If you've never hired a professional photographer, this can seem like one of the most overwhelming wedding planning tasks. However, the job will be much easier if you remember a few simple tips.
How to Hire a Professional Photographer
When you're hiring a professional photographer for your wedding, don't be afraid to ask for referrals. Talk to recently married friends, family members, and acquaintances who can recommend photographers from your area. Their experiences can give you a better idea of what you can expect for your own wedding photography
Unless you're dealing with unusual geographic restraints, don't hire your wedding photographer on the basis of a phone conversation. Take the time to visit his/her studio personally to discuss your expectations for your wedding photos. Your photographer will play a large part in the success of your wedding, so it's worth the effort it takes to hire someone who makes you feel comfortable.
Meet with at least three different wedding photographers before making your final decision. Always ask to see samples of a photographer's work, preferably from several different weddings. And, if you're considering using a studio that employs more than one photographer, make sure you know who took the sample photos. It's not uncommon for studios to show samples from photographers who no longer work for the company.
Fees for Professional Wedding Photography
When you pay a professional photographer to take pictures at your wedding, your fee is payment for his/her:
- Talent and expertise
- Expenses involved in processing the prints you order
It is important to understand that when you hire a professional photographer you do not have the right to use his/her images as you wish. According to U.S. Copyright Law, your photographer owns the negatives and/or digital files for all images taken at your wedding. Your payment is merely for a copy of the image, unless your agreement specifies otherwise.
According to one recent survey, most couples can expect to spend over $1,500 on wedding photography. However, this amount can vary substantially according to your geographic location, the expertise of the photographer, and the type of pictures you want. You'll need to shop around to get the best deal on your wedding photography.
The Pitfalls of Hiring a Friend to Photograph Your Wedding
If you're on a tight budget, having a friend photograph your wedding might seem like a great way to save some money. However, there are several factors you should consider before making this decision:
- If you're considering digital photography, does your friend have a camera that will take the quality of images you need to make large prints? Making snapshot size prints typically won't be a problem, but your friend will need an extremely high resolution camera to take photos suitable for prints larger than an 8x10.
- Does your friend have the skills necessary to take the pictures you want? Taking pictures at a wedding is not the same as taking snapshots at a family picnic or photographing a child's baseball game. Think twice before allowing a friend who is new to photography to handle your wedding photos.
- How will you handle the need for digital retouching? When you hire a professional photographer, he/she can retouch images to remove acne and other imperfections. This probably won't be an option if your friend is in charge of wedding photography.
- Does your friend have a back-up plan for emergencies? What will happen if your friend is sick on the day of your wedding or something happens to his/her camera? While a professional photographer will always have a back-up plan when shooting a wedding, this may not be something your friend has considered.
Remember, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event. You won't get a second chance to get pictures of this special day. Think of the services of a professional photographer as a wise investment.