Your wedding day is so important and we believe that choosing your wedding photographer is the most essential vendor decision that you will make. Your wedding pictures represent your love story, and the photographer you choose is your author and editor. We hope this proves helpful to you as you search and interview photographers for your big day!
1. View a wedding shot from beginning to end.
The photographer that you are looking at has a website with a great looking portfolio. Is this the same you can expect for your wedding pictures?
Not necessarily. With the advances of digital cameras and website templates, it has never been easier to claim to be a professional wedding photographer. Never choose a photographer based solely upon their website or their portfolio. It is so easy with digital photography to get 10 to 15 great pictures from a wedding. Any photographer should be able to give you that, but is that what you really want? It is important to view a wedding your potential photographer has shot from beginning to end in order to have a realistic expectation for the photography services of which you are investing. If a photographer has full events online that are protected, you should be able to request a password from them. If they are unwilling to show you a full wedding, would you still be comfortable using them? Ask to view a sequence of shots that are going to be similar to what you are planning for your wedding day. For example, if you are going to have your ceremony and or reception inside, then make sure to see pictures that a photographer has shot specifically indoors. In the photography industry, there is a growing trend of ‘natural light’ photographers. While there are fantastic photographers who fall in this category, many ceremony and reception venues do not provide enough natural light to consistently provide for great pictures. In our opinion, one of the elements that define excellent wedding photographers is their ability to shoot in the low-light situations that generally define wedding atmospheres. The ability to modify and mix natural light with artificial light or flash is pivotal and will set apart a tenured and skilled professional. It is important to understand that high prices and a good portfolio do not necessarily correlate to a consistent level of high quality photography which is ultimately what you deserve.
At Ragan Patterson Studios, we have our active weddings, events, and portraits posted on our website under our “Events” tab for your viewing. We have confidence in our images and take the time to comb through and edit the entire event to create a cohesive story and provide consistent quality.
2. Know the photographer that is going to shoot your special day.
The photography company that you are interested in has multiple photographers or an office manager that you have been talking to. How do you know who is going to be shooting your event?
We believe that your comfort and trust level with your photographer is incredibly important. Let’s say you purchased the services of a photography company that is owned by Mr. Smith. The entire time that you have been talking with the company and viewing their work, you assume Mr. Smith is going to be your wedding photographer. Then on your special day, another photographer on Mr. Smith’s staff appears whom you have never met nor seen any of their work. Would you be comfortable with and trust this photographer? Make sure you meet your photographer, you are comfortable with their personality and approach, and you trust their talent and skill level. With Ragan Patterson Studios, we want the opportunity to personally sit down with you and make sure that we are a good fit. We understand the importance of building relationships with our clients because this foundation is so important on your day. Sarah and I photograph all of our client’s weddings and we are here every step of the way so you know who and what to expect.
3. How many photographers are going to be shooting your wedding?
How many photographers do you need? Should you choose one or two photographers?
There are many companies that offer two photographers, and in our opinion this is a necessity. We believe that two photographers are superior to one photographer because of the varying points of view. With so many activities planned and details displayed during your special day and so many once-in-a-lifetime moments, make sure that you have enough coverage by hiring two photographers. At Ragan Patterson Studios, we provide two talented and experienced photographers along with an assistant who is comfortable with our camera gear. With three people working your event, we feel that we provide unmatched service and attention that you and your day deserve.
4. Storytelling philosophy
Some online wedding galleries have over a thousand pictures compared to others with only several hundred. Which one is better?
Make sure that you know the storytelling philosophy of the photography company that you select and understand that photographers will see and tell your story differently. Below are two general methods.
1. The photographer will show you every acceptable shot. Let’s call this the Shoot and Burn Story method. Photographers that are concentrated on high turnover often adopt this method.
With the Shoot and Burn Story philosophy, you will typically get more pictures – but it’s not as great as you might think. The benefit here is that you can tell someone that your wedding photographer gave you over a thousand pictures! For photographers who select this method, you typically see sequences of three or more shots which are all of the same action or pose. Some are good, but there will be some of people with their eyes closed or that are not as flattering. After looking through over a thousand pictures of repetitious scenes, 4 shots of putting on lipstick, 7 shots of a bouquet, and so on – you and your guests are going to get tired and bored.
From a photographers’ stand point, this is a process where many will cut corners in order to quickly process an event so they can move on to their next client. If they do not take the time to comb through your story and select only the very best images, they are not giving you a complete and polished product. The Shoot and Burn Story method serves the photographer more than you and as a paying client, you want the best and you deserve it.
2. The photographer shows you the very best shot(s) in each sequence that expresses your story. Let’s call this the Engaging Story method. You will have a more polished collection of images that flows from one picture into the next, keeping people engaged as your story unfolds.
With the Engaging Story philosophy, you will get pictures shown in a way that flows smoothly. 10, 30, and 50 years from now when you look back on your wedding, your images are going to tell your unique story and guide your memory through your special day. Do you want to see three pictures of the same pose of your Aunt smiling for the camera? Wouldn’t the best picture still tell that element of your story? Having the photographer select only the best shot or shots of each sequence is going to be the most enjoyable option for you and for your guests without missing any important items.
From a photographer's stand point, the Engaging Story method allows them to present a final polished story. Adopting the above method is very time-consuming. Your photographer will have to examine each picture and select the best shot or shots from each sequence. Then they will eliminate those shots that are unnecessary or do not add value to your story. This process is repeated multiple times until your wedding reveals itself as a memorable story told from beginning to end. Since this method is much more labor intensive, this level of service is typically associated with more expensive photographers since they are going to be more focused on quality than quick turnaround. The Engaging Story method serves both parties in that your photographer has an excellent finished product and you have a story that flows smoothly and is engaging.
So what method do we adopt at Ragan Patterson Studios? Since our ultimate desire is providing excellence from first impression to final prints, there is only one philosophy that we adopt for our clients. We know that your wedding day is incredibly important and we are honored to have the responsibility to tell your story through images. We comb through each picture and select the very best shots that tell your polished story fluidly; and we are proud of it.
Some photographers don’t advertise that they edit pictures; others advertise only a certain number of images, while others simply imply that they edit the entire event. How can you be sure you get what you want or need?
Photo editing is an important process in generating a final product and there are many photographers in the industry that skip right over it. If the photographer is going to limit the number of images they will edit – ultimately you are not going to be as happy with all of the pictures, especially the remaining ones that are not edited. Make sure that you understand your photographers editing styles as well as their storytelling philosophies, as they are both critical to the enjoyment of your wedding pictures. Because editing every picture can take a large amount of time, the photographers that provide this level of service are normally associated with a higher price as they are focused on delivering a finalized, high quality product.
At Ragan Patterson Studios, we ensure our clients that we review and edit every single picture. We perform comprehensive editing that includes: color and exposure corrections, blemish touch-ups, as well as some artistic editing. We edit true-to-life because we want you to look your best! As a result, you don’t have to worry about any blemishes or worry about looking overly edited.
6. Research and Reviews
How can you feel even better about your decision to choose a photographer?
Many photographers have an area on their website with reviews or testimonials which are great to read, but you have to consider the fact that the photographer is going to be selective on which review to post on their website. A more unbiased place to read a review would be via an online wedding hub such as TheKnot.com, MyWedding.com, WeddingWire.com, etc. if the photographer has a presence there. Unbiased reviews should provide great insight to how a previous client’s overall experience was, if there were any unpleasant or unexpected surprises, and if they were happy with their decision.
Another great place to collect information would be to directly contact a previous client of the photographer’s and talk with them. Obviously it is appropriate to get prior permission from your photographer to contact their previous clients for privacy reasons, but we recommend you pick the client or clients that you would like to contact at random. Don’t let your photographer decide who you should talk with because they could be providing you with a client they know was treated well. By selecting a previous client to interview, this should provide you with a great peace of mind to either move forward with your photographer or keep searching. Remember that your comfort and trust level is extremely important!
At Ragan Patterson Studios, we have our clients posted online on our Events tab and welcome interested brides and grooms to pick clients at random to contact and discuss the personal experience they had with us. Also, all of our unbiased reviews can be found on our studio listing on TheKnot.com, MyWedding.com, and WeddingWire.com. We strive to earn repeat business and referrals, and to maintain our reputation which is why we are more than willing to have our previous clients talk with you.
What budget should you set for your wedding photography?
We are sure that by now you have probably figured out that weddings are expensive! Most people begin their wedding planning with a particular budget and unfortunately, it is not as reasonable as initially imagined. Couples will often have to extend their budget multiple times, which also applies to wedding photography. While we understand that budgets are extremely important, and we are not advocating that you go into debt, we do want to encourage you to try to have a lifetime perspective when planning your wedding.
By having such a perspective, you begin to prioritize what you want to remember about your wedding day and just how you will be able to remember it. Your photographer is the one vendor that can ‘freeze time’ for you by providing an outlet to guide your precious memories from your day. Because of the above Wedding Tips, we want to make sure that you are equipped to find a great wedding photographer that is going to capture your day the right way. Understand that the right way to do wedding photography is extremely time consuming and normally there is a price associated with that level of service; credence to the age tested saying, “You get what you pay for.”
At Ragan Patterson Studios, we have all of our standard prices and A La Carte prices published on our website. We do this because we understand that your time is valuable and we don’t want you to have to take the time to email us for hidden pricing. We always strive to be competitive, as we feel that we have unmatched value in our pricing. All of our standard packages are merely starting points as we typically build custom packages for our clients to ensure that they are getting exactly what they desire!
8. Final Tips
How do you make sure that you have selected the best fit for you and your fiancé?
There are a lot of things to consider when selecting your photographer. By seeing a wedding shot from beginning to end, knowing how many photographers will be provided for your wedding, and determining what storytelling and editing philosophy they utilize, you should be able to recognize if they have a consistent output of high quality images. By sitting down and meeting with your photographer, either in person or through a digital meeting, you should be able to determine your comfort and trust level with them.
While all of these items are very important to determine before selecting your photographer, understand that your comfort and trust level is a top priority. In reality, you are not just selecting someone to take your pictures, you are entrusting them with how you will remember your wedding day. It is a huge decision and one that should not be taken lightly; be sure that your photographer understands that responsibility too.
At Ragan Patterson Studios, we appreciate and respect the trust that our clients place in us. We sit down with each prospective client in order to make sure that we are a good fit for them, and we would love an opportunity to meet with you and your fiancé!