Today’s guest post comes to us from Robert London Wedding Photography. Such great advice, thanks for sharing, Robert. :)

When your wedding day comes, it will be so overwhelming that your memory of the day may be a bit unfocused. The beautiful flowers you chose, the gorgeous dress (that you agonized over), the venue and table settings, all your friends dancing, even your hairstyle is a moment that you created and wish to cherish. Unfortunately it is just one day and it goes by so fast. This is why the photographer will be the one hire you make that is so important, not only will they be with you a good deal of time on this most important day but they are the ones who shall capture all those details that you have been thinking about for the past six months or more!

Robert London Photography WeddingPhotoLove

To make sure you achieve more than just pretty pictures I have created a list to help you weed through all the marketing garbage and mediocre photographers that may lose those memories – follow this guide so that all your memories will last forever.

1. First thing, do a little research, and become familiar with the different styles of wedding photography.

No two photographers would come out with the same images, but wedding photography broadly breaks down to three types, traditional or classic and photojournalistic (everyone was traditional 20 years ago). A traditional photographer is someone who is very involved in the day, producing mostly posed shots and will spend time arranging both people and details to look a certain way. A classic, or “balanced” photographer is one who combines aspects of both. The last type is photo journalistic, think of them as reality TV photographers they will document what happens seldom or never asking you to pose. So as you are looking through friend’s albums or magazines think of these styles, decide which you prefer and start looking for photographers who can fulfill that need, also if you hire someone with a balanced approach you should tell them which style you prefer.

2. At least have a general idea of your budget.

Pricing can vary considerable, and you do not want to waste your time with someone who is not within your reach. On the other side if the price is too good to be true, it is most likely someone who is not a real professional and you would be taking a big chance. I have a golden rule about this “cost is something that can usually be negotiated, quality cannot.”

 

3. Now you have lots of knowledge but how do you find the right person?

The first place to start is friends. They have already gone down this road and they might recommend their photographer or give you the name of the person they should have hired. If you do a search on the internet PLEASE go past the first page and more, the first page will be filled with larger firms with big marketing dollars behind them. Vendors can also be a good resource but be warned the venue’s preferred list is a source of advertising revenue for them and usually nothing more. A great source to find the perfect photographer is WeddingPhotoLove!

Robert London Photography WeddingPhotoLove

4. Narrow your choices down from the different websites but remember you are not hiring a web designer so do not go with someone just because you love their website.

Quality is sometimes hard to define in qualitative terms, but look for the story behind each image, one photo should make you want to see another. Finally make sure the essence of each wedding is coming through, that the photographer’s style is not overwhelming.

5. References are important and it is not a bad idea to call them but be warned the photographer is only providing the good ones.

Be ready with specific questions to ask, not just do you recommend them, one effective question I like is “did your guests like him and did he handle your family’s request well?” But, references are only one piece of the puzzle in the web 2.0 world we have today, now we have reviews on wedding websites and local vendor sites such as Yelp or Google Places. Also just search for the name, you will surprised what will come up good and bad.

6. Make sure they are not just a “weekend warrior” you want a professional photographer, someone who is doing this as their sole living.

Photography in this digital world is constantly changing, and you need someone who is dedicated to keeping themselves informed of the latest technologies and capabilities, this will ensure that you not only receive the best quality but also the most choices of products and services.

7. This is very important, ask the photographer do you shoot jpeg or raw?

If they say film move on,  if they are not willing to meet the learning curve, then what else are they not learning? To make sure they shoot in the raw format ask that you receive a copy of all the final raw files (put it in the contract). On the topic of files, are the jpegs and proofs watermarked or do you receive full size files ready to print? Many studios charge significantly extra for the raw files and/or non watermarked jpegs.

Editors note: Most photographers don’t give RAW files out since they’re unedited and can often look drastically different (and less professional) than the finished files. We don’t want to change our guest article, but keep in mind that releasing RAW files is rare and in most cases, it’s not necessary to get the originals, since you want the beautiful, finished images instead.

Robert London Photography WeddingPhotoLove

8. Ask to view samples of complete weddings and ask questions about that wedding.

Many studios substitute wedding images for staffs who are beginning, also this way you will get a feel for how they handle the stress of a complete day. I have also seen photographers who can create a wonderful “glamor” shot of the bride, one that is ready for a magazine but the rest of the wedding is very poor – just because you are a good photographer does not make one a good wedding photographer.

9. What is in the package?

You want no surprises, and you want to confirm that the packages are equal when comparing from one photographer to another. I mentioned the files earlier, but other concerns are how many hours of coverage, if you are having a large wedding you may need two photographers, how many proofs do you receive, will all the images be given to me and how, on a DVD, flashcard, downloadable, how long until I receive the images? Do not forget the album! A subject on its own which I discuss here: How to Create a Wedding Album but make sure they have available what you want, there are so many options these days and quality varies GREATLY.

10. And finally, we have talked about the packages, quality, and price now what is most important is the relationship you feel with the photographer.

Remember, a photographer who frames everything perfectly, makes sure everyone is in focus, and gets every shot on your list may seem like a great photographer–however, if no one likes him/her that will show in the pictures. Even the most unobtrusive photographer still has a significant presence at your wedding; make sure that person is a guest you would invite.
I hope this list has been informative and will give you confidence in your choice of wedding photography, I discuss this subject in greater depth along with other related wedding articles on my website Robert London Photography

Robert London Photography WeddingPhotoLoveThank you Robert! You can check his profile out on WeddingPhotoLove!


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  • http://www.lisaodwyerphotography.com Lisa O’Dwyer

    I was going to share this article until i read #7. First of all, the top photographers in the world use film like Jose Villa, Elisabeth Messina, and Tanya Lippert. A photographer who uses film correctly might shoot medium format and the quality is better than digital. Also, a film photographer knows their stuff and has to get it right in camera. You know you are hiring the best when you hire a recognized film photographer. Digital photographers often fix bad exposures in photoshop. Film is making a comeback big time…and it’s the best of both worlds as top labs will scan negatives at the same time as processing. I think #7 needs to be rethought. Also, photographers don’t give files in RAW. The client wouldn’t know what to do it. High-quality is JPEG is perfect.

    • http://www.ontheroadphotog.com Amber M. Phillips

      ^YES!^

  • http://www.ontheroadphotog.com Amber M. Phillips

    I would NEVER give a client RAW files. 1) Without proper editing software, they couldn’t even open the files. 2) If my name is attached to the image, it will be the final, edited image in the style and level of perfection I hold myself accountable to.
    If a client asked me for all the images I took that day (especially the RAW and unedited images), I would politely tell them that I am not the right photographer for them.

    • http://weddinglovely.com Tracy

      Those are great points. I’m going to leave an editor note.

  • http://Stjacquesphotography.com Joanna St. Jacques

    This is a great post but I would have to argue
    That there are photographers who shoot purely in film as purists to the art form. Most can reconcile a DSLR in this day however I give credit to the purists.
    Also handing clients RAW files is like giving a client an unwrapped present batteries not included. It really takes away. Lenses are so sharp these days that it can be unflattering and my brides are gorgeous! It would take away the wow effect for them. No one needs to see nose hairs and enlarged pores on their wedding day!

  • http://lanedittoe.com lane dittoe

    Hi Robert,
    i shoot film :) http://lanedittoe.com

  • Cassi Claire

    Eeek. Some good advice, but some really bad advice as well. With photographers like Jose Villa and Jen Huang in this world, how can you say “move on” from a film photographer. In fact, I just hired Jen Huang to do a session of me and my husband because I LOVE her film work! It’s incredible!

    Also, I don’t know a single photographer who would EVER give the RAW files to their clients. And I think it’s really unprofessional to advise that brides ask for the RAW files. They serve no purpose to them, and most people wouldn’t even have software to view them let alone edit them. Plus, asking for RAW files makes it seem like a bride can’t trust the photographer.

    If you removed #7, this would be a pretty good list. Tracy, I think it’s very smart that you included an editor’s note there!! You’re awesome!! :)

    • weddinglovely

      Thanks for your note! Like the note says, I didn’t really want to change the article, but these comments will also be very helpful to brides and grooms as well. :)

  • j-dawg

    Some okay advice, but some of the best photographers in the world shoot film. You should probably remove that comment from your article, unless you want the rest of it to be negated.

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  • http://www.susiemoreno.com SusieMoreno

    I agree with most. The only thing I would add is that one should not completely discredit a “weekend warrior.” I’m a photographer part time and you could call me a “weekend warrior” but I actually graduated with a degree in photography and have worked as a main photographer, second photographer and assistant for countless years before I decided to start shootings on my own weddings. I have high end equipment and have back up equipment as well as insurance. I don’t shoot and burn, and take my time editing my images and continue to have a relationship with my clients after the wedding and pictures are delivered. BUT I like having a steady job that provides stability when the wedding season is down (especially living in Portland where the wedding season lasts 1-2 months at the most). I like having a job that provides great insurance and allows allows me to be flexible with my time so I can still manage to work on my photography business and take time off to go to photography conventions. So I say keep an open mind for a the weekend warrior because that’s how many great photographers start out and it is a lifestyle choice that shouldn’t discredit their work as a photographer.

    • weddinglovely

      Thank you for adding your thoughts! Great points.

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  • AB

    Wow this article has some really terrible advice. As some other commenters have already mentioned, many of the top wedding photographers in the world use film. Film is a reemergence art form and can be trickier to master than digital nowadays.nnSecondly I can’t imagine any true professional handing out their raw files. Many photographers spend countless hours editing and perfecting their images … What would a couple even do with a RAW file they couldn’t open anyhow? nnNot to be overly critical but the pictures attached with this article have all of the women in really unflattering poses and unflattering angles. I noticed that wasn’t a point discussed here but knowing how to pose people in a flattering manner can make all the difference.nnThe authors almost sounds angry that he/she isn’t as popular as other photographer. Often the first results on the search page of Google are there for a reason: they work hard, they are good with their clients, they are professional, they know how to pose and shoot in flattering manner, they have an artistic eye and editing, and due to a mix of all of that they are often featured in magazines and blogs. nnnThe only advice I fully agree with in this article is to ask to see a full wedding and to see if you click with your photographer. Your photographer will play a huge role in your wedding day and will be with you all day.

  • JJ

    Wow… what a fantastic blend of good and BAD advice!!! #6 and 7… brutal. nSome “weekend warriors” I know are the best photographers out there. And there are even benefits to hiring them– such as they do this part time and have less clients, so the clients they have actually received more care and attention.nI don’t shoot film, but I have very high respect for anyone who does. It takes an incredible amount of skill to shoot film, and shooting film does not say anything about whether they are willing to learn. Check their portfolio. And don’t even ask about whether they shoot raw, jpg, digital or film. If you love their work, trust that they know how to do their job, and that they do it will. No need to insult photographers before you even hire them.

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