View: What Is a Picture Worth?

The top 10 questions to ask before you hire a photographer or videographer

Anyone can go into Best Buy and pick up the latest and greatest cameras, so do you need to pay for a professional for your big day? If you decide you
do, then how do you choose the best one for you?

Lavina Bourg of Your Day Production (273-0005, (985) 227-4579, YourDayProduction.com) says, “When the big day is over and the dress is packed away, it’s your photographs and video that are literally the lens through which you’ll see and remember everything about your wedding, so you could say it’s the most important decision you make.”

With that in mind, we at New Orleans Bride magazine asked some of the most talented photographers and videographers in the city what they would look for.
make sure they’re licensed and insured Robert Trent of Images by Robert T ((985) 966-2793, ImagesByRobertT.com) says, “This has to be one of the first questions a bride asks. Sometimes, however, in the excitement of the preparations, it gets lost and then you have a gamble on your hands. You need to know if this person going to be around in six months’ time when you want to order your photos and/or video and what they’ll do if there’s an emergency.”

Rita Frelich of Artography (416-6091, RitaFrelichArtography.com) adds, “I would tell any bride to check that their photographer has a ‘Hurricane Policy’ and a back-up camera; you can’t afford for there to be a malfunction during the ‘I do’s.’”

Not every photographer is a member of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA); and not every videographer belongs to the Digital Video Professionals Association (DVPA). However, when you start your research, these organizations have websites with lots of useful information and they can offer a level of reassurance about whom you might be trusting on your big day.

Make sure the pricing and timing are clear Kirk Leonard of One Louder Productions (415-9660) has this advice: “We tend to keep our contracts simple, otherwise it can be confusing and, worse, misleading. You need to know exactly what you are paying for and how extra time will be charged if you need it. You also need to check when photographs and videos will be ready; we’ve heard of instances where the couple has celebrated their first anniversary before they’ve seen their DVD.”

He continues, “Extra [copies] can be another problem. Ask about this in advance to see what their reaction is. If they’re going to charge a fortune, think again; there are often things you want to add in at the last minute and you need someone who will be accommodating.”

Make sure you know who’s coming Leonard says, “This may see obvious but some photography and videography companies contract their work out, so the person you meet isn’t the same one who shows up on the day.”

Make sure they have a “plan B” Trent says, “You may have booked the best photographer in the city, but if he’s taken out by the flu you’re going to have
a last-minute panic. Talk to your photographer about their team and how they handle the unexpected.”

Make sure they have the right equipment Bourg has this cautionary advice: “Check that the photos and video that you see and like has been shot with the same equipment that will be used for your wedding. Also, make sure that the photographer and/or videographer is familiar with your venues and will bring any extra lighting and devices they may need. If they don’t know the venues, they should offer to visit them ahead of time.”

Make sure they can work with your mother-in-law Tensions are always high at weddings and there are many people involved. The last thing you need is for the minister to call a halt in the middle of your vows because he has to tell your videographer to get off the altar.

Brenda Sison of Brenda Sison Photography (250-2400, BrendaSison.com) says, “As a bare minimum they have to be familiar with the protocols of the venues you have chosen and what the rules are for shooting. A good photographer or videographer will also be able to blend into the day, work with all the different characters involved and capture everyone at their best.”

Make sure they have great real-life reviews With social media and our interactive use of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to see real-time reviews of the person with whom you might be working.

Sison says, “Websites like ‘The Knot’ [TheKnot.com] are great for reviews, as is Facebook and vendors’ own websites, especially if they have a blog. Brides can read what other brides are saying today about their photographers and you can look at the work they’re currently producing. It really helps you frame what you want them to shoot for you, and allows you to get excited with confidence.”

Make sure your photographer/videographer can shoot the whole day There are many great hobbyist photographers who get lucky and snap a great shot. It is another thing to shoot a wedding from the preparation through to leaving for the honeymoon.

However, that’s exactly what a good professional photographer should do and that’s one of the reasons it’s almost always better to use a professional. Even if an uncle or a cousin has a good hand with a camera, he’s likely to get distracted during the day and miss some shots; you need someone focused the whole time on not missing a moment.

Kevin Terrington of Terrington Films (908-6579, TerringtonFilms.com) says, “Take the time to do your homework. Start by looking at a number of websites, take referrals and then narrow it down to at least three potential vendors. Then put the effort in to meet them and make sure they show you a full product, one wedding from beginning to end, because that’s what you’ll be getting. Highlights of several weddings won’t show you as clearly what their work is like. “

Make sure your photographer is versatile These days you don’t have to decide between photo-journalistic photography with the ‘as it happens’ feel, artsy shoes-off shots or traditional poses. You can have them all. If you want this, again, spend time looking at how the photographers work these styles to capture the different moments of the day. They need to be able to intervene to put the formal shots together as well as stand back and shoot it as it happens.

Make sure you like your photographer and/or videographer Trust your instincts. Do you like them? Can you imagine spending more time on the most important day of your life with them than with anyone else?

Then think about what people tell you about the great photographer-and-model relationships (think Kate Moss and Mario Testino). They say the amazing photos they make together are due to the fact that they both like and trust each other. The model relaxes and is willing to take chances.

It should be exactly the same for you on your big day. You are the supermodel.

Will you feel relaxed enough to be yourself, thereby enabling them to capture your true self and those in your wedding party? Will you enjoy getting to know them before the wedding? Do they understand your personalities and preferences? Do you feel confident they can represent a true version of who you are and what your day is about?

Sison concludes, “I believe it’s similar to meeting your husband. If something in you doesn’t spark when you meet them, they probably aren’t the person for you.”

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