Wedding Photograph Tips

As the husband (and impromptu second shooter) of a professional wedding photographer, I’ve gained a bit of insight into how engaged couples should tackle the issue of photography. Here are a few nuggets of advice that will hopefully help anyone having a hard time with it. Budgeting for Photographers, If your wedding budget is fixed (and most are), one of the first debates will be how you distribute your funds among the myriad of vendors all of whom will be looking for their piece of the pie. This can possibly be one of the more frustrating parts of the process–deciding what you can and can’t afford. When considering photographic services, you have to really think of it as your most important decision. The cake may fall over on its way to the reception, the band may show up late, the flowers could be droopy, or the steak cold–but it’s only the photos that will carry your memories forward for generations to follow.

It would be impractical to suggest a certain dollar amount because everyone’s budgets are different. But depending on your geographical region and the market you’re in, you should expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 – $5,000 for 8 hours of decent photographer’s time. The price may seem steep when you’re first pricing out this service, but what most people don’t realize is that for every hour of actual shooting, many hours are spent processing the images.

The average 8-hour shoot ends up producing around 1,000-1,500 images. While you may not see every one in your proof book, the photographer still needs to go through every one, weed out the bad shots, and touch-up the good ones. This takes many many hours of tedious work. It’s just something to consider when debating whether to pay for a photographer or ask your Uncle Harry to do it for you. Researching Depending on how serious you are about photography and wanting to keep your memories forever, will ultimately determine how much time you spend looking for the perfect photographer. Most brides-to-be already use resources like and other wedding-related sites to find vendor reviews, but what may be more important than any review on-line, are “word-of-mouth” reviews you get from friends and family. Websites are great, but it’s not the only tool at your disposal–make sure you ask around, especially people who know you well.

If you think about it, most professional photographers know how to take great pictures. Most photographers can also switch “styles” between “photo-journalistic,” “formal,” and “artistic.” What’s more important is how you get along with them, because: A) you don’t want to be worrying about whether or not they’re where you want them; and B) you want someone you’ll be comfortable with, especially since they’ll be near you throughout the day.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to settle for whoever is available. In other words, make picking your photographer a top priority, because many of the best get booked up to a year in advance. Unfortunately if you’ve waited until the month before, you may be left with few options and this could ultimately lead to a bad situation. Do the research as soon as you are able.Experience and Formal Training Experience means a lot when you’re choosing a caterer, florist, and Dee-Jay. Inexperience is not necessarily a bad thing when choosing a photographer though. Often times, you’ll be able to find a photographer new to the business willing to charge you less than the competition because they’re trying to build a portfolio. Of course, you want to feel confident that they have the skills to do the job (and you always want to ask for references), but you will probably find that a budding wedding photographer is going to go the extra mile to ensure you’re happy with the work they’re doing.

Engagement Shoots

Even if it’s not included in the package price, put the money aside and make the time for an engagement shoot. Not only is it a nice opportunity for you and your spouse-to-be to escape for a day from the stress of wedding planning, but it gives you a very important opportunity to get to know your photographer a little better. The inverse is just as important; your photographer should want to get to know you–your likes and dislikes–your style.
I’ve been on wedding shoots where my wife had done a prior engagement session and ones where the couple chose not to. While the photos from both come out great, the couples that go on the engagement shoots definitely seem more comfortable with the experience.

Leave it to a good photographer will ask you at least the basics during your initial meeting with them, such as: if you want formal pictures, who are the important family members you want pictures with, timing, etc. After you feel like you’re on the same page with them, let them run with it. In other words, try not to micro-manage. This can be difficult if you yourself are “into” photography but it all boils down to trust and confidence. They will know where to be, and when.

The Second Shooter

The second shooter serves as an assistant to the primary photographer. Having one at your wedding doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end up with twice the images to choose from. What it does is double your odds that the pictures you do get, are ones you’ll like. Obviously, a second shooter means that photos can be taken at two different places at the same time, or two different perspectives on the same point. Deciding whether to pay for one should be a personal preferences–you shouldn’t feel pressured into getting one but at the same time, you shouldn’t feel that you will not get a good set of pictures without one.

As I said at the beginning, I am often a second shooter for my wife. I’d like to think of myself as a decent photographer but by no means am I the main show (in fact, I purposely tell people not to look at me but instead at my wife, when posing for shots). More importantly, I serve as an assistant. I download images from the cameras to our laptop and fill-in for her when she needs a 5 minute break. If you think you need a second shooter, you should opt for the least expensive option. Most photographers network with local photography schools and can bring along a trustworthy student.

Digital Files

Film is dead. Technology has surpassed the capabilities of film many years ago. With an 8-10 mega-pixel camera and good lenses, the digital SLR camera can easily do much more than a film camera ever could. Working with digital has introduced a new dilemma for photographers though. The images a photographer captures is their “bread and butter.” Yes, they get paid for the time they work, but it’s the images that continue to produce revenue far into the future. This means that some photographers still hold on tightly to the copy rights of these images.

My personal opinion is that they all need to get over it. You need to insist (from the start) on getting your “digital negatives.” These should come in the form of a CD-ROM (or DVD-ROM), which they can easily burn for you. Most photographers will make you pay for this CD, to compensate for the loss in revenue they would get from prints, so be prepared to do some negotiating.

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