Finding a wedding photographer is up there with finding a venue: it must be done immediately. This is mainly because these get booked up fast. Of the three million photographers I emailed, about 6 were available for our date, in six months’ time. Of these, a third have absolutely hideous pictures [my absolute worst is the black and white or sepia picture with one colour details, like a red rose or pink balloons or something. It’s the Comic Sans of photography.], and another third’s fees are about as much as a deposit on a Ferrari plus your first born child.
There are various factors to take into account, including [but probably not limited to]:
- The quality of their photographs. Are they hideous? Does it look like my four year-old sister could do better with a Blackberry? Do they do the one-colour-detail-in-an-otherwise-black-and-white-picture thing? Do they take sepia pictures? Is it very obvious that they are using a giant flash in lighting that is more than adequately light? If you are answering yes to some of these questions, your answer to their quote should probably be “no”. Also, have an idea of what style you would like, and decide from there. You might want your wedding pictures to look like an Instagram album, in which case hiring someone whose pictures are all about the bright, overexposed flash photography might upset you in the long run.
- Their price. Sure, you don’t want to skimp on photography. But if a local wedding photographer who has absolutely no claim to fame is charging you what Mario Testino would, tell him/her that you would like some of the drugs they are apparently on.
- Their professionalism. Do they use Comic Sans? This does not bode well. Also, I like to see samples of photography so if the person does not have a website/blog, Facebook page, etc., I’m likely to question their work. In this day and age, being online is a must. Also, look at the way in which they communicate. I like to be contacted in a way that is professional [id est nOt tYp!n lYk d!$], but also friendly. Like we’re connecting. For example, I had a guy emailing me every single day, for no good reason. That is annoying, stop it. Others wrote a cold message that was probably a copy/paste job they sent to everyone. Others wrote one line, followed by “sent from My BlackBerry”. The photographer I ended up choosing checked in now and then to see if I needed anything else, if I was happy, etc., enough to make me feel special, but not so much that I wanted to tell him to leave me alone.
- Extras. I was looking for someone who also does a coffee table book, for example. But there are plenty of extras that are a great bonus. For example, some people also do a wedding video for you. Some shoot the bride and groom’s preparation, while others only do the bride’s. Some offer engagement shoots, physical prints, thank you card designs- the list goes on. Have an idea of what you definitely want, what you’d like to have, and what doesn’t interest you at all.
- Recommendations. I found out that friends of ours know our photographer, so before deciding for sure I asked them about him- is he a nice guy? Are his pictures good? It also pays to ask people who are in the industry, who have contacts in the industry, etc. Don’t be scared to ask others. It might save you from hiring a coked up serial killer who just happened to have a very pretty tumblr.
- Details. Find out how long their turnaround time is. Where do they live? Will they travel? Do they have a car/passport? Are they going to charge you extra for travel? Will you need to pay for their accommodation? These are questions you must ask unless you have a thing for nasty surprises.
These points are all just from my [very short] personal experience of wedding planning and all that goes with it. I’m neither a professional photographer nor serial bride, simply sharing what I’ve learnt so far.
I’m also happy to announce I have a photographer. He takes good pictures, he does not charge a down payment on a Camps Bay beach mansion, he comes recommended by other photographers as well as friends of ours, he offers extras, will travel, and was the best communicator from the start. He’s also available on the day of our wedding, which is obviously fairly important. And then there are the little things, like taking the time to find out if I am on Pinterest so he can get a feel for my “vibe”, offering to meet us before hand so we can have a chat and get to know each other, etc. These things matter, people. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable on your wedding day, or have some meanie barking orders at you on your special day.
So hoorah for Duane Smith.
We look forward to working with him.