Tips on Hiring the Photographer
by William Brokaw
Hiring a photographer is basically a three step process: browse, interview, and then, negotiate.
The browsing is the fun part. Find some photographers in your price range and then check out their work. Don't worry too much about packages at this point, that can come later. Evaluating photographs is part science and part instinct. There should be a good selection of photos to view, not just one or two weddings, and the technique should be excellent. If it is, you almost won't notice. Everything will just look right. If the technique is bad -- such as harsh, dark or dull lighting or fuzzy pictures -- then the photos just won't look good and you'll be able to tell right away. Do the photos look professional or just common?
Style is a matter of taste and where your instinct comes into play. In my opinion, wedding photography should be natural and exude a sense of elegance. Be picky! It's alright to be hyper-critical at this point. Does a photo make you smile or is it just another snapshot of someone you don't know? Is it a carefully posed photo or a moment captured? Some couples don't mind spending extra time for special photos, while others prefer to keep posing to a minimum and trust the photographer to "see" and photograph the day as it unfolds.
There should be a consistency in the work that is presented. Everything should be of the same general quality, not a couple good shots along with a bunch of average photos. Of course some will be better than others, but overall, the collection of photos will give you a good overview of the photographer's skill and style.
After selecting a few candidates, the next step is to interview them and get a feel for their personalities and approach. I suggest a telephone interview as a good first contact. Send an e-mail to your candidates and ask them to contact you. Have them call you at your convenience. Give them a number and a suggested time to call. Get them to confirm the time and that way you can both avoid playing telephone tag. Be prepared to ask plenty of questions and take notes. Maintain control of the interview. You are the customer and the photographer should respect that. Watch out for the hard sell.
After your telephone interviews, you should have a pretty good idea who you want to hire. The final step is to meet and negotiate. By and large, photographers are independent business people. We can be flexible. You may want more or less than what is presented as a standard package. Talk it over and see what can be arranged. Be prepared to make a decision shortly after you meet. If you like a photographer, chances are good that so do other couples.