I am excited this week to rely on the knowledge of a good
friend for Week Three of “Why Hiring a ____________ is Important!” Alyson
Gardner, soon to be Alyson Jarvis, of Alyson Jarvis Photography has been a good
friend of mine since high school. Unsurprisingly, she continued the artistic
passion that was evident while we were growing up into her twenties, even
incorporating this into her career field as an Art Education teacher at Morris
Brandon Elementary School here in Atlanta.
Alyson, along with another friend of ours, and I are hoping
over the next 12 – 18 months to incorporate our mutual love for all things
creative and wedding into a joint-venture wedding-planning group, so I thought
this would be a great way for some of my friends outside of our circle to start
getting to know her. Both as a future bride and a photographer, Alyson has
offered her top tips for getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to
wedding photography below. I know that finding the right photographer was a
huge relief for Jason and I, and hopefully with Alyson’s from below you will be
able to have a similar experience when it comes to your big day, whatever that
Alyson Gardner -
As long as I can remember,
photography was an important factor in my life. I remember “hamming it up” in
front of the camera and running around family functions with a toy camera in
hand when I was little. It doesn’t come as a surprise that, today, after many
years of camera love, I am in the process of starting my own photography
company. And even more shocking, when planning my own wedding, photography
topped my list of “most important items”. So for you, the savvy bride, here are
some tips and tricks when shopping for your big day photographer and why, in
some cases, it pays to bend the budget for the photographer.
First, before anything else, define
your wedding style. This is much easier said than done. Your style is not just
dependant on you and your fiancé’s personalities but also on your date, venue,
time, and season of your wedding. For instance, when Greg and I began talking
about our wedding, I realized how polar opposite our styles were. He wanted a
traditional and elegant wedding, I wanted nontraditional and casual. He wanted
winter, I wanted spring, etc, etc. Once we met in the middle, I started looking
at photographer’s portfolios for inspiration and direction.
Tip number one: unlike wedding
dress shopping, don’t stop looking, even after you’ve booked your photographer!!
I looked at hundreds of portfolios. I learned so much from each one and I’m
still learning. I hated some, and loved others. There are so many photographers
out there with just as many different styles. Never worry about offending a
photographer. If you don’t like their style, you don’t like their style and
that is okay! Trust me. Just move on until you find one you like. However, here
are a few things you need to be on the lookout for in their portfolios,
regardless of style.
If you find a photographer who has very similar
poses, run away! If something goes wrong or off script on wedding day, you need
someone who can work through it.
A variety of indoor/outdoor photos
Light is key to any good photographer. Outdoor
photography is simple in comparison to indoor. A good photographer will know
how to work the camera indoors and use what little light they have, even if it
means using a flash.
Similar style to your wedding
If you are having a traditional or conservative
wedding, super artsy photographers might not be right for you.
A good photographer will have a variety of
details they’ve photographed in their portfolio too. This included ring,
flowers, food, etc. You are hiring this photographer to remember your day. They
need to be able to capture all of it!
Now let’s pretend that you have narrowed down your selection
to your top contenders. Contact them. When reaching out to a photographer and
keep it simple! They don’t need to know your entire wedding day plan at this
point. Tell them the date of your wedding and ask them for a copy of their
contract. Finally, ask if it would be possible to meet up with them in person.
When they respond, print out the contract and read over it.
Not skimming over it, reading. All photographers charge differently and request
different things too. Here’s what you need to pay attention to
I have some photographer friends who charge a
base fee for shooting during the day of but that doesn’t cover any of the
actual pictures you get. You have to pay an extra $5 per photo in some cases. The
photographer may seem affordable but when you factor in all the pictures you
want, it triples the price.
How long is it going to take for you pictures to
get back to you? I had a friend who didn’t have this in her contract. It took
almost five months for her to get her pictures back.
How long will your photographer be with you?
When Greg and I were looking, this was a huge issue. We are having a Catholic
ceremony with an awkward gap of time between the ceremony and the reception.
Our photographer is with us for 12 hours and this takes care of it! Some
photographers only work for 4 hours or so. You don’t want only half of your
wedding on camera.
Even though they are “your” photos, they really
aren’t. You are only given a limited copyright of the photos your photographer
takes of you. Make sure you see if this part is covered on the contract. Do you
have the right to post photos online? Print photos? Give the photos to family
and friends? Usually your photographer will use your photos for promotion and
advertising. Is that alright with you?
Generally these are little requests. In my
contract I request a meal and non alcohol drinks. Make sure they are reasonable
If your dream photographer gives
you their contract and there are items that seriously concern you, do not
cancel your meet and greet. Contracts can be explained, and at times rewritten.
However, do not assume the photographer will automatically change something in
the contract just for you. Remember, this is their job. You don’t change parts
of your job for random people just because it inconvenient for them. But there
are usually some items that can be negotiated.
If the photographer of your dreams
refuses to change anything about their contract/rates/etc, you are now in a
tricky situation: Bend the budget or walk away? My advice is this, if its only
bending the budget a bit, do it. Regardless of whether you are a photo junky or
not, these pictures are going to be timeless. Everyone in your family will want
them, including your possible future children and grandchildren. You spend
months planning this day and when it comes, it will be over so quickly. These
photos are going to be your reminder of the people who supported you and the
day in general. That’s why, for the love of God, do not skimp on your
photographer. Hire someone who knows what they are doing!!