Wedding - To Do List

In order to help you with the process and making the decision easier, below we have gathered a list to help when you are in the process of hiring a wedding photographer. At a glance, it might seem quite a lot to take in, but once you are finished reading it, it's all easy-peasy.

When you search for your photographers, get an idea what type of photography style you prefer, once you have decided this with your partner, the finding process will be much easier. In general, there are a few wedding photography styles are on offer:

Documentary: This kind of photography are more candid or spontaneous in nature, the photos are not styled of people, decor and the action. It is more about capturing the moment that happens very fast! These are usually used with the guests arriving, the reception, and the party. With a purely photojournalist photographer, you'll very rarely see people staring at the camera - the photos capture the moments exactly as they happened, and together they tell a story.

Portraiture: Traditional photographer who specialises in portraiture usually offer classic portraits such as your parent's wedding album. These are posed shots of the two of you, in traditional pose and background etc. But these days, as time move forwards, there are also photographers (such as myself) improve it by giving room for creativity, to give a modern feel to it (and not as boring if I may say). To increase that room of creativity, that's why you must set up a meeting with the photographer, and let the photographer to see the venue before your wedding day.

Fine Art: Similar to documentary photography, it is usually more dramatic and in black and white. This is more of a rare type for wedding photography, as usually these are shot on film, and it cannot be screen prove a picture instantly, so the photographer has to be very confident with film format to produce these type of images. There are also photographer who can still achieve the same/similar style using a digital camera, and some use both formats. Not all photographers take a fine-art approach to shoot portraits, so if it's really important to your mom to have this type of family shots, look for someone who does both, or consider hiring a second shooter for the portrait sessions.

Edgy-Bold: This style of photography often featured with shots with a very different angle, such as titled angels (called the Dutch angles), unusual and unconventional framing. This means instead of a straight-on shot, the photo is tiled, or shot from above etc.

Many wedding photographers do a mixture of styles (as we are too), so if there's a particular style you are more favour to, make sure you communicate this across with the photographer, or even show the photographer examples of photos that you like, and ask if the photographer to forward/show you some sample of similar style of work to help you decide.

Now you might have already round up a few photographers to choose, next step is to carefully review the potential photographer's websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they've shot, or more about their background. The design of their website/blog will give you a great idea about the photographer's style, personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook or Twitter pages too, if possible, see any feedbacks from other clients, and how the photographer respond.

Meeting the potential photographers helped a great deal, as you would be spending the whole day with your photographer on your wedding day, and it's important to see if the photographer can make you feel comfortable in front of their camera! If you are still considering any other photographers, first initial meeting over a coffee is good. In the first meeting, besides asking all the questions you want to ask, it's also important to see if they are pleasant. Do they present themselves in a clear and respectful way? Are their mannerisms off putting? Go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images. The more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. 

A second meeting at the venue is absolutely crucial once you have decided who to go for. However, if the photographer is good (seeing from their website and their portfolio) don't hang out too long until that second meeting, and to book the photographer, because good photographer tends to be more easily booked away during high season.

Most photographer only advertise the best pictures from all the weddings they have done. That is to say, you are only seeing the best of the best, and you won't get a well-rounded idea of their work for your full day of events. This is usually true if you see a photographer's website showing you all these photos but there is only one or two wedding photographs from the same wedding. Ask to see two to three full albums from real weddings, will help you get to see the consistency of how good the photographer is, from the arrival of guests and wedding party, ceremony, reception to dinner party.

I have three selected weddings photo album featured the full-day event on this blog and on my website, please feel free to take a look.

Once you have decided who to hire, next you should confirm with your photographer.

a> Get The Package Deal
Negotiate or request the best package (where you should have some sample packages information and how much it costs at your meetings beforehand). In normal circumstances, your photographer should be happy to tailor the package that is on offer, such as increase/decrease the number of prints, photographing hours, or any other services so you get exactly what you want, and within your budget. 

While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from pre-ceremony events (i.e. getting ready with your bridesmaids) to the end of the reception. It is usually better to pay for more coverage if there's a chance you'll run over and if you definitely want your photographer there until the end (overtime is usually charged at a higher hourly rate). 

b> Ask About Your Rights
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even use them in ads). That also means that you can't just post the digital proofs they send you -- most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you'll have to buy the rights to the images.

c> Post-production Details
Ask how long it will take to see the photo proofs. Usually it takes at least a month simply because the enormous amount of pictures being taken on the day, and your photographer will need time to process them one by one, to correct any photo, and to transfer the photo from a RAW file to JPG file so you can view from any computing device. You needed to ask what you will get at the end, such as, will the pictures in high-resolution or low-resolution? Will you able to get prints yourself, or does the photographer retain the rights of the images? Will the proofs you see be the retouched versions? And ask about your retouching options (from simple beauty touch-up, to stylised art effects) and the possible additional cost for both, or how many images being retouched are already included.

Once all above have been done, you will then need to confirm your booking with the photographer. Most photographer charge a non-refundable deposit to secure a booking being made, and the deposit will be deducted from the total costs. The reason for this is to protect the photographer not losing out any work, say, if there are people changed their mind at the very last minute, the photographer will lose out other job opportunities because they held the day for the said client. Make sure you ask for a receipt/invoice whenever you have paid any money. A professional photographer will naturally produce these important documents.

Once you have finalised the schedule of your wedding day, send a copy to the photographer. It should list out:

- what time you want the photographer to arrive and to where (which room or location if different than the wedding venue);
- a time table for the day's events (e.g. 12pm Guests arrival, 1pm Ceremony, 2pm, Reception, 2.30pm Couple Portraits, etc.) down to the very last event of the day, or until the time you want to book the photographer until.

Discuss with your photographer how much time is best to save for taking couple portraits. If you are getting married at a big venue, it might take off more time than you think just to get to those beautiful spots you want to be photographed at.

Assign a person (best man, or bridesmaid) for the photographer to go to on the day if they need anything, or to gather family and friends to take group photos on the day. Let the photographer know who that person is, and the contact number. You don't want the photographer to keep going to you or your partner all day, so best to leave this to someone trust worthy in the wedding party. Lastly, ask the photographer if there's any particular thing they need from you before or on the day, so you can pre-organise or have someone else see to it.

8/. ON THE DAY (The Most Important!!!)
Relax, stay calm, and let others to help you. That's why your bridesmaid or your best man is there for! Most happy couples are so sunken into the buzz, very often they forgot they have to take a breathe, and enjoy their special day! The more relax you look, the better you look in your wedding photos.

And most importantly, get your bridesmaid or best men to remind to guests at the beginning of the wedding, to let your wedding photographer to do the job! It's understandable that your aunts, uncles, cousins and best friends want to help record the special day, but in no way they should get in the way of your photographer to take the professional photos you want! Tell them in any occasion, please let the photographer to take the photos first, and they can take the photos when the photographer is done.

In many occasion, wedding guests got in the way from the photographer's perfect view, hands with their smart phones or ipad in their air, blocking views which will limit the photographer's choices of different angles of the event, particularly during the ceremony. So don't let this happen to you!

On the last note, during your planning, if you are booking your photographer for a full-day, remember to feed your photographer too. Running around with heavy equipments needs a lot of energy, a happy photographer with a full stomach is another ingredient to make beautiful photos.  ;)

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