The Seven Biggest Mistakes Brides Make When Choosing Their Wedding Photographer

1. THEY DON’T REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT THEIR PHOTOS WILL BECOME (By not realizing this, they make wrong choices to begin with)Why Your Wedding Photographs are The MOST IMPORTANT part of your wedding day (after saying I do!)Years from now you will look back on your wedding day and hopefully have lots of photographs to remind you of not only what happened, but also the feelings you may have had. A good photographer will capture the moments, expressions, and situations that reveal thoughts and feelings that will be triggered for years to come through photos.As the years go by it is most likely you won’t have anything but your photos to remember the day by.

Don’t be turned away because your budget doesn’t match their published prices

(You may have your dress and maybe a trinket or two, but most likely, even your dress will probably be in a box or covered up somewhere in a closet.!Consider this: When faced with eminent disaster that destroys homes or the possibility of such a disaster, everyone grabs their most prized possessions, which ALWAYS includes their photographs. They don’t reach for their wedding dress, or frozen cake or even copies of their wedding invitations, they take all of their photographs, if they are lucky and if they can.The reception center, the cake, the flowers, the bridesmaid’s dresses, all of it will be gone!Fortunately, most of us never have to try to save our photographs from a flood, fire or hurricane, but as time passes we will still treasure them and count them among our most cherished possessions.In most cases, ALL that will be left will be your wedding album, full of the most precious moments, images of moments, friends, family and the irreplaceable memories from one of the most important days of your life!Now you have a feeling of how important your images will be to you and your family. Now you can see why it is so important to make sure you know how to not only choose the right photographer, but also insure that you end up with what you will be happy with.IT IS CRITICAL TO MAKE SOME GOOD DECISIONS WHENWHO AND HOW YOUR WEDDING WILL BE PHOTOGRAPHED.2.

THEY DON’T GET ALONG WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER**REMEMBER THIS EVEN IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING ELSE (OFTEN IGNORED BY MOST BRIDE AND GROOMS)Once you have determined the photographer(s) you are considering (by their work and the samples they show you) you must now think of the actual day and how close you will be working with this individual

THEY CHOOSE THEIR PHOTOGRAPHER BASED ON SOMEONE’S ELSE’S OPINION ALONEThis is YOUR wedding. While it is good to have help and recommendations, make sure that the photographer you choose is the one YOU want. Take time to talk to them, see their work, and understand who they are and how they work.Consider your friend’s or someone whose wedding photos and albums that really made an impression on you.Call the photographer and plan a time to talk one on one with them (phone or in person). Ask around.

Talk the photographer of your choice and let them know EXACTLY what you want – even if you don’t see the exact thing on their price sheet or website

Look on the Internet (type in, “wedding photographers California, for example if you live in California).Look at the photographer’s work and portfolios of other weddings they have done. Look for examples of work that best reflects what you like and want. You will know it when you see it.Most important make sure you are happy with your choice, remember this is YOUR wedding!3. THEY ARE MIS-MATCHED WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHERMatch your style with theirs. Please don’t expect or ask a photographer to do or be something other than what they are or what you see in their work….Ask the photographer what their style is. Are they traditional? Are they photojournalistic? Important to know, so you can match what you want with who they are.NOTE: If your wants (and your style) doesn’t match what they do, then politely thank them and go find one who is a better match. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.You can tell a lot by looking at their work from their previous weddings.That’s not to say they can’t do what you want, but your chances of getting something other than what you really want to begin with, will be slim. It’s better to start with a photographer who matches closely in style and temperament what you have in mind.For example: being a good wedding photojournalist (documentary style) takes a certain discipline and expertise. If you choose a more traditional photographer, one not trained in documentary style and you expect him to do your wedding journalistic style, you will not be happy. It takes a certain mindset to focus on a specialty. That goes for any style you choose.You will be happier if you match your style with theirs. If a photographer can see that your styles don’t match, most will politely bow out or suggest another photographer that more closely matches your wants.Ask any question that you want. You’ll be glad you did. If you don’t, you may end up wishing you had. And, remember there are no questions too silly or na├»ve to ask.Be patient if you end up talking to several before you make your final decision. If you feel pressured at all, perhaps you should step back for a day or two and decide if this is really the person for you.IMPORTANT NOTE: Find a photographer who specializes in weddings only. This is not to say other photographers won’t or can’t do a good job; it just reasons that since this is such an important job, you’d want a specialist. (Remember number one above).4. THEY DON’T GET ALONG WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER**REMEMBER THIS EVEN IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING ELSE (OFTEN IGNORED BY MOST BRIDE AND GROOMS)Once you have determined the photographer(s) you are considering (by their work and the samples they show you) you must now think of the actual day and how close you will be working with this individual. The personality of the photographer should match you and your party. Hey, do you like the person?It may sound kind of simple and ridiculous to put so much weight on this, but if you have never worked closely with a photographer for any length of time (most people haven’t), you’ll quickly learn otherwise.If you love their work but don’t really “gel” with them, forget it. Choose someone else. If you are not comfortable with who you work with, you will not be comfortable when the photos are taken and as a result, you will not get the best photographs. Why take a chance? It is not worth it.You are inviting this individual into one of the most intimate and special days of your life. They will witness (and professionally capture) some of the most tender and special, moments of your life. They will glimpse into the innermost part of your life. You will feel more comfortable with someone you like and trust and get better images because of it.Hopefully once you have established a comfortable feeling and relationship with them, you will have the opportunity to spend some time getting to know them a little before the big day. Most photographers worth their salt will also insist on getting to know you before hand.You are going to trust this person(s) with an event that is so special, the images and feelings will last forever. Great wedding photographers will see things, do things and witness things that average photographers will often miss.If the photographer is not in sync with you and your groom, he will most likely miss the shots that make the difference. Remember you want a photographer that will capture “the special moments”. There are no “perfect” photographs, only “perfect’ moments.IMPORTANT NOTE: Find a photographer who specializes in weddings only. This is not to say other photographers won’t or can’t do a good job; it just reasons that since this is such an important job, you’d want a specialist.**Most brides are happier if they go with their instinct and intuition on this one.5. THEY ASSUME THE PHOTOGRAPHER CAN READ MINDSAfter you have established that you are compatible with the photographer and happy with his style of work and are excited to see him (or her) do their magic!Make sure you sit down with the photographer and let them in on who is coming and who is important and who you want in. Most professionals will make a point of doing this. You wouldn’t want to have a gung-ho photographer who might know the groom and his family and end up with tons of photos of them and only a few of your family. (OUCH).Make sure they know who is coming. When choosing your style make sure you all understand what will happen and when. You would hate to get to the end and find out that no formal shots were taken of family (your 90 year old grandma included), only to discover that your photographer “rarely or never” takes traditional shots, when that’s what you want……Remember:a). Don’t assume anything.b). Talk about what you want and what your expectations are.c). If you want it included, ask for it! (Usually best to discuss it before hand, if possible).Talk about the timing of the wedding day, when everything starts, when each event is scheduled to begin and end. Including who is going to where and when. If Aunt Susie is only going to be at the ceremony and not the reception, you should let the photographer know, so that she can be included (if that is what you want)Ask how long the photographer is planning on staying (unfortunately some packages only include so many hours) That’s not how I think it should be done, that doesn’t make it bad or good, just be aware, so you get what you want.Everyone will be happier if they are on the same page as far as what to expect and when. Find out how long is typical after the wedding to see proofs and expect an album or DVD or whatever it is you have agreed upon.Communication is critical – DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS AT ANY STAGE OF THE PROCESS6. THEY CHOOSE A PHOTOGRAPHER ON PRICE ALONELETS TALK BUDGET AND MONEY (How much should I pay?)The internet makes it so easy to shop by price…..REMEMBER, while budget is important, price shopping makes the thing you are shopping for a commodity. And commodities fall into a category that says “all things are the same, find the best price – which makes sense when you are shopping for a car or a certain brand name item…..Not all wedding photographers are the same, not even close! WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT A COMMODITY.IF QUALITY IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AND PRICE ALONE IS YOUR CONSIDERATION YOU WILL REGRET GOING WITH THE CHEAPEST. (RE-READ NUMBER ONE ABOVE).Establish a budget range to start with (have one in mind).Realize that “insisting on a specific price” at least at first, may limit what you get. Talk the photographer of your choice and let them know EXACTLY what you want – even if you don’t see the exact thing on their price sheet or website.Let them know you love their work and what range of budget you are working with. Don’t be turned away because your budget doesn’t match their published prices.The better photographers will seldom come down on their prices, but they may offer additional items, terms or considerations that will make the difference in it being affordable to you. It never hurts to ask.REMEMBER THE PRICE WILL LONG BE FORGOTTEN WHEN YOU CHERISH YOUR WEDDING ALBUMS IN THE FUTURE……….ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THEM.I can’t tell you how many brides regret not figuring out a way to pay for the photographer they really want. They usually don’t feel this until after they agree on a “cheaper photographer” and then when they see what they get, they regret it big time. Years later (sometimes even days after the wedding) they say, “I wish I would have gone with so and so. But, then it’s too late. Please don’t make that mistake! There are no “do-overs”.MAKE SURE YOU TALK TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND FIGURE OUT A WAY TO SAY YES!DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF USING THAT “SAVING MONEY” MENTALITY WHEN CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – this is a definite example of (in most cases) YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!THIS IS NOT AN AREA TO GO CHEAP ON! (Don’t believe me? Ask around, sadly, it is not that uncommon).BE AWARE: There are plenty of inexpensive wedding photographers out there…and (surprise) most are NOT GOOD and you will NOT BE HAPPYTIP MOST OFTEN GIVEN FROM BRIDES(After the wedding):”When you think about who is going to do your wedding photography, think “VALUE” not price. Don’t focus on what it “costs”, Focus on what it’s “worth”, you’ll regret it if you don’t”.(As we all know, a wedding done well, will be priceless!) Oh ya, and don’t forget number one above.7. THEY ARE “SOLD” THE WRONG “PACKAGE”Were you “sold” a certain package or did you “buy” a certain package?In some cases you are “sold” a package you don’t really want. Remember you are the customer and you are the one trying to find the right and perfect match in a photographer. Don’t let anyone “sell” you a package your not happy with.Find out if the photographer offers packages (Most offer packages as a starting place) and how they might fit in with your budget ideas.Also find out if you can “add” or “customize” your package. Often there are images you may want, that aren’t “in the budget” and you want the choice to have them if you can. Don’t forget that parents, grandparents, kids and often siblings, want images (even guest do sometimes-especially if the photographer took their picture).Some options may include figuring out the final price based on the images you choose AFTER you see what they are. You are in control with this option, you can choose as many or few as you want. (I like this option). Then you can spend as much (or as little) as you want and it’s okay, because you are getting what you want and it’s entirely your choice.Some photographers charge a flat fee to shoot and then charge depending on what albums and the number of images you choose (which makes it easier for most people and you don’t feel like you were sold a predetermined package or number of images, before they were even taken-which has never made sense to me). This way you are the one who determines what you end up with. Some also include only the images you choose, regardless of number.Remember, you may choose to have an album or two made up for parents, grandparents or friends….you may want to consider these options after you see the final products, don’t be afraid to ask at anytime.Explore options with your photographer, the good ones will bend over backwards to please you. This is their craft, their profession. They take great pride in happy results. They are artists and want their customers to LOVE the images AND the experience.Remember that whoever you choose, they are choosing you too. The better photographers will turn down a request to film a wedding if they can see that their style is not in sync with yours.Don’t be afraid to look around and talk to several different photographers, remember this is YOUR DAY and you are in charge and you have the final say!Have a great wedding experience and cherish it forever with great images captured by the professional wedding photographer you choose. Chances are, you will form a friendship with the photographer, that will last a lifetime!

Written by Marty Collins, a US based fine-art wedding photographer who travels worldwide filming brides and their special events. He can be reached at: