How to Choose a Great Wedding Photographer

Andy and Brian Marcus of Fred Marcus Photography weigh in on what to look for in a photographer

For almost 70 years Fred Marcus Photography has been capturing special moments for brides and grooms. We asked Andy and Brian Marcus what you should look for when hiring a photographer for your wedding. Here's what they had to say.

What is the most important factor(s) couples should look for when hiring a photographer?

They should look for a studio or photographer who is experienced and has been in business for some time. Photographs are irreplaceable memories and someone with little or no experience will probably not do them justice. Consistency, creativity and the ability to anticipate moments are key to having wonderful wedding photographs.

When looking at the photographer's work, make sure to see full weddings, not just "highlights" of many different weddings. Anyone can take one or two good images of a wedding, but, shooting dozens of great images takes a special photographer.

Is it better for a couple to pick a package deal or a la carte options when finalizing their photography contract?

Before your wedding, you don't really know what images you want in your wedding album; after all, you haven't even seen the photographs yet. I find that packages get you into things that you don't need in the end, and that working in an a la carte fashion, gets you exactly what you want.

I love when I have the opportunity to work with clients this way, creating something really special for them, be it a "brag book," customized thank you cards, video slide shows, or just a really creative album of gorgeous photos - or all the above!

When meeting with a potential photographer, what are some important questions couples should ask, and what should they be looking for when viewing albums?

Most importantly, you want to know how much experience they have. Your photographer should have passion and excitement for their work. Also, get a feeling on how the day would be handled as far as timing and make sure they are amenable to a shot list — many "photojournalists" are not. Your posed family photographs are the lasting memory of your family at this special time and can be done quickly and expertly by an experienced photographer. You appreciate these special images even more in years to come.

When looking through their albums, check that the photos are clear and sharp and the color is natural and true to life. The photographs should jump off the page and move you. Questions to ask: Has retouching been done? Is it included in the price? What type of albums do they provide? Are there any extra fees or costs, such as travel, parking, accommodations, etc.?

Are there any cost-saving tips when it comes to hiring a photographer or purchasing prints and albums?

When talking with your photographer, ask if they can include a few portraits as part of the package. If you are on a budget, you can see if you like less expensive press printed albums instead of permanently bound leather albums. With this style, your photographs are basically printed on a printing press as opposed to being printed on photographic paper. Try not to cut back on your photographs, they are the visual result of all your months of work and all that remains of that special day.

What's the biggest trend you're seeing right now?

Engagement shoots are the biggest trend in my opinion — everyone asks for them! They are a great way for the photographer and client to get to know each other as well. Engagement shoots give us a window into the bride and groom's lives and allows us to feel more attached to them during the wedding, resulting in much more intimate photos. Also, anything digital is popular — whether it's creating an album online or a customized DVD with their photos set to music, they're a hit.

What's the one thing couples should be wary of when hiring a photographer?

Be wary of photographers who work out of coffee shop offices and who offer you deep discounts off their original arrangement — red flag! Lastly, ask if you may have referrals from previous clients. If the photographer hesitates — run for the door.

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