You put months of time and effort into making sure your event is the best. Don't let it fade into obscurity. Photographers are there to keep the details of your event fresh for you and your guests to cherish. Guests love scouring online photo albums the next day for pictures of themselves and their friends. Wedding albums can be passed down for generations to enjoy. Whether they're intended to last the rest of the social season or the rest of your lives, photos can keep your event fresh as long as you desire.

Your photographer is one of the most important vendors you can hire, and one of the places you least want to compromise in your budget. In a typical wedding, the photographer costs 5 to 10 percent of the total budget. It's worth it to spend a little more, if you can be sure the photographs will be stunning. After all, memories fade with time, and the immortality of your event rests on your photographer's shoulders.

Topics to Discuss Before Hiring

Do you like their photographic method? Even well-respected photographers with glowing reviews won't be a good match for you if you try to force them into an unfamiliar style. While talented photographers are flexible and open to suggestion, it's easier to find someone who matches your visual sensibilities from the beginning.

Similarly, has the photographer photographed your kind of event before? Even the most talented photographer might not have much experience outside of their field. There are wedding photographers, corporate event photographers, and photographers whose expertise lies in shooting food, architecture, head-shots, or even boudoir sessions. Look for people with portfolios that look similar to the end product you envision.

Even within specialties, photographers specialize. Wedding photographers, for example, can rely on posed, formal shots, or they can take a documentary approach and snap away as life happens. They can shoot color or black and white. Do your research to figure out what style is best for you.

Ask the photographer what equipment they will be bringing with them. A good photographer is prepared for anything to break, and should have a good number of duplicate or back-up equipment.

Does their portfolio look heavily processed? If there's a lot of post-production work going on (like fancy borders, filters, or artistic effects), it may be compensating for a lack of talent. Be sure you like the raw images the photographer takes before they get doctored.

Do they ask you good questions? If the photographer is giving your event the attention and planning it deserves, they should have quite a few questions for you in return. Look for people who ask intelligent questions that show they're thinking about the logistics of how to best capture your event.

Ensuring a Good Experience

Do you care if the photographer shoots digital images or film? In this day and age, digital photography carries no shame. The picture quality can be outstanding and achieve a number of different looks and tones. Film is more expensive and means fewer shots will be taken. However, some people prefer the graininess of true film because it looks more old-fashioned and romantic.

You can ask your photographer to incorporate a mixture of styles. Formal posed shots, for example, can interrupt the flow of the event but result in more perfect composition and flattering angles. Documentary or photojournalistic photography prides itself on being unobtrusive, but will capture a less formal record of the day.

Will your photographer be dressed appropriately? They should come in a clean, simple outfit that fits the formality of your event. They should never stand out or make your guests feel uncomfortable. Ask what they plan to wear ahead of time, if you are at all uncertain.

Know what format the final product will take. Will you keep the negatives? Will they make you pay extra for extra prints? Will the photos be in an online album for everyone to see, or will people have to pay money to view them? Many photographers offer coffee table books, framed prints, digital slideshows, or large-format albums. There might be a cost-effective package available; discuss what's important to you.

One very important question to ask your photographer is whether you will retain the rights to your event photos. This will determine whether you can copy them and use them for other purposes, or even post them online for your friends. Ideally, once you pay for a photographer to cover your event, the resulting photos will belong to you.

Most photographers request a flat fee ahead of time. Be clear how many hours you will expect them to work at your event (including set-up and any posed shots taken beforehand), and have a payment plan if your event requires overtime. Don't forget to tip your photographer at the end of the night if you like the work they've done.

You should get your prints anywhere from a few days to two months after your event, depending on whether your photographer shot digitally or on film, and how much processing your photos require.

Will you require photos outside of your event? You can schedule an engagement shoot as soon as you're engaged. And why wait? Engagement photo shoots are fun and playful, designed to capture the love and enthusiasm you and your fiancé have for one another. They can be in any location that fits your personalities; go ahead and get creative with your photographer. You can also use these photos in your wedding announcements later.

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Tara Davis | Report Abuse

Thanks for the advice! I want to make sure I hire the right one.

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Katie P. | Report Abuse

Great points. I have been talking with photographers lately. I want to keep the rights to my photos for sure!

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