Here are 6 Things to Look For in a Professional Photographer Who Can Capture Your Wedding with Great Pictures
QUESTION: Can you spot a professional photographer versus someone who has simply purchased a professional camera? Are there any traits that clearly separate the two and, if so, what are they?
It’s a debatable topic because the truth is that being a professional photographer isn’t necessarily about the quality of work, but whether that work is done for business or pleasure.
With the field becoming so saturated in recent years, I’ve drawn from my own experience to come up with the following 6 things to look for in a professional photographer who can capture your wedding with great pictures.
Before signing a contract, ask to see one or more full weddings they have photographed, from start to finish, where the bride was satisfied.
Don’t settle for shots on their website; ask to see an entire wedding. Remember, photographers like posting their best shots online, but it’s their unposted work that will reveal if they can capture a complete wedding or not.
Ask about the venues where they’ve successfully photographed weddings or events in the past.
An experienced professional should be comfortable discussing several venues where they’ve shot weddings or other events — and have the pictures and references to prove it! If they’re claiming to have experience but can’t seem to name specific locations where they were hired to shoot, it’s a red flag.
Ask questions about the lenses they shoot with.
With a professional wedding photographer, you should look for them to provide the following lenses:
- A wide-angle lens for group shots and close-ups
- A mid-range lens for shots like those taken at a party on a cell phone
- A long-distance zoom lens to capture far-away shots
Without getting too technical, a suggested aperture for these types of lenses is f/2.8. If you don’t know aperture settings, that’s ok, just remember that with photography a good lens can be more important than a good camera.
Ask what lighting they provide.
Professionals should be able to provide umbrellas, softboxes, or other types of lighting sources that flash with each picture in addition to their external flash. Doing this gives each picture a professional, crisp finish, distinguishing it from pictures taken with a point-and-click camera or cell phone. Unless there is no room in venue to accommodate additional lighting, providing it should be a standard benefit to produce the best pictures possible.
Ask what mode they shoot in: Manual Mode, Auto-Exposure Mode, or one of the Semi-automatic Modes.
Most professionals tend to shoot either in Manual Mode (where you control all camera settings) or one of the Semi-automatic modes (where you control most camera settings). What you’re looking to learn is if they shoot in Auto Exposure Mode where you control none of your camera settings, because the camera takes complete control. If this is the case, it indicates they are still learning their camera, and may not be ready to be the primary photographer for a full wedding.
Ask what software they use to edit their pictures.
In the world of photography this is called Post-Production and refers to the process of digitally touching up each picture after a photo shoot. Depending on your contract, a good photographer will spend time with Post-Production to perfect each shot, or skip it completely if the client wants their pictures the day of the event. But watch out if you learn they don’t do Post-Production because they don’t know how, as having experience touching up pictures in an editor like Photoshop is considered a standard practice. In general, wedding photographers producing great work with or without Post-Production is fine, but proceed cautiously if they have no skills in this area as it could indicate a lack of paid experience shooting weddings.
These are the six tips I’ve come up with over the years through photographing weddings and other events. At the start of this article I mentioned that being a photographer isn;’t necessarily about the quality of one’s work, so when one labels themself a professional, that label can leave a client assuming they will get good pictures. But a label alone, with no criteria, can make it hard to know when you’ve found the right person. With this in mind, I’ll end with a definition to help you determine when a photographer is right for you.
A professional Photographer who can capture your wedding with great pictures is a person qualified to enter into a contract to capture an event, held at a professional venue, based on the evidence of their portfolio, their use of lighting and lenses, their comfort shooting a camera without automatic settings, their post-production skills, and their past experience satisfying clients with a finished product, and who can be distinguished from non-professionals who shoot for pleasure rather than business.
For those currently looking for a photographer, I would like to offer my services as one who has a demonstrated track record of meeting the requirements of this definition, along with my guarantee of providing customer satisfaction as your wedding photographer. For great service leaving you with lifelong wedding pictures you’ll treasure, call me.
Jeffrey C. Davis