Although most people have attended a wedding, that doesn’t mean that they will know the process when it’s their turn to go down the aisle. Below is a step by step guide on the process of hiring a wedding photographer.
Step One: Hiring a photographer.
This can be a daunting task even for someone who follows hundreds of wedding photographers blogs. It is recommended that you hire someone within the state that you are getting married. Most wedding professionals travel all over and even if they do not live in the area you are getting married they have most likely photographed there before. Ask them to Narrow your search down to five wedding photographers that you really like. They can be in several different price brackets at this point. Begin communicating with them-choose three you want to meet with in person. The in person meeting is huge because the photographer will be with you the entire day and you want someone not only competent in wedding photography but someone you know you can get along with and wont mind having around. After your meetings you can then choose your photographer.
Step Two: Choosing a package
Hopefully you spoke with your photographer at the meeting about what kind of coverage they offer, and what kind of coverage you will need. Let them help with this they shouldn’t sell you more than you need, but they also should be there to cover all the important moments that will happen on your wedding day. Wedding photographer typical day is 8 hours just like any other professionals work day. That said often 10 hours of coverage is needed in order to begin with the bridal prep and end well into the reception. Your wedding photographer should help you decide if you would like a wedding album (recommended so that your memories are secure in print and digitally) and they should talk you through if they give you the rights to the wedding images or if they keep the digital files etc.
Step Three: Deciding how the wedding day works
There are two models for the photographer on wedding day… the first one is traditional, and the second is with a first look. These models are how we structure the time needed and schedule of the day for photographs.
Traditional: Photographer will come and start with the details at the hotel. Dress, shoes, invitation, rings, bridesmaid dresses, perfume, jewelry, and flowers. After those details have been photographed the wedding photographer will turn their attention to the women and their photojournalistic getting ready photos. This is where the wedding photographer begins to capture moments and build the story of the day. After the bride is in her dress an experienced photographer will often have a first look with the parents-so dad and mom will come in and see their baby girl for the first time in her wedding gown. Meanwhile the second photographer is with the men and taking candid shots of them tying their ties and just hanging out being men before the ceremony. As the bride walks down the aisle at the ceremony the second photographer is taking shots of the grooms expression, and the main photographer is photographing the processional with the bridesmaids and the bride walking down the aisle. After the ceremony the wedding photographer will (with help from the appointed family member) gather up the full family for their portraits. The wedding photographer will begin with the brides side of the family and break it down until the smallest family breakdown (mom and bride, dad and bride, siblings and bride) have been photographed. The wedding photographer will then move onto the grooms family and do the same thing starting with the biggest grouping and breaking it down to the smallest groups. When that is finished it is time to photograph the bridal party. An experienced wedding photographer should be able to get three different posed bridal party shots done in 15 minutes. From there the photographer will photograph just the group of men, and then just the group of women. These two groupings should only take 10-15 minutes and the wedding photographer should know exactly how they want each member of the party or grouping to stand. From there the wedding photographer will take a few portraits of the bride, then the groom, and finally finish up (this whole thing from family to finish should take an hour) with the bride and the groom together. At this point the wedding photographer turns everyone over to the coordinator and the band or DJ. They are in charge of how the reception flows. The wedding photographer will photojournalistic capture the moments from this point on. Even the formalities like the first dances, cake cutting, and bouquet throwing are done in a candid style.
First Look: The Wedding photographer will still meet you at hair and makeup and do the detail shots first. But after the bride is ready the wedding photographer has scheduled the day so that there is an hour and a half of photo time before the ceremony. It begins with a private viewing of the bride from her parents, and then the photographer has chosen an intimate spot with good light for the groom to see his bride for the first time in her dress. The wedding photographer will tell the bride and the groom how to walk to each other before so that they can be in the wings with their long lens getting great emotional moments. After this (generally 15 minutes) the bridal party will be gathered for the bridal party pictures, the women, and the men pictures. This will be about 30 minutes. Finally about 45 minutes before the ceremony the family will be photographed. The bridal party and bride and groom should be finished 30 minutes before the ceremony with all pictures as guests begin to arrive and often the bride doesn’t want to be where she can be seen by everyone. After the ceremony the bride and the groom can take a few moments to be husband and wife and the photographer can take pictures with little to no direction. Then the bride and the groom are able to go to cocktail hour with their bridal party and talk to all of their guests. It is recommended that in the traditional line up of a day there is a receiving line so that you meet all of your guests and don’t have to do it at dinner time. In the first look scenario you can do that at cocktail hour. Again the reception is photojournalistic and candid based for all events.
Step Four: What happens after the wedding
The wedding photographer hopefully explained how they work already in a meeting or in an email. After the wedding many wedding photographers will edit a photographers favorites set within several days and send you an email as well as post them to their blog/FB sites. If the wedding photographer is very busy make sure to ask what their turn around time for all of the wedding photos are. Often times a month is a reasonable amount of time. Also chat with them about their process for culling down the set of final images. It is very important part of a wedding photographers job to edit through and choose the best photos as we have the ability to process thousands of high-resolution images but it is often overwhelming for you the bride to process through that many which is why it is important that we are presenting only the best one of each of the images we take on the wedding day. That will be more than enough wedding images. Talk to your wedding photographer about how they send you the final set of images is it via web or is it via hard drive.
Step Five: The wedding album
If applicable one of the last formal business interactions (as hopefully you are friends at this point) is the wedding album design. Most wedding photographers will begin by creating a version for you telling your wedding story. Then from there you can make changes, edit it, and perfect it to be your favorite images. The wedding album is to take your readers in 10-40 years through your wedding day, so it is often best if you do not choose the images if you let the photographer choose the images to work from. Then as said you can make changes to the album. Wedding photographers are storytellers and this is where their final vision and style can be really seen. In your initial meeting with wedding photographers you saw their album style and hopefully choose someone whose design elements you liked and whose overall feel of the wedding day story through the albums you related too.
That is a summary of the involvement of the wedding photographer, and the process in which the wedding photographer evaluates your day. Each photographer will look for different things on a wedding day, and each wedding photographer will have a unique style but we all will follow a professional and meticulous formula for getting the wedding photos.