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Check Off Photography
What to know before choosing your photographer
by Rachel Coussens
A photographer is more than a person holding a camera. Lighting, timing, technology and experience play a large role in the outcome of shots. Being well versed on the ins and outs of wedding photography helps marrying folks feel confident that their wedding will be well documented.
Glen Johnson has been doing wedding photography for 10 years. “The difference between somebody that’s been doing it 10 years and somebody that’s been doing it two years is really big when it comes to just knowing where to be at the right time,” Johnson says. His experience stretches across the globe. “There was one year when I did 23 destination weddings abroad.”
|Matt Emrich photography|
|Matt Emrich photography|
The number of photographers on site can negatively or positively impact the day’s photos. Photographer Matt Emrich says that brides don’t always ask if he is shooting their wedding with an assistant. “I think when the bride is hunting around for somebody, she should always ask,” he says. Emrich says it is a good idea to have an assistant when there are events going on at two different locations, such as when the bride and the groom are getting ready at different areas.
Joshua Finsel and Amber Breiner are husband and wife and a wedding photography team. “You aren’t just hiring one; you are getting two people that are experienced professionals that know each other so well,” Breiner says. A drawback of having assistants is that sometimes they don’t work well with the main photographer, sometimes leading to miscommunication and missed shots.
It is important to find out how long photographers will be on site. Emrich says he arrives three hours before the ceremony and leaves after the wedding so no one has to worry about hourly rates that can put the wedding over budget.
“All the bridal mags are telling you that 10 percent [of your total budget] is about what you are paying for your photography. You should adjust that according to your values,” Breiner says. She explains it as more of a trade off. For example, if the couple cares more about the photography than the flowers, less money can be spent on the flowers and more on the photography. She also recommends saving cash by using Web sites such as craigslist.com to find lower-priced photographers that are getting their start.
Couples can do preliminary wedding photography research on the Internet. Johnson says this is a way to view a photographer’s portfolio. He warns to be wary of Web sites with small portfolios that might be a sign of inexperience. Ask photographers to prove their consistency by sending you more photos from their portfolio.
Research is key in finding the perfect photographer to fit your needs. Attend bridal shows, check the Internet and ask friends about photographers that they have hired. “Here’s my hot tip: Set up a new email account specifically for planning your wedding,” Breiner says. This helps to avoid unwanted spam email cluttering up your personal inbox.
At the end of the day, couples are putting their faith in the photographer they hire. “It’s all about trust. It is trusting that this person will do the job and you can get along with them on your wedding day,” says Breiner.
Part of believing in the photographer is knowing that he or she will bring the right tools to get the job done right. Johnson says that he would not recommend hiring a photographer who doesn’t come to the event with at least two cameras. Knowing whether a photographer is shooting in RAW format or compressed files such as JPEG can also help make your decision. RAW format stores more data about the image than a JPEG, yielding larger corrections and the ability to be reused, according to Johnson.
A big part of the task of hiring a wedding photographer is making sure that those getting hitched understand what they are to receive out of the transaction. Asking questions and putting expectations in a written contract is the best way to ensure that you get what you want. “We haven’t gotten questions about gear in a long time. I think they just assume we are getting really high quality photographs at this time in our career,” Breiner says. “I know, from experience, that our photography greatly improved once we added more lenses.” A friend of Breiner’s complained to her that it had been months since her wedding and she still hadn’t seen any photos. “A lot of time, photographers are weekend warriors and they have weekday jobs, so it takes them a lot longer to get to it. Ask a photographer how long and what their turnaround time is,” she says.
Knowing what kind of rights you are buying with your photography package can save after-wedding headaches. Emrich offers “unlimited print rights for life,” according to his contract. This allows brides and grooms to print their photos as they would like without going through the studio. Couples should expect to pay more for a photographer who offers these rights. Also, consider whether you prefer your images stored on a DVD or flash drive.
Johnson believes that every photographer has a style that sets him or her apart from every other photographer. “There is a bride for every photographer out there. It is very much matching the right photographer to the right bride,” he says.
Matt Emrich, 541.556.8924, www.mattemrichphoto.com | Josh Finsel and Amber Breiner Photography, 541.285.0551, www.jfabphotography.com | Glen Johnson, 541.729.9256, www.aperturephotographics.com