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How to Choose the Right Wedding Photographer

Photography is the cornerstone of your wedding's memories. The right picture instantly takes you back to the happiest day of your life. Capturing your nuptials the way you envision starts with choosing a wedding photographer who is professional and experienced.

Below are simple tips to hiring a wedding photographer who will provide you with memories you will treasure forever.

  1. Start Searching Immediately

    Hiring a wedding photographer is one of the first things you should do, because the best professional photographers book their schedules a year in advance. If you want outstanding pictures, start searching for your photographer when you have decided on the date. A wedding photographer's peak season is Saturdays during the spring, as this is when many couples get married. If you will be celebrating an "in-season" wedding, book your photographer at least six to twelve months in advance.

    However, if your plans call for an out-of-season wedding or wedding on a Sunday, there is a good chance your chosen photographer is free. Six months will likely give you adequate time to find the photographer of your dreams.

  2. Search Everywhere

    Good wedding photographers have a reputation of success, and therefore are relatively well known. They should be the easiest to find. Start your search by asking for recommendations from friends and family who have held weddings prior to your event. Ask if they liked the photographer. Look at their wedding album.

    Additionally, other professionals involved in your wedding day festivities will likely have worked with photographers in the past. Ask for recommendations from your wedding planner, venue manager, caterer, baker, florist or limousine driver.

    If all else fails, WeddingPhotographerUSA is an online directory of photographers organized by state. This may not exactly be a recommendation, but it will help you weed out the amateur photographers from the professional ones.

  3. Look at Wedding Photo Samples

    If you have a list of photographers from which to choose, peruse their Web sites to begin eliminating candidates from your list. Determine which photographer will meet your budget as well as your needs. Consider how well they perform in different settings/environments. For example, if you are throwing a beach wedding, it makes sense to find a photographer who is stronger in filming outdoors.

    Think about the tone that you want your photos to express. Are you and your fianc serious and traditional, or do you prefer a more light-hearted and playful theme to your wedding photographs?

    After narrowing your selection of wedding photographers down to about three, make appointments to interview the candidates. During the interview, ask to see samples of past work.

    Likely, the photographer will have two or three wedding albums available for show. Make sure you see at least one album of an entire wedding, from start to finish. After examining all of the photographer's work closely, request to see another set of photographs from a recent wedding. This will enable you to see both his best work-from the pre-selected albums-and her average daily work.

    First, examine the basics of the pictures-such as color, clarity, exposure, graininess and composition. Then determine the photographer's style; does she shoot photos that are adventurous and unique or are they standard and ordinary? This will also help you determine which style you prefer.

    Pay attention to the photographer's ability to capture the emotion of the day. Does it appear that he has the personality to make his subjects comfortable and happy? Or is she the type of photographer that seemingly takes pictures without much passion.

    Come away from the interview knowing the quality of the photographer, his overall style, and if she will adjust her style to your individual taste.

  4. Gauge Their Professionalism

    While not all amateur photographers are created equal, the best way to ensure you receive a quality wedding album is to hire a seasoned professional with a solid background from which to draw.

    During your initial interviews, find out how many weddings the photographer has shot. He/she may have been a professional photographer for 15 years, but only doing weddings for the past year. Remember, wedding photography is much different than any other type of photography.

    Along with the number of years he/she has been filming weddings, ask how many actual weddings she has photographed. This will give you a better idea of how experienced the photographer has become.

    With such experience comes not only the knowledge of how to photograph a wedding, but also how to act during the ceremony and reception. For example, how will he dress and how will he act to your wedding party and guests?

    Finally, find out if the photographer has shot at your wedding venue before. If he has, he may know of places to get good shots or ways to capture moments the best.

  5. Discuss Wedding Photography Equipment

    Although you may not be a professional photographer yourself, you should know what type of camera and equipment your photographer will be using during your event. You may find that you are more particular about it than you think.

    For example, there are advantages to both digital and film that you may want to consider. Both produce high quality images, but some say film produces better pictures when enlarged. Others contend that digital pictures are easier to manipulate and produce.

    In the end, if the photographer uses a digital camera, make sure it takes images of at least 8 megapixels or larger. If film is the photographer's preference, make sure they use professional grade film instead of consumer quality film.

    Just like every photographer should bring along an assistant to help him during your wedding, every photographer needs backup equipment in case his original equipment fails. Flashes, lenses and cameras should all come in multiples. Extra batteries, film and memory cards are also a must.

  6. Determine Costs and Sign the Contract

    While you want to make sure you book your photographer for the date of your wedding immediately, make sure you read over the legal details of exactly what you will get before signing the contract.

    First, negotiate price. Contrary to what you may have been told, everything is negotiable, including price, packages and wedding proofs. This means knowing exactly what type of service and what package of photographs you will be getting.

    Then make sure that the photographer you want is the photographer you will get at your wedding. Some larger companies may do a bait and switch. Also, find out what part of your wedding day will be covered and how many hours you have with your photographer. This means communicating with the photographer about the details of the event, when and where the ceremony will be held as well as the reception and what types of photographs you want.

    In all, the contract is in place to remind both you and the photographer of the services you agreed upon.

    Following these simple steps will ensure you hire the photographer to meet your needs and receive a wedding album to treasure for years to come.

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