How to avoid a photography nightmare for your wedding

Being a wedding photographer, this is something near and dear to my heart.  Whether you use my studio or another for your wedding photography needs, I am hoping to provide you with some insight to help you make your decision.  The first link below breaks my heart and prompted me to address this in my blog.  I have had phone calls in the past from brides that are trying to re-create some moments to photograph because of a poor decision they made when hiring their photographer.    At the end of this, there is a link posted for a client that took their wedding photographer to court. Sorry for all the daytime drama banter on Judge Joe Browns show but this is a really good reason to understand why you want to  investigate your potential wedding photographer and make sure you are confident in their knowledge.  I know this is hard when you are not a photographer and do not know how the cameras work, their limitations, the technical data.  One thing you can do, is to look at their entire portfolio, view at least 2 or 3 entire weddings for their past clients, just not their “best of” that is on their blog and website.  Ask to see large prints.  I have 16×20’s and larger in my studio to view.  You want to see a very sharp photograph, not something that is somewhat soft in the focus.  Research what good camera gear is for wedding photographers. I will provide some links on here for you to do this.  A well educated couple is going to be a happy couple when they receive their images.  You also want to ask your photographer if they carry liability insurance, do they have a sales tax I.D. and ask to see their business license.  Keep in mind that some rural communities that are unincorporated do not require a business license nor do they offer them.  Most cities do though.

I know a lot of brides and grooms are on tight budgets in this economy.  Try not to shop based on price but rather, quality.  Obviously, you have a budget you need to conform to.  But be realistic.  If you only have $500.00 – $800.00 to spend for your wedding photographer, you will be a very lucky person if you receive high quality photography. You may need to rethink your budget or realign your expectations of quality.  Think about possibly less time coverage by your photographer, can you do without the getting ready images. Do you want just the ceremony and formals.  Do you need your photographer for the entire reception or just through the traditions like first dance, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss. You have to be realistic with your budget and what you want.  Consider a Friday for your wedding date.  A lot of photographers will offer smaller coverage collections on Fridays.  Your images are your legacy to give to your children.  When my grandparents and great grandparents were married, wedding photography consisted of just 1 or 2 images and they were usually a formal shot of the bride and groom.  When my parents got married, they actually splurged on a wedding photographer in the early 60’s.  There are only about 20 images or so but I love looking through them.  My children love looking through my images from my wedding in 1985.  I splurged on my photographer.  My album has 12 – 8×10’s in it and I bought the proofs – all 45 of them that were taken.  The paper and ink was high quality, the photographer was very good and my images are not faded, they are as colorful as the day I received them and they are crisp.  This is back in the film day.  In this day and age, you are so lucky to be able to have a well documented wedding day with some very intimate images of your grandparents as well as parents interacting with family members and friends.  The general style of photography now has a candid, photo-journalistic feel to it.  There are some posed family portraits and some posed formal’s of the two of you but also a lot of you just in action with your family and friends enjoying your special day.  You want a photographer that blends in.  Most of my clients tell me they forget I am even there.  That is how it should be.  I am hired to document your day and watch it unfold, always looking to capture your natural moments and emotions.  Some gentle guidance sometimes happens but for the most part, it is your day and documented naturally. You have an amazing story book available to you now that can be designed personally for you full of images that flow together telling in a beautiful way, the events of your day.  Your children and grand children will flip through those pages someday and feel like they were actually there.  Educate yourself and then experience through the years what a good photographer can do for you to invoke memories that will bring you right back to your wedding day.  Your food, your decor, your guests, all the fun and the intimacy two families experience when they come together  to celebrate the beginning of a new family!

So here is the link for the Judge Joe episode and once again, I apologize for some of the daytime drama – but the judge makes some very good points.  He happened to be a photographer back in his day so it is really great to see him question the photographer who obviously has no knowledge of how their gear even works!

The link at the bottom of the page is a  great read to educate yourself about the proper equipment your photographer should be using when photographing your wedding.  It only covers Cannon and Nikon but there are also other great manufacturers, some of which is covered by responses at the end of the article I provided below.  I have linked my gear I use as well so you can look at it or if you are an aspiring photographer, you can purchase them.  I  use Nikon gear and hav a Nikon D700 for my primary body.  It came out after this article was written.  It is what they call a full frame body.  I do have a Nikon D300S as my backup body.  I also have these lenses 17-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 (the first three are my main lenses and I have back up lenses made by Tamron of the equivalent 3 main lenses. I carry back up gear for in case of a gear failure, it can happen, I don’t want to be dead in the water at a wedding and ruin someones special day. The photographer you hire really needs to have backup equipment.  I also carry  85mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8 and a 105mm f/2.8 macro lens.  I own all of these.  I have lots of speed lights, I own Alien Bee studio lighting that I sometimes bring to weddings depending on the conditions, otherwise, I use my speed lights (flash) but off camera set up with one speed light on camera as the master light that I bounce off of walls. For triggering my lights I have a CyberCync system as well as a Radio Poppers System.  Obviously, you can have all of this gear and not know how to use it.  I am  an instructor with Portrait Photography Group Find out how your potential wedding photographer learned their craft.  You don’t necessarily need a degree in photography to learn photography and be a great photographer.  In fact, if you are wanting to be a wedding photographer, a degree in business is much more suitable since most photographers are also the ones that run their business. I provide my clients with high quality prints and albums from a lab that only works with professional photographers.  I do not use anywhere else to print.  I would never provide prints from Wal-Mart or a local drug store.  The ink and paper can be inferior and even more important, their lab techs do not always know what they are really doing resulting in colors that are not natural or the wrong hue. You don’t have good consistency. You as a client are paying good money and should receive high quality prints.   Obviously, editing has a lot to do with color correction but your lab also plays a large role in correct color hues.

Does your photographer scout out your wedding venue/church? I always  scout out the location if it is local before the wedding.  If it is not local, I am there the night before for your ceremony rehearsal.  I always speak with the pastor that is performing your ceremony about 1 month out from your date to go over what I am allowed to do.  I am always respectful of their rules.  I do have fast enough lenses and a camera body that is good in low light so that I can shoot without flash if that is a rule.   These are all things you want to know of your wedding photographer.  Please educate yourself! Here is the link for helping you research. Read through the whole thing.  As I said above, this article only covers Cannon and Nikon.  There are other great manufacturers as well.  Some of the responders have talked about the other manufacturers.  Cannon and Nikon seem to be the most used but that does not mean they are the only ones that are adequate.

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10 Responses

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