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Monday, January 27, 2014



Problem: how to find a wedding photographer that offers the products you need.

Solution: Meet with photographers face to face and inspect the products they offer, looking for heirloom quality albums and large prints that are only available from professional photographers.

It’s great that photographers offer lots of unique products, but it can get a little overwhelming with so many options out there.  On top of all of the cool unique things a photographer may offer, there are a few key products that every bride should look for: albums, large prints and digital negatives.  These three items are absolutely essential for preserving the memory of one of the most important days in your family’s history.  These are the first family heirlooms of the new family you’re creating on your wedding day, so they should be heirloom quality products that your family will be proud of for generations.  Fortunately, professional photographers have exclusive access to the finest quality products that are not available to the general public.  Any photographer can provide digital negatives, but only professional photographers can offer heirloom quality products worthy of your special day.  Here’s what to look for in each product:

1.  Albums: Your wedding album is the single most important wedding product you’ll purchase.  It’s going to be telling the story of your wedding for generations.  It may be your only major family heirloom that will literally be preserved forever and it may be the last documented record of your family elders, including your parents.  So the wedding album is very important!  You want one that will be a work of art in and of itself, and that will last forever.  This is where hiring a professional photographer pays off, because pros have access to heirloom quality albums that are not available to consumers.  Meet with potential photographers and inspect their albums closely.  Ask them about the durability of their albums and listen for them to use words like “handmade,” “archival inks,” and “museum quality papers.”  Ask them if their albums are available to the general public.  If they are, it’s a sign the photographer is either not a professional, or are not interested in offering their clients the highest quality products available, both of which are a bad sign.

2.  Large Prints:  As important as your wedding album is, large prints are the wedding artwork that will brighten up your day every day.  Albums will be put on shelves and in boxes for preservation, digital files will be buried on your computer or on a disc in a drawer, but you will see your large prints every day.  And every time you walk past your artwork you’ll get a little tinge of the emotions you experienced at your wedding, and trust me, it will put a smile on your face!  And size matters!  I recommend you get your wedding artwork printed as large as possible, with 20”x30” being the minimum size to consider for your large artwork (personally I prefer 40”x60”).  But why not save money by making your own prints instead of buying them from a professional photographer?  The reason is because printing is itself an art form and each print requires the special attention of a trained professional with printing experience.  Each print should be finely tuned for the medium it is being printed on, such as photo paper, fine art paper, canvas, metal, acrylic, etc.  This is especially true for large prints that are going to be proudly displayed on your walls.  Professional photographers will make sure your prints look perfect.  Pros have probably made thousands of prints and tested a variety of print labs, so they can save you a lot of time and effort by getting your prints right the first time, while saving you the hassle of dealing with print labs yourself.  And again, pros have access to professional print labs that offer archival and museum quality products that are not available to the general public.

3.  Digital Negatives:  It’s a popular misconception that digital negatives are for making your own albums and prints, so at this point you may be asking yourself why you would even need digital negatives if your photographer is supplying albums and large prints.  The answer is that your digital negatives are for archiving and not printing.  It’s true that you can make your own prints from digital negatives, but most people never do.  Why not?  Because it’s a hassle!  And most people have very little experience making prints and albums.  Meanwhile, a professional wedding photographer has years of experience and can offer you products that you can’t get yourself.  So for most people, digital negatives are for archiving and backup, not printing.  Your kids may pull them out one day to make a print for your 50th wedding anniversary, or you may have a few prints made for the funeral of a loved one that attended your wedding.  You may need them someday, so be sure to back up your digital negatives in multiple locations (including online in the cloud) so that you and your family will have access to them no matter what may happen.  Hopefully your photographer will also keep a backup.  When meeting potential photographers ask how they will deliver the digital negatives.  Are they going to give you a disc that will get scratched up, or a cheap USB drive that will get corrupted?  Ask to see the products and judge for yourself.  Lastly, ask potential photographers what your printing rights will be, and to see a copy of the print release you will receive with the digital negatives.

Key tip:  Seek out a wedding photographer that offers albums and large prints, and save yourself the hassle of trying to make prints on your own so you can start enjoying your beautiful wedding artwork as soon as possible!  Anyone can provide digital negatives, but only pros can offer the finest quality products worthy of your first family heirloom.

Next tip 5 here.

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