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Hiring a wedding photographer


Comercial and fine art work

How to hire a wedding photographer.
Some tips and tricks on what to look for before hiring your wedding photographer.

Selecting the right wedding photographer for your special day can be a daunting task. There has been a lot written about this subject. When it comes to wedding photography there are basically two categories, traditional wedding photography and wedding photojournalism. But many wedding photographers, including us, are also adding other elements to their coverage such as fashion, glamour and still life photography (for detail shots).

So let’s start with a little wedding photography history. Over the last 100 years wedding photography has changed tremendously. In the old days (pre digital), wedding photographers were mainly studio photographers that were hired to take formals and portraits of the bride and groom and their family. They used medium format cameras and would only spend a few hours at each wedding. They were influenced by classical painters, so a lot of the poses where somewhat cheesy by todays standards. In the late 60s some photographers started engaging in story-telling, taking a more documentary approach to wedding photography. That approach really took hold in the late nineties. Some photographers called this approach wedding photojournalism. Fast forward to today and you will find that wedding photography has completely changed. Todays wedding photography is much more captivating and the overall creativity is much higher. This is mainly due to the fact that todays wedding clients are more educated and savvy when it comes to wedding photography. Now wedding photographers are expected to be photojournalists, portrait, glamour and fashion photographers; and have a good sense for fine art photography. Because of this demand, many photographers who years ago would not consider shooting weddings entered the market.

As a photographer who has worked in many different fields and enjoys producing all kinds of photography, I can say that wedding photography has truly become it’s own art form and that some of the most innovative photography now-a-days is produced within the wedding photography industry. Having said that, due to digital photography, the barrier of entry to become a wedding photographer has also become much lower, and more than ever clients have to do their homework before hiring their wedding photographer.

So how do you select the wedding photographer that is right for you? Here are some tips.

Narrowing down your wedding photographer choices.
Wedding Photography has become an art form, at least we photographers like to think so, but it is also a craft. I will get into the craft aspect later, but lets talk about the art part for now. As with any art, what appeals to one might not appeal to the other. Art is in the eye of the beholder, so when you start the process of finding your wedding photographer, start by looking at a lot of work and see what you like and what you don’t like. See if the photographers style appeals to you, do you like their use of color and black and white, will their style hold up over time, and most importantly do you connect emotionally with their work?

Check the craftsmanship.
Lets face it, we photographers only like to show our best work, so don’t just go from the website or blog. The main thing that separates amateurs from professionals wedding photography is the ability of professionals to consistently produce great work. Many photographers will show more in depth weddings on their site, if they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask to see an entire wedding.
When you set up an appointment make sure you get to see some entire wedding albums (in print). This is where the craft part comes in. When looking at an entire wedding album, don’t expect every image to be a piece of art, but check if the photographer is consistent, is the print quality nice, are the colors vibrant or are they dull, are the b/w crisp or are they muddy, are the images well exposed? Basically does the overall image quality reflect what attracted you to the photographer in the first place. Also look to see if the photographer uses a lot of post-processing and special effects (as in Photoshop), if so be aware that it is often (not always) done to mask quality issues. Did the photographer capture the key moments, are the compositions clean? Also, very important, do the people look happy in the photos, this will tell you a lot about how the photographer interacts with their clients.

Finding the right chemistry with your wedding photographer is quite possibly one of the most important factors. Keep in mind that your photographer(s) will be with you all day. Taking great pictures is a matter of trust and comfort. The better the chemistry, the more fun you will have on your wedding day and of course the better the final images will be.

Budget, budget, budget. How much to spend on a wedding photographer?
The old saying, “you get what you pay for” holds true even in todays economy. But don’t expect that the more you pay for a wedding photographer the better the photos will be either. Simply put, determining the photographer by price alone is not a good strategy. What you might want to do is figure out on a scale of 1 to 10 how important photography is to you, and do the same with other items that are part of your wedding. This will give you a good idea on how to prioritize your final budget. Personally I think photography should always be a ten, but that’s just me ;-)
Before you set your photography budget, research some photographers in your area and get a feel for the market. Don’t set your budget before researching the market a little, if you do, you might find yourself trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.

What is more important good photography, or a lot of products?
A common mistake couples make is that they will look at wedding photography packages and make their decision based on which photographer gets them the most prints and the cheapest album instead of which photographer captures their imagination. Ask yourself, what good are all those extra prints and albums when the images aren’t very good? When making your final decision, we highly recommend you make it based on the style of, and your chemistry with, the photographer and not the products. Good coverage and meaningful imagery should be the priority, products can always be purchased later.

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions.

Do you travel for weddings within the San Francisco Bay Area?
Yes we travel all over the great San Francisco Bay Area. We don't charge any travel fees for weddings within a 90 mile radius of San Francisco. We do of course travel further, and have shot weddings all over California and beyond.

We want a mixture of photojournalistic and traditional wedding photography — do you do that?
YES. While we love to be creative and in-the-moment, we strongly recommend doing some traditional family and group shots as well. We are very quick and efficient when it comes to shooting formal wedding portraits. We don't really show too many formals in our wedding photo gallery, but if you would like to see some, please check out one of our complete wedding slideshows.

What type of Albums do you offer?
We offer a variety of different wedding album styles and work with several manufacturers in the US and abroad (Italy). Most of our clients opt for our modern Magazine Style wedding albums. We find that the Magazine Style wedding albums (or flush mount) are great for story telling and compliment our shooting style the best. The albums are a must see. You can see some sample designs by clicking here.

What kind of equiment do you use:
Right now we shoot with Canon 5D and 5DMark2. We use a variety of high end lenses.

Do you have backup camera equipment?
Of course! When you get that sinking feeling that you even have to ask that question to a photographer, you are in trouble— run!

Do you only shoot weddings?
We love to photograph weddings, but we also do creative portraiture, corporate headshots and commercial work. Marcel also does fine art photography. You can see some of our commercial and personal work here.

Here are some of the places we have photographed weddings within the San Francisco Bay Area.
Grace cathedral, San Francisco, St Vincent De Paul Church, San Francisco, Mission, San Jose, Mission Delores, San Francisco, Carmel Mission Basilica, Carmel, St. Joan of Arc Parish, Yountville, St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, San Francisco, Stanford Memorial Church, Stanford, Old Saint Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco, Trinity Episcopal Church, San Francisco, Temple Rodef Sholom, San Rafael, Mission San Juan Bautista, Saint Helena Catholic Church, St. Helena, Best Western Novato Oaks Inn, Novato, St. John's Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, St. Dominic's Catholic Church, San Francisco, St. Anne of the Sunset, San Francisco, St. Joseph's Cathedral, San Jose, St. Patricks Church, San Francisco, Montgomery Memorial Chapel, San Francisco Theological Seminary, Post Chapel, Presidio of Monterey, CA, Swedenborgian Church, San Francisco, St Leo's Catholic Church, Sonoma, St Nicholas Catholic Church, Los Altos, Santa Clara Valley Japanese Church, First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Francisco, St. John the Baptist, Milpitas, Old Saint Hillary's, Tiburon, Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park, Trinity Lutheran Church, Walnut Creek, St Bartholomew's Church, San Mateo, Yountville Community Church, Yountville, Lakeside Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, Church of the Wayfarer, Carmel, Burlingame United Methodist Church, Burlingame, , , Hotels and Other locations:, Ritz Carlton, San Francisco, City Hall, San Francisco, Palace hotel, San Francisco, Ferry Building, San Francisco, Corinthian Yacht Club of San Francisco, Tiburon, Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross, Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club, Menlo Park, The Westin, San Francisco, Corinthian Event Center, San Jose, Hyatt St. Claire, San Jose, Ralstom Hall Mansion, Belmont, Doubletree Berkeley Marina, Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, San Jose, ABC Seafood restaurant, Milpitas, Sonoma Mission Inn, Hotel Sofitel, Redwood City, Kelley park, San Jose, Old Mill Park Amphitheatre, Mill Valley, Palm Event Center, Pleasanton, B.R. Cohn Winery, Sonoma, Wedgewood Banquet Center at Foxtail Golf Course, Rohnert park, Maison du Lac, Los Gatos, Redwood Ridge Estate, Summit Road, Los Gatos, Frazier Winery, Napa, Carnelian Room, Bank of America Building, San Francisco, Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco, Hans Fahden Winery, Sonoma, Sheraton, Palo Alto, University Club, San Francisco, Grand palace Restaurant, South San Francisco, Marines Memorial Club, San Francisco, The Seafood Peddler, San Rafael, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, Clift Hotel, San Francisco, Metropolitan Golf links, Oakland, Mayacamas Ranch, Calistoga, Marin Country Club, Novato, Arden Hills Resort Club and Spa, Sacramento, Villa Ragusa, Campbell, Central Park Restaurant, Oakland, Thomas Fogerty Winery, Woodside, UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Berkeley, Palo Alto Hills Golf and Country Club, Stanford Park Hotel, Menlo Park, Wente Vineyards, Livermore, Freedom Hall and Gardens, Santa Clara, Blake's at Boundary Oak, Walnut Creek, Omni Hotel, San Francisco, Wine and Roses, Lodi, The Green Room, The Veteran's Building, San Francisco, Michaels at Shoreline, Mountain View, Chardonnay Gold Club, Napa, Sunol Valley Golf Club, Sunol, Rockerfeller Lodge, San Pablo, Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, Los Altos/Palo Alto, Fairmont Hotel, San Jose, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa, Casa de la Vista, Treasure Island, Crystal Springs Golf Course, Burlingame, Four Seas Restaurant, San Francisco, Holly Farms, Carmel, Pebble Beach Lodge, Carmel, Casa Real at Ruby Hill, Pleasanton, The Lodge at Tiburon, Tiburon, MacArthur Park Restaurant, Palo Alto, Marriott Hotel, Walnut Creek, Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club, Santa Rosa, Carmel Valley Ranch, Carmel, Domaine Chandon Winery, Yountville, Far East Café, San Francisco, The Mountain Terrace, Woodside, Vintage Estates, Yountville, Vintners Inn, Santa Rosa, Shadowbrook, Capitola, Flora Vista Inn, La Selva Beach, Ming's Restaurant, Palo Alto, Nestl Down, Los Gatos

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All images © 2010 Marcel and Meher Photographers.