Cowboys with Cameras.
by Jo-ann L Wheeler
So your partner has finally popped the question. You buy a few Wedding magazines; consider the kind of ceremony; get onto the internet to look at places for your Reception.
You choose a date; maybe send out ‘Save the Date’ cards. You start looking around for a dress, not just any old dress; you want the best dress you can afford. You compile a list of who you’d like to be there, then worry about who to include and who to leave off.
You already know who’ll be your Bridesmaids, Best Man & Ushers. You pick your colour scheme for the day; put yourself on a bit of a diet, maybe plan a facial a week before, your nails the day before & your hair and make-up on the day.
All these things are usually planned with military precision, but what of your Wedding Photographer?
How much time have you spent looking into the person who will photograph your day, who’ll take the pictures of the day that you spent so long planning? Unfortunately, it seems that photographers are sometimes considered almost last minute with some awful consequences.
Unfortunately, there is no fail safe method to guarantee 100% that the person you choose will be trustworthy and will not run off with your money without delivering any pictures.
However, with a bit of time spent doing a little research you should be able to minimise the chances of that happening.
The venue for your Reception can sometimes recommend a photographer. If you go to another wedding, watch the photographer – how do they conduct themselves; how do they interact with the guests? If you like what you see, ask for a business card. Ask friends and family who have recently got married who they used to photograph their day – ask to see the pictures from the day, ask if they were happy with the photographer etc.
Aim to meet at least two photographers, maybe three. You need to meet the photographer – what are you going to do if you meet them for the first time on your wedding day and decide, for whatever reason, that you can’t get on with them? It won’t matter how good they are, your dislike of them may be hard to hide and may show in your photos. When you meet the photographer:
• Ask to see some of their previous work.
• Ask if they will tailor any of their photography packages to suit you – no point paying for something you don’t want.
• Ask what style of photography they do – formal or informal (candid) or a mixture of both?
• What are their payment options – most photographers ask for a deposit, with the balance being paid on the wedding day. Be wary of anybody that asks for full payment up front – the ‘cost’ of photographing a wedding is all about time spent by the photographer, but their time doesn’t start until they turn up on the day and take that first picture. In a time when money is tight, some photographers will offer payment split into three, with the final payment being when they get the pictures to you.
• Ask if they have insurance – insurance is inexpensive and any serious photographer will have some.
• Ask if they intend the visit the venue prior to the wedding. Good photographers will go to the venue before your day – they need to see what the layout is like and plan for a rainy day when pictures might need to be taken inside.
• If you’re having a rehearsal, will they attend that? Good photographers will attend as it gives them chance to meet your family and the Official to ask where they can and can’t go during the ceremony.
• Ask how long after the wedding you can expect to get your pictures – this should be around two to three weeks, maybe longer in the Summer months when they might be doing weddings on consecutive weekends. However, they should make you aware of this fact, so you know what to expect.
• Ask if you can speak to previous clients – even if you have no intention of doing this, a trustworthy photographer should be able to give you contact details for at least one previous client.
Getting a good photographer shouldn’t be hard, but how many of us have struggled to get a good plumber? A bad plumber is disastrous, but at worst; you turn your water off and wait for somebody else to come along.
There is no second chance on your wedding day, you can’t plan to do it all again and there are some photographers who will take your money, turn up and photograph your wedding and then fail to supply you with any pictures.
Hopefully, with a bit of work on your part beforehand, you should be able to minimise the chances of getting ripped off by a Cowboy with a camera.
Jo-ann L Wheeler