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How to… Choose Your Wedding Photographer

Every wedding photographer has their own distinctive style. You’ll see it perusing their portfolio or website. To find the right photographer for your special day, decide on the photographic style you prefer. If you are not sure which style is right for you, the following options clarify the differences.

  • Traditional: Traditional wedding photographers tend to capture perfect moments with dignity, treating every image as a posed portrait. They produce excellent shots of the wedding party, families, and planned events (cake cutting ceremony, first dance, bouquet toss, etc.). This doesn’t mean that every photo will appear to be forced or posed, but it is probably safe to say you won’t see many spontaneous action shots included in the photographs!
  • Classical: A classical wedding photographer specializes in expertly composed, well-lit portraits. You won’t find them asking your guests, to “smile for the camera”. They try to keep a low profile at the reception, in order to set up perfect, classical images.
  • Commercial: These photographers will take perfect shots of centerpieces, flowers, décor, the cake, etc. They are capable of taking magazine-quality images. They are sometimes hired to do just that, along with another photographer to handle the people pictures!
  • Photojournalistic: A photo journalistic photographer considers it their job to record events, not stage them. This photographer will, of course, take the group shots you want, but there will be far less formal gatherings of guests. These photographers prefer to capture close-ups, spontaneous reactions, and sensitive impressions. They photograph a wedding led by events, instead of orchestrating the photographs that are going to be taken.
  • Photographic Artist: A photographic artist is similar to the photojournalist. They prefer to find artistic ways to photograph people and events. They produce less candid shots, but they are beautifully composed, and full of drama and artistic beauty. They tend to lean towards the black and white shots more so than the other types of photographers.

Once you and your fiancé have agreed on the type and style of photography you prefer, you can begin your search for the right photographer. Get recommendations from friends, your caterer, your venue, and check websites (PittsburghWedding.com lists several of Pittsburgh’s finest photographers). Always ask for references, and don’t be afraid to check on them. Make sure to interview several, until you are sure you are happy with your decision. After all, this is one of the most important days of your life. You’ll want to find a photographer who is able to capture every precious memory! Following are a few points to cover while interviewing your prospective photographers:

Portfolio. The pictures tell all! When conducting your interviews, ask to see samples of his or her work. Look for clean, sharp images that convey true emotions and feelings. Don’t let special effects or set-ups dazzle you. Make sure to look at one or two weddings, from start to finish. You don’t want to see some of their best shots all from different weddings, (anyone can take a few good pictures once in a while). What you are looking at is the photographers’ showcase; it is not going to get any better, so make sure you like what you see. Some companies have several photographers working for them, so also be sure you are hiring the actual photographer that took the photos you liked so well.

Philosophy and Compatibility. Ask each photographer you interview their philosophy about weddings. This can really make a big difference in your photographs. You should see great photos from the enthusiastic, dedicated photographer. On the other hand, if this is “just another job” to them, you may not like the final outcome. If you like a particular photographers’ work, but you don’t like the photographer, move on to your next prospect. If you are uncomfortable at all, it will show up in your photos. Communication and trust are big factors when choosing your photographer. It is a big help to bring along some photographic styles you like (look in some bridal magazines, online, or at the announcements in your newspaper). Make it clear to your photographer exactly the vision you have and the type of look you want. Be specific and communicate your needs. By doing this you should be able to trust your photographer, and on your wedding day let him, (or her) do what he (or she) does best.

Service and Pricing. Price and service comparisons need to be incorporated into your decision making process. When you are interviewing your prospective Pittsburgh wedding photographers be sure to inquire about the following: Is your wedding date available? Do they charge for travel time? Are they familiar with your ceremony and reception sites? Is a wedding package offered? If so, of what does it consist? How many hours are included? Is there a charge for overtime? Find out the size and cost of albums. Are there any substitutions or can additional prints be purchased? If you prefer, can you just buy loose prints instead of an album? How long are the negatives kept, just in case something were to happen to your album? These are just some basic things to go over while doing your interviews.

Once you have agreed to the date and terms with your photographer, get an itemized breakdown of all costs. Make sure the contract includes, the date, time and place of arrival, length of shooting period, how many photos will be taken, breakdown of package cost (also find out if they offer a discount if you want to buy extra albums for your parents or grandparents), any extra charges, scheduled time for reviewing proofs, and delivery date of your finished album. Make sure price guarantees are included for additional prints, or enlargements. How is this to be paid? Before the contract is signed make sure to cover everything in full detail. Before your wedding day arrives, make a list of the events and certain people or groups you would like photographed. If you don’t have a wedding planner ask an attendant or close friend to show the photographer the locations and help round-up everyone. Now you can relax and be confident that the essential details of your special day will be captured flawlessly! So, smile!

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