Thursday, March 14, 2013

Guest Blog by Melanie Rebane Photography - The Keys to Choosing your Wedding Photographer: Personal Style, Pricing and Professionalism

Choosing a photographer can be one of the most overwhelming parts of the wedding planning process. There are so many to choose from, each offering something different – different photography styles, different photo packages, and different personalities. Not to mention that your photographs will be the one thing that lasts long after the wedding is over. In today’s blog post, photographer Melanie, the lead photographer from Melanie Rebane Photography, offers her own pearls of wisdom about how to choose your wedding photographer. Here’s what she has to say…

There are literally hundreds of articles to help you choose a wedding photographer. A newly engaged couple can be completely overwhelmed by the advice and seemingly hundreds of photographers' websites but I would like to help simplify it a little for you from the other side of the camera lens.

Why is it so expensive? What can I expect to pay?
Let’s get this out of the way first. Many established and experienced photographers have invested up to $40 000 (or more) in the best equipment, all of which will be accompanying them to your wedding to ensure that it is captured perfectly. Running a professional photography business IS expensive. You are not just paying them to shoot on your wedding day, but also for all the behind the scenes work that takes place throughout the process, from planning to shooting to processing and design. You can expect to pay approximately $3200 on the lower end to $7500 or more for an established professional wedding photographer, depending on the products and services you include in your wedding package.

What to expect from a professional photographer?
You should expect a professional price list, contract and good communication with your photographer regarding your engagement shoot and wedding timeline planning. On average, wedding photographers provide their edited wedding images within 3-4 weeks of your wedding date. Albums take a little longer for design, changes and printing but, on average, 3-6 months is the turnaround from the beginning of the design to final printing. Don't be afraid to ask your photographer for references from recent clients before hiring them.
Experience is also important, albeit the hardest to quantify. A photographer’s experience should shine through their work in their ability to capture the story of the day by anticipating the key moments and all the meaningful details.  They will engage with your closest friends and family with ease, enhancing the experience of the day and capturing the personalities of your guests. They will have a consistent and established style and look to their work that will give you a good idea of what your wedding will look like too. You will find the work of experienced photographers gracing the pages of your favorite wedding magazines and blogs.

Can I reasonably expect to receive the digital files of my photographs?
Many, but not all, photographers provide low resolution watermarked proofs on a disc for you to share. Others provide edited photos on a disc printable to a certain size (i.e. 4”x 6”). Some provide web-only, watermarked images with images ordered for print on a disc. This all depends on how they have set their pricing to run a professional business.
For reasons of integrity, professional photographers prefer to have larger prints ordered through them so that they can be retouched and perfected. It is a mark of their work as professionals to have their work shown the best it can possibly be. Be sure that you understand the terms and conditions of the copyright of the images and at what size and resolution they are being offered to you for personal use. Ask if there are additional charges to get what you hope for so you can accurately assess your overall costs.

Why do I need the album?

The albums and prints are the true final products of a photographer’s work, not the disc. For major milestones such as your wedding, there is nothing more cherished than a book that will tell the story of your wedding day for generations. Sadly, few people appreciate the design and retouching work that goes into creating a stunning wedding album or print and rarely do people take the time to print the jpegs on their discs after a year has passed.

Beyond the Pricelist: How do I evaluate one great photographer against the next?
All photographers being equal in pricing and professionalism, personal style should play a strong role in making your choice. You would not buy your wedding dress because it was “good enough” or because your friend bought the same one; you buy the dress that best reflects your personal taste and personality. It is no different when choosing your photographer. Meet the photographer. How your personalities work together and how they would work with your friends and family is a huge factor in the selection process - they are with you all day for one of the biggest days of your life. Their personal style and yours should have some common ground. It is a sure way to know that they will capture your day in a way that is a genuine reflection of you as a couple.

How to review a photographer’s portfolio with your personal style in mind.
Here are a few tips to consider when browsing the thousands of wedding images out there to find a photographer that will reflect your personal style as a couple: 

  • What is the story? When you look at wedding photos ask yourself, “What story are they telling?”  Images should give insight into the personality of the people in them, the emotions of the day or the context around them. Remember, your future generations and friends will be looking at these photos and you want them to have a sense of who you were, not who you were pretending to be. Your photographer will be telling your story.
  • Is there a connection? Are you able to connect with the people in the wedding photos? Do you have a sense of who they are? Are they happy? Awkward? Do they look natural? Is that how you want to feel/look on your wedding day?
  • Is there variety and depth? Are you seeing close-ups and wide-angles? Are you seeing details and candid moments? Are you seeing a variety of lighting conditions, both daylight and evening? Are you seeing only the couple or their cherished guests as well?
  • Do the bride and groom look amazing? Are the images flattering? Are these the photos that say “We looked beautiful AND we had the time of our lives”?
  • Special effects and trends? No matter how cool or interesting a trend may be, there is nothing more classic than a clean photo that is true and well exposed. A black and white photo will be treasured and always be pleasing. Be sure that collections are balanced with classic shots as well as artistic/trendy images.

Melanie Rebane is a professionally trained photographer based in Ottawa, Ontario. She has had a number of weddings and style files featured on such blogs as Style Me Pretty, Wedding Chicks, Destination I Do, and Wedluxe - Canada’s Luxury Wedding Magazine. We have had the pleasure of working with her on some of our own Marry Me Productions weddings. We hope you find her tips useful when it comes to selecting your own wedding photographer!

  © Blogger template 'Morning Drink' by 2008

Back to TOP