Top Ten Things to Look for When Hiring A Professional Photographer for your Wedding

by Guest bloggers Gary Latimer (www.shoreshotphoto.com) and Maria Sharron (www.mariasharron.com)

  1. Experience:  With photography, there is no substitute for experience.  Photography is more than picking up any camera, pointing, aiming and shooting!  Hours upon hours, years upon years go into the training, trial-and-error and perfection of photographic art!  A photographer who has limited experience may be able to capture images in one particular setting, however, a photographer with true experience will be able to evaluate nearly any scenario and be able to properly expose and/or light the subject or setting.
  2. Concentration:  A professional photographer is hired with one goal in mind;  capturing only the best images possible.  This requires attention to detail as well as being particularly aware of his/her surroundings for people/items of interest that are relevant to your event.  While some take the easier (cheaper) route of hiring a less experienced, or amateur photographer, it is more than likely that one of two things will happen;  First, the inexperienced photographer will miss important details as they are not aware of what is expected to happen next, nor anticipating action as it unfolds. Second, an unseasoned professional, amateur or relative with a camera will not be focused then entire time – they may get side-tracked with conversations or get wrapped up into the hoopla of your event causing them to miss otherwise great images!
  3. Equipment:  A professional photographer never shows up to any event or situation with anything less than one or two back up cameras, lenses or flashes.  While it may be cheaper to hire a non-professional or a family member to capture your images, you run substantial risk of losing your day or event forever should their equipment fail.
  4. Emotions:  During the day of your event, you will be going through a whole host of emotions that range from extreme joy, anxiety, anger, frustration or somewhere between any of those at any given time.  Your professional photographer is there to remain calm, which in turn, assists you to remain calm.  When you are calm and at ease, only then will your images turn out the way you imagined.  Amateur or non-professional photographers probably have limited experience dealing with fluctuating emotions, and may in fact make matters worse by becoming frustrated or anxious themselves.   Investing in a professional photographer gives you peace of mind that at the very least, your photographer will stay calm and help you to remain calm, no matter what situation pops up!
  5. Coordination:  A professional photographer knows who to contact at each event, be it prior to the event or at the event itself.  In doing so, your professional photographer already knows what will happen at what time as well as where to be during the ceremony, reception and during down-times.  In addition, your professional photographer will know any and all restrictions related to shooting in churches, temples, etc,  as well as what NOT to do at any given banquet hall.  Coordination ensures that your photographer will be able to capture images timely.
  6. Standards:  Your professional photographer has standards to uphold.  That means they are well versed in proper etiquette, attire and know how to interact in a professional manner.  Additionally, because your professional photographer has standards to uphold, you are guaranteed that the main focus and goal of your hired photographer remains obtaining the best images possible.  To do so again falls back on experience as well as equipment.
  7. Relationships:  Your professional photographer has worked hard to establish solid working relationships with other event professionals such as Videographers, DJ’s, florists, caterers, banquet managers, clergy and many others.  By establishing such relationships, your photographer knows how the others work which only helps you in obtaining the best images possible.  Non-professionals often have little knowledge of what is required by other event professionals, and by hiring a non-professional photographer, a risk exists that clashes may occur between your other hired professional and the non-experienced photographer.  This is not what you need on the day of your event!  Hire a professional photographer and you can be at ease that the photographer and other professional will coordinate their efforts to ensure each are able to do their jobs effectively.
  8. Education: Don’t hesitate to ask your photographer to explain his or her qualifications to you. How did they receive their education in the art of photography? Is this a hobby or is it a passion? Does he or she understand the rules of composition, but more importantly, do they understand how to occasionally break the rules effectively (and knowledgably) in creating a well-intentioned and planned photo. Do they know what all the buttons and dials on their camera can do and how to manually override standard settings to compensate for low light or back lit conditions?
  9. Exposure:  It’s all about light!  Event photography is among the hardest to master because of the great variation in lighting scenarios.  This becomes particularly challenging for any outdoor event, even in bright sunlight, as well as any indoor event where there is either a large room, dim lights, mirrors, windows, DJ-lighting rigs, etc.  Light levels can change dramatically and rapidly during any event.  A professional photographer has extensive training on lighting variations and will be able to adapt quickly to any changes in light.  A non-professional will rely on the camera to do this for them, however, you will lose vast amounts of quality in your images in the process.  Hire a professional and obtain the quality images you expect!
  10. Post Production: What format does your photographer use when taking your photos? Camera settings and file type are very important to the quality of the images you will get. The only acceptable format is in RAW. If a photographer tells you they take use jpg settings, he or she is limited in the extent of their post production editing, which impacts the quality of your photos. What program do they use to create your album? Do they design the album without templates or do they rely on cookie cutter templates? Choose a photographer that has experience and talent in editing photos — and choose one that uses only top-of-the-line programs like PhotoShop CS4.

The Bottom-Line:  With regards to Professional Photography, you absolutely get what you pay for!  Inexperienced, non-professional photographers will often make several critical errors during your event.  They can not be re-done as there just one opportunity to capture certain moments!  Therefore, ask yourself this question:  If I could hire a Professional Photographer  and know that my images will be captured and kept safe, is this worth it to me?   If the answer is “yes” then you have made a wise decision!  If the answer is “no” then keep in mind the risks involved in losing precious moments forever.

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Comments

  1. We see many photographers come throughOld Mill Toronto and it is always easy to see who has a non-professional and who has a professional photographer. Your blog is well written and well thought out! I hope that many Brides read this and get a better understanding of the importance in choosing a professional photographer for their most important day!

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