Communication Is Key
Even though they are professionals, you must take steps to meet with them and communicate your wishes, expectations and end results. The photographer should have suggestions of who should be photographed and at what times. Is there a normally bossy aunt/cousin that knows everyone’s names? Introduce them to your photographer and they will make the day run with precision.
Get A Contract
After you have found your wedding photographer, make sure that there are no unanswered questions for either party. Will the photographer need to be fed? How many hours of photographic services will be provided? How many locations? The photographer should have a contract prepared for you that you can peruse when you retain him or her. Feel free to ask the photographer questions about the contract. It should serve both of you and get the legalities out of the way so the creativity can begin.
Know What You Are Paying For
Most photographers require up to 50% down as a retainer at the time of signing and the remainder shortly before the event. As a general rule, you get what you pay for. If you pay $300 for a day of photography (let’s say 8 hours), you need to factor in at least 6-12 hours of processing the photos afterwards. This results in you paying a photographer about $15 per hour. That may sound all fine and dandy, but when you factor in equipment costs, insurance, etc. the photographer is really making no money. Do you really want someone to record your once-in-a-lifetime event that has no financial interest?
Many beginning photographers will do their first few weddings for free. This is fine as long as the bride and groom have very low expectations of the quality of the final product. We all have to start somewhere and if we can help out a struggling couple by offering free services, then great.
Photographers who run a business stake their reputation and future prospects on their product. They may do one wedding for a reasonable income, but because of their low-quality product, future business is not going to be plentiful. Yes, I advertise, but really it’s not an effective way to get new business. Word of mouth is the crux of my business, a mother who hired me to take senior photos of her child mentions me to her co-workers. One of them has a sister or brother who is preparing for a wedding. I get a phone call, we meet and the end result of my high-quality senior portraits ends up in me securing another wedding, if I don’t deliver in the first place, the word of mouth chain will be broken.
Must Have Shots
Have a “Must-Have” shot list ready. This can be done a few weeks prior to the date, but it needs to be addressed. If you want a photo of Great Aunt Millie, ask for one. Don’t be disappointed because of missed photos. This list guides the photographer through the day and allows him/her to plan for the required shots. If your photographer gets defensive about having certain shots requested, reassess your choice. They work for you. That leads to the point (illustrated by the photo above): If you have a theme, make sure that your photographer knows about it! It only took me a few seconds to get shots of the bridesmaids matching boots, but if I didn’t know that they had put so much work into choosing their matching footwear, I may have missed an important detail shot.
On the same note, understand that weddings are high-stress, spontaneous events. All may not go as planned. If you planned for outdoor shots and it rains, hope that you have made the correct choice in photographers so that they have the correct equipment and ability to overcome and adapt to changing circumstances.