Congratulations. You're getting married and you've got everything planned down to the, uhm, garter. But you haven't quite made up your mind about who to commission for your wedding pics. Where do you start?
Sure, price is a damn a good indication of whom to choose from your shortlist, but hey, let's take price out of the equation just for a minute. Act like budget ain't a problem, OK?
So how do you choose?
Rather start by insisting to see a portfolio. If a photographer does not have a portfolio, be wary. Make an appointment and page through his work. After the first few pages, you'll have a pretty good idea of the photographer's style and whether you like it or not. Choose a style that suits your personality.
If you like the photographer's style, ask about his price or package, make notes of these details and ask him or her for a pencil booking. Make sure you give the photographer your telephone number in case he gets another call for the same date. And as a courtesy, also give him a time and date by which you will come back with a confirmation or cancellation.
Rule number two: make a short-list of all your prospective photographers. Now evaluate them in terms of how they make you feel. Are they excitable or calm? Do they instill confidence, make you feel special, do they listen to what you want? Or are you just another client? Remember that on your big day, you'll spend virtually 80 percent of the time in the company of your photographer. If he irritates you or makes you jumpy, he's going to add to the nerves you'll be experiencing on the day.
Choose wisely - someone that will make you feel calm. A good photographer will make you feel good about yourself, instill confidence and make you feel at ease as a result. It shows in your pictures, believe me. Rule number three: now compare prices - if you can. A photographer will always charge as much as he feels he is worth. His price is therefore not dependent on how big his package is. If he is experienced enough to make you feel at ease, make you look your best and add value to your wedding day, this will influence his price. Not ten enlargements versus 20.
Some package pointers:
1. Ask if you get your negatives. Some photographer keep them, which means that you will be paying him for reprints and enlargements later. Although more expensive, you know that the negs will be kept in safe, fireproof storage to last at least your lifetime. If you want to carry the risk yourself, insist on the negs.
2. You should be getting your pictures neatly presented in an album. They will pass through lots of hands in the first month after your wedding, and will eventually look a bit worse for wear.
3. Don't be confused by different options offered. Your average package should consist of around 140 - 200 photographs. More than that and the photographer is trigger-happy. If you're having a morning wedding, you could get away with less, say around 120 pics, as there is normally no big party, dance and ceremony afterwards to photograph.
4. Try and avoid the "charge by the hour"-photographer. Certain stages of any wedding ceremony involves people eating, sitting, chatting, and generally not doing much.
That goes for the photographer too - he hasn't got much to take shots of. That's expensive time you're paying for, so you'll probably be watching the clock instead of enjoying your wedding. Bad idea.
And finally - once you've decided on your lensman, ask his advice about timing the service and picture session afterwards to ensure enough natural light to work in. There is nothing as frustrating for him (and unflattering for you) as to be photographed with straight flash after the sunlight has gone. You'll be wasting his excellent skills in manipulating natural light to make you look your best. You deserve it.