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Shopping For A Wedding Photographer

How to choose a wedding photographer in KZN

Shopping for a wedding photographer isn’t like choosing an off –the-peg wedding gown – you can’t see it until it’s done – so it’s a leap of faith. This is especially difficult considering that there are so many of them! Most couples believe that they should start by looking at a wedding photographer’s work. No, first look at your budget. Most photographers charge by the hour for their time and expertise, then add the products like albums and wedding photo books.

You need to set your budget at between 10% and 15% of the total cost of your wedding. Your wedding planner will know the Prima Donna photographers who serve only the rich and famous and those who offer more reasonably priced packages. If you don’t have a wedding planner, by process of elimination, you’ll have to cross off the photographers you can’t afford.

The second thing to ask yourself is: how long you want the photographer to be at your wedding? Most photographic packages offer from 6 to 10 hours. But you could ask for just three hours, especially if yours is a small wedding. Decide whether you want just the ceremony and speeches shot or want the photographer there from the bride getting ready right up until the first dance.

Once you have narrowed it down, then it is time to look at the photographer’s technique. The trouble is, all the photos will look great on web sites and flyers, making a choice confusing. But here’s what to look out for.

If you love the idea of unusual photos then go for the photographers who shoot dramatic scenes of brides draped over rusty old tractors or backed up against peeling walls of abandoned buildings.

If you are the arty sort, then go for photographers whose work is different, but be careful of  photographers who are just too caught up in their own artiness. You’ll recognise their work by the over empahsis on cloud formations or morphed shots, taken at funny angles, never mind the décor and flowers that the bride paid so much for, these  will be mere swirls to show off  the photographer’s new technique. You’ll see silhouettes with birds wheeling over the heads of unrecognisable couples but no portraits of the bride and groom actually smiling at the camera and no close ups of the bead work of the bride’s dress either, its like, “Hey man, just look at my cool seascapes!”

If you are an ordinary couple wanting beautiful memories for the rest of your life, go for photographers who have actually captured the joyful essence and loving looks between smiling couples. There should be pictures of all the elements you’d expect the bride and groom wanting to remember like the bouquets, cake, wedding dress, flowers, décor and the rings. Then nice photos of  loved ones who shared the day.

If possible meet the photographer before you make a decision. Most people are camera shy so it is important to establish a rapport with your photographer. Ask to view an album or photo book and after a chat,  go with your gut instinct. You’ll know who you feel most comfortable in dealing with and who will make you feel relaxed and at ease on your big day.

Getting on well with the photographer and having one that is smartly dressed, clean and tidy is a big plus. Comment on appearance and ask that they be dressed in a similar way on your wedding day- no tatty jeans and worn T-shirts.

Don’t be afraid to ask the photographer about his or her experience and ask them to run through a typical wedding day with you of what happens and the planning and preparation the photographer does. Do they check out the venue beforehand? Do they have an assistant? Are they willing to work from a checklist that you give them for any particular shots you want? It is a good idea to get the most important people photographed straignt after the ceremony while  everyone is still fresh and then the rest of the guests photographed during the reception.

Once you get a quote, make sure that you understand exactly what you get for the package and make sure you understand the difference between a photo book, storybook and album. Double check everything. A key question is about the photographer retaining copyright over the images after the wedding. Some do and some don’t. This will be reflected in the price. You will need to think about the costs of printing extra photographs and albums after the wedding if this is the case.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references and check out those references. A lot of wedding photographers are recommended by a friend or word of mouth.

Find out how soon after the wedding your photos will be ready. Some photographers take ages, so get an approximate date. Now weigh up all of the above; the package, the price, people skills and photography skills.

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