What is a Great Wedding Photographer?

What makes a good photographer a GREAT wedding photographer?

As with anything you can buy, there’s a good, better and best. Take cars for example – everyone knows a Kia is no where near as great as a Mercedes-Benz. So here is a little help to find the Benz of wedding photographers.

There are 4 categories that set apart the good, better, and best photographers –

bridal-party-portrait

Great photographers can capture outstanding photos even under pressure like I did with this group shot (in a matter of minutes) at Chippokes State Park.

The Photographs
Your Experience
Professional Albums
Customer Service

The Photographs
This is usually the first item couples think about as it’s the base-bone of a photography choice. Here’s what you should be looking for.

– Does the photographer have good quality images (not too dark, too light, orange, etc)?
– Do all the photographs have an altered color or over-effecting to them that’s not natural or timeless?
– Does the photographer fit the style of what you’re looking for (soft and dreamy, loud and fun, funky and sexy, etc)?
– Do all the photographer’s weddings have that similar style that you’re looking for? (You don’t want to hire someone who isn’t consistent)
– Do you notice wrinkles, blemishes, unattractive angles, awkward poses or distracting backgrounds in the pictures?
– Does the photographer guarantee a 2nd photographer that will provide the same quality of images?
* A good way to see this for yourself is to ask to see an entire wedding and look to see if the quality of photography is consistent throughout (Click HERE to see one of my recent weddings)
great-wedding-photographer

Your Experience
You simply can’t place a value on an experienced professional on your wedding day. Your photographer needs to know what will happen before it does, anticipate moments, be flexible on the spot, know how to help you schedule your day to get the photos you want, and be able to conquer any lighting or weather condition. I would say about 100 weddings is what it takes to acquire and perfect these skills and intuitions (or a degree in photography or other professional experience and at least 50 weddings). Here are a few more questions to ask:

– Have you ever done a wedding like mine? (Note, it doesn’t matter if they’ve done a wedding at your venue. Because of changing light, weather, and circumstantial situations, location is irrelevant to an experienced photographer. But having had experience at your type of wedding (Jewish, traditional, beach, etc.) can mean the difference of them knowing what shots to get and how to anticipate moments.)
– What do you do when ________? (Fill in the blank with any crazy thing you think might happen on your wedding day and see if the photographer can think on their toes!)
– Do you put together family photos? (Your photographer should discuss what family shots you want BEFORE the wedding day and make suggestions based on your family members and the amount of time you want to spend for pictures. This shouldn’t happen on the wedding day! I have a list I email and go over with all of my couples about a month before the big day.)
– Do you have a videographer/cinematographer you work with regularly? (You want your visual team to be in-sync the day of so that they don’t get in each other’s way and work well together.)
wedding-albums

Professional Albums
Your wedding album is your first family heirloom that you’ll pass on to your children and grandchildren and it will be in your family’s homes for generations to come. How can you make sure the quality of your products will stand the test of time? Here’s the tricks to spotting poor quality albums that probably won’t last more than five years:

– The seam of the page. Is there cracking, pinking or discoloration of any kind?
– The corners and sides of the pages. Are they peeling up or not laying flat?
– Look at the book closed and view the sides of the pages. Are they waving or warping in any way?
– Look at the printing itself. Is it colorful, vibrant, and matching to the quality of the images you saw on their website?

Customer Service
You might find categories 1, 2, and 3 great but end up with a horrible experience over all. Did you know some brides go 6 months or more without seeing their wedding proofs and years before they get their album?!? Here’s what to ask to make sure that doesn’t happen to you:

– How long will it be to see the proofs? (If they say 3-4 weeks then ask to see proofs from the wedding they shot 4 weeks ago and to talk with the couple. Don’t get caught with someone who over-promises and then doesn’t deliver! My couples see their proofs in about 5 weeks.)

– How long does it take to get the album? (Find out the album process step-by-step. Some photographers let you choose your wedding album pictures but if you have a busy schedule be sure to ask if they can select the photos for you or this could cause you not to have your wedding album for years after your wedding.)
virginia-beach-photographer

– Do they have professional backups?
Life happens. People get sick, hurt, or worse. Make sure your photographer has a great backup plan so you aren’t caught trying to find a replacement a month before your wedding day. And make sure this is part of the contract and read the fine print. (While I offer couples a full refund -including deposit- if they choose to hire another photographer because I am not able to be there -has never happened, knock-on-wood- many photographers will keep your deposit if you don’t accept the replacement they find for you.)

– Are they a boutique studio?
Your wedding is unique and important and you want a photographer that thinks the same way and doesn’t just pile you in with one of the 100 brides they’re photographing that year. The advantage to having a “Boutique-style” photographer (one that shoots less than 30 weddings a year) is that you’ll receive more attention and care each step of the way and your wedding photographs will show more of your unique personality rather than cookie-cutter style & poses that are done the same way at every wedding.

– Do you like your photographer?
This is REALLY important. You will be working together over the next year or two – and spend more time with them than your fiance on the wedding day! So make sure they have a friendly personality that’s knowledgeable and calming, someone you will want to spend hours with on one of the biggest days of your life.

Have more questions for me? Check out my FAQ page!