake and a treasure. The setting has to be right, the lighting has to be right, the subjects need to be centered, the expressions have to be right, proper editing techniques might have to be applied such as cropping, ridding red eye and lighting enhancements.

The photographer will often try to convince you to upgrade and will try to talk you into getting anything and everything. For your wedding, you do want a good selection of photos, listen to hear about the packages that the photographer is offering but in the end (unless you have plenty of budgeted money) tell the wedding photographer exactly the photos you want and how much would the photography cost for just those photos. Remember, there are a lot of other wedding photographers that would love to do your wedding. You have the upper hand.

Some tidbits about photographers, many photographers limit or restrict guests from taking pictures. Different photographers have different policies regarding this. The reason why photographers do this is, during the bridal and family photographs, with guests taking photos at the same time, some of the subjects may look at someone with a camera other than the photographer, so in the shoot, you end up with family and bridal portraits having some of the people looking in different directions.

Also, you can get flashes from other cameras occurring at the same time the photographer is taking his shot and a lighting disturbance is seen in the shot. Sometimes the photographer is restricted in the church, for a good shot, three guests with cellphone cameras jump up and get in the way of your professional wedding photographer.

Most wedding photographers are trying their best to produce the best images they can for their client. Many bride's hear complaints from their guests of not being able to get good photos for themselves at the wedding and the bride ends up being upset with the photographer. In your interview with the photographers, ask how they handle the situation when the conflict arises. You want a win/win situation. Talk over the photo shoots with the photographer, have him announce that he will take a photo first and then the guests can take a photo. Try to talk to the officiant and the wedding coordinator of the venue and try to help the photographer get good locations, instead of restrictive locations. Tell the DJ's and musicians announce, let the photographer get his shot off first and guests can get their photo. After all, you are paying good money and want outstanding photography so you need to understand a little about the photographer's world and create a winning situation for all.

You may think you are overpaying a photographer but there are many things to consider. The photographer on average spends a little bit over 40 hours on a typical wedding shoot. The photographer might spend 3 hours on your engagement shoot, spends the full day at your wedding shoot (bride's house, arriving at the church, entering the church, the wedding ceremony, exiting the church, signing the registry, photo shoots with the bridal party, then many photos at the reception). He/she spends 10 hours to process the images (moving images from camera to computer and film, cropping, adjusting for red eye, touching up photos, get proofs printed), he/she spends 10 hours in production, designing, and producing the wedding album, and 5 hours in meetings, phone calls, corresponding in emails, planning sessions, and trips to the photo lab. There's a lot of behind the scenes work.

The photographer has a lot of expense outlays, in addition, besides office overheads, they have got to purchase all sorts of camera equipment and some on lighting, have to purchase computers, have to purchase wedding albums, cover insurance, pay for assistant help, cover studio rent or mortgage, proof prints, proof albums, get DVDs, get CDs, purchase camera software and computer software, plus that's not mentioning all the furniture and storage needs of the office. They spend a lot of time covering phone calls and many of their interviews end up in no sales. The average income of many great wedding photographers are $28,000, wedding opportunities much of the time only happens on Saturdays.

What makes a great wedding photographer? The best photographers have these attributes. They have character, are highly recommended, they're sincere, highly personable, perfectionists, attention to detail, have creativity, and have excellent sales skills. When you conduct an interview with the photographer you want to look for one with these attributes. You want a photographer that would make a great guest at your wedding reception. You don;t want a photographer that is rude, authoritarian, lazy, distracting, sloppy, or unprofessional. Don't just pick one out of a book!

Your wedding photographer should be someone who you are comfortable dealing with, is friendly with your guests, but when they're in session taking photos, they take charge, assertive, efficient, and well organized. The great photographer meets with you, your parents, the vendors, know the ceremony and wedding reception schedules, gets details of both family structures and has a list of the "most wanted" photographs and becomes familiar with the photo shoot locations before the wedding day.

It's one less headache when you have booked with a great photographer, you know your photos are in good hands and is one less worry on your wedding day. After they do a good job for you, write them a good review and inform them you would be more than happy to be a good referral for them if they ever should need one, often how well they do depends on referrals and they can use some help.

You might consider leaving disposable cameras as a wedding gift favors, so guests can take candid shots. You also might mention to the photographer, that later in the reception, you would not mind if the photographer take professional shots of any guests that would like them. It may be a great time for some guests to get family photos, they are dressed for the occasion dressed in their best clothes and this allows the photographer to make a little extra money on the side. This may enable you to get additional photo shoots for your album or get extra discounts from the photographer. Make sure any photo shoots are after the formal part of the wedding reception and there is a place for photographing.

Make sure the contract include everything agreed to, there is no surprises, no hidden fees! Usually you will have a down payment, and a final payment at a specified date. Have the best man of maid-of-honor drop off an envelope with a cash tip around the last half hour, usually at the wedding reception, of their photo shoot. You should expect the photos to take two to three weeks until they are ready, it is wise not to apply pressure to make sure there is ample time to get a great product from your photographer. The most important thing of all, if everything agreed to is not written down or there is no written contract, there is NO contract! You need to protect yourself!

You may think about the photographer manning or monitoring a Photo Booth. So that's all things considered when you interview and book your photographer. See you on the other side!

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