Professional photography is not like regular photography, particularly when it comes to weddings. Equipment, experience and technical skill all come into play. There are no retakes with weddings, it has to be done right the first time! Here are some helpful hints to find the right photographer for you:
Look at their work. The work they have on their web site is your first step in finding a photographer. Try to get a vision in your mind of what you want your wedding photographs to look like. Do you want them to evoke a sense of joy and fun?
Do you also want some of those more traditional posed photographs that you and your family will treasure for a lifetime? (Hint: not all photographers are trained in traditional portraiture. Ask them what their training in portraiture is.)
Or maybe you want some romance and the drama mixed in with all the other stuff?
Whatever you are envisioning, there is a photographer out there for you. Keep in mind that you won’t always like every image you see on a photographer’s web site, but if you determine that their overall style fits with what you have in mind, that is a good start.
The next step is to contact them. Honestly, email is not the best way to do this. You will get a lot of information from a photographer simply by chatting with them that you cannot get from email. Give them a call. How long does it take for them to return the call? Anything more than a 24 hour delay in a return phone call is inexcusable. When you speak with them, do they listen to your questions and comments, or do they interrupt to tell you how it’s going to go? Do you like their voice? This may seem a bit odd, but think about it: the photographer will be the one person who is with you for the entire wedding. In close proximity. The DJ tends to hang out at the DJ table. The baker and florist come and go, as does the officiant. The photographer stays. If you don’t feel comfortable with their voice, imagine how that will be at the wedding? There are some important things to ask when interviewing a photographer:
- What kind of equipment do they use? It’s crunch time here. A Canon Rebel or a Nikon D7100 are not professional level cameras. They are not designed to withstand the rigors of professional use, nor do they produce a high enough quality of image. Pixels are not the end all and be all of photographs. The size of the sensor, the material the camera body is made from, the lenses and much more all contribute to the final quality of the images. In Nikon the camera should be a D700 or 800 or a D3 or D4, in Canon, the EOS series is the pro level gear. I use a Nikon D4 by the way, with a D3 as backup.
- How much experience do they have? Let’s face it, in today’s world you will find a zillion “professional” photographers. Ask them how many weddings they’ve done. Ask them how long they have been in business. I realize that a new photographer might be just as capable of covering your wedding as a more experienced one. Much depends on the level of training they’ve had, which is another question to ask. I’ve been a full time photographer since 1984. I began working as a newspaper photographer, then in 1987, started my photography business. I’ve been doing weddings since that time, for over 25 years. That’s a lot of weddings! I’ve lost count of how many, but I’ve done weddings where it was just the couple eloping and I got to sign as witness on the license, and I’ve done weddings with over 300 people. I’ve done weddings on skis, in boats, on horses, in hot air balloons. I’ve done weddings at posh resorts and mountain tops, at churches and chapels and county courthouses and private homes. And I can count on one hand the number of complaints I’ve received, by the way. And I was mentored and trained by a number of very skill and well known photographers: Monte Zucker taught me lighting and posing and I learned various skills and techniques from dozens of other teachers.
- Do they have any credentials? There are plenty of excellent photographers out there who have no credentials. But, credentials can point to someone who takes advantage of continuing education opportunities in the field. Professional photography is not easy. It’s not a matter of putting the camera on Auto and pointing it at people. Weddings especially have challenging lighting conditions, people of all different shapes and sizes, and lots of activity. Your photographer will need to know how to set the camera and lights to get a good image, whether it’s pitch black or bright sunlight. He or she will need to know how to pose you to your best advantage. Credentials can be an indicator that your photographer knows what she is doing. I am a Certified Professional Photographer, as well as a Photographic Craftsman. When you see the initials after my name: Karen Linsley, CPP, Cr.Photog., that’s what they stand for. Both are credentials I earned through Professional Photographers of America. Look for this logo as an indicator of a Certified Professional Photographer.
Hopefully this will be of some help to you in finding a photographer for your wedding! If you have further questions, call me at 530-906-9336!