Article - "Why hire a professional photographer?" Published in Bridal Spectacular

THE DECISIONS you make when planning a wedding are all important. Few, however, are more crucial than choosing the right photographer. The images captured by this one key vendor will forever preserve this most celebrated occasion. Hire a professional who creates art, one who understands your wedding is their canvas.

As you begin your search for this service, you will find a number of fine photographers from which to choose. Select a photographer whose personality works with yours. Remember, this person is with you for a large part of your wedding day. You'll appreciate someone with a good, positive attitude who treats both you and your guests courteously and with respect. A good photographer knows how to charm your crotchety cousin and seduce smiles from the shyest bridesmaid. If you have a vivacious family, choose a photographer comfortable commanding crowds. Know your group is quiet and reserved? Select a photographer who is calming and patient. Most importantly, pick someone you have chemistry with. The more you "click" together, the better your photographs will be.

You may be tempted to ask an acquaintance who dabbles in photography to serve as your wedding photographer. The truth is, that unlike a novice, professional photographers have the experience, equipment and know-how to make your photographs sensational. They understand the different moods created by proper lighting and posing and use reliable techniques and equipment to create quality images.

Remember, your photographer has but one opportunity to get it right. There are no second chances.

STYLE Wedding photography generally falls into two categories: traditional and photojournalistic. Traditional photographers master the perfectly composed or more formal portrait. If your wish is for the pristine posed picture, the traditional photographer is for you. Photojournalistic photographers are geniuses with candids. They tell a story through a series of photos which resemble snapshots. Determine your style by flipping through magazines, borrowing friends' wedding albums, and perusing photography books. Notice if the photographer shoots in primarily black and white or in color. Decide your preference and choose a photographer whose strength is your style.

PORTFOLIO A photographer's portfolio is a collection of their work. Do you like the way the pictures are displayed? Remember, a photographer has to have a good eye. Look at the most recent weddings. If a particular shot appeals to you, get the photographer to explain how the idea came about. You want to hire a photographer who knows how to think on their feet and who finds good images under intense pressure. Finally, ask if they are involved in associations and trade groups. A photographer should invest time in staying current with technology and trends.

PACKAGES Expect packages to vary depending on the photographer. Most photographers offer a range of prices that include a block of time, reproduction and post-production charges. Keep in mind, post production work is very labor intensive. If you prefer to have the photographer professionally organize your album, enlarge your proofs, and transfer your images onto a CD, expect to pay for this quality of care. Interested in owning the negatives and handling the reproduction yourself? Be prepared to weed through hundreds of pictures, arrange for photo retouching and someone to develop the prints, and to construct your own album.

THE COST You are hiring a photographer for their time to shoot your engagement photos, the day of the wedding, processing or editing, reviewing proofs, the final order of images, and assembling each of your albums. Not to be overlooked is the photographer's level of experience and creative talent. A lot more goes into photographing a wedding than showing up with a camera.

BOOK IT Secure your photographer 8 to 12 months in advance. Provide the exact locations and times for the ceremony and reception and agree upon a time for pre-wedding photo sessions such as those with the bride, bridesmaids and parents as well as the groom and groomsmen. Although there are certain requisite shots for most weddings, it still helps to provide your photographer with a checklist of these and other shots you absolutely must have. It is also a good idea to provide a schedule of events such as the arrival, the first dance, cake cutting, etc.

Once you feel confident that all bases have been covered, let the professional you have hired go to work. The final result will be photographs that truly capture the essence of your wedding day.

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