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Choosing a Photographer: Some Thoughts


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#1 Evan Baines

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    Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:35 PM

    Well, I think its probably obvious to the ladies on here that any photographer participating on this forum is either looking for destination work, or at least trying to learn about his/her potential client¨le.

    However, if I'm going to participate in this forum, I think its worth trying to give something back to this community rather than just take from it. So, anyway, here's my attempt to provide some useful insider information!

    Here are some things that may not be obvious that are worth asking your potential photographer about:

    1. Tell me about your contingency plans!
    Cameras fail/break/get dropped. Lens AF motors die. Flash tubes break. Computer hard drives get corrupted. Shooters become ill. What happens when the worst happens? Does this photographer have backup equipment? What is his data security plan to keep your photo files safe? What happens if your shooter is incapacitated?

    2. Are you fully licensed & insured?
    $1,000,000 general liability coverage is the industry standard coverage for most photographers, and some venues require proof of this. However, more than that, choosing to do the responsible thing and pay for insurance tells you a lot about the business practices of the photographer in question. If they are cutting corners here....

    3. Who makes your books?
    A storybook album is a storybook album, right? Not really. Wholesale prices on books vary from two to four figures and everything in between. Some books are built for the long haul, some aren't. A photographer probably won't share his/her wholesale prices, but they should tell you what book manufacturer they use. If you can't see the books in person beforehand, researching the company that the photographer uses can tell you a lot about what you can expect from your album.

    4. Tell me about your second shooter! Show me examples of his/her work!
    Seems like every studio these days offers "two photographers." That "second shooter" could be the next David Beckstead, or he/she could be the photographer's 14-year-old son or daughter who just got a their first DSLR.

    5. Most importantly, show me more than one complete wedding!
    Ever hear the one about the monkey and the typewriter? Being a professional isn't about getting a great shot every once in a while: its about producing professional quality on-demand. Beware photographers who only want to show you greatest-hits reels or who only have one wedding to show you. They may not be able to reproduce their best work.

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful to you folks! I'm always happy to answer photography art and business questions!

    Cheers!

    #2 tvt

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      Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:42 PM

      good info! thanks!

      #3 Alyssa

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        Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:50 PM

        this is GREAT info and I am sure will be really helpful!

        #4 Jen_S

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          Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:52 PM

          This is great info. I may have to ask you some of these since we are looking at your work!!! We love it!!!
          Our Honeymoon In Ireland!!

          #5 rodent

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            Posted 13 June 2008 - 07:21 PM

            Quote:
            Originally Posted by Evan Baines


            4. Tell me about your second shooter! Show me examples of his/her work!
            Seems like every studio these days offers "two photographers." That "second shooter" could be the next David Beckstead, or he/she could be the photographer's 14-year-old son or daughter who just got a their first DSLR.
            i've been in two weddings where the 2nd shooter was their kid. this was something I never would have thought about until making plans with my photographer. but, now I get it.

            Another thing I think is good to look in to is how much prints will cost if you are not getting digital negatives. I've seen many brides who didn't know prints were $10 or $20 so they didn't budget for that. My friend hired an expensive photographer and assumed prints would be about 12 cents. They were $20 each & 3 1/2 years later she has no wedding pictures. after buying a house, having a baby, etc. she just didn't want to buy any pictures yet. Luckily I found out her photographer will sell her the digital negatives after 4 years. She doesn't tell them that until after 4 years passes.

            I understand why the prints are not 12 cents, but some people are just not aware of that. it's a big shock to learn after the wedding.

            Thanks for the tips!

            #6 Jenn6603

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              Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:39 AM

              Great info!! I am just looking for our photog for our wedding so the timing is perfect!

              Jenn

              #7 jillhiggins

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                Posted 14 June 2008 - 09:36 AM

                All great points! I always think it is important to see complete weddings - and not just the best of shots.

                Another good question is to ask them what they will do if their flight gets cancelled, airline goes bankrupt, etc.

                I recently knew of a photographer who ran into problems when an airline cancelled all flights the day they were to travel. The photographer couldn't afford to buy tickets with another airline. That is a risk you take as a DW photographer - you have to be financially able to do what you need to do to get there.

                #8 msasfraz

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                  Posted 14 June 2008 - 01:54 PM

                  thanks for the info...........whats a reasonable price for destination wedding photographer.. let's say working an hour or two for rehearsal dinner, 5-6 hours wedding day, and 2-3 hours for trash the dress pictures the next day....?

                  #9 jillhiggins

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                    Posted 14 June 2008 - 02:31 PM

                    Quote:
                    Originally Posted by msasfraz
                    thanks for the info...........whats a reasonable price for destination wedding photographer.. let's say working an hour or two for rehearsal dinner, 5-6 hours wedding day, and 2-3 hours for trash the dress pictures the next day....?
                    Hey,

                    It's hard to give a rate. It depends on so many things. For example - April and May are my busiest months. Those weekends are in high demand - I would have to charge a LOT to make what I would make staying here. But...if somone contacts me about a wedding in my slower months: late fall, winter, or months that are super hot here like August - then I can hook them up with a good deal.

                    I think most photographers are like that. If you contact them about a wedding in their slow months - they have a lot more flexibility.

                    It also depends on how much "down" time they are going to have. Spreading work out over three days really takes away the "bonus" of working a little vacation into it. Even if you only need them for a few hours each day - there is a lot of work behind the scenes (backing up files, charging batteries, cleaning equipment, etc).

                    One way you can save is to have a friend cover the rehearsal. Honestly - the pics are not usually that exciting anyway. You will have the "real" pics the next day - and as for the dinner - people don't usually want images of themselves eating.

                    With me - $3500 might cover a simple package (up to six hours of wedding day coverage and maybe a trash the dress session) and maybe a disk of images. But that is only in a month that is super slow for me. That is what my local clients pay for the same thing (actually...they pay $3800).

                    In high demand months, the same thing would run about $5800 and up.


                    Another factor to consider is airline costs and lodging. Prices fluctuate wildly which makes the photographer's price fluctuate as well.

                    I'm sure some photographers would offer a package for less if they are trying to get a start in destination weddings.

                    Hope that helps.

                    #10 Evan Baines

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                      Posted 15 June 2008 - 01:07 PM

                      Quote:
                      Originally Posted by jillhigginsphotography
                      All great points! I always think it is important to see complete weddings - and not just the best of shots.

                      Another good question is to ask them what they will do if their flight gets cancelled, airline goes bankrupt, etc.

                      I recently knew of a photographer who ran into problems when an airline cancelled all flights the day they were to travel. The photographer couldn't afford to buy tickets with another airline. That is a risk you take as a DW photographer - you have to be financially able to do what you need to do to get there.
                      That's a totally valid point as well!

                      Another thing that's worth looking for in portfolios is a variety of shooting conditions... The fact of the matter is that a camera's automatic functions may do an adequate (if perhaps uninspired) job for an outdoor wedding on a nice partly-cloudy day in the late afternoon: many portfolios I see are made up almost exclusively of shots taken in these conditions. Dark indoor venues, cloudless sunny mid-days, night-time weddings, and other more challenging situations are a better means for assessing how a photographer handles adversity. Part of what separates a pro from an amateur is the ability to produce beautiful photographs regardless of what conditions occur. If you are making the significant investment to have a professional photographer cover your wedding, you deserve to know that you will have beautiful pictures regardless of what fate throws your way.




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