Wedding Photographers and Wedding Videographers

Questions To Ask Yourself And The Professional
By David Basher
A Magic Moment
www.amagicmoment.com

At the end of your wedding day, after you’ve eaten the cake, after the flowers are gone and you’ve dry- cleaned and stored your wedding gown thinking to yourself when would be the next time you’re going to look at it, your pictures and your video are the only thing that will define your memories of the big day for the rest of your life. So it's very important to choose the right photographer and videographer. To help you make the best choice, we've compiled a list you should be checking.

PHOTOGRAPHY

1. Research some photos by looking at magazines and/or on the web and define your favorite style of photography -- traditional, candid, or posed? (Seek out photographers whose forte matches your favorite style.)

2. What is the photographer’s approach to shooting weddings? Has the photographer shot many/few weddings? This question will give you an idea of the expertise and passion for his/her work. You want to hire a professional that is familiar with all the in’s and out’s of weddings so he/ she won’t miss any key special moments of your day.

3. Does the photographer shoot in color, black and white, or both? Does he shoot 35 mm or medium format or both?

4. Make sure you know who is going to shot your wedding and that you’re looking at his work. If dealing with a one-person operation, find out who would cover your wedding in case of an emergency.

5. Do not make a list of every possible photo combination, you’re dealing with a professional and he or she shoots weddings for a living. Most likely he or she would get the obvious family combinations. Rather, give your photographer a list of must-take photos of unusual combinations: college roommates, co-workers and other pictures you definitely want shot along with your wish-list photographs. Make sure you leave free range for the photographer’s creativity to capture the festivities. This usually will get you the best results. Enlist a relative or a close friend to point out specific people for the photographer. Your wedding coordinator can do that, if you have one.

6. How does the photographer determine price? By the number and kinds of prints you think you'll want, the amount of rolls of film, the hours the photographer spends on your wedding, the developing time, or a combination of the above factors? How many rolls of film will be shot, and how many proofs and final prints will result? Are packages available? Can you get a price list?

7. Does the photographer develop his own film? How long does he keep the negatives? Can you buy your negatives from the photographer? Do you get to see paper proofs or does he show you the proofs on video, CD-ROM, e-mail?

8. Look at each photographer's work. Be sure to carefully examine the technical aspects of his work. Some things to look for:

  • photos are framed and centered well
  • photos are over- or underexposed
  • details are visible
  • people look comfortable and relaxed

But more importantly look on the personal level and ask yourself: do I like his/her style? Does this seem like a person you could tolerate throughout your wedding day? You'll want to feel very comfortable around your photographer. If you’re not comfortable with him/her you can rest assure it will show in your photographs. Rapport is important with all wedding professionals, but it's crucial here!

9. Some of the most special wedding moments happen backstage while the bride is dressing, while the family is waiting, or right after the end of your ceremony when you sneak to a private room. Choosing a pro photographer with whom you feel extremely comfortable and don't mind inviting backstage will allow you to capture these moments. Keep your photographer aware of your whereabouts at (almost) all times.

10. Do not ask the photographer for references. After all, he/she would not give you the name of someone that he/she had a bad experience with. Ask to see thank you letters. If your photographer is a professional photographer, and has lots of experience than his/her past clients should have been satisfied with his/her services and would have sent some thank you letters. You can also ask other wedding professionals about your preferred photographer, as a good photographer would be well recognized by other wedding professionals in your area.

11. Once you've found a photographer with the skill set, style, vision, and personality you're looking for, you'll need to agree on a contract. Be sure to schedule a follow-up meeting to talk about specifics. Together, you'll decide how many hours your photographer will spend at your wedding, and you'll discuss your Must-Take List and any photos you don't want (the cake shot or the schmaltzy posed kiss).

12. A mixture of some posed and candid shots will round out and make your wedding album more interesting. If you favor candid, hire someone who specializes in a photojournalistic style, with real talent for capturing emotional, spontaneous moments keeping in mind that many portrait photographers can also shoot candid and most photojournalistic photographers hate to shot portraits. Determine your priorities and choose a professional accordingly. Your photojournalistic pictures will set the overall feel and look of your wedding album. Remember your most valuable photos would be the ones where you can see and recognize faces, like shots of family and friends. There's definitely a trend toward photojournalism and black and white photography at weddings. B&W photos convey more emotions and accentuate the essence of the subjects or objects being photographed. Color photographs capture the overall theme and feel of your wedding, like the room decoration, the bridal party colors and your flowers. If you are not sure whether or not you would like B&W photographs, have you photographer shoot everything in color and ask him to print some prints in B&W. With today’s technology it would be very hard for the untrained eye to see the difference between what was shot on B&W film and what was shot in color. You cannot print a color print from and B&W negative. However if you know you like B&W, have your photographer shoot it on B&W film for a better and a more rich contrast. Your best bet is a combination of both.

13.Make sure the photographer has backup equipment with him/her on your wedding date in case of an emergency. Also, make sure it is the same format and quality as the primary one. The photographer should have backup for all his/her equipment, cameras, flash, lenses, filters, batteries, cables, etc.

14. Always look for a professional photographer to shoot your wedding day. But if you are on a tight budget and are thinking on looking for a talented photography student or you've always admired your cousin's skill as a shutterbug, consider this option. Just keep in mind that if the photographer doesn't have wedding experience, you might not get the great results you want -- and it might not be worth the savings. If you hire a relative and you value your relationship, having him/her photograph your wedding would exclude him/her from your day. Moreover, if she misses some important moments she would feel bad and you would have no recourse. Not to mention it could actually sour the relationship you so cherished before.

15. Ask to see an actual album of an entire wedding and if possible a proofs album to see the photographer’s raw material. Many photographers have put together sample albums of their best shots from many weddings. Look at pictures the photographer shot at a previous wedding to see if he connected with the couple and captured the mood of their day.


WHAT IT COSTS

A Photojournalistic photographer will take many shots just to get the one special moment, and therefore would normally cost more than a portrait photographer. A photojournalistic photographer shoots between 1000- 3000 images at a wedding, while a good portrait photographer shoots on average 300-500 images. A good basic package could cost $1000-$1500, but you can easily spend three or four times that amount. You're paying for the photographer's time at your wedding, hours spent developing your pictures, the finished product -- the prints and albums you order-- and for the artistic aspect and creativity of the photographer. If your photographer is in high demand expect to pay dearly for his services documenting your wedding. You may think you do not need that many photos but chances are that once you get to see the proofs you would want more than you first ordered. Especially if your photographer is a great artist!

VIDEOGRAPHY

Videotaping a wedding is an artistic profession as is photography. Therefore, if you think you could use a family camcorder to videotape your wedding, think again. A good wedding cameraman requires more skill and professionalism than any other moviemaker in the video business. He/she should be familiar with the technical specifications of the equipment, and with all aspects of how weddings unfold. He/she should be an excellent documenter, and needs to be constantly ready to videotape, after all there is only one take and it has to be a good one. A good videographer will connect with you, capture the atmosphere, the excitement, feelings, and emotions at your wedding and preserve it for life on tape. A videotape account of your wedding captures the uniqueness of your wedding and you would want it be according to your taste and style.

* Just like photography take it upon yourself to find a professional videographer with whom you feel comfortable, someone you feel you can spend a whole day with. Meet with several candidates to compare, shop for prices, styles, and packages offered. If you're having trouble finding someone, contact WEVA (Wedding and Event Videographers Association) for a list of professional Videographers in your area.. Always view a tape from a prospective videographer.

Use this checklist when reviewing different tapes:

  • are the images clear?
  • is the lighting right (not too dim or too harsh)?
  • how is the sound quality?
  • was the tape edited well? Is it smooth and well put together? Does it flow or is it choppy?
  • does the tape look professional, or is it something you could do yourself?
  • do the special effects and transitions look professional?
  • is it fun? Is it entertaining to watch?

But the most important element has to be the style and personality of your prospective videographer. Go with your gut feeling and taste.

Also check the following:

1. Has the videographer done many weddings at the location where you’re getting married? Ask to view a tape shot at the same location.

2. Is he/she a member of any national and local videography associations such as WEVA (http://www.weva.org) or AVP? These associations are dedicated to improving the industry and final products delivered to married couples.
Has the videographer won any awards?

3. Has the videographer worked with your photographer before?

4. How many other weddings is the videographer doing on your wedding day or weekend? Make sure there are no time constraints.

5. Will the videographer you're speaking to be the one who will be shooting your wedding? Is it his/her work you are watching?

6. What types of cameras, tapes and microphones will the videographer use? Ask to see the equipment and ask around. Equipment is important, but using the most expensive camera does not guarantee the best result.

7. How much light will they use? Much of the ambiance and atmosphere of your event will be lost if room lights are on during the whole evening. Although, today’s cameras require very little light to get good picture, expect your videographer to use at least one light on the camera.

8. Will a backup camera be on hand for the event? How about back ups for the rest of the equipment?

9. How long does he/she keep the footage on file before recycling it?

10. Cancellation and refund policy.

Make sure to be specific about the following:

  • number of cameras to be used. Many videographers shoot weddings with multiple cameras but most weddings are shot with one camera. The number of cameras does not affect editing capabilities or quality. Skilled videographers can make a one-camera wedding look to have been shot with multiple cameras. Let your videographer know what you want to have covered with more than one camera, if you’re having a multi-camera shoot.
  • number of videos you'll receive, and complete package details.
  • overtime fee, if applicable.
  • reorder prices, if you should decide to order additional videos later.

Once your contract is definite, meet with your videographer and discuss the important events of your wedding day that you think may not be common to other weddings: For example, any special readings, songs during your ceremony, blessings, or dances during your reception. Let him/her know if your hair dresser is a good friend. Have him/her film the limo ride to the chapel. Those kinds of moments will make your video more unique.

WAYS TO JAZZ UP YOUR VIDEOTAPE

PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE VIDEO
Gather some childhood pictures, and snapshots of you (bride and groom) together and give it to the videographer to include in the final edited tape. Give your videographer a list of favorite songs to be use in the editing. Most professional videographers will give a song list from their library of CD’s to choose from.

SHORT VERSION VIDEO
Ask your videographer to include in the package, if it is not already included, a short version of your wedding video. If your final edited video turns to be longer than an hour long chances are you’re not going to watch it often with your friends and family. The short version tape would serve to entertain your family and friends in all kinds of casual gatherings and the long version would be for your family archive and more sporadic occasions. You would find yourself watching and enjoying more your wedding video with a short account tape and you’ll appreciate your video investment more. Believe me, no matter how good The Green Mile was, after the fifth time watching it you can feel that it is three hours long.

PHOTOMONTAGE
Present a video montage at your rehearsal dinner or at your reception. Give your videographer childhood photos, slides, family films and videos, and ask your friends to give you some photographs they took of the two of you and give it all to your videographer to edit together along with a list of your favorite songs. You can make the video to be sentimental or comic and present it on a large screen or monitor. You can also loop in a corner throughout the cocktail hour and/or reception; your guests will get to know you even better, and it's a great conversation piece! It’s guaranteed to make your family and friends laugh and cry, all in the course of a few minutes.

FILM THE MAKING OF THE CELEBRATION
Have your videographer, or one of your friends videotape the making of your wedding. Have him/her document the preparations, planning, dress fitting, hairdresser meeting, meeting with the caterer, making of the cake and all the madness the morning of. Create a short documentary of the making of your wedding. It'll definitely make everyone laugh -- especially you!

YOUR WEDDING ONLINE
Find out if your videographer and photographer have the capability to upload a short version of your wedding video on the web, and/or post your photos. If they can stream it even better! Make sure to inquire about that option. If that is a possibility they will most likely be able to do the same with some of your pictures too. This is a great option to consider. You’ll be emailing your wedding images to everybody regardless if they were there or not.

By David Basher
A Magic Moment
www.amagicmoment.com

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