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Unsolicited advice

How to choose a wedding photographer

I’m going to say the same thing I always say to people I know who are looking for a wedding photographer — ‘You don’t have to hire me, but can I offer some advice?’ My name is Tim Jagielo, I’m a photographer, writer, video producer, and media editor for this newspaper. I’ve also been shooting weddings since 2005, and in my capacity as the photo editor of the ‘Times, I take photos in a variety of environments, and also edit (make fit to print) photos that are submitted to us. Attention to lighting, color, composition and taking a photograph of a peak moment are things I do every day — and these are things you should look for in a wedding photographer. Rapport with the person is also important, and as always, you do get what you pay for with photographers. Here’s what to look for. Depth of experience. The photographer doesn’t have to be 35 years old like I am, but they do need to have enough experience to handle the challenges of shooting your wedding. Weddings combine the skill sets of photojournalism, with well-composed and nicely lit portrait photography into one event.

Your photographer needs to be competent, and a quick problem solver. Can they shoot effectively indoors, and outdoors? Churches and reception halls are dim, poorly lit places, and your photographer has to know what they’re doing. Look at the colors of their photographs. Is there a clear cast of yellow or blue? Are they reasonably sharp? How does the bride and groom’s skin look? Compare them to stock imagery you can find online. Photos shouldn’t be overly flat, or overly grainy/noisy. Too many black and white photos on their website may be a sign that they can’t handle dimmer indoor color and lighting. An important note: your computer monitor will change the way the photographer intended the photos to look. Some monitors will have different contrast or color cast. Make sure you look on a mobile device as well, to compare them. Ask to see an entire wedding. Not literally every image they took that day, but you should be able to see an entire wedding set, whether 100 or 300 photos. This will give you a feel for their work. Every photographer can put a decent portfolio together, but seeing a whole wedding gives you a more accurate picture of their style and ability. They communicate quickly, are friendly. If they take too long to get back to you, it may be a bad sign. You’ll have to be smiling in photos for hours straight, and if your photographer is overly stressed, or not personable, it could dim your experience that day. Finally, spell out the terms. If you like the person, their work and their prices, spell everything out. Does the price include editing the photos afterward? Are prints involved? What’s the deadline? How many photos will you be getting? Expect to pay a deposit, and finish paying the day of the wedding. So, congratulations on the engagement, and best of luck — you don’t have to hire me, but make sure you hire someone who makes photos you like, and who you get along with. If you’d like to see my work, go to

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