How did your wedding photographs come out better than mine? The answer is simple really. Research. When you take the time to research your prospective wedding professionals, you will rule out those who just have good reviews, but also provide a quality product or service…there is a difference. It also helps you to find pros dedicated to continuing education and learning new things about their craft or art. When you're planning a wedding anywhere but especially in the Adirondack's, Berkshire's, Lake George, Saratoga, Albany, or surrounding areas, this may help you.
I scan through the wedding pictures each week on social media, trying to find the ones that stand out the most to me, the ones that look different than the “last wedding at that venue.” You should do the same. Look at their blogs. Are all the pictures from your wedding venue the same for each wedding they shot there? See the difference in the picture above (taken by a pro) and the picture below taken by, well, me, with a NICE CAMERA. I was only a few feet away!
I had a chance to speak to a few local photographers who I consider very trustworthy, reputable and worth the money. Here’s their advice to you on things to look for or ask a potential pro you are considering for your wedding.
From the pros, to you:
-Experience- the most important question is how much WEDDING photography experience the photographer has. Nice camera does not equate to nice pics. The wedding environment is unlike any other. Things happen fast, no time for do-overs. Also, much of a wedding day is spent in environments that are tough to shoot in, such as dark churches and reception halls. (can they be properly lit). It's not just about knowing what is happening, but also it's knowing what is about to happen. Ask how long they have been in business too!
-How do they dress for the wedding-your wedding already looks like a million bucks, proper attire for all pros should match the venue your hosting your wedding at.
-Venue-while it's nice if a photographer has samples from a venue, more important is if the photographer is willing to visit prior to the wedding day. Are they open to YOUR ideas about different shots at the venue not done before by them (locations on property).
-Insurance-does the photographer carry liability insurance? If required, can they list the venue as an additional insured party? Should something go wrong this could save a couple from being sued.
-Do they have a sales tax number-if they are providing you a product, then they are required to have a sales tax ID number and pay sales tax too.
-One or two photographers is a good question-some include it, some charge for it, some don’t offer it.
-References-can the photographer provide references? Reviews? References are actual clients who can be called or emailed to ask questions to not read only in reviews. References from the venue manager and other pros such as entertainers, caterers and officiants also go a long way too.
-Samples-ask to see albums of entire weddings, not just collections of the best shots. This should raise questions if it cannot be provided.
-Proper gear/multiple gear/backup-is a good question that should refer not only to cameras, but also lenses, flashes, and other gear. Also very important is the right gear. Top end gear isn't mandatory, but again, weddings are tough environments, either dark churches and receptions or very bright sunny days that require lighting. Also, ask them if they do anything unique or different? Do they offer back lighting? Shots from the air with drones or boom camera’s, etc. What makes them different, if price is the same as someone else you are considering.
-Storage and backup-how long do they keep your wedding on file? Is there a blog or site to order pics from and how long does that stay up?
-What size print will you be able to make from the printable files (hi resolution?) and how soon will the images be ready?
-The shot list question-is not necessarily a fair question for the photographer since they are often at the mercy of the timeline they are given. In general, people do not realize the time that photography takes, nor do they allow enough time. The photographer should take a fairly active role in educating couples how much time to allow, but they rarely do. They end up rushing because they have to in order to try to finish.
When you’re ready to begin the process of hiring a photographer, I can suggest looking at the professionals in the Adirondack-Albany Wedding Association. Not only are they tried and true, but part of our free program as well for your wedding discounts or upgrades. We also have an upcoming show where you can win cash prizes towards your pros in January 2017. You can find info and register with us at www.a.awa.com.
Happy planning! ~Marky