28 Jan

Choosing Your Birmingham Wedding Photographer

Your wedding photographer is the one person you will spend the most time with both before, during, and after the wedding. It is important that you are a good personality match as well as appreciate the photographer’s style.

The first thing you want to do is ask your friends who have recently married who they hired, why they hired them (best photographer they saw; cheapest price; most hours covered), and would they hire them again. After you get a few names, visit the web. View the images with a critical eye. Visit not only the website, but check out their blog and their facebook page and anywhere else you might find them. Do all the images look the same from one wedding to the next? Do the subjects in the photos appear to be having a good time? Are the photographs correctly exposed? Can you see light in the eyes of those who are photographed close up? Are all the images overexposed (this seems to be the rage right now, but I promise they will look very dated in just a few years)? After you have decided on two or three photographers, schedule appointments to meet with them as soon as possible. You don’t want to lose them because your date is already booked.

Every photographer has his or her own “style” – this is not only the images we produce but also the way we interact with our clients. Do you want someone who stands back and shoots what they see? Do you want a photographer who interacts with you and your guests? Do you want all “candid” photographs or a blend of both candids and formals (formals in wedding vocabulary typically means those family group photos where if they weren’t posed, you’d never get a photo of all of those people looking the same direction at the same time!)? Do you want two photographers (usually a man and woman to make the bride and groom more comfortable during those “getting ready” photos)? Does the photographer use off camera as well as on camera flash? Off camera flash is important for the reception hall as well as for photographs taken during the day. If you are not bothered by “raccoon eyes,” then you can feel comfortable hiring the photographer who claims to be an “available light only” photographer. Otherwise, hire a photographer who owns off camera flashes and knows how to use them. In other words, experience does matter.

Do you want your photographs in a leather album individually matted with one or two photographs per page or are you more interested in the storybook album where the images are printed on the paper and bound in a book? (NOTE: Not all storybooks are equal in quality! If you hire a “cheap” photographer who includes a book in your packages, you can bet that your book will be cheap and quite possibly not archival. Archival is important if you want to be able to share your wedding memories with future generations. Ask if the paper and ink are archival!)

Click this link to view one of our latest weddings to view the complete book! Please note the the sample shows a line in the middle of the page…our books are layflat without a line or gutter in the middle of the book.

Digital negatives are a great way to be able to store your wedding images in the event of loss. You will also be able to get fairly decent prints from the negatives as long as you stay small. The reason there could be a loss of quality is not that the digital negative is faulty, it’s that the consumer printers are not even close to the quality of professional printers….most likely there will be color shifts so the images look too orange or too red or too blue—basically too much of any one color. In addition, most photographers will do a more thorough job of touching up the photograph if it is going to be printed for wall art—those pesky strands of hair that won’t stay put, sweat beads ‘cause you know you’re going to sweat!, and blemishes will be taken care of by your professional to ensure that the photograph you hang is worthy of being called artwork. Some photographers include digital negatives in every package; some in just the higher priced packages; some will sell them as an ala carte item. Before you compare photographers and their packages, be sure you know what items are truly important to you and why. (As a side note, technology is always changing. If your photographer provides digital negatives, it is then your responsibility to put those images on the next generation of storage device—the photographer will have, more than likely, purged your images from their storage.) A print release is not the same as a copyright release. The photographer will want to retain her copyrights to your wedding images so they can be used in marketing her services.

If you would like more information on things to look for while you are planning your wedding, click on the link to get your copy of “9 Questions for Vendors” or if you want to ask me questions about wedding photography. I’ll be glad to help. I can be reached at I’m not the only wedding photographer in Birmingham; I just want to be your wedding photographer!

Gretchen Birdwell is a Certified Professional Photographer and has been a professional photographer for over 10 years. She has a studio in Helena and an office in Cahaba Heights.

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Gretchen B Photography_Birmingham Portrait Photographer Diana


Our sessions start at $245 and include complimentary professional hair and makeup in studio and your choice of studio or on location.

Gretchen B Photography Birmingham Portrait Photographer Jenny


“Worth every minute and every dime. I can't even begin to tell you happy I am with these photos, tho crying over them might be a start.” -Jenny Taylor

Gretchen B Photography Birmingham Portrait Photographer Renae

F. A. Q.

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