Top 10 Steps to Select Your Wedding Photographer
Top 10 Steps to Select Your Wedding Photographer
Saravana Kumar Kuppusamy, Studio Esthetica
You've decided on the date for you big day ? In real terms to get your ideal Wedding Vendor, you need to have started the process One Year in advance. Yup. One whole year. Follow these 10 steps to identify, Your perfect Wedding Photographer who will document your special day.
1) Decide on Style
Each and every photographer will have his or her own style of creating images. What is their story telling style ? Is it documentary or photojournalistic style, classic portraiture style, fine art or a combination style. You must decide on what style your wedding is to be documented in and match it with the right Wedding photographer who shoots in this style.
What is the Photographer's visual style ? Is it bold, contrasty, muted, soft, b&w, tilted - it must suit your taste. Ask to see the photographers work of THAT style. If someone can't show images already taken in the style you are looking for then they are not the one for you. Be wary of photographers who claim they can shoot in the style you want without showing prior work.
2) Home work
Get referrals from brides in your friend network. Do your research through online websites or FB pages. Check out online listings, bridal magazines and also what kind of feedback clients have given the photographers. Shortlist about 10 photographers you want to follow up with based on style and budget. Analyse their work and further narrow down your target to about 3 to 5.
3) Setup interviews
Those 3 to 5 photographers are the ones you are going to setup interviews with. Photographers call them consultation sessions. Make sure they are available on your dates. Who is available? The main photographer or one of their team members?Meet up with them personally. Check out the details of their work. Talk about the details of your event. The date, time, venue. Your deco plan your lighting plan. Your videograhpher. Event itinerary. Go through all of these in detail. Ask if the photographer has any recommendations or has any issues/problems which can clash with your other plans/setups. Also dont forget to talk about dress code on that day. You don't want to spoil the elegance of your special day because of a photographer who wears torn jeans, faded t-shirts and japanese slippers (unless that is the theme of your event). The photographer should generally be dressed similar to the guests who are attending your event.
4) See full wedding albums
You probably would have seen the photographer's portfolio. But now is the time to check their full wedding album. View two or three full wedding photos on the screen AND printed albums. Check for consistency of quality and style. Make sure to view full event photos from functions similar to yours. For example if your wedding is going to be in a big hall with low light levels and ambience ask to view similar venue photos taken by the photographer.
5) Examine photos critically
Did the photographer capture all the relevant moments. How about emotions ? Are the photos crisp and the compositions pleasing ? How is the lighting handled ? Does it meet your expectations ? Did the photographer only focus on bride and groom or are the family and guests covered as well ? Why ? Why not ? Are there too many blur, washed out muddy shots ? Are all of them tiny pictures? Does the quality hold when viewed or printed in a larger size ?
Is the photographer well spoken with a good personality. Can they get along well with you ? Did they seem excited or bored or indifferent when you described your vision of the event ? You need to make sure your photographer is socially graceful, able to handle people politely yet is bold and firm enough to get the photos you want. Someone who can handle potentially rude guests without showcasing his ego. You personally must be comfortable with them as they will be shadowing your every move for the whole duration of the event.
7) Photographer experience, accreditation, certifications
What is the experience level of the photographer ? Are they certified or accredited by any international or local body ? Do they have the necessary technical expertise and artistic vision to pull off what you expect ? Also bear in mind that this usually works hand in hand with pricing. A more experienced and accredited photographer will usually be more expensive.
8) Do they have backup strategy
Does the photographer have backups in terms of equipment, alternative photographer, how they store their files in digital media? If something potentially goes wrong with their main gear, do they have backup equipment ? If they suddenly face an emergency and can't shoot on that day can they quickly produce an alternative photographer for your special day ? Do they store your photos in multiple hard disks or only in one hard disk? What are their Failure Clauses or how are you to be compensated in case something goes terribly wrong ? Photographers who have actually thought about all of these are generally more professional in their work.
8) Confirm who will be the actual photographer
Did you view the actual photographers' work, evaluate their actual personality ? Or did you just speak to the owner without meeting and evaluating the actual shooters ? Is it going to be one shooter, two shooters ? What will you get if you select more than one shooter ? Be especially careful of photographers who sub-contract out their services. Ensure you know exactly who and have seen the actual work!
8) Compare packages
You will definitely have your budget. What do you actually want vs what do you actually need ? Be open and candid. AFTER evaluating their packages and you don't find something within your budget, tell them your budget and ASK them if there is something they can put together for that figure. If they can't, then move to your next shortlisted candidate. No point trying to "convince" the photographer to bring down pricing to fit your budget. You get what you pay for.
Another thing, don't ask photographers if they can shoot like "the other photographer". It they say they can, please run away and don't look back. Again remember... you get what you pay for, so have realistic expectations.
9) What are your rights
What rights do you have ? Who owns the copyright of the photos ? Can you re-print your own photos ? Can you submit them to online media ? Can you sell your own photos ? Ask in detail about your rights and the photographer's rights on the images taken on your special day. Don't assume that you "OWN" the photos. Usually client owns limited usage rights (allowed to use or reprint the photos for personal use only). Check the agreement on this clause.
10)Post Production and deliverables
Get the timeline down. When are each stage of delivery going to be ? Soft copies, prints, albums etc. When are you going to get proofs, what form are the proofs, edited, non edited etc.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, get all of the things you agreed on down in writing in a contract/agreement/terms of service. Read and clarify each and every one of the clauses. If it is not in writing then it doesn't exist!
Some General Advice:
1) Call and confirm with your photographer 1 week before the date and 1 day before date
2) Have an emergency backup sibling/brother/friend as a photographer in case something goes wrong (photographer's equipment gets stolen, accident, unforeseen circumstances). This emergency photographer ONLY goes on duty if the actual photographer doesn't come for whatever reason.
3) Have a photo session coordinator - someone who will help photographer to get his shots, control crowd during group sessions, chase away people who like to walk in the background, manage relatives who like to cut short your portrait sessions, gather important family members to take group shots (photographer wont know who important members are).
4) Pre warn your family members about how long post event portrait sessions are going to take and not to disturb you. Take into account delays. This is your important day. If you rush or are rushed by your family members then you will lose potentially amazing photos.
5) Current market rate (2016) expect to spend anywhere from RM2,500 to RM5,000 per event for photography.
Edditorial team from MalaysianIndianWedding team say thank you to Saravana Kumar Kuppusamy from Studio Esthetica for his valuable time spend to do this writeup.
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