Hi. I’m Tammy. I’ve owned and operated Ata-Girl Photography Co. for over ten years.
In that decade, I’ve managed to make a lot a friends in the wedding and events industry, learn oodles about photography and business, write a book, become a certified pro, earn a few merits in international photo competitions, and even win a few local industry awards. But among all these things, the thing I love second best to helping couples document one of the biggest, happiest days of their entire lives is sharing all the knowledge that I’ve learned along the way to help them better achieve that goal.
And that’s what I’m going to be doing today. I’m going to be sharing tips for choosing a wedding photographer.
I’m going to focus on cost. This is the one repetitive question I always seem to get because, I think, couples simply don’t know what else to ask.
This price tag encompasses so much more than just the amount of money paid to someone for their services. Hiring a wedding photographer can literally cost you anywhere between free and $25,000 (and gasp, sometimes even more!). That’s a huge, gaping window… I know. So, let’s dive in and investigate what you may or may not be paying for when you hire your photographer.
You have found a photographer whose images you like, the very first question you ask is, “How much does this cost?”
When you hear “that number,” you should begin firing back with the following questions to fully understand what you may or may not actually be paying for.
- How long have they been shooting professionally?
- Do they specialize in weddings?
- How many weddings have they shot?
- Do you get any printed products included in that price?
- How will your digital gallery/jpegs be delivered?
- Will you be able to print the jpegs?
- How many jpegs will be delivered?
- Is the photographer you’re speaking to going to shoot your wedding or are they going to send an associate?
- Do you get one photographer or two?
- Is an engagement session and/or bridal session included?
- Is there any assistance with a wedding day timeline?
- Will they help you formulate a plan for family formal portraits to ensure nothing is overlooked?
- Will the photographer conduct a scouting/site visit ahead of your wedding—even if they’ve shot at the venue before?
- Will the photographer devise a plan to work cohesively with your wedding planner, videographer and other key vendors?
- Are they insured?
- Do they pay sales tax?
- Do they have a website?
- Do they have a real email address—as opposed to a Google® or Yahoo® email account?
- Have you investigated their reviews and ratings Online and read what other customers have had to say?
- Do they answer emails and phone calls in a timely fashion?
- Are they available to attend meetings in person?
- Can they offer a private meeting space?
- Are they a full-time photographer or do they do this as a side job?
- Do they shoot multiple weddings per weekend?
- Do they have a cap/limit the number of weddings they shoot per week, weekend, month or year?
- Has the photographer gone through any professional training, certification or accreditation?
- Is the photographer a member of any professional organizations?
- Does the photographer offer a written contract?
- Are adequate workflows, systems and backup plans in place?
- Does the photographer have backup equipment?
- Does the photographer guarantee when your jpegs will be delivered?
- Will there be an archival/additional fee should you need another link/thumb drive/DVD?
- If the photographer you want to hire has achieved any kind of “best of” or “world class” distinction, this is when you can really expect to pay top dollar for their services. This means they are in very high demand.
Again, you should use the answers from these questions to fully understand what you are paying for. If your wedding images are important to you, you should use the answers to more fully gauge the caliber of professional you are hiring. On the contrary, if your wedding images are of no consequence to you, there’s no need to look beyond the number.
However, I strongly urge you to do your best to hire the best wedding photographer you can afford. Even if the images are not important to you at this very moment, there will come a time when they are important… if not to you, then to someone else—a daughter, son, niece, great-nephew, or great-great-granddaughter. These images are what will tell your love story when you are no longer able to.