Tips from the pros choosing your photographer
While it may be hard to imagine now, but someday in the not-so-distant future the fuss and stress involved with planning your Big Day will be over.
The food will be gone, the presents unwrapped (and, if necessary, returned), the dress you searched for forever will be carefully packed away, only to be brought out many years from now for your future daughter, who will take one look at it and announce she’d rather have her own, thank you very much.
At the end of the day, apart from the rings you’ll wear, the photos are one of your biggest Big Day takaways.
After the venue and jewelry, photography is typically the third-highest-ticket item on a wedding budget. According to Amy Lombardo, co-owner of Tres Bien Photo and Video, wedding photography in New Orleans typically runs a bit higher than the national average of about $2,500.
“I’d say for the middle range, you’re looking at between $2,800 and $3,500,” she says.
Given both the expense and the importance of photography, the obvious question is how do you choose the right photographer?
This is where the Internet is such a wonderful thing. Can you imagine all the legwork that used to have to go into such a task? Running around town making appointments with every photographer in the phone book?
“I started my search through Instagram,” says Desiree Watkins, owner of Desiree Watkins Photography. Watkins and her boyfriend, and fellow wedding photographer, Hunter Ryland, recently became engaged, thus finding themselves on the other side of the process for the first time.
“One piece of advice I’d give couples is don’t hire someone to do something you don’t see in their portfolio,” Watkins says. “For instance, we’re going to be getting married outside in the morning, so I wasn’t looking for somebody who mostly did church weddings and used a lot of flash.”
What to look for in portfolios
“You want to see that a photographer is both well rounded and consistent,” says Ryland. “Of course you’ll see photos they’ve taken in a variety of different locations and scenarios, but there should be this underlying tone — something that sets them apart. That will help you really get an idea of what you’re going to get.”
Lombardo has been working in the business for five years and says 95 percent of the photo and video work Tres Bien does is wedding related.
“It’s important when you look at a photographer’s work that first, you see the entire wedding,” says Lombardo. “Don’t just look at a sampling of photos. You want to see how that person tells the whole story of the day. Did they catch unique moments? Did they take a creative view of things? Did they capture real emotion or just posed shots? You also want to ask yourself, ‘Can I see us in these images?’ If you’re laid-back and quirky you don’t want someone to make you look like a supermodel in Vogue.”
A New Orleans native, Lombardo says it’s also important to consider the venue.
“If you’re having a wedding at say, Race and Religious, you don’t want to go with someone whose style tends to be super modern,” she says. “The venues here all have their own personalities and that needs to be accounted for.”
Speaking of personalities…
Your caterer can be basically a stranger, your florist, someone who is honestly kind of annoying, but your photographer? That’s a different story.
“You’re going to be with this person your entire wedding day, so it’s really important that your personalities mesh,” says Lombardo.
“The goal is that by the wedding you consider us close friends,” says Ryland. “We make it a point to really get to know each couple, which could mean going out for a cocktail or a coffee first. In order to capture our clients and their relationships it’s important to connect with them. A great way to try someone out is to use them first for your engagements session.”
On the relationship side, it’s also important to talk to any potential photographers about how booked they are and how likely it will be that they will be the one photographing your wedding? Will there be a second shooter accompanying them? Who will be the backup photographer if they can’t make it?
A final consideration
Before signing the paperwork, you want to be clear on exactly what you’re getting for your money. When you receive a quote, make sure you know exactly how much time that gives you with the photographer. How much is it if you go over? How many photos does that include? Does that price include post-production work? Touch ups? How long will you have to wait for your photos?
Finally, as with any major business transaction, make sure you get a contract that covers all your questions.