Whether it's a wedding, birthday or anniversary, hiring the right person to capture your event is an important task. Photographs are a great option for party favors and thank you cards, but most importantly they are meant to capture those precious moments in your life for posterity. Hiring a professional photographer can be daunting, but with just a few simple tips and the right checklist of questions you can ensure that you will have beautiful photographs to treasure for a lifetime.
1. Finalize Event Details
There are certain event details that you should finalize before you starting looking for a photographer.
· Date: Photographers are in high demand, so knowing your event date you will help you find a photographer who is available on that day. Set your date as soon as possible. It will give you more time to search for the right photographer, as well as increase the chances that they will be available for the date of the event.
· Budget: Your event budget should be finalized before interviewing photographers. You should have a concrete number of how much you are able to spend. Martha Stewart.com states that photography and videography should make up approximately 10% of your budget.
· Venue: Knowing the location of your event prior to interviewing photographers can influence the style of photographs you choose to take. When choosing a photographer it is a plus to hire someone who has worked in a particular venue and is familiar with the space. If you are hiring a photographer for a wedding be sure to inform them if you are having separate venues for the ceremony and reception.
2. Photo Styles
These will be photographs that you will be looking at for years to come, so choosing which style you wish to have your photos taken in is an important decision. You should become familiar with the different photographic styles prior to choosing your photographer. Browse through bridal and photography magazines; look online for wedding and event photographers. Plenty of research will ensure that you choose the style that best suits your taste.
· Soft Focus: Appears almost dream-like and romantic with soft lighting. Can often appear blurry. Having the photographer do a couple of shots in this style can be quite beautiful, but to shoot an entire wedding or event in this way can diminish its effect.
· Portraiture/Traditional: The most common style for weddings. These photos are typically posed and quite formal. There is little spontaneity here. Though these photos are beautiful, more are straying from this style as there is little spontaneity, which is becoming the more modern and trendy style for weddings and events.
· Natural Light: No flash, only natural light. When done well, the photo should remind you of art. This is very difficult to arrange in a wedding setting.
· Photojournalistic: This style is quickly becoming the most popular & trendy. These photos are more spontaneous and candid than traditional photos. Reflective of story-telling these photos are meant to capture the natural actions and emotions of your guests. You can also experiment with different angles, aperture and lighting.
· Editorial: This is probably the best compromise for a wedding or event. It is a mix of both traditionally posed pictures and photojournalism.
3. Researching Photographers
Now that you have set your date, made-up your budget and chosen the perfect style of photographs for your event it is time to begin researching photographers. Here are some helpful places to find the potential photographers for your event.
· Friends & Family: If you have had a family member, friend, co-workers or someone you know who has recently been married or thrown a large event ask them for a photographer recommendation.
· Event Planners/Caterers/Venues: These are industry professionals who have likely worked with many different photographers. Ask if they can provide you with a list of photographers that they would recommend.
· Online: You can do a general search for photographers in your city, search vendor directories or again refer to the website of local event planners, caterers and other vendors in the business.
· Trade Shows: Head to a bridal or event planning shows where there will be plenty of vendors including photographers.
4. The Interview
Once you have narrowed your search to a few photographers, it is time to meet with them. Keep the following list of points and questions on hand:
· Previous Work: Ask to see a portfolio of their work. Check to that they have variety in their work such as different venues, locations, seasons and events. It is good to get an idea of the photographer’s versatility and style.
· Equipment: What type of camera will they be using throughout the event? Will all of the photos be shot purely on digital or can they shoot a combination of film and digital? How old is their equipment? Is it professional grade equipment?
· Additional Staff: Will the photographer be using an assistant during the event? Assistants allow the photographer to concentrate on you, while the assistant can be loading film, changing cameras or setting up equipment.
· Packages & Pricing: Ask for an itemized list for picture sizes, reproductions, negatives & albums. Is there any room for customization? Will photos be available in black & white or sepia tone? Is their service based on hours of service or by shots taken? Are they able to do touch-ups? How will you receive the photos? Album, CD, negatives, etc.?
· Personality: This point is particularly important. You want to make sure that personalities don’t clash or else it will be a miserable event for everyone. The photographer should make you feel comfortable and at ease. During the interview make note if the photographer is making an effort to get to know you and is asking you questions as well. Most importantly they should be friendly and enthusiastic about shooting your event.
How to identify an entry level photographer:
· Poor images – lots of shadows and bad lighting
· Flashed photos – do the images appear to be washed out or too bright
· The photos appear boring and dated.
· The people in the photos appear to be uncomfortable, stiff or staged.
· They have an incomplete proof book or small portfolio.
· You are not impressed or excited by their photos.
5. The Contract
Now that you have chosen the perfect photographer and set the date, it is time to sign the contract. Before you sign, read the entire contract carefully to check that it includes the following points:
· Total Cost
· Deposit Amount
· Balance owing once services are rendered
· Time limits & over-time charges
· Time and location of event is specified and correct
· Timeline for receiving the pictures following the event
· Are proofs and prints included in the final price?
· Any additional expenses that you have agreed to pay such as travel
· Cancellation Policy
After your event make sure to contact your photographer for a follow-up and ask when you should be expecting the photo proofs. Once you have received the proofs you will be able to choose your favorites, along with the number and size of each picture. While doing so make sure to refer to the contract that you signed with the photographer which will outline the package that you ordered. Once you have finalized your order the prints can take several weeks to arrive.
Hiring a photographer who understands and fits your taste can seem intimidating, but if you are willing to put in the time and effort to find the right person it will certainly show in your beautiful photographs.
If you are looking for a photographer in Vancouver we have a great list of professionals on our links page.
Photos by Brooka Photographic and D'soleil Studios