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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

{Tips from the Pros} Hiring Your Photographer, Part 1 of a 5 Part Series

Hiring the right wedding team is a critical part of the wedding planning process. Personality, budget, skills, compatibility are just a few of the factors to consider, but whats the deciding factor in hiring the team to run such an important event?  We are excited to bring you this insightful, in-depth 5 part blog on hiring your vendor.  Though its written with hiring your photographer (a VERY important vendor!) in mind, its applicable to hiring all of your vendors.  Thank you to our Guest Blogger, Paul Bellinger Photography for this great piece.  We will be posting this complete blog over the next 5 weeks, so check back weekly.  Now for Part 1.



HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – FIVE TIPS
PART 1

1. DON’T DECIDE ON PRICE!

Problem:  How to evaluate the price of your wedding photographer?

Solution: Educate yourself about the cost of wedding vendors before making your budget so you don’t end up deciding on price.

As a wedding photographer, I am always hearing horror stories about brides who are disappointed with their wedding photos.  For instance, a fellow photographer recently posted this in a facebook group we’re in: “I just had a lady contact me asking if I could salvage her wedding photos that a "family friend photographer" took. She said she HATED her wedding photos and was hoping that I could help her fix them. She even used the phrase "I'm heartbroken." So sad. Just one more reason why hiring an amateur can be more expensive in the long run.”

Now I’m heartbroken!  Because I hear stories like this all too often from brides, wedding vendors, and fellow photographers.  So that is why I have written this 5 part blog series on how to choose your wedding photographer.  Educating yourself is the best defense against being heartbroken by your wedding photographer, or any of your wedding vendors.

Getting to the idea of price, one thing these horror stories often have in common is that instead of hiring the professional wedding photographer of their dreams, the couple hired a friend or relative with a camera, an amateur wedding photographer, or even a bargain priced professional non-wedding photographer.  In short, the wedding photographer was chosen based on price.  Deciding on price is going to set you down the wrong path right from the start because it is going to rule out most professional wedding specialists, the very people that have the skills and experience needed to successfully pull off your most important day. These points are so important the next two tips are dedicated to them (see tip #2 on the importance of hiring a wedding specialist and tip #3 on skills you need your wedding photographer to have). But in this tip I argue that you make two costly sacrifices if you decide on price: the artwork you have your heart set on, and the service that you deserve.

What’s the point of paying more?  First is the artwork.  Your wedding photos are your first family heirloom and they are going to grow more valuable with time.  You’re going to look at them everyday on your walls, and generations of your family are going to be looking at them, so you should care what they look like!  If you shop around you’ll probably come across someone’s artwork that you absolutely love, but will pass up if you decide on price.  So even if everything works out perfectly with your bargain priced photographer, you’ll always wonder what your dream photographer could have made for you, and if things work out less than perfectly, you’ll always regret deciding on price.  So choose your photographer by deciding on the artwork instead of price and you’ll be sure to enjoy your wedding photos for years to come (see tip #4 about products you need). 

Second is service.  I hear a lot of horror stories about photographers not delivering photos for over 6 months or even a year!  But that’s the kind of service you can expect from a bargain priced photographer who most likely doesn’t have a professional wedding workflow to meet their clients’ needs.  When it comes to amazing service, the key ingredient is passion.  And who is going to be the most passionate about your wedding?  A professional wedding specialist!  We dedicate our lives to weddings and servicing our wedding clients!  On the other hand, who is going to be the least passionate about your wedding?  The bargain priced amateur!  Because you’re not paying them enough to be passionate about servicing your needs.  So after the grueling wedding day, they often run out of steam and fail to follow through on delivering your products.  And even if they do follow through, they won’t put the type of care and dedication into your photos that a professional wedding specialist will (read more about the importance of passion in Tip #2).  Of course, everyone knows that when you hire a professional in any industry you’re going to pay more.  But with a professional you have the peace of mind of knowing you’re going to get the highest quality products and amazing service.

What if I’m on a budget?  Everyone has a budget!  You have to make tough choices about where to invest your money on your wedding day and you need a good idea of what things cost before making your budget.  So you should start considering your wedding photographer and all of your important wedding vendors before you make final budget decisions.  If you make your budget first then you’ll automatically be deciding based on price, and that will put you on the wrong path (en route to a horror story).  Instead, find a photographer whose artwork you love, and make your budget with them in mind.  Once your budget is made, pick a date for your wedding that will give you enough time to have your finances in order by the time your bills are due (keep in mind that the best photographers, venues and event designers will book 10-15 months in advance).


Key Tip:  Build your budget around your dream photographer instead of trying to find a photographer that fits your budget.  Decide on artwork and service, not on price.

Guest Blogger
Paul Bellinger
406-850-2674

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