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How To Hire A Wedding Photographer

When it comes to how to hire a wedding photographer, I understand your frustration. There are dozens of options for a Chattanooga Wedding Photographer, and lots of variations in what each one offers. Hopefully this article sheds some light on how to hire a wedding photographer for you.

Part #1: Research

The best way to know how to hire a wedding photographer is to figure out what you need first and then find a Chattanooga Wedding Photographer that suits that need.

Your needs should consider:

  • the style of photography– light and airy or dark and moody or something else entirely.
  • pricing + inclusions– how much you have budgeted and how much you get for your money is a very important aspect of your search. Most Chattanooga Wedding Photographers range from $2000 to $5000. Determine if you want digitals included and how important that is to you.
  • product offerings– what physical products are important to you? Albums, flash drives, wall art, digitals, etc. Make sure that the photographer in question offers these things to you if they are important. And, no, printing things at Walmart or Shutterfly will notbe the same thing, I promise.

Part # 2: The Consultation

The second part of how to hire a wedding photographer is to schedule a consultation.

Once you’ve found one or two that you like (and are available on your date) based on these ideas, meet with them in personto get a feel for them, see if you’re a good fit and make sure to ask them these questions. Also at the consultation, you’ll have an opportunity to touch and feel their products and samples. This is a great time to make sure that they live up to what you envision for your heirlooms.

  1. How many weddings have you shot? Obviously the more the better, but someone just starting out may very well know what they are doing. I would suggest choosing someone who has shot at least 3-5 weddings recently. They will be familiar with how the day will run and can anticipate shots better than someone who hasn’t shot any in the last few months.
  2. When was your most recent wedding?This can be tricky, because there are wedding ‘seasons’. And some wedding photographers only work certain months out of the year. As long as they’ve shot a wedding within 3-4 months, you should be good! Very important: Ask to see the full wedding photography gallery that was delivered to the client (see the next question).
  3. May I see a wedding you’ve shot from start to finish?If they aren’t willing to share a full gallery start to finish, that is a red flag. It could mean that they ‘borrowed’ images from another photographer (which is illegal). Or they shot it themselves and aren’t confident enough to send it to you.
  4. Do you shoot digital, film or both?This is going to be more of a preference thing for you. Understand that film comes with longer turn around times and your photographer MUST know what they are doing. You can expect to spend quite a bit more money for a film photographer.
  5. How long before I see my images?A typical turn around time is six to eight weeks, some pushing twelve weeks. Be prepared for that. But, some wedding photographers, like myself, guarantee your photos within three weeks. You could also ask your photographer if they will rush edit them for you for an extra fee.
  6. Are the digital images included with printing rights?Digital photographers should be including at least some digital images in their packages for you to print from – via a USB or online gallery. Find out how long your online gallery will be live and make sure you can download from it. Film photographers may not do that due to the process that is required. Every wedding with Jennifer Anderson Photography includes the digitals with printing + sharing rights.
  7. Are you the person that will be present at my wedding?Some wedding photography companies hire outside photographers to shoot their weddings for them. Usually this is totally fine, but there is a slight chance you get a new photographer who isn’t totally sure of themselves and might bomb the wedding.
  8. What happens if you get sick?EVERY photographer needs a backup plan. If they don’t have one, run. Period.
  9. Are you photographing other events the same day as mine?It’s not necessarily a deal breaker if they are photographing two events in one day, but just know that they will be time restrained, and if you’re the second event, they may be exhausted.
  10. Is it ok if guests take photos?It should be fine if guests take photos. Obviously, Uncle Bob can’t be in the way of the photographer and the guests can’t hold up  yours &  the photographers schedule, but it should be fine if they take photos during your event. The only restriction would be during formal portraits due to the time constraints and making sure things go smoothly – so be prepared for that as well.
  11. If my event runs over, will you stay? And what is there an additional charge? Most photographers will stay for an hourly fee. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you are aware of how it works from the beginning. Here is a great article on making sure you have enough hours of coverage.
  12. What is your refund/cancellation policy?Even though we know you aren’t cancelling your big day, it’s good to know where you stand if there is an emergency. Make sure to ask about date transfers too if you need to change the date of the wedding.
  13. Do you have insurance?Yes. The answer here is always yes. Make sure they have liability and equipment insurance. No exceptions to this one.

At the end of the consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to book your photographer, usually with a bonus if you sign the contract that day so be prepared to sign a contract and pay a deposit if you love them.

Part #3: Booking

The last step in how to hire a wedding photographer is to book the one you love!❤

The Retainer– Once you’ve chosen a photographer, usually at the end of the consultation, be prepared to pay a retainer of 30-50% of the fee. All professional wedding photographers require this in order to take your wedding date off of their calendar. You are retaining them for that date. The balance will most likely be due approximately 30 days before the wedding.

The Contract– Make sure you sign a contract when you make the retainer payment. If the photographer does not have a contract, that is a big red flag, and you should not be hiring them. This contract protects you as much as it protects the photographer. Make sure that you understand the terms of the contract and ask questions if you don’t understand.

I hope this article helped you to determine how to hire a wedding photographer. If you’d like to set up a meeting with me as a candidate for your Chattanooga Wedding Photographer, click here.

Want more? Read this post on The Importance of Two Wedding Photographers.

Happy Wedding Planning!!! 

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    Jennifer Anderson Photography

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    Red Poppy Drive, Ooltewah, TN | (423) 521-5879 | jennifer@jenandersonphoto.com

    Professional Photographers of America