Wedding Photography and Videography Forum

How in the world did you narrow down your photographer?

I've got a list of like 40+ photographers' websites.  I browse their wedding galleries, see which ones I like, then email an inquiry about travel fees (my location is remote and 2-3 hours from the next real town). 

They all seem to have wedding deals that are in the $1000-$1800 range.  Some are just day of photography, some include bridals, groomals, engagements which I don't really need.

Is this how you did it?  Email them each like I am?

I'll have to go with the photog I like best and has the most reasonable travel fees/day of fees, but it's going to take a while to find that.  So many of them are really good.

Re: How in the world did you narrow down your photographer?

  • gymbugmj2kgymbugmj2k member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Make a list of what is REALLY important to you with a photographer. Go interview the ones you like.  My FI is also a photographer, so we were finding that the cheaper photographers took pictures that were of equal or lesser quality than my FI could do!  So, our list was something like:

    * Creates ART, not just photo mementos of the day
    * Style of photographer -- we wanted someone who was great at candid shots - not just your typical 'stand here and smile' shots
    * 2 permanent shooters (some photogs will hire out a temporary 2nd shooter who does nothing more than echo the same shots that the photographer is taking. we wanted 2 separate experienced people)
    * THE SAME PERSON.  some companies will hire out photographers, so that you book X company, but a guy from Y company actually shows up to do the wedding.
    * all day coverage (some photogs will leave halfway through the reception or have a "X" hour limit)
    * release for print (aka we get ALL the photos - even the outtakes -- on a CD to do whatever we want with them)
    * Engagement shoot included
    * Good turnaround time, reputable service
    * Good humor/easy to work with (SUPER important. your photographer is going to be around you all day -- make sure you like them!)
    * Backup equipment/plan

    We didn't care much about prints or albums, as we will have the CD and can do wahtever we want.
    From the websites, we found that we liked 3 photographers' work a LOT.  The first one we interviewed was Neal Urban (who travels, but sounds overbudget for you) and we absolutely fell in love with what he was offering.  We just had our engagement shoot with him last week, and are SO EXCITED to work with him again.
    I cant stress enough to find someone who you guys are comfortable and happy being around!

    good luck =)
  • gymbugmj2kgymbugmj2k member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    oh right. make sure they're available for the day you want!  Neal was booking into 2012 back in August of 2010... but we knew we wanted him -- so we booked him, and made everything else work around that date!!! =D

    Also, seeing as we're the first booked for that particular weekend, he will attend our rehearsal to double check lighting/where he should stand/etc. 
    sweet deal!
  • ginadogginadog member
    5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2011
    No one is local to us so interviewing in person might be a challenge!

    These are great ideas, some of which I had no idea to think of.

    There are tons that stand out ot me, but a I guess 1/3 I really love based on their galleries.

    It's crazy that one (who I like the best) will charge just $200 for travel and no lodging necessary, while someone from the same area will charge $300 plus a lodging!

    Do you know what one could do with high-res negatives on a disc? 
  • gymbugmj2kgymbugmj2k member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Conversations over phone or skype might help you get a better idea of their personalities.

    Make sure that the galleries are representations of YOUR photographer, not just the company they work for. Also, know that the ones on the website are most likely their best edited shots.  If you feel comfortable, request to see some "straight from camera" shots.  We definitely picked Neal because of his gallery, and then he told us that some of those were straight from the camera with no editing!

    There is no hard or fast rule for travel expenses.  Photogs usually set their own based on gas/flights/what hotels they like staying in.  Local photogs usually book 2 weddings in a weekend.  Travel usually means they can only do 1 that weekend...which means less income for that week.

    The disc images can be used for whatever you want.  Sites like Vistaprint or Cafepress can put images into albums, on mugs, shirts, mousepads, etc.  Pretty much anything you want!  We're using our engagement shoot pictures to create our own save the dates and some reception decor =)  You can also just send them to a photo printer to have whatever size prints done.  The resolution that our photographer shoots at, would let us have perfect quality prints up to 11x22in or soemthing crazy like that! =)
    Having that CD is also nice in case your album or prints get ruined.  We're thinking of keeping ours in a safety deposit box in case something ever happens to our house.
  • edited December 2011
    gymbug has excellent advice!  Also, you said that you didn't want any photography other than your wedding day, but do consider getting either a bridal or an engagement session--it's a great way to warm up to your photographer and give him/her a trial-run.  You'll be able to make sure the photographer is really doing the job that you want, and you'll have a chance to learn from the shots and fix things you don't like for your wedding-day photos (slouching, bad angles, bad editing, etc.)  Plus you won't be rushed for time like you will on your wedding day.

    You asked about hi-res negatives, which are a must in my opinion.  You will be able to make a nice quality print in a large size, plus it's easy to store a disc in a safe or safety deposit box in case something happens to your computer, photo albums, etc.  Some photographers won't release the hi-res negatives (or charge a ton for it) so that you are forced to buy expensive prints.

    If it's just not possible to meet up and interview your prospective photographer(s) in person, arrange something over the phone.  Ask to see images from an entire wedding--you'll get a much better sense of what the photographer's work is really like as opposed to the 10 awesome photos that are posted on the website.  If there are only 10 great photos out of 800 shots, then that's a poor hit-rate.

    My FI and I are both photographers, so we had really high expectations.  We interviewed 5 photographers before we found one that we both agreed on.  My sweetie was actually still a little nervous to book her, but I told him that if we took the engagement photos and absolutely hated them that we would be able to back out.  Fortunately, the engagement photos turned out to be lovely, and we were able to recognize where our photographer will excel and where we'll have to jump in.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • ginadogginadog member
    5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thanks again!

    Is it better to get high res edited color photos or high res negatives?  Either are great?  I just wasn't sure if negatives would work on online ordering places.

    Never thought about asking to see full wedding albums.  Good idea.

    Raspberrytart, are you based out of SLC? 
  • gymbugmj2kgymbugmj2k member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    not sure what you mean by negatives. 99.5% of photos are shot digitally, so the photographers should either give you .RAW or .JPEG image files to work with.  Its easiest to keep them in full color, and then add any effects (b&w, sepia, etc) afterwards.
  • ginadogginadog member
    5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2011
    They are digital, but not sure what you can do with them after you have them.  Here's the example:

    "High‐Res negatives on disc from all sessions*"
  • atomicphotoatomicphoto member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    its just different wording for the same thing. what you want is to make sure that they are "High Resolution" otherwise they will be useless. Also make sure you are getting a "printing rights release" of sorts so that you can actually use the images legally. 
    Also, unless you yourself are a pro photographer or graphic designer you do not want the .RAW images as you will be unable to do anything with them unless you have the proper (and rather expensive) software to open them. You want .Jpegs or possibly .Tiffs , be wary of anyone giving out .Raw files as they will be unedited. 
  • BMcLeodTeamBMcLeodTeam member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Best thing I did - ask for if there are any recent weddings they shot where you can speak wtih the bride.... It gives you a better idea of what its like actually working with them.

    Also, if you only really like the work of 1/3 of them, don't go outside of that 1/3... there is no point having someone if you already know you're not as impressed with their work.
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