Selecting a photographer

Several things to consider when you hire a

professional photographer. Not all "professional"

photographers are created equal.

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Selecting a Professional Photographer

General Background Information

Photography is a non-regulated profession. There are neither regulations nor requirements at the national, state, or local level to become a photographer. It is sad but true, that in the field of wedding photography if even the mildest regulations were imposed, to protect the consumer, most "wedding photographers" would be out of business.

The first thing that the serious professional photographer can do is join professional associations. In the Washington area there are three local organizations, The Virginia Professional Photographers Association, The Professional Photographic Society of Greater Washington and Maryland Professional Photographers Association.

The regional organization is the Southeastern Professional Photographers Association. The Professional Photographers of America is the national parent organization.

To insure peace of mind you may wish to insure that the photographer be of good character, has a sound business, and is a competent craftsperson. The Professional Photographic Certification Commission evaluates photographers around the world on these issues.

After succesfully passing a detailed professional and personal background investigation, a comprehensive set of written exams, and evaluation of an individual's photographic talent, photographers are awarded Certified Professional Photographer status today often referred to as a CPP. This is the industry's first step to insure a quality product, produced professionally. Approximately 3% of the professional photographers within the USA have successfully met the requirements for certification.

To find a Certified Professional Photographer, CPP, in your area

Go to: http://www.ppa.com/findaphotographer/

Scroll down the page until you get the "FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER SEARCH ENGINE" see below:

See the blue arrows, they are not on the actual web page, I added them for this explanation.
Fill in the zip code, perhaps even choose a radius of 20 miles.
For a wedding photographer check the wedding box. If you need another speciality click the appropriate box.
Check the Certified box!! [the third blue arrow, this is important]
Then click search for your photographer.

Select a photographer

About one out of four photographic professionals who become certified earn a professional degree in their field. Photographers can earn both the Photographic Craftsman and the Master of Photography degrees. The Master Photographer degree is highly sought after and is awarded in recognition of achieving the highest standards of professional performance in the photographic profession. Both degrees require several years to complete.

After obtaining a professional degree a photographer can qualify for membership in the American Society of Photographers, the nations most prestigious photographic organization.

If you are interested in a photographer check to see if the photographer has a web page. If not he/she may be either new to the local, new to the profession, or not current in his/her skills, you might be taking an unneeded chance.

Do a little homework and compare your possible photographers using a Photographer Comparison Check List and, if available in your city, find his/her rating on your city's American Association of Wedding Photographer's Scorecard.

 

Some questions you should ask:

Is the studio available for the date of your wedding? If they are, and they meet your other requirements then book early, good photographers go fast.

Examine the studio's work. Do you like it?

What is the basic philosophy or approach of the studio to wedding photography?

Find out if the studio is engaged in general photography or is a specialist in the art of wedding photography. This can be the difference between just making a sharp, correctly exposed photograph, and capturing the radiance of the bride and groom.

Does the studio have their own lab so they can provide custom printing when needed or required?

What are the goals of the studio/photographer(s) for your wedding?

How much time will the photographer(s) spend with you on the day of the wedding? When will coverage begin? When will it end?

Does the studio provide different types of coverage? If so, what are the differences in service, quality and price?

Find out how you can help the photographer(s) perform their duties for you.

Obtain a copy of the studio's written guarantee. Does your wedding photography come with a 100 percent money back guarantee, if you are dissatisfied with the results?

How long have the present owners, owned the studio? Often studios are sold. When this happens, the reputation of the studio may have been established by a more talented and honest individual than the current owner.

Is Black and White service available? How much will it costs?

Find out the name of the photographer who is responsible for photographing your wedding. Often studios charging thousands of dollars to photograph a wedding, will hire so-called pickup photographers. The quality of work, can, at times, be spotty. It is sad, but it happens.

How many photographers will photograph the wedding? Will back up photographers be available? Will a professional associate/assistant be at the wedding to take care of all of the issues of the day?

What type of professional training does/do the photographer(s), who will be photographing your wedding, have? How long have he/she/they been photographing weddings professionally?

Will you meet the photographer(s), before the wedding, to plan your photographic coverage?

Is the personality of the photographer(s) compatible with yours?

Is the studio willing to do things your way?

What type of camera equipment will be used to photograph your wedding? Professional full frame digital and or medium format film with a negative size of 6 cm X 6 cm (2¼" X 2¼") are the recommended professional industry standards. The partial frame digital and amateur 35 mm film format will not provide satisfactory results.

Will the photographer(s) have back up equipment? Do not be shy about asking to see the equipment.

Can anything be done to prevent the facial distortion often seen in photographs? [This is the reason so many people don't think they look good in snapshots.]

Considering the structure of the bride's and groom's face, what type of lighting should be used to make them look their best?

What physical features, expressions, or mannerisms of the bride/groom should be highlighted/de-emphasized?

What advice can the photographer(s) give to people, in the wedding party, to insure that the group photographs will look good?

What does/do the photographer(s) plan to do to ensure that the photography does not interrupt the festivities of the day?

Can the bride, groom and others principals be photographed, without being taken away from the fun and socializing at the reception?

Who would be included in the photographs?

Where would the photographs be taken?

When would the photographs be taken?

When will the files be ready for selection?

How are the files shown?

Are the files for sale?

Will the studio help in the selection of the final photographs and the arrangement of the album?

What choice do you have in album types, styles and colors? What is the cost of additional prints?

Are different finishes available?

What is the cost of the different finishes?

How much money would you have to spend to be delighted with the final product?

What additional charges might apply? Are there mileage charges, album imprinting charges etc.?

What deposit is required? When will I have to pay the other charges?

Don't be pressured into accepting a "today only" offer.

How long do you have to change your mind and receive a full refund after you have signed the contract?

Get a written contract/agreement and make sure you fully understand it.

Pay with a check or credit card, never pay with cash.