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PHOTOGRAPHBY Experience: Professional photogra-
phers view photographing weddings as their career and passion in life. They will have many years of experience photo- graphing weddings, evident in an exten- sive portfolio and referral list. Pros know how to deal with the unpredictable nature of a wedding and can quickly adapt to any situation, whether a change in weather or camera or equipment mal- functions. Don’t be afraid to ask prospec- tive photographers how many years of experience they have and to see their images from a variety of weddings. Every photographer has a style, and reviewing their images can help you determine if their style is right for you. Are the images formal with an eye for the perfect picture or do they have a photojournalist style, capturing the hidden moments when no one is looking? Look for images that you can see yourself in.
Education: A professional photogra- pher will be educated in photography, whether through college coursework or specialized training. They should be very knowledgeable on lighting, posing and all the technical aspects of photography. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about
their education as they will give you a true sense of the photographer’s com- mitment to their craft: Did they earn a four-year degree at a university; have they earned any advanced photography degrees and/or certifications by any pro- fessional organizations like PPA? Many professional photographers continually upgrade their skills through educational opportunities offered through profes- sional associations.
Professionalism: From their website to the way they present themselves, a professional photographer will exude professionalism and have a reputable business. When you meet a photographer for the first time, ask yourself the follow- ing questions: Is the work professionally displayed on their website and in-per- son? Are reviews readily available, such as a bride’s thank-you note? Do they provide you with a referral list without hesitation? Good questions to ask pro- spective photographers include: Do they have liability insurance; do they have backup photographers and equipment in case something goes wrong on your big day; how long will it take to get printed images; what will happen to your images
after the wedding (are they backed up to a hard drive or cloud; how long will they be kept)?
Envisioning Your Love Story
Every photographer has his or her own unique style, whether classic or modern. While you should have a vision in mind for your wedding photography, it is important to remember that professional photogra- phers are true artists.
“A professional photographer offers a fresh perspective and shows the bride and groom something they may have never considered before – that’s when the real magic happens,” Yates explains. “They may notice special qualities about the couple or endearing interactions that will result in stunning images. The more creative flexi- bility you can give them, the more artistic and unique your photos will be.”
If you have an initial consultation with a professional photographer and the fit isn’t right, keep searching for someone that best matches your personality and style. According to Yates, you should feel a comfort level with your photogra- pher. He or she will be working closely

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