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Choosing a Photographer for Weddings and Parties

Throwing a memorable party or staging a wedding means you want the best photographer possible to create those extra-special memories

Special occasions should always be memorialized with great photographs. Weddings and parties top the list for the need of hiring a professional to create those perfect memories. Before you choose the person who will be preserving those special moments, visit several studios and spend some time looking over their samples.

Wedding and special occasion photography is not inexpensive, but remember that you'll want to enjoy quality photos for many years to come. You'll be showing these to friends and family over and over - some of whom may not be able to attend the affair. Choosing a skilled and talented photographer is very important.

Some photographers have set prices for a range of packages; however, you may want extras or a smorgasbord of items. A flexible professional should have no problem. Make a list of your wants and needs before you go; this will help in establishing an exact budget.

Be clear up front on who will have ownership of the negatives, proofs, and digital files. Most photographers retain copyright and you must go through them for copies. These rights can and should be negotiated - you will pay a higher price for transferal of ownership, but could be worth it if you are technologically savvy.

Weddings

How much time will be required for the event? The photographer will be scheduling you in with others in a busy season and he or she should be available at least a couple of hours before the event and throughout a large portion of the reception.

For formal sittings, the photographer should be skilled in the use of extra lighting and not depend solely on a camera's flash. Also, for the highest-quality photos, many photographers will use "full-frame" DSLR cameras. Before the advent of these higher-end models, medium-format film cameras were the norm.

More candid shots can be taken with standard DSLRs (as opposed to full-format). Do not rely on friends and family members to take those photos; their minds will be elsewhere when the festivities begin.

You'll also want to discuss the different styles of photos to be taken and to make sure the photographer you select has expertise in the areas you want to memorialize. These will include traditional and formal staged settings, candid shots, romantic or fantasy poses, and essay photos that will capture the journey of the day from beginning to end.

Parties

Anniversaries, memorable birthdays, retirement, and going-away festivities are all wonderful reasons to hire a professional photographer. Unless it's an very special type of event, you won't need the level of expertise required at weddings.

You may even want to consider hiring someone with less experience or a skilled friend. There are risks associated with both, so be sure and request samples of other party and event pictures. The same guidelines should apply regarding good equipment and how the lighting conditions will be handled.

Provide a detailed list of what type of photos you want. These will include table shots, candid shots of intimate groups, and staged shots of specific people. As the host, you don't want to have to herd the photographer around, so it may be best to have a friend available for that chore. The photographer should be unobtrusive and still be able to elicit the festivity of the event.

Some shots should be staged ahead of time, if possible. These included dedications and speeches as it may be difficult for amateurs to maintain concentration while speaking if they are blinded by flashes of light.

Final Notes on Photographers

It is important to find a photographer who you can work with on several levels. Personality and communication are key. You'll be talking with this person on many occasions and they will be privy to your special event across a several-hour time span. You want someone who can bring out the best in you and your guests during the picture-taking process; someone who can seek out the candid shot that captures emotion.

As far as communication goes, you want to be sure that the photographer follows your direction and does not branch out into his or her own special style.

Weddings and special affairs provide wonderful memories for so many people - and you only have one chance to capture the moment.

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