My name is Marianne Bley. I am a wedding, newborn & branding photography specialist. My home studio is located on Chadwick Beach Island in Lavallette, Ocean County New Jersey 08735.
I am passionate about capturing life's milestones, both big and small, for couples and growing families and assisting them in preserving their images by creating stunning wall displays and tabletop heirloom products to grace their living spaces with the ones they hold most dear to their hearts for generations to come.
Finding the Perfect Wedding Photographer | Best NJ Wedding Photographer
On my way to each and every wedding consultation, I mindlessly think about what I want to say to the couple that I am meeting about wedding photography. Educating the client is the most important part of the process for the vendor because you want to not only express to the potential clients exactly what your personality is like, what your perspective of a wedding day looks like, why they should be so excited to work with you & why they should value you and your work at your going rate. I have been doing some of my own research to possibly change the approach in which I discuss wedding photography with my potential clients.
Decide what style of wedding photography you prefer. Are you looking for a traditional approach with mostly posed images? Or do you prefer lots of candid shots in which the subject may not even know he or she is being photographed? or do you prefer a photographer who combines all of these styles?
My photographic approach to your wedding day is a little bit of both styles. I consider myself a wedding photojournalist because I try to be unobtrusive and document the day as it unfolds but I also make sure to pose certain aspects of the day that will look better compositionally in an album or in a print that you might have blown up and hung on a wall in your home like: putting your dress on with your MOH & mother behind you, staging the First Look so I can see both of your reactions when you see each other for the first time or the select posed images we will do of you and your husband/wife immediately following the ceremony.
Determine your Budget. Photographers coverage fees, prints, albums, etc. generally come to approximately 12% of the entire wedding budget. This will allow you to quickly discard photographers which you cannot afford.
Once you have a budget in mind, don’t be afraid to ask for photographer’s price lists if they are not listed on their website. I currently list my starting price to give potential clients an idea of the cost of my services. I do not list the entire price list on my website because I would like to explain why certain things cost what they do and I have several physical samples that I can show potential clients at our first meeting as I explain their purpose on my price list.
Decide if you want to use a studio or a boutique. Do you want the personal touch of using a boutique, meaning dealing with one or two people throughout your whole experience with them or would you like to use a studio consisting of several photographers and sales associates throughout your whole experience and possibly not knowing who will show up the day of your wedding to photograph it?
I personally like the boutique experience. I handle everything from email inquires, to consulting with potential clients, to booking the engagement session & wedding day details and so on. You will only deal with me from start to finish. My work is only done when you have received all of your tangible items at the end of your experience with my business.
Decide how you will use your pictures. Do you plan to purchase just an album for yourself, or also pictures for your walls, prints to give to friends and family?
I do sell a few alternatives to a wedding album if one is not within your budget but I also explain at consultations that an album, although not required, can also be purchased after the wedding day when it might be a financially better time to invest. You can also purchase loose prints in a beautiful display box or you can have groupings of canvas prints made for your living room that do not require purchasing frames & matte boards. The possibilities are endless.
I suggest to potential clients to invest their budget in the best wedding day photography coverage that they can afford and to worry about tangible items after the wedding if they are on a tight budget. I would rather see a couple get excellent coverage and not have money to print the images at the moment than opting for a lower budget photographer that will provide a lesser quality of service and products. (Remember garbage in, garbage out) If the images taken are not spectacular, than how can you expect your album or prints to be?
Determine what form of your pictures you will want from your photographer. Just purchasing the prints is sometimes economical if you do not want an album.
All of my clients get their edited, high resolution digital images with their package. Then, they can decide to add on prints, albums, canvases, etc… The budget options are fairly endless. I do create customized wedding photography packages based on some clients needs. If the wedding day is shorter than 8 hours or if it is as long as 10 hours, if the couple does not what an engagement session or if the couple wants a second photographer. Those are all factors in creating a customized package to meet your needs.
When interviewing make sure to ask questions about liability insurance, sales tax, do they have a back up camera/gear?
I tell potential clients this all the time. It is not required by the state of New Jersey for professional photographers to carry liability insurance. Please ask any vendor that you meet with if they carry insurance and how much. It is very important that each and every vendor that you use carries it incase you run into a problem later. Many wedding venues here in NJ require proof of insurance from all of your vendors because they do not want to have to charge you, the client, for damage that one of your vendors might have caused in their facility. As venues renovate each year, the demand for vendors to carry their own insurance grows higher and higher.
Make appointments and meet with each finalist face to face. Go to these meetings with your spouse-to-be if possible. Look at samples of their work, get any paperwork or brochures with details about wedding packages, ask for a copy of their standard shot list (if they use a shot list which most experienced wedding photographers do not as they have well-memorized all the shots they need to get), and ask questions. Notice how polite they are. Ask yourself, “Is this someone I will want to be around when I am stressed, exhausted, dehydrated, overheated, and ready to faint in those uncomfortable shoes?”
I do make a point to spend time with each couple that book me so we are on a friendly basis come the day of the wedding. That is one of the reasons I include my engagement sessions in all of my packages because I want to get to know the clients and already have in my head how I like to position them, what flatters them the most and maybe I will learn a few inside jokes that I can use again on the wedding day to make the clients laugh, ya never know. The complimentary engagement session is really an audition or practice session for both the photographer and the clients.
Discuss with your spouse-to-be all the photographers you visited. Spend time together comparing the packages available from the photographers you BOTH like. Decide which photographer and package best fits your needs and expectations.
Remember to think about the quality of the final products when considering several different price ranges, the experience you will receive from each photographer & the genuineness of the photographers. Does the photographer you like seem to be really interested in photographing your wedding? Do you both click with a particular photographer? If you do, it should be a no brainer. If both parties, client & vendor are happy to have found each other, if is most likely a match made in heaven. I usually get a feeling from potential clients at our first meeting and if they decide to book me, I know it is mutual. Then, when we plan & do the engagement session, the clients confidence in me grows strong and I get the opportunity to build a friendship with them and get to know more about them as individuals and a couple before the wedding day. On the wedding day, we all usually feel like old friends and I am just the friend with the camera giving instructions at the wedding.
I hope this blogpost covers some of your questions regarding where to start to look for a wedding photographer for your own wedding. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I would love any opportunity to make a new friend and help educate someone on what the key elements are to finding the right wedding photographer for you.
Marianne Bley is a wedding, newborn & first year photography specialist that is passionate about capturing life's milestones, both big and small, for couples and growing families and assisting them in preserving their images by creating stunning wall displays and tabletop heirloom products to grace their living spaces with the ones they hold most dear to their hearts for generations to come.
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