If you’re recently engaged or at the beginning of the planning process, you know how overwhelming it can be to choose vendors. Sure, you’ve cross-checked their reviews on Yelp and Facebook, you’ve scoped out their website and maybe even asked for references. But how do you know they’re the one?
Your wedding photographer is one of the most important vendors you’ll choose. This person is the keeper of all your wedding memories; bad wedding photos can be crushing. There are ways to vet your photographer, though, and to ensure that they are not only a true professional, but that they mesh well with you and your groom.
We’ve consulted experts – including 2 professionals in the field – to bring you the 7 things to ask your photographer for before you book:
For an updated portfolio.
If your photographer doesn’t have recent photos (as in, from the last 6 months) on their website, it’s OK to ask them for access to the proofs from their last 3 or 4 events.
“Anyone can call themselves a photographer, but if they’re a true professional they’ll have up-to-date photos for you to view,” Mindy Morgan of New Morning Weddings, told us.
If they have an assistant.
A true professional will have at least 1 photo assistant on-hand for the big day. This person’s rate should be included in the original price quote. Vet the assistant, too: how many years of experience do they have?
If they will provide un-watermarked, high-res digital images.
Many photographers only provide watermarked proofs – which is a total buzz kill if you’re trying to upload them to Facebook. “Make sure you receive the rights to print your photos, and that your disc contains hi-res and un-watermarked images,” Mindy advised.
Un-watermarked digital images should be included in their base rate – only the hard copies should cost extra.
For detailed pricing.
“Some photographers will quote an initial price, and later explain they need more money to release images,” Mindy told us. It’s OK to go over their pricing with a fine-toothed comb, and to ask many questions. There should be no surprises when you get the final bill.
How far they will travel.
This question should be asked of all of your vendors (the band, caterer, etc). Find out how far they will travel without charging an additional mileage fee. In the case of a destination wedding, it may be prudent to find someone closer to the wedding location. In that case, your on-site wedding planner should endorse the vendors.
How many hours they will work.
Get a definitive answer on how many hours your photographer will shoot, and whether travel and set-up time is included in this block. Also, keep in mind that you’ll want photos from the moment you slip on the dress (ie., getting-ready shots) to the minute you and your groom head to the honeymoon suite. This could be upwards of 8 or 9 hours.
To see their candids.
“Check their photos to see if they can capture spontaneous interactions without stopping the action or making people pose,” says NYC wedding photographer G.E. Masana.
Candid and live-action shots are even more important than the formal portraits; almost any entry-level photographer can click and shoot, but candids are much more tricky. What sets them apart is their ability to capture the most emotional and memorable moments of your big day – shots you will cherish forever.
For more useful tips, check out the 10 Best Places To Buy Your Dress Online, the 10 Ways To Make Your Wedding Superior To Everybody Else’s, and how to tactfully register for cash.