Guest blog from Henry + Mac, a Boston based wedding photography business owned by ’11 NESOP graduate Dana Curran (Tavares) and her husband Zak. You can find their work featured in publications like Brooklyn Bride, Style Me Pretty, The Wedding Chicks, Intimate Weddings, and Classic Bride or check out their Facebook page.
Figuring out who should document your wedding day can be a pretty stressful ordeal. Photographers book 1-2 years in advance – meaning it’s usually your 2nd commitment (if not first) after picking your venue. There are literally thousands of options in the New England area alone. Figuring out where to begin can be overwhelming to say the least.
My wife and I are in a unique position because not only are we wedding photographers, but we just got married ourselves this September and got a whole new education on the hiring process. So we’re going to give you a little insight from our vantage point, the side of the vendor and the side a couple who just experienced it.
We’re often asked our advice for picking a photographer; what should a couple ask? Who did YOU hire? How did you decide? If you keep up with popular blogs you’ll read over and over again questions like, “ How many images do you deliver,” or “ what equipment do you use,” or,” do you have insurance?”
Ugh. Look we get why that idea is out there. These questions are important to understand before entering into any agreement. The wedding machine will push this on you constantly. It’s nothing against that line of thinking it’s just, well, is that what’s really important?
So, this will not be that sort of list.
Any professional photographer worth a damn should be able to deliver you plenty of professional images, have insurance and all that. You’re inviting someone in to one of the most important days of your life so far; that’s a big deal. If you ask vanilla questions, you’ll get a vanilla photographer.
We also included questions we think you should ask yourself. In the roller coaster of wedding planning they’ll hopefully give you a better idea of what you want your day to feel like, and what you want your experience to feel like with your photographers, you know, the ACTUAL important stuff.
- ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU WANT A BUSINESS TRANSACTION or PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP? We each have our own priorities and a vision for our big day that are often drastically different from one another. Both are great options just be honest about which you are looking for upfront. Really think about this. The rest of your communication from then on will hinge on this decision. If you have a personal relationship it DOES NOT mean you don’t get the same professional treatment. Make sure you get what’s included in your package, discuss what that means, and set expectations. Make sure you understand the contract and your usage rights. But also make sure that if you want something more personal out of the relationship your photographer has the depth and connection to do so.
- ASK THEM: Hourly vs. full day coverage. The toughest thing when talking to photographers is comparing apples to apples. Some charge by the hour, some full day. Some deliver edited photos, some don’t. While every photographer builds his/her business differently for very personal and legitimate reasons, you just need to make sure it fits your vision.
- ASK YOURSELF: WHAT’S OUR BUDGET? Yes, we’d all love to fly Jonas Peterson in from Australia to flawlessly capture our day and make us look like movie stars. Unfortunately, we can’t all afford it. Sometimes, a budget is a budget. Be realistic, do your research to find out what the market bears, know what’s important to you, and try to set your expectations accordingly. Find a few photographers you’re drawn to on a few different levels – talk to them – find out who fits you best – then go with your gut. Find the happy place between the disappointment of an unattainable figure and the disappointment of choosing based solely on numbers. There’s a match for you at every budget level.
- ASK THEM: WHY DO YOU THIS / HOW’D YOU GET INTO THIS? Ask some questions about how they got into their business, what motivates them to do this? What’s important to them? What are they looking for in you and other couples? Why is always the heart of the matter. This is usually something a photographer volunteers anyway and comes up naturally in our conversation but if this matters to you, ASK. We think this is a vital question to discuss.
- ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU TRUST THEM? Can I let go and allow this person be the professional? Can I trust them to do their job? Not just that they’ll deliver what you’ve agreed to, but that you also feel comfortable trusting their creative process. Do I trust them with this enormous responsibility?
- ASK THEM: HOW WILL WE PLAN FOR THE DAY TOGETHER? WHAT DOES A DAY WORKING WITH YOU LOOK LIKE? When the right one answers these questions you should find yourself nodding along, having revelations, ‘Yes! That’s exactly what we were thinking!” Timeline meetings, phone calls, a site visit. Be on the same page 30 days out so when you see them on that day, they just do their thing so you can do yours.
- ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU LIKE THEM? The last question you should always ask is of yourself. It should go something like, “ Do I like hanging out with these people? Would I love having them around on my wedding day?” Any other answer besides, “Hell YES,” should warrant serious reconsideration of hiring that person. We spend more time with the bride and groom than anyone else on their wedding day. If you want to enjoy every minute of a day that always flies too fast, you must be comfortable with your photographer. It’s the only way you will look back on your photos and truly feel like a piece of you is reflected, that your story was told. That, to us, is everything.
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