You have spent so much time and effort into making your wedding day perfect. You want every detail, every smile, every tear captured. After your wedding day the only thing you are left with is your pictures, so how do you pick the right photographer that won’t rip you off. I have heard many horror stories from “I only received low resolution files on my usb/dvd and my photographer wants to charge me extra for the hi-resolution files” or “My wedding is in 2 months and I can’t get a hold of my photographer.”
With so many photographers to choose from how do you know your picking the right one. Here are some questions that you should be asking that would help you choose the right photographer that won’t rip you off.
-How long have you been in business?
This will help you find a photographer who’s established and been around for a while, someone who is known in the community and has many reviews. Now does that that mean a first year photographer shouldn’t be trusted? Absolutely not, we all started somewhere. But some people want the peace of mind knowing that they booked an experienced photographer who’s been around for a while.
-Are you going to photograph my wedding?
Now you might have found an established photography company with an amazing portfolio and tons of amazing reviews. Sometimes larger companies have multiple weddings on the same day. Do you know which photographer is going to photograph your wedding? Is the portfolio you are being shown belong to the photographer who will show up on your wedding day? Make sure you know who is showing up and you have seen their personal portfolio.
-Do you have a portfolio I can review other than your website?
Website portfolios are great to get an idea of the photographers style, but you want to see more, maybe an album. This way you can see a whole wedding from beginning to end.
-Can I customize a package based on my needs?
You should be able to cutomize your own package, most photographers have 3 packages which is a good starting point. It can help you get an idea if their prices are within your budget. When looking at a photographers packages you should be able to add or remove products/services from a certain package to customize it to your needs, not everyone needs everything in a package. As an example if you find a package you like but it offers a canvas print you don’t need it you should be able to remove that canvas form the package and get the price adjusted.
-If my wedding location is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
Be very clear if your locations require additional charges for traveling. If so, know exactly how much and get it in writing.
-If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
Most photographers charges are a lot higher rates if they are expected to stay longer than stated on the contract. Make sure you know what those charges are and it’s stated clearly on the contract.
-How much of a deposit, and when are other payments due?
Every photographer requires a different deposit and different payment structures, make sure it’s something that works for you and if any changes are made to his structure that it’s corrected and initialed on the contract.
-What is your refund/cancellation policy?
Some contract state that just the deposit won’t be returned other say that the whole contract abount is owed if the wedding is cancelled. If your wedding has been postponed to a later date can you use your deposit if the photographer is available on your new date? This is all very important information you need to know.
-Will I receive a written contract?
Do not book a photographer that will not provide you with a contract, make sure you view the contract before you leave a deposit or sign anything. Make sure you get a copy. Everything should be in the contract and if you made changes or have required something not in the contract make sure it get changed/added/deleted and initialed by the photographer and you get a copy.
-Do you have back up equipment?
This very important, a wedding day is a very fast paced day for a photographer with people everywhere. If a camera, lens, flash ect… gets banged and broken does he have back up to continue photographing the rest of your wedding. There are many photographers out there with just one camera and lens, they can be great photographers but if something happens to their equipment on the wedding day they won’t be able to finish photographing your wedding day.
-Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that?
This is a big one, other than the amount of hours the photographer is photographing your wedding what else are you getting? How are getting your pictures? Are they just an online gallery, or a dvd/usb with the digital files. What ever he offers you make sure you get the hi-resolution jpeg files. If the hi-resolution files are not included find out how much they will cost. Try to avoid any surprises and the end. You want the hi-resolution images incase you want to print or create an album in the future your not handcuffed to go back to the same photographer and have no choice but to pay his prices if you don’t want to. You want to be able to have options. The hi-resolution images are everything!!!
-How long after the wedding will I get the pictures, albumns, prints ect….
This should be clearly stated on the contract, know how long after your wedding you will have to wait for your pictures, and how long for prints and albums.
-Will my pictures be edited?
I’ve seen some websites with amazingly beautiful edited pictures, but will all your pictures be edited the same? If not have the photographer show you what the non or less edited pictures will look like.
-How many pictures will I get?
There is no set number of pictures any photographer can promise you, but every photographer has an average they should know. Some photographers will deliver around 2000 pictures for a 10 hour wedding and others maybe 500. Is it better to get 2000 pictures instead of 500, not necessarily. Sometimes you just have to make a decision of quality over quantity. I believe that 40-50 images an hour is absolutely adequate. More than that you will just be getting a lot of unnecessary repetition.
After you meet with a few different photographer I hope that this has helped you decide on a photographer that will offer what you what need and not rip you off. But there is one more important thing you need in a wedding photographer that you can’t get the answer from asking him or her, you need to ask yourself this question. Is this person someone you and your fiancé can relate to? A wedding photographer will spend the whole day with you on the most important day of your life, make sure it’s someone you can get along with.
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