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Hiring a Wedding Photographer


Your wedding day... the ultimate in romantic experiences is only months away. You've confirmed the location for your ceremony and have placed a deposit in the hands of your reception coordinator. Great! Next... the photographer (and remember, a year or more in advance of your wedding day is NOT too early to retain a studio). But, how do you find the right studio for you?

One of the best places to begin your search are web sites like On the Internet, you'll be treated to a great deal of information regarding studios in your area. Visit these web sites. You'll be able to survey location, specialties, styles, general biographies, possibly even prices just from viewing the sites. Print the data about the studios you find most attractive and place it in a folder. With this first step, you've begun your search.

Next step: Have you been in any weddings over the last few years? Do you remember the photographer and, perhaps the way he/she interacted with the bride, groom, and guests? If so, make a note of it. Call friends that have recently been married. Look at their proof books and albums again just note the work's quality. Ask the former brides and grooms if they believe they made the right choices in hiring the studios and ask why they feel that way.

Next step: Attend bridal shows in your areas. Many are scheduled between January and March. Check with the bridal shops where you've looked for a gown; they frequently have schedules for bridal shows in their areas... (and again, use the Internet). Finally, keep your eyes open for "Wedding Sections" of local newspapers. Schedules of bridal shows are often listed.

At the bridal shows, visit photographers' booths and get as much information as possible about the studios. Be certain to ask if the individual at the bridal show is the actual person that would be photographing your wedding. Ask as many questions as you can, but keep in mind that time is limited at this type of event. Ask for a business card and take along any literature that may be available. Perhaps write some notes after leaving the booth reflecting your response to the photos displayed and the manner in which you were treated.

After narrowing your list of photographers to the few with whom you were most impressed, call for an appointment. Visit the studios. Yes, this takes time, but is worth the investment. You wouldn't buy a gown over the phone,...and you, likewise, need to view the studio's work and meet the professional. On your wedding day, you'll be spending more time with the photographer than any other professional. You never know, he/she could be quite skilled in photography, but might also be strongly lacking in social skills.

Trust your instincts; will you get along? If not, won't that be evident in the photos? Does he/she seem to be the type of person that will remain calm in a stressful situation? Photographs taken on your wedding day should be enjoyable for you and your fiance.

Take along all your questions regarding photography and ask them while visiting the studio.

Here are a few more:

  1. How much of our wedding day will your services cover?
    Will the photographer remain at the reception until all formal events are completed?
  2. Do you have package prices, do you charge by the hour?
    Or is there a set fee for covering the wedding with various options following the event?
  3. What style(s) of photography do you employ?
    Formal photographs are basically posed portraits of the families, parents, bridal party, and, of course, the bride and groom. These are taken at certain times during the wedding day.

    A Photojournalistic approach is designed to capture the day's activities and special moments the same way a news photographer might cover an event. The style is more documentary and relys on capturing candid moments rather than poses.

    Decide whether you prefer Formal Portraits, a Photojournalistic technique, or perhaps a combination of both. Many studios do, in fact, offer both styles. Be certain to ask.

    A word about black and white photography: it is still gaining popularity among many of today's brides & grooms according to photography journals. Yet it remains a matter of opinion; some women still choose to remain exclusively with color.

    If interested, ask the photographer about his/her approach to black and white photography. Does he/she offer "add-on" B/W packages? Will the studio include a roll or two of B/W film with your package for a small fee? Do you have the freedom of making your B/W decision after obtaining the proofs? Good labs can easily produce a B/W photo from a color negative to day... (but ask to see a sample in order to view the quality).
  4. Are the proof book and album included in the package price?
    Whether they are or are not may not necessarily mean that you're getting more or less for your money. All photographers do not agree on how to present and arrange photographs for clients. You do, however, have a right to know the answer to this question before investing your money with any studio.
  5. Do you work with a partner or an assistant?
    Some photographers may work alone, yet still move back and forth between the subjects and the camera creating poses.

    Some studios approach the wedding day with a "team" of two professionals... one behind the camera and the second paying close attention to posing details while also helping to organize groups. Look over the studio's sample photos to see if you'd be happy with its attention to posing details. Additionally, ask about the length of the sessions.
  6. Do you take along Back-up Equipment?
    Even the best equipment can sometimes fail to operate correctly. A tragedy is avoided if the studio has access to a second camera along with an extra flash, extra cords, etc.. Getting an affirmative answer to this question should ease your mind; ask it!

If you and your fiancÚ are comfortable with your photographer's personality and technical ability to stylishly record your once-in-a-lifetime event, your wedding day will be even more enjoyable. And remember, when you awaken on your wedding day, you are no longer coordinating; you are The Bride.

Let go and have a wonderful experience!


written by Vic Sgambato of Sgambato Photo and Video.