It’s wedding season in the Kessler family! Our daughter Molly is getting married this July, and our son Sam’s wedding is in May 2018, so our family is in full wedding mode right now as we plan these two big events.
Finding good vendors for your wedding (like caterers, DJs, etc.) can be a challenge. For both of our upcoming family weddings, we are utilizing the services of wedding planners to make the process go more smoothly and keep our sanity. I’m not an expert on event planning, so I’m happy to release control to those who are – but when it comes to anything photo-related, or the best ways to tell the story of the big day, I have lots of opinions!
Because we’re in the middle of making these decisions right now for our son and daughter, I wanted to share some insights I’ve gained about how to select the best photographer and videographer for your wedding. These vendor selections are really important to get right, because there’s nothing worse than seeing poor-quality, badly-composed wedding photographs.
Unfortunately, when bad wedding photos or videos happen, there’s no “do over,” and there’s no way to go back and make it right – so it’s critical that you select qualified, dependable professionals to help you tell the story of your day in a unique and personal way.
Here are my best tips on selecting a wedding photographer and videographer for your wedding.
Why You Should Hire Separate Companies to Handle Photography and Videography
These days, we have the technology to capture photos and video of your event – and I recommend doing both. If you have the funds to do so, I recommend leaving room in your budget for a photographer and a videographer.
And yes, I believe these two roles need to be handled separately. There are companies who provide both photography and videography services, which is fine, as long as they have two different individuals providing these services on the big day. You don’t want to have a photographer who is distracted by running a video camera (or vice versa!). Capturing still moments is very different from recording videos with movement and sound. You get the picture (no pun intended)!
My Best Tips for Hiring the Perfect Wedding Photographer
Here’s a list of questions and things to think about when you are screening wedding photographers:
Check out the photographer’s style in advance. Get examples of his work, and see if each wedding seems unique and personal. Most well-established photographers have websites these days, so having a high-quality site with a solid portfolio is a good sign.
It’s okay if the lighting and style seems similar from wedding to wedding, but you want to avoid a photographer that shoots every wedding in exactly the same way. You don’t want cookie cutter wedding photos! You should like how the photographer captures the wedding party and the guests, and feel like he has a professional yet personal style.
Ask about costs upfront. Of course, you want to make sure the photographer’s services are within your budget. You do want to make sure you get a high-quality photographer, though, since it’s such an important choice, so you may need to make adjustments to your budget so that you can hire someone who will do a great job for you.
Ask about the photographer’s experience with weddings. Is this a business or a hobby for the photographer? We all know that person who takes great casual photos of family and friends, but that isn’t the individual you want to hire to take photos of your nuptials.
Being a wedding photographer isn’t just about knowing photography – she also needs to be able to manage large groups of people, multitask during a very busy day, and be at the right place at the right time to capture the best moments of your day. She also needs to know how to deal with variable lighting, because she will most likely be capturing images of people both inside and outside.
Check to make sure they’ll be working with their own equipment. Make sure she will be working with their own equipment on the day of your event. Your photographer needs to be very familiar with the camera equipment she’ll be using….this is not a time to borrow someone’s gear for the day!
Make sure the photographer is thorough and professional. Inquire about whether or not he will be working off of a checklist of images for the day. You want your photographer to work from a list on your big day, so he gets photos of all your important moments!
I also recommend asking if they will be working with an assistant. Two photographers are always better than one, especially for candid (non-posed) moments.
I recommend asking whether the photographer has worked at your venue before. If they haven’t, request that he checks it out well in advance of your event.
Getting references from each professional photographer is a must. Call the person’s references to find out if the photographer acts professionally, is easy to work with, shows up on time, and provides the services promised.
Find out how you’ll get the finished product. It’s a good idea to inquire about whether the photographer’s price includes some editing – including color correction, straightening, and/or retouching. As perfect as you’ll look on this big day, there are likely going to be some imperfections and color issues. You’ll thank yourself later for investing in someone who is a skilled photo editor. Of course, if you have photo editing skills, you may be able to save some money and do this yourself, but you’ll need permission from the photographer to do it.
Also ask what happens after the photos are taken and edited. You’ll want to know whether you can get copies of the images once editing is completed (you’ll want this, especially if you want to handle printing and making an album yourself).
If you want some help from the photographer to create your album, you can also ask whether they do printing and album design. There will be a separate fee for these services, so make sure to get pricing up front if you’d like your photographer to handle this. In my opinion, it’s investment one you won’t regret – all too often, I hear stories of folks who had a great photographer but they never got around to getting anything done with their photos. Nothing makes me sadder than finding out that someone’s amazing wedding photos are hidden away in a photo box in a closet!
Do’s and Don’ts for Hiring a Top-Notch Wedding Videographer
Wedding videos are typically a film of the sights and sounds of your wedding from start to finish. You will get what you pay for when it comes to videography (just like wedding photography!) so you’ll want to make this decision carefully.
Here are some do’s and dont’s for hiring a professional videographer:
- Check out their work. Most legitimate videographers have websites where you can see some examples of their previous work. Look for good quality filming, sound and editing. Can you hear the vows and toasts clearly? Does the film move smoothly through transitions, with visuals and with the sound?
- Get to know your videographer. This person will be spending the day with you and your guests. If you enjoy spending time with him as you interview him, you and your guests will be comfortable having him film the big day.
- Interview videographers, and check references. Ask for names of references, and call them! Ask the reference how the event went, if they were happy with the final video, and if there were any hiccups. If there were any problems or issues, ask how they were resolved.
- Ask how involved you will be in the making of your video. Will you have input into what is filmed? Do you get to decide what music will play in the background on the finished film? Do you get to request edits? How many revisions will there be?
- Understand the videographer’s style. Some video professionals film in a “highlights” style, which can include people as well as inanimate objects (such as the dress, the rings, flowers). A “journal” or narrative style is more about capturing the events as they happen and showing people, and very few object shots are captured. Narrative style is my personal preference, as it keeps the people and the story of the day at the center of the video – but you need to decide what style you prefer!
- Make a hasty decision. Check references and give yourself time to choose the best option for your preferences and budget.
- Hire a hobbyist. Like the photographer, we all have that friend who would LOVE to film your wedding, but ask yourself if that person is really the best choice. This is one of the most important days of your life, and a great wedding video is an investment that will last a lifetime.
- Limit yourself. Ask the videographer if she can also film the rehearsal dinner. This is typically an intimate setting where folks will feel comfortable sharing personal stories and anecdotes about the bride and groom. It’s a great idea to capture those moments on video!
Making the right choices for you
It’s worth the time to do your research and ask a lot of questions, so you can hire photo and video professionals that will capture the very best moments of your special day.
When you hire a top-quality wedding videographer and photography, you’ll have photos and videos of your big day that you can’t wait to display, share, and pass down to future generations!