Shotwell Productions is a wedding photography & videography company based in Princeton NJ and formed in 2013. Rob and Rosana married in 2018. Their combined industry experience of 20 years has left them with plenty of stories like this one:
Rosana’s brother, Miguel, had hired a professional photographer for his own wedding in Puerto Rico. Rosana asked if she could use her “point & shoot” camera to take her own photos. After the wedding, the so-called pro disappeared, leaving Miguel and his wife without photos for over two years. That is how Rosana realized her work was of professional quality. It is her photos that hang on her brother’s wall as nice large prints to this day.
Here are some words of advice when hiring a wedding photographer or videographer.
Get a sense of their personality.
Does it align with yours? You will be spending your wedding day with his person. He or she should be the kind of person you would want to hang out in your spare time. The best photographer will become your friend and mesh right into the crowd. Choose a photographer and videographer that is going to get along well with you, your family, and your friends.
What sort of people are you? Are you shy, reserved, and low key? You might want a photographer who is quiet and unobtrusive, perhaps one with a more candid/photojournalistic approach. On the other hand, if you’re upbeat, lively, and looking to party, you may want someone who likes to have fun with you, and whose style of work will capture those fun moments.
Ask about experience.
Just how many weddings have they done? Ask to see a full wedding gallery from your venue. That gallery should include those epic shots, but most importantly what the coverage from a full day would look like. For video, ask to see samples of short and/or long form videos from your venue. Hiring a professional who has been to your venue will typically mean they have a sense of the surroundings, maybe some nice hidden spots, and that experience will make their job easier! If your pro has never been to your venue before, that is not a deal breaker though.. Hey, we all had a “first time” at every venue we’ve been to so far!
Ask about second shooters.
Do you need more than one photographer and videographer at your wedding? We typically recommend second shooters if your wedding is over 150 guests, or if your groom prep and bride prep locations are far apart, or if you are looking for a very cinematic video. Having a second photographer allows you to capture intimate moments from different angles with a variety of different lenses. This also allows two photographers to be in different places, capturing things that one just wouldn’t be able to. However, even your second shooters should match your personality and style. Although most second photographers don’t get assigned to a wedding until a few months prior, it’s okay to ask about who the potential photographer uses on a regular basis.
Ask about the contract.
You can check out all of the best photographers in NJ, but do not hire one without signing a contract. A professional should absolutely have one they use. If not, ask that they draft one for you. It protects you as much as it does them.
Finalize important details and get answers in writing. Review the contract to see if you have full printing rights. Ask about deposit procedure and if there are any service fees depending on your payment method. Is tax included or extra to the advertised package price? That’s important to ask all of your potential wedding vendors. Don’t also forget to ask if you will receive all of the images from the day or just a portion of it.
Ask about backup equipment.
You do not need to know what cameras, lenses or lighting will be used. That’s what a wedding photographer is for. However, ask about their backup equipment. Do they carry spare camera bodies and lenses, just in case? How long will they store their images in a backup drive?
Ask about post-production.
Every photographer and videographer has their own editing style. There are three big photo editing styles right now.
- Light & Airy – the photos are edited to be overly bright
- Dark & Moody – the photos are edited to be heavily contrasting and dark overall
- Natural – colors and exposure are normal-looking and not overly processed
Make sure their photo or video style matches what you’re looking for. A good photographer will be upfront in telling you which style they prefer, and they’re unlikely to change their style to match your preference.
Ask how long it will take.
A professional wedding photographer will be upfront about their turnaround time. Still, be sure to ask and make sure it is in the contract. Find out when their busy season is because editing may take longer during those times. Until then, ask if they will provide a small selection of “sneak peeks” shortly after the wedding.
Finding the perfect photographer for your wedding day is not a quick process. Start at least 12-18 months before your wedding to ensure good availability. Take your time, talk to them, have follow-up calls, if needed. You want to be sure you are picking the best photographer and videographer for you!