Careful research and advance planning can result in wonderful photographs of your wedding celebration. Although it is a terrific idea to provide single-use cameras on each table for guests to take candid shots of the reception, avoid allowing a well-meaning amateur photographer to take the official photographs. When selecting and meeting with the photographer, there are critical questions that need to be asked. Chances are that you will look at your wedding photos many times during your lifetime and hiring a good photographer is one of the most important choices you will make.
Before meeting with the photographer, find out if your church or synagogue has any restrictions involving photographing the ceremony itself. Prepare a list of "must have" shots. The photographer should be given a list of the members of the wedding party and out-of-town guests. Make sure your photographer understands the rules and regulations of your church or synagogue before planning the ceremony shots.
When interviewing photographers, make sure you hire a photographer that specializes in weddings. Make sure the photographer you interview is the one who will actually be photographing your wedding. Many large companies have several photographers and you need to hire the one you interview. Ask to see their work. Most are happy to provide references and it is very important to ask for recent weddings the photographer has performed. When checking the references, be sure to ask if the photographer was prompt, cordial, properly dressed and whether he/she performed the duties expected. Personal rapport is very important when selecting a photographer. It is recommended to interview at least three different photographers. Comfort and compatibility with your photographer can make or break your wedding day and your photos.
Many brides have the bridal portrait taken before the wedding day. Others are setting aside the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding and having their formal pictures taken at this time, too. Couples whose ceremony and reception are being held at the same location often have these photographs taken before their guests arrive. If your posed photos will take place at the reception, decide on a time with your photographer and make sure everyone in the wedding party knows where and when they should assemble for them. An engagement photograph, usually in black and white, was traditionally only of the bride, but today it is usually of the engaged couple. These photos are sent to local newspapers, along with information announcing your engagement to the public. Decide if you want a casual setting or a formal background for these photographs. To save on studio costs, you can wait until the day of your wedding for your formal portrait, avoiding the hassle of bringing your gown, headpiece and accessories to the photography studio.
The trend today in wedding photography is have fewer posed shots and more candid pictures. It is important to get an idea of how many candid shots the photographer will be shooting and how much time he will be spending at the reception shooting these pictures. As mentioned before, it is also a great idea to provide single-use cameras for these photographs, with the guests at the reception.
Black and white wedding photography has come back into vogue. Your photographer will need to know whether you want just color, just black and white, or a combination.
Proofs are the preliminary prints from which the bride and groom will select the pictures for their albums. Be sure to ask the photographer how many proofs will be taken, what size of prints are offered, and how soon after the wedding the proofs will be available, and get this in writing. Also, request to see the proofs before your final payment. The more proofs, the larger the selection you have to choose from. Depending on the number of photographs you would like in your photo album, make sure the photographer will be taking two to three times the number of prints. Ask the photographer how long he or she keeps the negatives and if you can purchase them. If you buy the negatives, be prepared to pay a large sum of money for them, because wedding photographers make a profit on the sale of additional prints. It is becoming more common to have the photographer put your wedding photos on a CD that you can make reprints from. Because of the competition in the business, there are more and more photographers willing to sell you a complete package. Shop around!
Usually three albums are ordered: one for the bride and groom, one for his parents and one for her parents. There are a large variety of albums that vary in material, construction, size and price. Decide on what you would like that fits into your budget. Look at albums ready to be delivered or proofs of weddings the photographer has recently done to decide on your personal style. When comparing prices, consider the type of album, the number, size, and finish on the photographs that will be in the album. The bride and groom take care of supplying prints to members of their wedding party. If they are very busy, one set of parents can take over the job. Usually the bride's family gives each member of the bridal party a color photograph of the group. The attendants should pay for any additional photos they order.
The contract should specify the number and type of pictures to be taken, the time the photographer is to arrive, how long he or she will stay, the timetable for delivering the contact sheets or proofs to you, the timetable for delivering the finished prints that you order, the type of albums provided, and the cost.