If I am not lucky enough to be chosen to shoot your wedding, please, please, please, make sure that your chosen photographer at the very least meets these very minimum requirements. Unfortunately, there are a lot of “so called” photographers out there that don’t and you will only find out when it is too late . . . . the old adage applies:
“So, you think a professional photographer is expensive? Just wait until you see what an amateur costs you . . . “
Oh, and please, NEVER, ever, book your photographer without meeting them first! After all, your chosen ‘tog will almost literally be in your face all day long . . . . you MUST get on! Don’t fall for the “if you don’t book me NOW, your date might go” trick . . . let it go and move on to someone who will give you the time you need to make the best decision for you . . .
1. Do they carry backup equipment?
It’s absolutely vital that you make sure that your chosen photographer has backup equipment for all the main items in case of breakage or mechanical failure. You would be amazed and horrified how many don’t!
For instance, if their camera fails during the wedding and they don’t have a backup then you don’t get any more photos!! Do they have spare flash units in case one fails (see item 3 – bad conditions).
Also, is the backup equipment to the same general standard as their prime units, often it is of a very much lower standard?
Do they carry a selection of different, quality, lenses for different scenarios and effects.
A truly professional photographer carries the relevant equipment that enables them to cope with pretty much any scenario, be it bad weather, poor light or whatever else might they might encounter on the day.
Don’t forget, as photographers, we only get one go at this, we have to get it right, first time, every time!
2. Do they Professionally edit ALL the images?
This might seem such a basic point, but unfortunately there are many, so called photographers, out there that simply copy the images from the camera to a disk and hand it over. That is the only way they can offer the prices that they do. The reason for what may appear a fabulous price will become evident when you get your disk – by then it’s too late!!
Do not believe the statement that goes something like this “Don’t worry, I get it right in the camera, they won’t need editing”! OUCH!!
Please believe me, and unfortunately I’ve heard this on more than one occasion. Any photographer can create a beautiful set of images for their online galleries, that’s probably why you booked them, but it’s important to know that they can reproduce the images that you liked on their gallery for you, and if not why not!
It’s important you know that absolutely EVERY image can be improved with good and careful editing (regardless of the experience of the photographer or the quality of their equipment). There is always extra detail hidden in an image that needs to be enhanced and adjusted via professional editing, a slight crop may hugely improve the format of a shot, a little bit of extra colour here, a little softening there, the list goes on and on . . . .
You probably don’t know this but It’s very common for a GOOD photographer to spend at least as much time editing the images as they did taking them, very often longer, I know I do just that!
Also, a good photographer will give you many images with effects already applied (see below) such as colour splash, black and whites, sepia tints etc, as part of their standard service without extra cost, after all, you booked the photographer after viewing their galleries, so the content you get should reflect their work as viewed on their websites at not extra cost, unless of course, this is fully discussed, quoted and understood up front.
3. Do they have the experience to cope with poor light and bad weather?
Ask your photographer how they would cope in the unfortunate event that the weather is bad. We’re in the UK, it happens! It’s just about the only thing that you don’t have any control over at all.
Do they have a plan B?
Do they carry off-camera lights if you are restricted to indoor only photography? Ask them to show you examples . . . .
I know you don’t want to consider this but unfortunately rain does happen even bad light can be a problem if they do not have the correct equipment.
Will they go “above and beyond” to give you the best possible image??
4. Do You get on with your chosen Photographer
I said this in the introduction, but it does warrant it’s very own point. It may sound very basic, but it’s very, important, if not vital, that you get on with and above all, trust your chosen photographer. They must make huge efforts to forge a relationship with each and every couple to enable them to fully understand what that couple wants from the photography on the day and to tailor a truly personal service for each and every wedding. I recently saw on one photographers website that he doesn’t ever need to meet the client prior to the wedding! Really?
If a photographer ever seems reluctant to take on your ideas, this is the first sign that they are what I call a “formula” photographer. They do the same thing over and over again because it works for them NOT YOU. Obviously, sometimes a clients idea may not work or be feasible but they must be able to explain why . . .
Every couple is different and most will usually have detailed ideas as to what they want and other will want to be led by the hand. Most ideas are probably possible and some unfortunately may not be achievable for various reasons (time of day, weather, venue, time required etc). This can be discussed in detail and your photographer can explain what is and what isn’t achievable in the time frame available and more importantly why . . .
You must meet him/her on more than one occasion in the months between you booking them and the wedding. This will enable you to build a really good relationship with them and so gain full trust in them that they will do everything in their power to capture your very special day in the way you want it done and to know that if anything does go wrong (sorry, it does happen to even the very best) that they will do their utmost to sort it and still give you a quality product and service.
5. Do you get all the files in Digital format as part of the package?
If your deal includes a disk of all the images, make absolutely sure that:
1st. You get them all,
2nd. That they will be supplied in full high resolution with little or no compression.
This particularly applies to those of you getting married abroad. In this instance, they should give you your disk before you return home.
I have heard of several cases where couples return home from their dream wedding and honeymoon only to find that either they do not have all the images or more commonly that the images are mid resolution, sometimes even low. I know several ‘togs that say you get the image in 2000 pixels resolution . . . . That sounds a lot, but is actually just above screen resolution and just about good enough to print up to about 8″ at full resolution. Most pro cameras go up to around 6000 pixels on the long edge, that will print well excess of 24″ . . . . insist on FULL res images and get it in writting.
If you are abroad please, please, find somewhere that you can use an independent computer to examine the files BEFORE you come home (for instance your hotel will probably have a business centre). Check the resolution – simply find the pixel count on each side then multilpy them together and divide by 1 million (something like 3456 x 5184 = 18.4mb). That will give you the resolution of the image in megabytes (or megapixels) which most of us understand or simply look at the number of pixels on each edge, looking for something well in excess of 5000 on the long edge.
Also, if an image is over compressed to fit on a disk you will be losing a lot of detail. Put simply, an 18mb image with no compression will be an 18mb file, simples! A little compression is perfectly acceptable but should not be excessive. So if you have 18mb resolution images (a fairly common professional file resolution) they can safely be half size. It’s a little complex to work this one out as the file size will be different for every image even if the resolution is the same as the compression depends on the content. Just be careful!
If you find out that the resolution is too low when you have arrived home try contacting the photographer again, you may then find that they either dismiss you or want to charge more for what you thought you were getting in the first place! What do you do now, jump on a plane and go out there again to confront them . . . . probably not, you reluctantly pay up or give up.
Please BE CAREFUL and check where possible BEFORE you come home.
6. Will the photographer visit the venue(s) prior to the big day?
To get the best shots it is vitally important that your photographer of choice visits the venue(s) prior to the big day, ideally just a day or two before and at the same time of day that they will be shooting so they know where the light will be and where are the best photo opportunities. There will probably not be the time to do this on the day unless they can arrive very early!
If you can, go along with them on this visit to discuss angles, ideas etc and be able to finalise their wedding plan (see point 7).
Even if they know the venue well the light changes with the seasons and the time of day so what works beautifully on one day at a certain time may just not work on another. Also, things can often change at a venue. They could have removed a wall you wanted to use, cut a tree down. The list is endless!
You will also have a much more accurate idea of the weather forecast for the day so other plans can be put in place if it looks bad. If you can’t get outside where are you going to shoot the group shots, is the bride and groom happy to go out into the rain with umbrellas, fancy wellies etc. These can generate some great shots if you are prepared for it. For instance it is very cheap to have some customised wedding umbrellas standing by just in case. Make whatever weather presents itself fun. Hopefully you only intend to do this once, so don’t be upset if it’s blowing a gale, enjoy the day regardless!
OK, we all hope for the perfect day but it is not always possible. A good photographer with quality equipment can cope with any conditions or situation (see point 3) ENJOY YOUR DAY, REGARDLESS!
Proper preparation and planning (see point 7) can allow for pretty much anything and is very much worth the effort.
7. Do they prepare a detailed Wedding Plan?
A detailed wedding plan should always be prepared by the photographer, it should evolve over time and finalised with you a few days prior to the big day. The best opportunity to do this is when the photographer visits the venue for their venue survey (see point 6). You can wander around the venue, chat, maybe over a nice cup of coffee and hopefully finalise the details ready for the big day.
You can hopefully introduce the photographer to the venues planner (if there is one) as they must be able to work together and not step on each other toes. I personally make it a point to meet these individuals as I will probably come across them on many occasions and that way they may also recommend my services to potential clients. If I don’t make their life difficult they will like to work with me.
In my opinion, the plan should contain at least the following points:
- Who’s Who – All relevant names – B&G, parents, best man, maid of honour, bridesmaids etc
- The full postal address of venue(s) and contacts at the venues
- Details of any potentially problem relationships. You know what I mean, Uncle Stan doesn’t talk to Auntie Flo etc.
- A detailed time line (agreed with the hotel). This is probably the most important part of the plan. It is vital to know that everyone has enough time to do their jobs without being too rushed.
- A detailed list of all the “must have” shots. You know, the ones that mean a lot to you.
- A detailed list of all the group shots required, where they are to be shot (Church or reception or split between the two) and who is meant to be in them. Without this, there is no way of knowing how long these will take and organising people at a wedding is a bit like trying to knit fog!!!
- ANY OTHER POINTS . . . . Simply a list of anything else that is important to you, the most important person in this equation, the client.
As you can see, the initial contract (if there is one) will not be able to contain this level of detail and much of it will have evolved over the lead up to the wedding. A well drafted plan can be referenced by anyone concerned so everyone knows where they should be and more importantly when they should be there.
To sum up!
Obviously, meeting these 7 points will not guarantee you a good job, but they will help you to get an idea that the photographer you have hired at the very least seems to know what they are doing.
I have heard many horror stories from people that have hired photographers that do not even get close to meeting these minimum requirements and I have also been asked to try to rescue the photographs from several weddings where the bride and groom were terribly disappointed with what they were given. I am simply not allowed to do this as they are the copyright of the original photographer . . . .
I said this at the top but it bears repeating. One of my favourite quotes regarding the perceived high cost of a professional photographer is:
So, you think a professional photographer is expensive? Just wait until you see what an amateur costs you . . .
Just remember, when the last drop of champagne has been drunk, the last piece of cake eaten and the dress is in the wardrobe, what’s the only thing that will give you a lasting record of the day? The photograph’s. A good, reliable and above all, professional photographer should be at the absolute top of your list, up there with the venue and the dress. Too many couples make this decision too late and with not enough consideration. Make it a priority and check that they, at the very least, conform to these seven points and you should get a superb record of your day that will last you a lifetime.
I obviously hope you will choose me to photograph your wedding but if not please feel free to print out this list and use it as a crib sheet when talking to your chosen photographer. You just might come back . . . . . .
You can call me on 07788 410930 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting or just have a chat.
If you want to see my sample wedding gallery simply click on “Customer Galleries” on the main drop down menu to the left or just CLICK HERE:
Again, just to reiterate, all the images on my website were included as part of the standard set of photographs delivered to the customer.
Go on, give me a call, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain . . . . .