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Be sure your special day will be captured exactly the way you want -- the way it happens, with an artistic touch. In almost every survey of recent married couples, the one service that had the most complaints was the photographer. Therefore, this is the one service that you have to take extra care in choosing.

Make sure the photographer's portfolio you see is the portfolio of the photographer that will do your wedding. Be sure that the photographer you want is named on your contract. Some studios switch photographers depending upon their availability.
You should meet the photographer personally -- it is important that the photographer be compatible -- a person you would want to invite to your wedding.

When you are looking at the photographer's work, check to see if the people in the photographs look like they are enjoying the experience. If their faces seem to say:"Come on, hurry up. I want to get to the reception", or "I sure am uncomfortable in this pose!” you might not want to be put through the same torture by a slow or pushy photographer.

Look for variety in the photographs. A combination of wide angle, mid-view and close-up shots keep the story telling form being monotonous.

The equipment the photographer uses is not as important as the results he/she gets. Don't think that just because the equipment is impressive that the photos will be great. There are various reasons a photographer may use more than one format of camera, type of film or digital.  Excellent photographs are possible from smaller format cameras under most conditions. However, it is better that a medium format camera is used for the formal poses of large groups and in certain daylight conditions. The photographer should have backup cameras and lighting equipment.

If a photographer advertises that his or her work is "award winning", it doesn't mean much since most of the awards are from a professional organization to which the photographer belongs and every member that enters the organization's contests wins an award. Being a member of these professional organizations means that the photographer has done nothing more than pay the dues to belong.

If you wish, get a list of the photographer's recent customers that you may contact to verify what the photographer has told you about his or her work.

Give the photographer you have chosen a list of special photos you want. These could include photos of your friends from school, the family that came a long way to your wedding, the person who introduced the two of you to each other, etc. Include names of people you want featured in formal and candid shots. Also indicate what photos you do not want. These could include contrived shots you saw in the photographer's samples.
Determine if you want your formal photographs taken before or after the wedding ceremony. My discussion of this matter can be found starting on page 20.

Tell your family and friends explicitly that you want them in the formal photos. Do not assume they will know.

Be aware of time limits the photographer may have and be sure you plan important events so they are covered.

Very important: If there are divorced parents, determine before the wedding day if they are going to be photographed together in the formal shots. This requires talking with them directly -- do not guess what they will want. If a divorced parent has remarried, determine if the new spouse is to be in the formal family photos. If not, be sure you include that person in some other requested photos.

Learn about the type of album that will hold your finished photos. Not all albums are worthy even though they may look good and be expensive. Look at an older sample album to see how it holds up. Genuine cowhide is hard to beat for durability.  Bonded leather and some plastics break down very quickly with use. The number of album companies has increased greatly in recent years and some of the products are obviously made with inferior materials and workmanship.

An experienced wedding photographer may help as a wedding consultant if you have any planning questions.

Having your photographer do your engagement photos is a good way to learn his or her manner and style.

Some photographers include the negatives or digital files in all their wedding packages. Photographers that are not wedding photography specialists usually do this.  They may be good photographers; however they might not have the well-rounded experience it takes to be a good wedding photographer. An experienced wedding photographer may include the negatives or digital files for an additional charge after the order of photography reaches a level that would be considered a complete order.

Your wedding may need to be covered by more than one photographer. 

If you do have a second photographer is sure to see recent work from him or her.