WV Wedding Photographer - Information

Hi my name is Tim Ray, and I own and operate a photography studio in Fairmont, WV. Over the past 26 years I have heard all the horror stories of couples who chose the wrong photographer for their wedding. In response I have created this little list of what I believe are the biggest mistakes couples make in choosing their wedding photographer.

Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions any wedding couple will ever make. Yet many couples make serious mistakes in choosing their photographer, and many live with regret and disappointment the rest of their lives. Maybe they didn't realize how important their photographs would be for them after the wedding. Maybe they didn't understand the vast differences in experience, skill, and artistic style of wedding photographers.

As a photographer who has photographed weddings full-time for over 26 years, photographing over 900 weddings, I have met many couples who understand the importance of this decision, as well as those couples who take this decision far too lightly. So, you might ask with so many photographers, how do we weed through them and choose the photographer who is best for us? How do we keep from making mistakes in choosing our photographer. That is the purpose of this article. I don't post this so you will choose me, I post this so that you will choose the best photographer for you and your wedding day.  

1. Hiring Based on Price, Not Based on Style and Experience

The number one mistake couples make when hiring a photographer is to choose a photographer based on price, and not whether his/her style matches what they are looking for.  In talking to countless couples and wedding photographers in the industry, this is the biggest mistake they make and often results in couples not being happy with their images.

Do you know the #1 question every Bride asks me about our wedding photography?

“How much are your wedding packages?”

But if you ask any married couple “How much did you pay for your wedding photography?” you are most likely to get one of these two answers:

“We paid more than we originally planned, but it was well worth it. We love our wedding photographs, and we will cherish them for the rest of our lives!"

“We went cheap and found out that it was a big mistake. Our photos are not worth seeing. They are in no way what we envisioned they would be. We regret not spending more for the photographer whose photographs we loved best!"

So which bride will you be? Hiring that “Cheap Photographer” is more likely than not to cost you more in the long run, than it would have been to hire that full time Professional Wedding Photographer who you liked the best to start wit

One misconception many couples have, is that a wonderful camera will make anyone a great photographer, but that simply isn't true, the camera is only a tool. The finest cameras in the world are useless in the hands of an inexperienced and untalented photographer. Photography is an art form, and when you hire a photographer you are hiring them for their artistic vision, skill, and their ability to photograph your wedding in a style that you love. It is up to the photographer to properly compose images, to find the best locations,  to understand how to use light and shadows to create incredibly beautiful three dimensional images. It is up to the photographer to capture from the best angles, so that you look fantastic, to deal with less than ideal lighting situations and still create incredibly beautiful images, to deal with less than ideal locations and still create beautiful images. To have an understanding of how to properly enhance photographs, so that you will look great, yet won't look fake. 

It is so easy to price shop for wedding photography today, all one need do is search for photographers online. But, while the budget is important, price shopping makes the thing you are shopping for a commodity,  but not all photographers are the same, not even close! If the quality of your wedding photographs is important to you, but price alone is your only consideration, you will regret not hiring the photographer that would have photographed your wedding in the artistic style that you love, capturing your wedding day the way you envisioned it. Photography is an art form, and great photographers put a lot of time, effort and skill into capturing incredible works of art, yet doing it in a way that doesn't interfere with your wedding day. Great photographers don't stop there, they spend countless hours enhancing your images so that they look spectacular. Sure, you can always find a cheaper photographer, but you must ask yourself these questions, why are they cheaper? What corners are they cutting? How talented are they? How experienced are they? Are they going to be fully committed to photographing the wedding? Are they going to be fully committed to properly enhancing my images so that they are perfect? 

2. Waiting too long to start the process of finding and booking a wedding photographer

Most weddings take place on weekends, and there are only 52 weekends in a year. Weddings generally occur from May through October, which cuts available weekends down to about 25. That means that the best wedding photographers have extremely limited availability. Waiting too long to start searching for and booking your dream wedding photographer is a big mistake, because they could already be booked by the time you contact them. 

3. Not checking the photographer's experience

Many couples make the mistake of not asking how much experience the photographer has photographing weddings. But, do you really want someone learning to photograph weddings at your wedding? There are many difficult situations that wedding photographers must deal with, from less than ideal lighting, less than ideal locations. An experienced wedding photographer will be able to create beautiful images no matter how difficult the lighting, or how ordinary the location. 

4. Not asking to see the images from an entire wedding.

If you want the very best quality wedding photos with a lot of variety, and consistency then ask your photographer to see a complete wedding photographed at your wedding location or a similar location. One of the big differences you will find between inexperienced and experienced wedding photographers is consistency. Anyone can show you their very best work online, but few can create consistently beautiful images. So, ask to see the images to an entire wedding. This will give you the opportunity to see how they have photographed at your location or a similar location giving you an idea of what to expect from your photographs. A complete wedding of a competent wedding photographer should contain images under varied lighting, with varied artistic styles and should all look good. 

5. Not asking what services are included, and what you must pay extra for.

Some photographers have a cheap base price to lure you in, and then charging extra for everything. Want retouching, that costs extra. Want the high resolution files, that costs extra. Want a pre-wedding planning session, that costs extra. Travel to your wedding costs extra, even when it is close to the photographer’s business location. By the time you add up all the extra costs, the photographer you thought was a good value, might end up costing as much, or more than the better photographer that you loved. 

6. Not talking to or meeting with any photographers.

Many couples look at photographers websites, after finding those whose style they like the best, request pricing, and then will choose the photographer with the lowest price, without ever talking or meeting with any photographers first. But, I believe this is often a big mistake, because you most likely know nothing about any photographer without talking with them. What kind of personality they have? How passionate they are about wedding photography? How they approach photographing weddings? How much real wedding photography experience they have? How knowledgeable they are about weddings and wedding photography? As I said at the beginning of this article, there are vast differences between photographers. So, do yourself a favor and talk to any photographers you are considering, ask questions, and listen to what they have to say, because this will reveal much about their passion for wedding photography, and how concerned they are about your photographic needs. Talking to photographers will help you to determine how experienced they really are, by how knowledgeable their answers are in response to your questions.  

7. Having a family friend photograph wedding.

If I had a dollar for every time a couple told me, that they decided to have a family friend photograph their wedding to save money, then I would be a very rich man. And, if I had a dollar for every time a couple told me that they made the worst mistake of their life by having a family friend photograph their wedding, then I would also be rich. I think couples feel comfortable saving money having a family friend photograph their wedding, but this usually is a big mistake. A professional will be committed to YOU and your wedding day. They are guaranteed to show up on your wedding day, no questions asked. Every year we have many couples contact us at the last minute to see if we are available to photograph their wedding, because a family friend backed out on them at the last minute. Sadly many couples end up with nothing, because all the best photographers are already booked. Please do yourself a favor and hire a professional.

I hope this list helps you choose the best wedding photographer for your wedding day. A wedding photographer capable of capturing all of the wonderful moments of your wedding day beautifully. That all your portraits will look stunning and capture who you really are. That your wedding photographs will capture the love between the two, and all of your loved ones. That the smallest details of your wedding day are captured. That the real moments your wedding day will be captured and preserved so that you can relive them through your photographs.