So much of your wedding day will be fleeting — the cake, the flowers, the music — but the photographs will live on forever. You owe it to yourself (and your grandchildren!) to do everything you can to make them fabulous. Here’s how to not only find your perfect photographer, but how to work with them.
RESEARCH EARLY! (about a year out)
As you review photos, consider key moments you want to capture at your own wedding: Did this shooter get great shots you’d also like? Look for thoughtful compositions and that images and people are in focus (unless they’re meant to be grainy). Make sure people look relaxed, and not scared by the camera.
SET UP A MEETING
You can’t always properly vet a photographer by looks alone. Once you have a short list of people whose work you like — and you’ve determined they’re in your price range and are free on your date — try to set up an in-person or video-chat meeting. You should feel comfortable with this person because they’ll be shadowing your every move on your wedding day and interacting with all of your guests.
Ask about what’s included in the standard package, plus any additional fees. In particular, find out how many hours of shooting are included. Most packages include about eight hours and cover everything from getting ready to the end of the reception. It’s usually better to pay for more coverage if there’s a chance you’ll run over, especially if you’re planning a big finale exit (overtime is normally charged at a higher rate).
SIGN A CONTRACT
Once you’ve chosen your photographer, sign a contract that has everything — from the date of the wedding and the hours they’ll cover, to post production work and how you’ll receive the final product — laid out in black and white.
SCHEDULE AN ENGAGEMENT SHOOT
Once you hire a photographer, an engagement photo shoot kills many birds with one stone: It’s a great opportunity to get comfortable with your photographer and with having your picture taken; you’ll have a built-in save-the-date photo; and you’ll be able to give your pro feedback on what photos you liked and didn’t before your wedding day.
CREATE A (reasonable) SHOT LIST
Don’t waste time trying to get every last combo of grandparents, siblings and cousins. Stick to a few important shots, and ask your maid of honor or another member of the wedding party to help orchestrate them on the day of. Include whether you want shots in black and white or color, and don’t forget to mention any particular décor items you want captured (for instance, the DIY napkin holders you got carpal tunnel syndrome from weaving). While you’re sending these notes, attach a few photos of yourself that you think you look amazing in, so he’ll know how you want to look on your wedding day.
JUST ENJOY THE DAY!
Try not to sweat the small stuff, like a relocation of your portrait shoot because of rain or your flower girl melting down during the family shots. And allow your photographer to keep you on schedule, to frame the shots and to know what will look best — remember, that’s why you hired them. If you’re always looking for the camera, it won’t capture you quietly chatting with your new spouse or laughing with your friends. Your photographer should be the one worrying about capturing those moments — not you!