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 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.
· A variety of poses.
o 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
o 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
o If you are having a traditional or conservative wedding, super artsy photographers might not be right for you.
· Not just the portraits
o 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
· Pricing or investment.
o 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.
· Digital editing time
o 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.
· Shooting time
o 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.
o 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?
· Any extras
o Generally these are little requests. In my contract I request a meal and non alcohol drinks. Make sure they are reasonable to you.
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!!
Check out Alyson's photography website at AlysonJarvis.com!