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Hiring a Wedding Photographer

September 29, 2009

A good friend and fellow wedding vendor, Evan of MyDeejay.com, recently asked me to contribute to a blog post of his. He asked “How important is it to meet the photographer in person before you hire them?” So I sent him my answer. Of course, I got on a roll once I started typing, so I am including my full thoughts here, but my shortened answer and answers from some other photographers can be found on his post here: http://www.mydeejay.com/blog/2009/09/hiring-a-wedding-photographer-questions-to-ask-a-photographer

How important is it to meet the photographer in person before you hire them?
In this world of instant online purchases, it is tempting to book a photographer online or over the phone. And while I have certainly had a few brides do this, I HIGHLY recommend meeting with your photographer face to face. Face to face communication will give you the best and most accurate picture of who your photographer is. We all know how much can be lost in email conversations: tone, expression, etc. The same can be said of a phone conversation – is the person on the other end really listening and fully attentive or are the pounding away at an email or checking Twitter while talking with you? Your photographer will be the one vendor who spends the most amount of time with you… in fact, ALL DAY with you! Often times, the only time alone that my brides and grooms get is when I send them off alone so I can shoot from a distance. It is the only time they are not surrounded by tons of people on this most equally intimate and public day. This is why a face to face meeting is crucial.

Meeting with your photographer does a couple of key things. First, you get to know each other. Do you click? Do you feel comfortable with the photographer or does he/she make you nervous? I want my brides and grooms to feel like I am an old college friend shooting their wedding, but some couples may want to have a relationship with their photographer who is more like a hired vendor. It is up to you, but that meeting will give you insight into their personality. Is he or she over the top and would outshine you on your wedding day? Will they be too pushy when it comes to helping create a timeline for the day? Will they be too timid to get the shots they need? Will they be so unobtrusive that they are never there when you need them? Is your meeting rushed or relaxed? Is it a sales pitch or delving into what you want for your day? Body language and time spent with you will say a lot between the lines. I believe in women’s intuition and you can certainly pick up those vibes from people the first time you meet.

Secondly, where and how you meet says a lot about the photographer. Some may meet you at your house, some at a coffee shot, some in their studio. I meet couples in my studio so they can see lots of samples, view a slideshow projected huge on the wall and see my decorating style. While that last bit may seem silly, if someone likes my taste, they will trust my eye for their wedding day. I love meeting in my studio because we are not distracted by others in a public place or limitations of meeting outside of my own space. I can only meet one night a week because I have 2 little ones under 4. My family is a priority and my couples know and respect that. I used to drive all over the place to meet with couples, but when my kids came, I needed to restructure my schedule. Now, when they come to my studio, they see a canvas of my family. That is part of who I am and I don’t separate that.

Lastly, meeting face to face really gives your photographer the opportunity to make mental notes of who you are as a couple as well. Oftentimes, I can read into a couple’s personality together from that first meeting. Did they come as a couple or did just the bride come alone, or with her mom of friend? I love getting a couple talking about their love story and their dreams for not only their wedding but their life. It gives me great insight into how I would shoot them on their wedding day. Hopeless romantics love the close intimate shots, modern artistic types like the funky unusual shots best. I don’t categorize folks, but the engagement session gives me even more insight into who they are as a couple and makes for a better wedding day shoot.

Here are some questions that I rarely get asked, but will volunteer the information because I think they are important and not always listed in your magazine list of what to ask your photographer.

How long and/or how many weddings have you been the PRIMARY photographer? This is important because there are TONS of shooters out their with photography businesses. With all the template based websites, and blogs it can be hard to differentiate those who are just starting with those who have put in their time. Their answer will have to sync with your comfort level. Maybe you want a newbie who has a fresh outlook on weddings and maybe you want a seasoned shooter who knows how to handle the hundreds of variables that happen at a wedding. This is up to you, but you must ask!

What is your backup plan if something happens to you? No one likes to talk about this, but the reality is that something could prevent your photographer from getting to your wedding. What plan do they have in place to cover you?

What is the realistic timeline to view images, order and album, etc? Everyone likes to think the world revolves around their wedding.. because right now, it does! Your photographer has other weddings before and after yours. How will your production time be affected by that? Do you want timelines in writing? Wrong expectations lead to frustration and resentment.

Ask to talk to previous couples. If a potential couple asks me for references, I have no problem giving them a list of names to contact! How hesitant is your photographer to give you a list? Is the list only 1 or 2 names? Make sure you ask the references how their total experience was. If the images are amazing but the customer service is lacking, what was it that bothered that couple and bring it up to your photographer. Ask them how they can do better. Everyone is growing and learning everyday, so don’t just write them off if you get a negative review. Remember, lots of personalities are in the mix, but trust your judgement.

Good luck and set your photography appointment now!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2009 11:34 pm

    Great stuff, Kim!! Thanks for the link too!

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