What are some basic things to consider when looking at potential wedding photographers?
Get to know them both professionally and personally. You need to make sure that your photographer has the creative chops to deliver great wedding images, but you also want to make sure they have the proper social graces to fit in at your wedding. Pay attention to how your photographer dresses at your first meeting, how they greet you and how they speak to you on the phone. You’ll want to be sure that you feel comfortable having your photographer interact with everyone on your wedding day because they definitely will. Is he or she the type of person you might see as a friend? If so, you’re probably on the right track. Also, do they have a particular style (lighting, composition, etc)? Is that a style you’d like? Ultimately you’re hiring them for what they are good at and you should let them do that.
What are a few important questions to ask a potential photographer when I meet them?
A great one is, “How much direction can we expect to receive from you on our wedding day?” The word “pose” used to be a four letter word. (Editor’s note: It actually is a four letter word but that’s beside the point.) Everyone wants “candid” these days and any half decent photographer will be able to give you that. That said, there will be decisive moments throughout your day that will require some direction. Be sure that your photographer is comfortable giving you direction so that you don’t feel stiff or awkward in front of the camera. Trust me, you want some shots that are “posed” even if you think you don’t. Ultimately he is the one looking through the viewfinder and should be able to determine where to push, pull, and encourage based on what you all have decided you want from the images. Another great one is “How many weddings do you shoot a year?” This will really give you a sense of their level of expertise and experience. Is this a profession or a hobby for them? Good things to know when you're considering where you’re going to spend your hard-earned and well-budgeted dollars.
Let’s talk tough questions, what sorts of things should couples consider when looking at their photographer budget?
Just remember that this will be the most important day of your life and you want someone that has had plenty of experience shooting weddings. Don’t go by the adage, “If they’re expensive they must be good”. On the flip side, be careful if the deal seems too good to be true. In our opinion, price point should not be the determining factor when it comes hiring a wedding photographer. We feel it should be more about how many weddings the photographer has worked and whether or not their style fits what you want. Weddings are often fraught with hiccups throughout the day. It’s the experienced photographer (or any vendor) that deals with them professionally so that you are not aware of them. The last thing you want to hear about is how the timeline is off track or how none of the groomsmen know how to tie their bow tie. You want someone that can troubleshoot any little issues that arise and someone that knows that if the timeline is off track, they can get it back on track. Or, if the guys don’t know how to tie their bow ties, he (or she) can tie them because they’ve tied them 100 times before for other groomsmen. Bottom line is, no matter how much your photographer charges, make sure they have experience shooting weddings. While buying some furniture on Craigslist is cool, just don’t hire your wedding photographer from Craigslist. Just don’t. Seriously.
What are some other do's/don'ts to keep in mind during this whole process?
Do tell them which is your good side. They will appreciate knowing this ahead of time.
Do feed them. We get hungry (and thirsty) hustling all day.
Do trust their judgement on timing when it comes to coordinating the timeline for the day.
Any other tips, advice, words of encouragement?
Hire a coordinator. Hire a coordinator. Hire a coordinator. Also, hire a professional coordinator. Not your “super organized friend”. Even if it is just for the day of, it makes a world of difference and your photographer will thank you.