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Choosing the Right Wedding Photographer

If you are getting married in the Wine Country, you are in luck. There are more wedding photographers here than almost anywhere else in the United States. This means you will have lots of choices. On the other hand, this wealth of talent can make the process pretty overwhelming. Based on my experience of twenty years as a working photographer - shooting everything from annual reports, advertising, travel books, editorial work ...and yes, weddings, I have a few practical suggestions to make the process a little less daunting.

Claire Lewis PhotgraphyIt is always a good idea to talk to people you know who were married fairly recently. Looking at photographers portfolios can be fascinating, but nothing beats really seeing the full range of images that a client received from the photographer, as well as getting the details of how everything went on the day itself. Another good place to begin is price. How much should you pay for wedding photography? I happen to believe that there is a good reasonable middle ground for what it makes sense to pay. It is worth paying the most that your budget will allow to get someone who is experienced, talented, and really knows what they are doing. Do you need to pay eight or ten thousand to get that? Absolutely not. While it may be nice to know that your photographer has had work appear in bridal magazines or comes with three walkie talkie carrying assistants - understand that these things greatly inflate price, while having very little to do with quality.

Once you have sorted out your price range and talked to friends, look at web sites, do some research and narrow it down to four of five people. Then give them a call. You will be able to tell quite a lot over the phone. Are they easy to talk to? Open about pricing and options? Do you like their style of communication? At that point you should be able to narrow it down again. Make appointments to go and meet with the three people that sound best to you and really seem to offer what you want at the price you can afford. If none of them work out, you can always start the process again.

Claire Lewis PhotographyYou will definitely find a photographer you like, and whose work you love. There is no need to compromise on either of those two things, and both are almost equally important. You photographer is a real part of the day. There when you are getting dressed, just before you walk down the aisle, or are just plain getting nervous. You need to feel comfortable with them. And you must love their photographs.

Though it may be tempting to ask the technical questions that some magazines list as important, in the end I can tell you that unless you are an expert it will not mean much to you if a photographer starts telling you the details about their equipment or the technical properties of various films. When you meet a caterer you taste the food, you don't ask about the pots they use. If the images you are looking at are well exposed and sharp, capture wonderful moments, and the spirit of the day comes through - then it is safe to assume that the photographer is technically qualified and you will be able to relax and let them do their job.

What it is important to know is exactly what is included in their commission. You need to be clear about time included, albums, will there be an assistant, will they shoot both black and white as well as color, do they charge for travel time, when will you get the pictures, and - most importantly, what happens to the negatives? Some photographers give them to you with the work, some sell them to you after you place an initial order or a certain amount of time has elapsed, some keep them and insist that all print orders go through them. Be very clear about this and know which of these options are important to you. Don't waste time meeting with a photographer who will not give you the negatives if this is a priority for you.

Choosing a photographer should be great fun. You will get a chance to meet some interesting people, see lots of good work, and get even more excited about your own wedding. Have a good time with it, and enjoy the process!

Article contributed by and photographs © Claire Lewis

 

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