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Planning weddings can be an exciting but challenging task. There are so many elements and options to consider to make your most important day perfect! One of the most impactful choices you will have to make is who is going to be your engagement photographer.
You will look back at your engagement photos in the years to come, and one or some of the photos will be on the invitation that all of your friends and family will be looking at! So you want your photos to represent you and your significant other well, make people want to go to your wedding, and stand the test of time.
Look in the Right Place
So how do you go about finding your perfect engagement photographer? First, narrow down the photographers out there to the ones that are near you or near where you want your engagement photographs taken.
With ZipBook Pros, you can easily find engagement photographers near you. On the home page, just type engagement photography” or “engagement photographer” into the search engine that appears on the home page. Then you can type in the zip code of where you want to find the photographer. A list of engagement photographers near you will appear. Just click on the ones that you want to check out, and their location, contact information, and reviews will appear.
Other than ZipBooks Pros, there are several excellent online sources that can help you to limit your searches to find engagement photographers that meet your specific proximities.
WeddingWire: WeddingWire is an extensive site that provides a wide variety of vendors for wedding service, including flowers, catering, flowers, and photography. With WeddingWire, you can organize and find all of the components for your wedding.
SmartShoot: SmartShoot is an online search engine for specifically finding videographers and photographers. People can search for what they are looking for by videographer or photographer type and by area code.
Mywedding: Mywedding is a wedding planning site that allows you to create your own personalized site for organizing your wedding. You can browse through several items and services to customize your wedding and look for vendors, such as engagement photographers.
Determining Your Price Range
Since many of the search features for sites allow you to search by price range, it is important to know how much you are willing to spend on photographer before you start searching. It can be a big waste of your time if you look at photographers that you can’t afford. And with wedding planning, time is precious.
Engagement shoots generally cost anywhere from $150 to $500. It all depends on the photographer’s level of experience and other factors such as time, locations, the market you live in, and photo packages.
Flat Rate Packages
Most commonly, engagement photographers charge by a flat rate. The pricing for these packages takes into consideration the length of the photo shoot; whether there will be clothing or location changes during the shoot; how many photos the photographer will take; the amount of final, edited images; and the format of the photos—whether physical or digital.
When you are considering packaging prices, be sure to carefully read all the details of what the packages entail and if they meet your requirements. For example, if you are wanting a two-hour photo shoot, but the package only includes one-hour, then the photographer will most likely charge you extra if you want a longer shoot.
Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
Don’t be afraid to negotiate with a photographer. Remember, your wedding is all about you and your significant other, and you shouldn’t have to cut yourself short!
When you negotiate, there might be some parts of the package that you feel like are unnecessary. So if you tell the photographer that you don’t need all those perks, then you might get yourself a better deal.
For instance, a large part of the money that goes into packages consists of the time that the photographer spends editing the final photos. Maybe you are someone who likes simplicity. Then you might not need as many final prints as the photographer initially offers, and then you could potentially get a lower price.
Wedding Photo Packages
Some photo packages might also include wedding photography. If you feel confident about your engagement photographer before the shoot, then you might want to consider hiring the same photographer for your wedding.
Paying for a combo package could end up being cheaper than hiring separate engagement and wedding photographers. Plus, it will also save you a lot of time by getting the logistics for your photos figured out all at once.
Now that you have an idea of what your price range is and where you are going to look for an engagement photographer, here comes the fun part—actually picking your photographer!
Even though you have already done some things to help narrow down your searches, you still might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of photographers to choose from.
When you are looking through a photographer’s portfolio, it is important to know what you want and what elements constitute a good photographer. Here are some key attributes to keep in mind when viewing a photographer’s work.
You have your own unique style, so make sure that your engagement photos represent you! Photographers also have their own style of photography. When viewing a photographer’s portfolio, identifying if his or her style matches your own is the first step for knowing if the photographer is the right one for you.
Some sites for finding photographers will allow you to narrow your searches based on the photography style. Here is an overview of what some of those styles might be:
It’s great if you find a photographer who is an expert in the style that you want, but one sign of a good engagement photographer is that they are versatile. If you find photographers with portfolios that include a variety of styles, then they are more likely to cater their style to your vision of what you want.
A versatile photographer has samples of photos in different locations, with diverse kinds of couples, and with a wide range of poses. Though George Street Photo and Video’s portfolio includes photos from multiple photographers, it is a good example of providing diverse options.
You and your significant other make a special couple, so be sure to find a photographer that is flexible and can capture your uniqueness!
It’s okay if you’re not an expert on photography techniques. That’s why you are hiring a photographer—so that they can use certain techniques to make you look good, right? But if you have a general eye for what elements make a good or bad photo, then the elimination process of photographers will be much easier.
Bad lighting can include having the same lighting throughout the image. This attribute of having total illumination can make the image look flat or boring. And you don’t want that. Also, if a photo has shadows in weird places, like on your face, then the photographer probably has room for improvement.
But a good photographer will use light to his or her advantage to make the photograph pop! It’s okay if a photo has shadows, but if they are used in the appropriate place. For example, if a photo is taken at sunset, shadows can form a cool silhouette of the couple. Good lighting will also create a focus on the couple and not wash them out.
Of course, for engagement photos, you want the focus to be on you as a couple! So how the photographer uses focus can either make or break your engagement photos. If there is a lack of focus and the image is blurry, then you, as the subject, won’t stand out. But if there is too much focus and sharpness, then there might be some exposure to unwanted details.
A good photographer will find the right balance of focus to help you look your best.
Depth of field is one technique that photographers can use to create good focus. Depth of field is capturing the distance between the nearest and farthest subject to emphasize one subject and blur out the others. This technique, when used properly, can make you and your fiancé stand out against the background.
One rule that every photographer should know is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is being able to divide an image into three equal sections, both vertically and horizontally. Key parts of the image should generally be able to fit into these grid lines. Following the rule of thirds helps to establish focus, balance, and a natural line of site for the viewer. So when you are looking at photographer’s engagement photos, test out the rule of thirds on the images!
We talked a little bit about how a good photographer can come up with a variety of poses for the couple, but it is also key for these poses to be natural and not distracting. When you are doing the photo shoot, you want to be comfortable. Some people enjoy being in the limelight more than others, but how you are positioned for the photos can either help you to relax or can make you feel awkward.
In you photos, you want to be yourself! So while you are scrolling through a photographer’s sample photos, ask yourself, “Are those poses that I would naturally make?” or “do those poses look forced?” Answering these questions can help you know if the photographer is the right one for you or not.
But even if some poses might feel natural for you, it’s also important to consider how the poses will look to other people. Maybe you can’t really see the couple’s faces or there are too many distracting things going on with the arms. So along with having creative and natural poses, be sure to think about what others when your photo is posted on their refrigerator.
One last point to consider regarding photography techniques is post-editing. Though a good photographer shouldn’t have to do a ton of editing, the editing that they do make should contribute to the quality of the photo and not be distracting.
In a photo, you want to look your best, but you still want to be “you.” It’s probably alright if the photographer whitens your teeth a little or touches up on blotchy parts of your skin. But you don’t want to have unnaturally bright teeth or have your skin be two shades darker or lighter than normal. A photographer who knows how to edit well will make your photos look beautiful without causing people to say, “those photos were obviously edited.”
After a photo is taken, the photographer might also need to do some cropping. The photographer should have good judgment of when there are unnecessary things in the background of the image that can be taken out to bring a greater focus to the subject. However, where the image is cropped should be a natural placement that doesn’t make it look like it was chopped up.
Communication is Key
Even if a photographer has all of the skills that we’ve mentioned, none of them matter if the photographer doesn’t have good people skills.
Preparing for weddings can be very exciting but also overwhelming at times. So you don’t need an engagement photographer who will frustrate you because he or she doesn’t communicate well. Having a photographer that is on top of things, gets back to you quickly, is enjoyable to be around, and gives kind and clear instructions will help your engagement photography experience not be stressful but fun.
Right from the beginning, you can tell if the photographer communicates well or not. If you reach out to a photographer, say either through email or phone, and he or she gets back to you right away, then the photographer is off to a good start! You can tell that the photographer is truly interested in you as a client and will most likely be reliable. But if a photographer takes a long time to get back to you, then you probably won’t want to waste your time waiting around on him or her, and you can move onto someone else.
Before you decide on a photographer, it’s a great idea to meet him or her in person. You will have to spend a bit of time with the photographer later, so it is better to find out beforehand if you like the photographer as a person and if your personalities get along well. Typically, a photographer who is good with people is outgoing in order to guide you through the photo shoot and make it fun—but not so outgoing that he or she is over-the-top and makes you feel uncomfortable.
In this meeting, you can also review all the details—how much everything will cost, confirm the photo shoot date and timeline, etc. Before you sign anything, be sure that the photographer and his or her services match the description and that he or she is aware of your expectations.
If you get to know the photographer before the shoot, you are more likely to have fun and be comfortable for your engagement photos.
Once you have determined where you want to look for an engagement photographer, what your price range is, evaluated photographers’ portfolios, and ensured that the selected photographer is a good communicator, you have probably found your perfect photographer!
Now just relax, smile, have fun, and remember that you will look back on your engagement photos in the many years to come!
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