How to hire a wedding photographer

The average wedding costs about $27,000, according to a recent survey from The Knot. One of the most important investments for brides and grooms is hiring the right professional photographer to capture the special moments of their big day. In fact, about a quarter of brides responding to a recent Shutterfly survey wished they would have invested more on a photographer.

“I can’t even count the number of newlyweds I’ve talked to who have regretted skimping on photography at their wedding,” says Tim Meyer, a professional wedding photographer and program chair of the portrait division of photography at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, visual journalism, graphic design and photography. “With today’s camera technology, any wedding guest can take photos of the bride and groom, but professionals are highly skilled in finding and capturing those special moments and evoking the feelings of that day through photos and videos.”

A couple’s wedding often speeds past the bride and groom quicker than could be imagined, and because of that, having a special, professional way to capture the most important moments of that big day is critical. According to Meyer, these five tips can help engaged couples hire the right professional photographer for their wedding:

* When researching photographers, look at their entire body of work to determine if you like what you see and if it matches your style. Many wedding photographers are also fine art, lifestyle or editorial photographers who can incorporate those skills into wedding shots, making the memories of that big day unique and special to you.

* Experience counts. Consider your photographer’s experience level, as well as previous customers’ experiences with the photographer in general. Meyer recommends that brides and grooms ask these questions to help guide their decision on a wedding photographer:

1. Have they photographed at your intended ceremony or reception location before?
2. Have they been in the profession for more than a few years?
3. Are they a full-time professional or do they only photograph weddings as a hobby or as part-time income?
4. Do they belong to any professional associations or have a photographic education?
5. Can you talk to previous clients about their experience?

* Ask potential wedding photographers about their approach and capabilities for capturing all the right moments on your special day. More photographers today, like Brooks Institute graduate Jose Villa (www.josevillaphoto.com), are acting as a one-stop shop for not only capturing still photos but also providing a second shooter who can do both videography and journalistic-style candids. For example, Villa partners with a video production company to provide clients with a short film of their wedding day.

* Set your special requests upfront. Is it important to you to make sure you have a photo of you and your sister? Let your photographer and videographer know in advance if there are any specific shots or moments you want to make sure they do not miss. Most photographers will provide you with combination of both candids and posed shots to capture everything, and will edit later.

* Get to know the photographer/videographer and let them get to know you. Whether you schedule engagement photos or take your photographer out to dinner, it’s important you feel comfortable enough around that person to be yourself on your wedding day so that they capture the “real” you.

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