The cost of your professional wedding photographer will be based on how long you hire them for, the number of retouched photos you want, whether any additional photographers or assistants will be on hand, the reputation of the wedding photographer, your geographic location, the day of the week, and the season. Wedding planning pros recommend you hire your wedding photographer in early planning stages: first the planner (if you're working with one), then the venue, followed by the caterer and photographer. Popular professional wedding photographers can book up fast during high season, so once you know who you want to document your day, don't hesitate to put down a deposit to lock them in for your date. It's standard practice to pay a deposit of anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent upfront, and the remainder on the day of the event or a few days before it.
When reviewing a photographer's album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that's the style you're after). It's also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people's emotions; make sure the photographer's subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are important, of course, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.
DO learn the basics. Visit the websites of wedding photographers and see how they do it. "Try assisting an experienced wedding photographer. You will see first hand how it's done, with zero pressure on you," recommends Dennis Pike, the northern New Jersey photographer who shot the couple in the car at left. "The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be, and the people you are photographing will feed off of that."
…and think outside the box. Scarves, hats, flowers in the hair for girls, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, etc. – all these things can take a ho-hum image and make it feel “complete.” Don’t let the accessories overwhelm the subject or the photos though. I believe that especially with sweet babies and toddlers that they don’t need much in the way of “accessories.” Little kiddos are beautiful in their simple purity, and I want them to be the star of the show instead of making one’s eye go straight to a giant headband as big as their head as they sit awkwardly in a big bucket. I want the viewer to notice my subject and their personality first. The accessories and clothing should just complement them – not be center stage. Choose your accent colors and fill in outfits with those punches of color in accessories. For instance, if big sister’s patterned dress has tones of aqua, coral and gray, have mom wear a coral headband and little brother in an aqua pair of Converse and bow tie. Show off the kids’ and your unique personality with accessories!