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Tips to Hire a Party or Wedding Photographer

The world of wedding photography has changed dramatically over the last couple of years both in style and the ability for a photographer to showcase his or her work. No doubt, the evolution is due to online blogs and websites that share these fabulous photos for brides to gaze at while dreaming of their big day and ogling over the latest wedding trends. Whether you are hiring a photographer for a wedding or to shoot the moments at your party, the rules of engagement are similar.

The Interview: Questions to Ask Your Potential Photographer

Photographers are artists and many have a certain style, which is why you've hired them in the first place. However, there may be certain photos that you want for your event that are based on others' work.

If this is the case, you'll need to bring those images when you meet the photographer and gauge how willing he or she is to take similar pictures. Most should be cool with it, but if they aren't you need to think about if they are the ideal photographer for you.

What is the cost for the photographer's services and what does that include specifically? Albums, prints, cards, digital files?

Do they anticipate additional equipment costs based on the time and location of the event? For example, a huge outdoor party at night may require the rental of additional lights or multiple photographers.

When will you get your photos? Make sure this agreed upon date makes it into the contract!

Can you get the photos in a digital format as well so you can easily upload them to a computer?

Can you post the pictures online or wherever you want? If so, do they require that you credit them? For most, this answer is yes, since you've paid for the work, but be sure to double check. The answer may be a deal breaker for you.

Can they provide recommendations with phone numbers that you can call? It's important to connect with previous clients or businesses who recommend a photographer. They may take fabulous photos but are known to be late with delivery.

If you have brought images with you as examples of what you'd like at your party, are they OK with it?

Above all, do you like their work? Check out their portfolio and photos of events similar to yours and if you're head over heels about their work, then move forward with hiring them.

The Contract: Avoid Unexpected Fees or Surprises

In days where it's so easy and expected to upload and showcase photos online for the world to see, it's important to keep this fact in mind: Know that a photographer's work is protected under the United States of America's and other governing bodies' copyright laws and you need to get their written permission to post the pictures anywhere from blogs to your local newspaper.

Along with that friendly piece of advice, here are some additional points that you may want to cover in writing with your photographer.

The price for the photographer's services, equipment, and anything else that price includes - a second set of hands, a dinner plate at the event, printed thank you's, etc.

Agreed upon overtime charges should you incur them.

The time they will arrive and the time they will depart your party.

The cost of photo prints and any other costs for photo products.

The date that you will receive the photos, prints, and all materials promised to you.

Written permission to post photos online or in print media and how or if they require that you credit them.

Their cancellation policy or procedure for an unforeseen circumstance, natural or otherwise, on the day or leading up to the day of the party which makes it impossible for the event to take place or for them to get there?

Keeping the above in mind and on paper is difficult, but essential. You're spending a lot of money for photography and you want to make sure your investment is covered. You also want to be fair to the person or persons helping to capture your special day.

The Event: Make your List and Check it Twice

You'll be too preoccupied with eating, dancing, and mingling to make sure your photographer is getting the photos you want on your big day, so make the proper arrangements beforehand so there are no surprises or disappointments.

A week before the big day, check-in with your photographer to confirm arrival time, set up and any additional special requests.

Make sure you have their contact information including a cell phone number as well as an office number and know who to you call if they are late to your party.

Make all the necessary introductions at the event so the "communication" can be clear. That means if you have a party planner directing cake presentation or a deejay introducing a special guest or a surprise performance planned, you should connect the photographer with whoever is in charge. This way, no special moments are missed. Directors or planners will make sure your photographer is front and center, ready to capture the moment right from the start.

A useful tool for your photographer is an outline of planned events. Create a timetable for the party with important scheduled events that are going to take place, such as "10:00pm cake is served," and give a copy to the photographer.

Finally, you may want to make a list of photo ops that you definitely want to get such as the arrival of a guest of honor or a shot with great-grandma, grandma and mom,  so you don't miss any moments at the party.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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