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Get even more advice with our wedding photography tips

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You don’t have to let your photographer run the entire show. Here are 5 ways you can inspire your wedding photographer and get the shots you want.

Hiring a Photographer

Consider this advice on hiring the right wedding photographer before signing on the dotted line.

Many brides are comfortable with such priorities as reception site or catering selection, but may not be as familiar with the process of hiring the right wedding photographer. Wedding photography is one of the most important aspects of your day; consider these important tips before making your choice:

The Selection Process

Start by compiling a list of potential photographers and commence the “meet and greet.” Browsing through our list of Preferred Local Wedding Photographers is a great way to start. When meeting with potential photographers, you’ll need to consider the following:

Brides often underestimate the importance of the photographer’s personality, yet this person will end up being a very personal guest at your most important event. Evaluate carefully whether you feel comfortable with this person. Some of the most beautiful moments happen behind the scenes, while the bride is dressing, while the couple steals a kiss, and you should feel comfortable inviting the photographer to capture these moments. First find a wedding photographer you like as a person, then evaluate the artistic criteria.

Review the Portfolio
Seasoned wedding photographers have what is called a “book,” which is a portfolio of their best work. Evaluating a photographer’s portfolio depends on your own stylistic and artistic preferences. His or her work should match your tastes and style. Make sure the images speak to you and reflect your personal visions for your wedding day. Look for crisp images, thoughtful composition and good lighting. Also ask to see the shots from a complete wedding; that way you can see it all - not just the highlights - and you will have a better feel for his or her ability to capture your day.

Questions to Ask

Before hiring your wedding photographer, make sure you have answered these important questions:

Who will be taking the pictures?
Make sure that the photographer whose portfolio you review will be the actual person who takes the pictures at your wedding. The person whose name is on the contract should be the same person you met with. Some contracts claim the studio’s right to send any staff photographer to your wedding. Do not sign if you do not agree with this policy.

What is the photographer’s primary style?
Make sure your photographer knows exactly what you want. Do you want mostly journalistic style or formal poses? Many photographers claim to do both, but in reality, most are better at one or the other, so make sure you know his or her strengths and background to ensure you get the wedding photos you want.

Do you shoot mostly in color, black and white, or both?
While some images call for color, other moments are best captured in black and white. Your photographer should have experience with both and be able to customize to meet your needs.

What’s included?
Photographers often offer package prices or hourly options. If you choose a package, make sure you know what is included. Will you get a disc of the images or will you have to purchase them from a site where the photographer hosts them? Is an album included? If you go with someone hourly, ask the same questions so you know how much it will cost to actually obtain your images.

Are you familiar with the location?
Your photographer should be familiar with the ceremony and reception site so that he or she can quickly and efficiently capture the best shots.

What are your references?
Call each reference and ask whether or not the person was satisfied with the overall experience and received the desired photos.

Working Together

Once you have found the wedding photographer with the skill set, style, vision and personality to suit your needs, you must schedule follow-up meetings to discuss specifics and plan your wedding photography. Together you will decide how many hours your photographer will spend at your wedding, your overall vision and specific photo suggestions.

Plan Your Album
Define and articulate your expectations and desires. You should discuss everything with your photographer prior to the wedding to ensure you get the wedding album you envision. Visualize in advance what your wedding photos will look like. Consider whether you foresee black and white or color. Do you prefer a soft touch or crisp sharp images? Do you like matte or glossy finish? With or without borders? You get the picture.  Our list of creative wedding pictures is a good starting point in determining the photos you want in your album.

Plan the wedding day photography from beginning to end. Try to visit the location with your photographer to preview the site. This will help determine lighting conditions, photo locations and alternatives in case of inclement weather.

Let the photographer know the sequence of activities and who, what, when and where you want to photograph. Your photographer is not a mind reader and will not inherently know who your Aunt Tilly is and the importance of capturing a photo of the two of you.

Get Everything in Writing
To avoid any confusion, all of the details that you have painstakingly discussed should be in writing. Read the contract carefully, especially the fine print.

Consider Tipping
Remember that tipping is completely optional. Most established wedding photographers do not expect a tip; however, a monetary thank you is always appreciated. If you decide to tip, $20-$25 is typical.