With such a wide variety of talented photographers to choose from today, the questions to ask and aspects to consider while qualifying the perfect wedding photographer for you can sometimes get lost in the mix. That’s why I chatted with Valerie Foley last month, owner and lead photographer of Knoxville wedding photography company Valerie Foley Photography, to discuss ways to find, qualify, and choose the best wedding photographer for your big day. Check out her six great pointers below!
1. Check around for wedding photographers you may be interested in interviewing.
“Put in the time to find your professionals!” Valerie exclaims. Make sure that you find your leads from reputable resources online, in print, and in-person. (One easy way to do this is to use The Pink Bride’s website, magazines, and Pink Bridal Shows!) Also, check with close family and friends. Consider speaking with the photographers’ former clients or read reviews to discover important traits about the professional – such as how long it took to receive the final products, what quality of work was received, and even how the photographer interacted with guests and other wedding professionals throughout the day. “You can generally get your list down in five to eight options, and then call each to narrow down further based on date availability,” Valerie explains.
2. Of course, always look at the wedding photographer’s work before deciding.
View photos from various weddings at different times in the year, under different lighting scenarios (overcast, sunny, or night time for outside; dim or bright for inside). This allows you to see whether or not the photographer’s work is consistent in quality under multiple circumstances. Do your research ahead of time by checking out the photographer’s online presence as well. Valerie details that this should entail a great website, strong social networking presence, and an active blog (and/or Facebook business page).
3. Make sure you “click” with the photographer.
This is definitely one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing your wedding photographer. Unlike most of your other wedding professionals, your wedding photographer will be with you for pretty much the entire day, so make sure you’re comfortable around him or her before signing any contract. This partnership is important because, as Valerie states, “It is a mutual agreement of how the day will go.” You also want to make sure that the person you’re interviewing will actually be the person who will photograph your wedding!
4. Inquire about the photographer’s credentials.
Ask how many weddings the photographer has shot alone or as the lead photographer, and check for training background, certifications, and professional affiliations. Be sure to discover if the photographer you are interviewing is a full-time photographer. If so, you can be sure that they will have more time to dedicate to their profession. Keep in mind that it’s not an issue if they do photography on the side instead – just be aware that more time restraints and/or less dedication may exist with such a professional. Training, certifications, and professional affiliations are all great indicators of the professional’s dedication and abilities as well, so keep an eye out for such qualifications – even in the second shooter.
“One aspect that shouldn’t dictate your decision in a photographer is whether or not he or she has shot at your particular wedding venue before, though,” Valerie explains. “An experienced photographer can shoot anywhere.” She went on to detail that you’ll often get magnificent, one-of-a-kind photos because a photographer is new to a venue. “If we’re new to the location,” she elaborates, “we tend to look at it with fresh eyes.”
5. Check to make sure the photographer carries backups for every piece of equipment he or she will need on your wedding day.
This goes for the photographer’s assistants at the wedding too, and it includes everything from backup cameras and batteries to backup flashes and memory cards. In other words, your wedding photographer and his or her assistants should be prepared for any technical issue that arises that day – so you never miss out on getting images from the most important day of your life. The unthinkable can always happen, but a professional photographer will have the backup equipment needed to make sure fate’s hard blows don’t turn into a tragedy!
6. After you’ve made your decision, let the other photographers you were considering know that you chose someone else.
Don’t worry about hurting feelings in this situation. A professional will be glad for the heads up so that he or she can release your wedding date for future consultations with other brides.
Now that you know how to qualify the perfect wedding photographer for you, consider using these amazing questions during your interview with each professional to learn even more about him or her. Click over to Valerie’s blog for more questions and explanations too!
- What are the qualifications or certifications of your second shooter, and what will be his or her purpose the day of the wedding?
- How do you handle stressful situations, such as last-minute changes and delicate family situations?
- How much time will I have the day of the wedding?
- What attire do you wear to weddings?
- What should I expect on the wedding day from you?
- When will I receive my final products? (prints, albums, etc.)
Also consider the following:
- What will be the arrangements for transportation – i.e. will an issue arise if lots of walking is necessary for me or for the photographer, and will the photographer chauffeur us to location shoots?
- Will I be comfortable with a male photographer taking photos while I get dressed and ready for the ceremony, or would I rather a female photographer be present?
Valerie Foley with Valerie Foley Photography has shot over 175 weddings as the lead photographer in over 7 years, and she is a member of multiple professional affiliations, including Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI), and the American Academy for Wedding Professionals (AAWP). Her second shooter is also certified, and Valerie Foley Photography is licensed and insured. Valerie welcomes any and all questions that the bride or groom may have about her background or style of photography, and she loves learning about different couples’ unique style and wishes for their big day.
As an experienced wedding photographer, Valerie understands the value of a good mixture of professionals at a wedding, and she’d love to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs. Check out her fabulous tips for making the most out of your wedding day on her blog, and give her a call today at (865) 233-0349. Be sure to connect with Valerie Foley Photography on the website, blog, and Facebook page as well. Tell Valerie that The Pink Bride sent you!
Images courtesy of the Valerie Foley Photography Facebook page.