So you are engaged?! Congrats!!! Let the mayhem and crazy planning begin! However, lets talk about one thing you can “x” off of your list with confidence, and have some questions to ask your wedding photographer when you interview them. Yes, you read that right, I said interview them. We are going to discuss the pros and cons of hiring a wedding photographer, and just how to land the best wedding photographer in your budget! Rest assured that you don’t have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a great wedding photographer.
The first step is to determine what your budget is. There is our first issue in determining what photographer to hire. Got your pen and paper ready? Good. Title your paper, “Photographer Interview Questions.”
Question #1: What Printing services do you offer?
Question #2: Where are the prints done/what Vendor do you use?
Question #3: What print products are available to me through the place/vendor you have prints done through?
Question #4: What are your packages? What comes with each package? Prices?
Question #5: What packages include a high resolution CD/Thumb Drive of my images?
This leads us right into our next step. The budget? You can’t set a budget for your wedding photography if you don’t know what is offered or what you want. So, flip to a new sheet of paper. We are going to make another list. Title this list, “Products I’m looking for, want, or desire from my Wedding Photographer.” This I can’t help you with, I can give you some things to think about. For example, do you want minimal high quality paper prints only? Do you want some high quality prints with some canvas prints? Is that all? Check out the list below for some ideas and options available to you.
–Lustre Prints as small as 2.5×3.5 and as large as 30×40;
– 11 printing surfaces
1) Lustre Paper: A semi-gloss paper with vibrant colors and beautiful skin tones
2) Lustre Paper w/Lustre Coating: Coating that adds protection and a matte look
3) Lustre Paper w/Linen Texture: Gives texture on image with a classic linen look
4) Lustre Paper w/Pebble Texture: Gives an upscale appearance
5) Lustre Paper w/Embassy Texture: Combination of linen and pebble textures
6) Glossy Paper: Most vibrant colors, highly reflective, & glossy finish
7) Metallic Paper: Metallic base adds shimmer and vibrant colors, glossy finish
8) Metallic Paper w/Linen Texture:
9) Metallic Paper w/Pebble Texture:
10) Metallic Paper w/Embassy Texture
11) Matte: Non-glossy flat paper that reduces shine behind glass in a frame
-Wall Displays; sizes ranges from 5×5 – 40×60
-8 Printing surfaces
2) Fine Art Canvas w/Matte Laminate: Provides least reflection, duller color
3) Lustre Paper Canvas w/Semi-gloss Laminate
4) Lustre Paper Canvas w/high-gloss laminate: Richest in color
5) Lustre Paper Canvas w/Matte Laminate
6) Metallic Paper Canvas w/Semi-gloss Laminate
7) Metallic Paper Canvas w/High Gloss Laminate
8) Metallic Paper Canvas w/Matte Laminate
– 8 Products with and without Canvas prints to think about:
1) Boutique Frames/ Framed Canvas
2) Gallery Wraps
3) Float Wraps
4) Stand Out Canvas
5) Image Blocks
6) Metal Prints: your images on a variety of metals
7) Wood Prints: your images on a variety of woods
8) Giftable surfaces like mousepads, coffee cups, etc.
-Books and Albums
-Yearbook style books
-Boxes, cases & different packaging
As you can see the possibilities are limitless! It comes down to how do you want to display your images in your home. Take a second a browse online to see what your options are. Some places that professional photographers use are as following:
-White House Custom Colour: whcc.com
-Nations Photo Lab: nationsphotolab.com
-Bay Photo Lab: bayphoto.com
-Richmond Printing: richmondprint.com
*These are just a FEW of the higher standard labs, that most photographers use, keep in mind that the prices on these websites are general prices for non members. Keep in mind that your wedding photographer will most likely have contracts with these printing companies and get your prints cheaper than you would be able to on your own. A professional photographer will have done a lot of business with these companies and thus have several discounts to offer their clients. I provide this small sample of printing companies so you are able to see what options are available to you.
Once you have a better understanding of what it is you want, and an approximate value of it, you can now aim more interview questions at your potential wedding photographer, and make a solid wedding photography budget. Got your list of interview questions? Good, lets add some more questions to that list?
Question #6: What other services do you provide at the wedding?
Question #7: What is the cost of these additional services?
Question #8: Do you charge a flat rate for your services, or is it a by the hour charge?
Question #9: How many hours do I get you for on the day of my wedding?
Question #10: What parts of the wedding do you cover and do you offer the option of hiring 2nd and/or 3rd shooters?
These are very important questions to ask your photographer. Here are some things to think about when you are planning on what photographer to hire. There are some current trends in wedding photography today, and it’s important to know what those trends are because as a wedding photographer it is our job to stay current with these trends. Below are some trends that are popular right now.
1) Unplugged ceremony. This trend is making an amazing comeback. Since the boom of technology, and the boom of portable devices with cameras in them, wedding photographers have been having to work around wedding guests and their cameras, often missing major moments at a wedding. This includes someone stepping between the wedding photographer and the bride and groom during the big kiss, or what photographers call, “interference flash”. Interference flash can not be corrected no matter what during post processing. It severely compromises an image rendering it unusable. This trend right now, is the bride and groom asking that all guest turn off all mobile devices and cameras so that the wedding photography team can do their job, and allow the guests to be fully engaged with there ceremony.
2) First look: This is a slide show some wedding photographers provide to you during your reception of *some (not all) of your ceremony photos on a projector. This trend is half a dozen; meaning about half of wedding photographers do this, and half do not.
3) Photo Booth: When I was at WPPI this past Spring, there was this new spring of services called the photo booth. Now photo booths at weddings are not new; they have been supplied by other vendors, and only recently photographers have been providing their own photo booths. This is a really cute way for guests to “sign” the guest book, and have fun. This is a BIG hit! This option almost always requires hiring a second and third shooter. So know that based on this alone, your prices at the wedding will go up slightly. Still cheaper than renting an outside vendor to provide this service. An outside vendor doesn’t often give you the opportunity to have a say in how you want the photo booth to look, ie: match your wedding colors, etc, however, if your photographer provides this, they often have the ability to coordinate with your wedding colors, etc, and how you want the photo booth to look.
4) Non Traditional shooting: Most wedding photographers will shoot your ceremony and the major moments of your reception. Typically they do not stay the entire reception, unless you pay them to do so. Any additional time you typically will have to pay for it. Some wedding photographers include the preparations to the wedding for both the Bride and her bridal party and the Groom and his groomsmen party, some do not. Some charge extra for it, some make it part of their standard packages. This is why it is important to ask what OTHER services do they provide. Make sure you ask them if preparations is part of their package, and if not, what the additional prices may be. ***EVEN if they do not offer it, don’t be so quick to cross them off, it sometimes is cheaper to piece a wedding together, than to buy a one size fits all wedding package from another photographer. This is why questions like these are crucial! Don’t forget to ask about the prices!
5) A final service you may or may not be aware of is MOST, yes MOST wedding photographers provide you with an engagement session included in your wedding package. Yeah, shocking right? They don’t advertise that, that is a little unknown/known secret. It’s a BIG trend right now to pay for everything at once, you pay for your engagement session along with your wedding deposit, that way it’s less to worry about! Just remember, not all wedding photographers offer this option, and even if they do not, it still may be cheaper to piece it all together. Beware of a one size fits all wedding package. Typically they do not fit everyone’s needs.
Add what services you want/need/desire to your second list you have started with the products you have already listed. This list will come especially handy when you interview prospective wedding photographers.
Now, back to your interview questions list; let’s add a few more questions.
Question #11: Do you do your own post processing or do you send it off to a lab?
Question #12: What software do you use to post process if you do your own post processing?
Question #13: Where am I able to see my proofs at? How long until I can see my proofs?
Question #14: Do I have an option in selecting which images I want printed?
Question #15: What styles of post processing/capture do you offer?
Lets address question #12, ask them if they use adobe photoshop or adobe lightroom, or both? I will say that if they use lightroom, they are able to batch and post process a lot faster than they are in photoshop. (Not always the case, some are much faster in photoshop than they are in lightroom, but as a general rule, this is true.) This is ONLY important because it shows that they understand the need to color correct, white balance correct, and enhance photos. Who wants a yellow looking dress if your reception hall is dark with tungsten lights? Or w blueish look white wedding dress if your reception hall is bright with florescent lights? You want to know and have confidence in your wedding photographer that they know how to properly set the white balance of their camera, meter the lighting conditions correctly, and fix minor color and white balance off sets post processing. Not everyone is camera technical savvy, I add this, the tonal range of a digital camera is 5 out of 10. Meaning that it can not physically capture the entire range of color from shades to highlights in one image. Your wedding photographer will have to know what is the most important in the scene, how to meter it correctly, and then post process it so they can bring more of the tonal range back into your final image. DO NOT BE AFRAID to ask them to demonstrate their abilities for you, and to see examples.
Now to question #15, as a wedding photographer, it is MY job to know all of the different styles of photography, and how to capture them. SOME wedding photographers only specialize in ONE style of wedding photography, because that’s what they like and enjoy. Some wedding photographers make a great effort to study all or a variety of different wedding photography styles. Below is a list of styles, do some research to see which ones you like, be sure to write the ones down that you like or would like to see in your own images on your wants/needs/desires list.
1) Traditional Wedding Photography: This is a extremely formal approach, with highly posed and require the wedding photographer’s intervention to pose the wedding party.
– Things to consider with this style: the photographer often works on a time-line, where specific shots are organized at specific times. In most cases the wedding photographer feels and seems like a director. The downside is the images can seem and appear very rigid and stiff.
2) Contemporary Wedding Photography: This is a very spontaneous approach that captures the spirit and fun of the wedding. This is almost the perfect mix of traditional and artistic spontaneous photography.
-Things to consider with this style: no two weddings would look the same. This makes your images unique. This style of photography is highly popular, where photographers will seek out backgrounds that enhance the images.
3) Reportage or Documentary Wedding Photography: This is a very “hands off” style of photography. Your wedding photographer will appear to be like a fly on the wall capturing your moments, play by play. There will be little to no posing.
-Things to consider with this style: this style will likely produce very candid shots of your wedding. The drawback is that you will not know exactly what you are getting until you get your proofs back. IF you do want some traditional posed shots, you need to make sure to tell your wedding photographer.
4) Artistic Wedding Photography: This is typically the wedding photographers, own unique style and likes. It has a great number of detailed images.
-Things to consider with this style: There may be a great deal of interaction and intervention from the photographer, there will be many candid and posed shots, and you may or may not know exactly what you are getting. It will be a hodge podge of images. The only way to know this style is by looking at the individuals personal style.
Do some research on these styles, and know that you can ask your wedding photographer if they can do only, one, all or a combination of various styles.
Ready for the last set of interview questions? Get your pens ready, and lets get to the last set.
Question #16: What post processing techniques do you offer?
Question #17: Do you have examples of your work?
Question #18: Do you have references you can offer?
Question #19: What is your process from start to final images completion?
Question #20: What extras not already discussed do you offer?
Let’s start with question #16; it’s important to know the post processing techniques that you like. This will require a great deal of personal research. Before I list some examples below, make sure to take a look in some bridal magazines, websites, photo galleries to get a general sense of what you like and do not like. Make a list of likes and dislikes to give your wedding photographer.
Post processing techniques to check out: (*This is just a SHORT list of endless possibilities, just to get you thinking and checking out what you like and do not like.)
2) B&W styles
3) Sepia toned
4) Selective color
5) Cross processing
6) Honey Overlay
7) Chamomile overlay
8) Urban bliss overlay
10) Aged process
11) Bleach bypass process
12) Split Tone process
13) Antique process
14) Ice Cream shoppe process
15) Root beer float process
16) High/low contrast
17) Vivid/mute colors
18) Glow from within
19) HDR processing
20) Yesteryear processing
Below you will see some *LOW RESOLUTION smaller images of examples as to why you should chose a professional wedding photographer over a non professional wedding photographer. You will clearly see all of the discussions we’ve had so far in these images. Now that you have some tools and questions to interview your potential wedding photographer, you are better able to land the perfect wedding photographer! Good luck and congratulations! c2010 April Morganroth @ Mom’Ography Photography