Selecting a Wedding Photographer – Our Criteria

by Melissa on January 5, 2011

My fiancé and I have begun the process of looking for a photographer.  I had my eye on one photographer for a really long time.  Although I didn’t know her in college, she and I had some mutual friends and when I would see those friends comment on her photos on Facebook, I would be so jealous!  She was the first photographer I e-mailed.  Unfortunately, even though photography is our top priority, her photography service prices were really much more than what we wanted to spend.

While I’m not running to Craigslist to find a “budget” student photographer, I knew there had to be other options out there.  So, in my search, I’ve developed the following criteria for wedding photographers:

Blogging

The photographer must have a blog that they use to post many pictures (at least 15-20) from each of their recent weddings and other photo shoots.  Anyone can have a website that has a slide show of their 20 most amazing photos.  I want a photographer who consistently publishes their recent work to demonstrate their photojournalist skills.

Social Networking

Must be on Facebook and/or Twitter and have more than 50 fans or followers.  I could probably sign up a photography page and get 50 of my friends to “like” my page.  But I want someone who has an established following.  I think that heavy Twitter and Facebook usage also shows that the photographer is tech savvy and forward thinking.  You can tell a lot about a person’s personality from their tweets!

Equipment

Yes, I understand that it’s not just about the equipment, but wedding photography is no place for an entry-level SLR and kit lenses.  Therefore, our photographer must use a full-frame digital camera (although a mix of digital and film is okay too).  The photographer must also bring at least two camera bodies with them to the wedding.  You never know when something might break!

Style and Skill

They should have a mix of candid and posed shots of their recent events on their blog. There was one photographer’s blog I was looking at and was really falling in love with the images from one of their recent weddings.  Then I realized they were almost all posed shots.  Only two candid shots from the entire wedding were posted.  I like to see a good mix of posed and candid photographs that demonstrate they have the skill to take both types.  I also explore their blog to see examples of their night-time photography, since we’re having an autumn outdoor ceremony and reception and it will get dark early.  **Update!  Must also be willing to provide use with .TIFF files (not JPEGs) and must shoot in raw!

Copyright-Friendly

Must be willing to provide non-watermarked high-resolution digital copies of images.  I do not want to always have to go back to the original photographer if I want a printed copy.

Post-Processing

Photos can’t be overly processed or have that weird faded yellow thing going on. I don’t know why I’ve been seeing this trend in a lot of wedding photographs but I hate it.  I only hope that there is an original version of those photos somewhere so that in 10 years, when the couple decides they don’t want that weird coloration, that they can see the original beauty of their photos.

Finances

Must take credit cards.  I’m not trying to be cynical, but let’s face it, no matter how many reference checks we do, any vendor, including a photographer, can totally screw us.  A credit card gives us an option to dispute charges if services aren’t rendered.  If we pay by cash or check, there’s no recourse except a long drawn-out legal process.  My fiancé doesn’t necessarily agree with this credit card criteria, arguing that perhaps we can even negotiate a lower price by offering cash, but it makes me very nervous.

Business Model

Must be an independent photographer and not part of some major chain.  I like the idea of supporting independent photographers and small businesses, and worry that some big wedding photo studio company would provide their most amateur, lowest-paid photographer for our event.  One of the downsides of dealing with an independent photographer is that I worry what will happen if they have a family emergency or end up with appendicitis the day before the wedding.  I’ll ask what their worst-case-scenarios are and if they have contingency plans.

What are your wedding photographer criteria?

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