1 – WEED OUT THE INEXPERIENCED
With the rise of digital cameras and the popularity of Instagram, most people these days consider themselves amateur photographers. Utah takes that to the extreme. Young and inexperienced men and women offer wedding photography starting at $500. I remember something a mentor of mine taught me at the beginning of my career, “Good photos aren’t cheap, and cheap photos aren’t good.” If photos are truly one of the most important parts of your event, please don’t trust it to a friend or to a photographer who doesn’t value their expertise enough to charge a decent amount. Utah, more than any other place I have lived and work, has little expectation for photographers, and many Utahns are simply looking for the cheapest deal. Trust me, the cheap deals are out there, but you truly do get what you pay for.
2 – ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS: Let’s face it, there isn’t the same measure for photographers as there is for doctors. Doctors get degrees and have internships while most photographers are self-taught. But, whether doctor or photographer–the 10,000-hour rule still applies. Practice does make perfect. Ask your photographer how long they’ve been shooting. Ask them what kind of cameras they use (even if you don’t know anything about cameras if you have a photographer who goes off passionately about their “babies” you will know you’ve found a solid person). Ask them if they’ve had any formal classes and training. Ask them how many shoots they’ve done (it doesn’t always have to be weddings, I know I take my camera out at least three times a week and personal work is the most important for growth and knowledge). And finally, ask them if they have gotten published and where. The best wedding blogs are Once Wed, Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake, Magnolia Rouge, Ruffled, Wedding Chicks, and Green Wedding Shoes. Photographers who value their career seek publication to add validity to their work. A published person is a good way to weed out inexperienced and bad photographers.
3 – QUALITY over QUANTITY
Any person can take 15,000 images and come up with a few good ones. In a world where we like more of everything, take a step back and realize that the photographers who are truly artists are going to be less trigger happy. They are going to seek out the good light and wait for the right moment because they know that the ONE image they get right will be worth so much more than 200 mediocre images that an average photographer might take. A typical engagement session of 20 images that are all full of feeling, love, light, and location will come to mean more to you than 200 photographs taken in harsh sunlight, with a lack of emotion, and no eye for detail.
4 – FIND A STORYTELLER
I can’t express this enough–a person who knows how to tell a story is a person you want to photograph your wedding. Storytelling is key. No matter how good a person is with a camera, if they don’t have a sense of wonder, a sense of exposition, and climax, and plot–then they are not storytellers. If they don’t know how to seek out the small moments and observe human behaviour, then there will never be the heart and soul in your wedding photography that you seek. This is a skill. It is a talent to be developed. And people who have this skill understand how long it has taken to hone and tailor it. They understand their worth. And they have the confidence to give you what you seek.
5 – CHOOSE A LEADER and NOT A PLEASER
A leader means someone who knows how to ask for what you want. A leader knows how to guide people. A leader has confidence. A leader will tell you the right choices. Many times at the beginning of my career I was so concerned about pleasing my client that I would let them call all the shots. If they wanted a photoshoot at noon, I would do it (even though I knew that the light at noonday is the worst light for photos). I would rarely give feedback on clothing or locations because I figured that the client would simply know what to do and where to do it. Novice photographers fall into these habits. The seasoned photographer has learned better. The seasoned photographer will lead you gently to the best decisions. They may not always be the most convenient decisions, but they will make the best decisions. And, ultimately, that is what you’re paying them to do.