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Choosing a wedding photographer

A step-by-step approach


Lighting for this picture was complicated, with the sun on one side, a large reflector on the other and fill-flash from the front. Will your photographer know how to light such a scene?
Lighting for this picture was complicated, with the sun on one side, a large reflector on the other and fill-flash from the front. Will your photographer know how to light such a scene?

The most-universally cherished treasures of your wedding day are your wedding ring and your wedding photographs.

WEDDING PICTURES ARE FOR LIFE

Who knows how many times in your life you will open the pages of your wedding album to show friends, visiting relatives and your children the images that were recorded on that important day? How often will you yourself, in solitary moments, sit quietly leafing through the pictures, reminiscing and smiling as you recall the great joy you and your spouse shared when you became united? If we were to count the number of times we look at our wedding pictures over the course of our lives, we may be astonished to find that it runs in the hundreds, and even more astonishing is that we never seem to get tired of looking at them.


YOU CAN'T GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN

The on-going pleasure you derive from your wedding pictures increases significantly when they are quality photographs - well-exposed, technically-correct, interestingly-composed, properly-framed, and showing both wedding highlights and intimate moments.

The quality and character of your wedding pictures are solely dependent upon your choice of photographer, and therefore photographer selection is a decision you should not take lightly. You must be satisfied beforehand that your wedding photographer is competent, clearly understands your wishes, knows exactly what to expect in terms of timing and activities, will deliver what is promised, and is personally compatible with you and your future spouse. That is a tall order. Fortunately, there are many qualified photographers available who can fill it. This section of photographytips.com is intended to help you to find the photographer who is right for you.

Under diffused light from an overcast sky, this image was taken with a fast medium telephoto lens. The right shutter speed - aperture combination was important. Be sure that your photographer has the equipment and know-how to capture such pictures.
Under diffused light from an overcast sky, this image was taken with a fast medium telephoto lens. The right shutter speed - aperture combination was important. Be sure that your photographer has the equipment and know-how to capture such pictures.

Bright sunshine almost directly overhead created strong highlights and deep shadow, a tricky exposure situation. Your photographer must know how to deal with light like this.
Bright sunshine almost directly overhead created strong highlights and deep shadow, a tricky exposure situation. Your photographer must know how to deal with light like this.

WHAT ABOUT THE COST?

A good rule of thumb for determining your budget for photography is to figure on 10 to 15% of the total cost of your wedding. A $20,000 wedding would therefore have $2,000 to $3,000 budgeted for photography, and a $10,000 wedding would have $1,000 to $1,500 budgeted. You would be well-advised, however, to meet with a number of photographers to determine the actual costs of providing you with what you want in the way of wedding pictures before you finalize your budget. If you have a tight budget overall, you may want to allocate more of it - as much as 25% to 30% - to photography.


PRICE IS IMPORTANT, BUT SHOULD NOT OVER-RIDE QUALITY

Perhaps the single-greatest mistake made when seeking a wedding photographer is to use cost alone as the prime factor in your decision. There is a saying that you get what you pay for, and you must ask yourself if it is truly worth it for you to hire the most-economical photographer you can find. You do not want to be reminded for life of just how cheap a price you paid for your wedding pictures.

Cost is certainly an important factor. You should not pay more than is necessary for what you want, but quality and reliability have a price, too, and you should expect to pay for them.

If the choice comes down to the same price for a mediocre photographer to cover your entire wedding from the bride’s preparation to the final dance, and a proven quality photographer for just the ceremony, formals and family pictures, you would be better off to go for less coverage and better pictures. The preparation and reception pictures are usually secondary, and can often be taken as snapshots by family members or wedding guests, but the wedding ceremony and formals must be well-photographed.

A mixture of deep shadow and bright sunlight can be a nightmare for all but experienced photographers.
A mixture of deep shadow and bright sunlight can be a nightmare for all but experienced photographers.

This attractive couple was placed in deep shade, and then illuminated by side reflector and balanced frontal fill flash, techniques many amateurs have little experience with.
This attractive couple was placed in deep shade, and then illuminated by side reflector and balanced frontal fill flash, techniques many amateurs have little experience with.

PLAN YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY CAREFULLY

This section is chock-full of information on choosing a wedding photographer. It is provided in a step-by-step approach, beginning with when you should start looking for a wedding photographer right up to the big day itself.

We hope you find the information to be valuable, and will think kindly of us years from now as you pore over the great pictures taken on your wedding day.


Further information...

When to hire a photographer

Finding a wedding photographer

Before contacting a photographer

Contacting the photographer

Why hire a professional?

Types of photography

Viewing a photographer's pictures

Nonsense advice to ignore

Wedding photography packages

Wedding photography contract

Viewing your wedding pictures