MAINE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS | MAINE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Wedding Photography 101
Thanks for being here! If you’re like most of our couples, you may not have a clear idea of what lies ahead as you set out on the journey to select your wedding photographer. We’re not just Maine wedding photographers! We also photograph weddings throughout New England, from Boston to Bar Harbor, and world-wide in places like Italy, Belize, and the Caribbean Islands. What we offer here, is universal in the world of wedding photography. For the sake of clarity, we’ll keep referring to our niche as Maine wedding photographers, since that’s what we are.
Let’s make this an easy read, so grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s talk about some of things you really want to know about hiring your wedding photographer.
When To Book Your Maine Wedding Photographers
Maine wedding photographers book early. So, once you have your date and venue, it’s time to start selecting your wedding photographer. We’re talking as many as 18 months ahead of your wedding, with an average of about 14 months. What if it’s much closer to your wedding day than that? It’ll never hurt to check with your top choices; they could have your date open, or they can help refer you to one of their trusted peers.
How to Begin the Process of Hiring a Wedding Photographer
There are several ways to get started. Let’s look at some of the best options.
- Is there a friend of yours that was recently married, loves their wedding images, and had a great time working with their photographer? Start a list with those names. Facebook and Instagram are excellent places to check what’s out there. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to find out what we’re doing!
- Get recommendations from your venue. Something to watch for: A simple list or a listing on the venue’s web site are best. Or even better yet get a verbal recommendation from the venue’s wedding coordinator. Be warned, if you’re given a fancy venue-specific “magazine”: the vendors inside subsidized the printing of this catalog and all it took to get into the magazine was money. A real preferred vendor list means those listed within have earned the right to be in that list. Knowing this subtle difference can help steer you in the right direction.
- Google… keep in mind the rank order of your search is not necessarily the same order as the quality of the photographer. Having said that, we’re on the first page when you search for Maine wedding photographers. We blog most of our weddings and engagement sessions, and include resources for brides, which is also an important factor.
- Look at wedding web sites that feature reviews written by real wedding clients. We suggest you check out Maine wedding photographers on weddingwire.com. Use the sort criteria to sort by the number of reviews or sort by the rating of the vendor. Again, vendor listing that show up on the top of every page may be because the vendor paid the web site to do so. The best criteria is to read the words of the real wedding client reviews.
- You could check out bridal shows in your region.
- At this point, you should start noticing those photographers that have appeared on many or all of the sources you’ve checked. These are ones to watch.
- Peruse each photographer’s web site and try to narrow down to your top 3 picks. Go back to weddingwire.com and read the reviews in-depth to see if this helps you rank-order the three. It’s likely that these top 3 will be all worthy choices and that there won’t be much difference among them. If there’s one that really stands out, all the better, contact them first.
- If one of your final choices meets any one of these criteria, consider it a red flag:
- They cost much less than the rest
- They’re including an amazing list of items with their contract, such as prints, a big album, parent albums, slideshows, canvas wraps, etc. (See the PRINTS AND ALBUMS CAN WAIT section further below.)
- Are your proposed photographers full-time weddings-only photographers? They may or may not do a variety of other genres, but it’s pretty safe to say that the more specialized they are in weddings, the likelihood of their being really awesome at what they do is far greater.
- You may feel that you must eliminate one or more of your choices because you’ve at this point learned that they cost more than you have budgeted. See the HOW MUCH SHOULD PHOTOGRAPHY COST section below. We’d recommend not dismissing them yet unless the disparity is far, far above what you can handle. There are many cases where spending a bit more for your photography than what you expected is not just a good idea, it may be a critically-important thing to do.
Contact the photographers. Your wedding date and venue are essential information here. Let’s make this easy, if you would like to contact Maine wedding photographers, Russell Caron Wedding Photography, you’ll find a contact form below!
You already know you like their work, now how well are you going to like working with them? Test #1 is how responsive was each photographer with your request? This initial contact is going to affirm the photographer’s availability for your date, give you their full catalog of offerings with pricing, along with other useful information such as an introductory video clip and other resources.
TO MEET OR NOT TO MEET?
You’ve narrowed your choices down to your two top choices. If logistics allow, arrange to meet with your top photographer choice before signing. We realize that for many who plan a Maine wedding, it can be a destination wedding. So sometimes meeting with your Maine wedding photographer can be difficult. Choose to Skype or FaceTime to “meet”. Meet with your #1 pick first! And, be ready to leave money to secure the booking fee to lock down everything.
The meeting is more to affirm that all the things you love about the photographer continue to resonate with you, and most of all, that you enjoy their demeanor, that they are professional, courteous, friendly, and will be a perfect fit with you on wedding day. This is “Test #2”: if, at this first meeting, everything falls into place – the photographer is everything and more that you hoped for, they remain available, their fee is worth every penny, and you ‘”just know” that this is going to be a perfect fit – then book them on the spot!
If logistics prevent an in-person meeting, don’t worry. Most of our clients book us as their Maine wedding photographers, without ever meeting, or speaking to us on the phone. Your photographer will be able to send your contract by .pdf or by a studio management software application, and you’ll be able to pay the retainer using a credit or debit card.
How Much Should Wedding Photography Cost?
A good rule of thumb is that 13% of the overall wedding budget go toward photography, not including videography. For smaller weddings or weddings with a large DIY component, that percentage can be much higher. Why so much? The photography is essentially the only part of you spend on your wedding day that lasts forever. The time spent by your professional wedding photography on wedding day is but a small fraction of the overall time invested in the process. Perhaps as much as another 40 hours may be spent editing and processing the large number of images taken.
We’ve never heard of a bride regretting having purchased top-notch professional wedding photography. But, brides have deep regrets of not having spent the appropriate amount to secure a top professional to photograph their wedding. In fact, this is the #1 regret brides have post-wedding. A low price is a red-flag, a real signal of disappointment looming. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Read our other article on this topic, On Budgets and Regrets.
Understand What’s Included in the Proposed Wedding Photography Contract
Before signing a contract, fully understand what will be included. While packaging and content can vary widely, the essential points to understand are as follows:
- Coverage: This refers to the number of hours your photographer will be on duty.
- Digital files. Sometimes called ‘digital negatives’, digital files should be included in what you purchase. You are going to want them. Many wedding photographers include them in their packages, some charge extra. Be sure to understand what applies in your case. Ensure that the files you receive will be:
- High resolution
- Copyright-released to you via written license for unlimited personal use including printing
- Also provided in a smaller, watermarked version so you can post them on-line
- See the section ABOUT YOUR DIGITAL FILES a little further below
- Other coverage: If an engagement session, rehearsal dinner coverage, post-wedding session, or anything else is expected to be included, ensure it is clearly explained in the contract. Ask before signing if there are any questions!
- Expect to pay a fair amount for a real, heirloom-quality album. Don’t expect to have one that is of any real worth for a low price.
- Don’t expect prints to be included. Prints are rarely a feature that is of true interest to you; rather, having your own printing rights from the digital files is paramount
- Know how your files will be delivered. Digital, web-based downloads are often a source of problem and confusion for the client. Far better is to receive some sort of physical drive such as a USB drive that contains all your files.
- Find out what your photographer’s options are for maintaining a permanent set of files from your wedding in case the set you are provided ever become lost, stolen, or destroyed by peril.
- Check that there are no other hidden fees that will come about later.
- Ensure that travel is either listed with an amount or included.
- Make sure you understand any conditions listed, such as if you’re going to provide meals, a hotel room, or other items for the photographer and what expectations are attached to that.
- Does the contract speak to how the photographer is going to safeguard your images with backup files? Some photographers use extreme care with file backups, as they should. Others, well, are somewhat more lax. Does your photographer use fireproof and waterproof drives as archives? Do they have another copy stored in a different, off-site location? Ask!
- Fully understand the financial terms.
- Check the math presented to you. Know that wedding photography is subject to state sales tax in most regions, but can vary when you live in a state that is different than the state in which the services will occur.
- Read and understand every section in the contract, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The easier the contract reads, the more likely the photographer is being very forthright with you and not trying to hide anything in confusing language.
Locking Down the Contract and Date With Your Wedding Photographer
If you want to book your photographer, they’ll present you with a contract as described above. That contract will contain the important financial terms. Photographers will require a BOOKING FEE to secure your date in their calendar. The booking fee is part of the overall agreed-upon price and retains their services for your date, preventing the photographer from taking on other work on your day. Booking fees are generally non-refundable, but be sure the contract explains all this as you review it. The booking fee is often about 25% of the total contract amount, with the balance paid in installments that vary among photographers.
Some photographers, require as much as 50% (or more) as the booking fee amount. What doesn’t vary much is that most, if not all, professional photographers will require full payment at some point before the wedding. So don’t be surprised when you see that. Working with a top professional there is nothing to worry about. In fact, you want your pro photographer to know there are no outstanding financial obligations relative to your wedding as they focus intently on the image-taking that day! If you are doing this part of the process by mail or email, be sure to understand how the photographer is going to handle things if someone else asks for your date. See the next section.
About Your Digital Files
They’re the heart and soul of what your photographer did for you. Don’t just “assume” that your photographer is going to keep your files forever, as some don’t. Some may offer you an optional archiving plan. It’s probably a good idea to consider this, as their backup plans are probably more rock-solid than what you would do on your own. Find out what the procedure and cost would be if you ever lost the set that was sent to you. Professional wedding photographers will have a policy and procedure in place that spells out the process. Most of all, be comfortable with what your photographer explains to you relative to this very important topic.
Using Friends to be Your Wedding Photographer
This is a very interesting topic. With all the folks today that right, wrong, or otherwise call themselves ‘photographers’, we often hear about couples that have a ‘friend’ or a cousin that’s a ‘photographer’ and is offering his or her services to the couple to photograph the wedding as their gift or for a low price that is seemingly too good to ignore. If any of this rings close with you, please, please do yourself a favor and read this blog post on this topic. It could save the day.
And then, there are these considerations:
Wedding Albums Are An Important Part of Your Memories
An album is a fantastic idea for a host of reasons. First, there isn’t anything quite like the tactile feel of a heavy, thick-paged, lay flat album with gorgeous matte finish pages that you can keep prominently close by on a coffee table or shelf, open on a whim, put down, and come back to. As well as share with friends and family. Your photographer’s professional album designer will have taken key images and stitched them all together to form the story of the day so compelling that someone who wasn’t there could get the feel of the day. And, let’s not forget what we talk about a bit more below; that a hard-copy album is 100% technology-proof. You don’t have to worry about software being able to “read it” in 20 years.
Don’t let your images die a digital death….Have you seen a wedding album, or prints, from the wedding of your parents or grandparents? Would you have seen the images from these weddings if they were buried on 5 1/4″ floppy disks (realizing that most readers don’t know what a floppy disk is…suffice it to say it was the predecessor to “hard drives” in the early days of the personal computer) or just remain as negatives. Similarly, you will want to strongly consider an obsolescence-proof printed photo album.
These are our opinions and are not meant to be issues and ideas that are cast in stone in the industry. As we’ve said, we’re Maine wedding photographers, and this information is slanted in that direction. However, we do feel very confident that what we have said here is based on countless weddings and many, many years of experience. We’ve covered a large range of topics in a relatively brief amount of time and space. Any one of the topics here could fill pages, so this is designed not to be the definitive resource on a subject, but rather to give some guidance on topics you may not have yet considered and thus want to research further.
This will be an on-going and constantly improved resource for folks needing advice and a strong starting point for hiring their wedding photographer, be they Maine wedding photographers, Boston wedding photographers, international wedding photographers, or hometown USA wedding photographers!
Thanks for reading!!