Booking season is under way for most professional wedding photographers. Here in Northwest Indiana, about half of my weddings get booked in the previous year with the calendar then filling up in the winter months of January and February. So, my first bit of advice is to contact a photographer now and see if your date is available. The following tips on how to choose a wedding photographer come from interacting with the many, many couples who have hired me to photograph their big day over the years.
- Get to know the person who will be spending the day with you and your family. Do this by setting up a meeting. While I occasionally book out of town clients, I at least push for a phone consultation before we send a contract out or accept payment to secure the date. Your photographer needs to be able to relate to people from all walks of life as well as operate his or her gear.
- Make sure that the person you are meeting with is the one who will be showing up on your wedding day to take the photographs. So many "photography services" exist today where the owner of the business will outsource an amateur photographer and send them to cover your wedding. I am the owner and photographer at Region Weddings. I photograph the day and do the post processing myself. I do have a second photographer when needed, but they are vetted professionals in the field. To learn about my second shooters, visit the About Page.
- Ask if the photographer has had any training in photography as well as digital image editing. I have gone to school for both and continue to educate myself in this ever evolving artistic endeavor.
- Ask to see an entire wedding from start to finish. At my meetings I show at least one large album of one client that shows the entire day that I have shot.
- Check to see if the photographer has a regularly updated blog such as this one. This is important because it will show whether or not the photographer is actively working and the different types of venues they have photographed in. Can they shoot inside of a church as well as a wedding shot on a beach? Can they capture the action on the dance floor as well as the details of the bride getting ready?
- Do they have liability and equipment insurance? If a memory card were to fail, data recovery services cost thousands of dollars to get back these precious images. Although this has NEVER happened in my career, the liability and equipment insurance that I carry gives me and my clients peace of mind should something unfortunate happen. The photographer should have two pro camera bodies (doesn't matter what brand) in case of a malfunction.
- Take a look at the photographers website closely. Look at their presentation as well as the manner in which they show you their work. Is this person heavily invested in their art and their business? This will help determine whether or not they will be there for you in a year or six months from now. Will they be able to provide superior customer service? Yes, I have a Facebook Page just like everyone else, but I cannot provide my clients with the information they need with that alone.
- Perhaps this should have come first, but image quality is certainly the be all and end all. To me, nothing is worse than a bride with raccoon eyes that aren't sharply in focus. A famous quote says that the "eyes are the mirror to the soul" and well, they'd better be in focus then too!! :)
If you are in search of a wedding photographer in Northwest Indiana, Chicago or southwest Michigan, simply fill out the contact form and set up a meeting. If I have your day booked, let me help you find a qualified professional so you can have great images to look back upon in 20 years. Try to have fun in your wedding planning as well, don't get too stressed. Our All Day Coverage policy certainly takes the worry out of the photography part of your day. Have fun!!
BONUS TIP: I may get myself in trouble on this one, but here goes... don't hire your friends!! There, I've said it. "But, but... my friend from college has a nice camera and she's a really sweet person." I do not doubt your friend's sincerity in capturing your day. However, unless your friend is professionally trained to shoot in any and all conditions (low light, harsh sun light, mixed lighting such as church overheads and more) and has the experience to organize family pictures and guide you on a proper timeline to ensure all of your moments are captured, I would strongly advise against this approach. Do they have backup gear and insurance? I could go on.
Every Spring and Summer I get a call from someone asking for a session in which they get into their dress and suit again and want me to take "wedding portraits" because they used a friend or one of those services that sends a stranger to photograph your day and "it didn't turn out". I've done a few of these and as we are doing the session I hear about what happened at their wedding ("there was no plan", "he was mean to us", "she asked us what to shoot", "he dressed like a slob", "the photos are blah looking", "my bridesmaid dresses are pink, but look purple in the pictures", "it's been a year and we still don't have our photos") and I realize why they are here with me a year later in their wedding day best. This just what I've learned over the past 10 years of being a wedding photographer. The emotional response I get is very gratifying. I hope all of this info helps.