Congratulations! You have a new sparkly ring on your all-important left hand, armed yourself with a stack of wedding magazines and started your Pinterest board. Let’s do this planning thing!
Step One: Take a moment to enjoy your engagement. You are on the cusp of a new beginning. Paint your nails, show off your ring, have a date night, and make a list together of all the things you are looking forward to most about being married. Don’t get so caught up in the planning that you forget to immerse yourself in the joy that comes with this new season.
Step Two: Book your photographer. You’ve probably heard that it is essential to book your photographer early in the wedding planning process. This is solid advice. Our calendars fill up quickly, and we like to help you in making important decisions as you plan your wedding day, such as day of timelines, finding locations with the best light and recommending vendors we know will take good care of you. But, while it is necessary to choose your photographer early, it is also important not to rush this process. Here are our tips for choosing an experienced photographer that will be the right fit for capturing your special day. (Hint: it’s probably me!)
Are they a professional?
This is a big one! There are so many photographers to choose from, and many with varying degrees of experience. Don’t let price be your deciding factor when selecting a photographer. Often photographers who are new to the industry will offer introductory pricing to gain experience. I’m not knocking this method, but ask yourself, do you want YOUR special day to be someone’s practice session? Weddings are a series of fast-paced decisions, and experience plays a great deal into your images turning out beautifully. An experienced photographer knows how to find the best light and make a less than ideal location look incredible. They are able to handle the little snags (every wedding has them!) with grace and patience.
But how can you tell if they are a professional? Ask to see a full wedding, from start to finish! An adept photographer will be able to manage both natural light and darkly lit reception halls easily. Their work will not be grainy or out of focus but beautifully lit, and of consistent quality no matter what the situation.
Do you love their style?
Loving the style of the photographer that you choose is key to relishing your wedding photos. Your photographer is in charge of telling your love story. Make sure they are skilled at capturing all aspects of the wedding day so that no part of your story is left untold.
If you love editorial style images, then look for a portfolio with strong bridal portraits and couple posing. Documentary style photography usual captures emotions well, but will not include styled images of your wedding details. Storytelling photography studios focus on doing both, creating a balance of magazine-worthy photos and plenty of emotional moments.
When you trying to decide which style appeals to you most, imagine looking back on your wedding photos in 5….10….15 years from now. Do you think you will still love them? If you are attracted to a current photography trend, think through what it is about the style that you love. 10 years ago, use of selected color was all the rage, but these days black and white photos with electric blue eyes and blood red roses are hung in the back of closets and not on the walls. Make sure the photographer you are investing in will create images that stand the test of time.
Do you like them?
Let’s be honest…not everyone you meet is is going to be a great fit. Your photographer will be alongside you on your wedding day, even more than your future spouse. You have to trust them, and you must like being around them. Choose someone who makes you feel safe with entrusting your memories of this important day. Make sure they answer your questions thoroughly and that they are mindful of your wants for your special day.
Check their reviews! What others say about their experiences with them is vitally important. If they aren’t trustworthy with other’s weddings, then they likely won’t be with yours either.
So, you found a photographer whose style you like…what now? Make sure they photograph all Does their portfolio show all the aspects of the wedding day that you wish to have captured at your own? Can you envision yourself as one of the brides in their portfolio? Often times, we can be distracted by the scenery and lush decorations featured in a portfolio, but if you strip away those elements, do you still love their work?
Pricing and Image Delivery
Setting and sticking to a wedding budget is no easy task! Sacrifices may have to be made, but photography shouldn’t be one of them. So much of your wedding day is fleeting; wedding flowers wilt, clothes get dirty and torn, invitations get tossed but your photos? All those details are gone, destroyed by time. Photographs choose the moments of your day that stay, allowing you to relieve them. These photos are heirlooms and should be treated as such.
Determine your budget for photography before you start looking for a photographer. Be prepared for additional fees such as albums and second shooters as these are not always included in standard packages. Be realistic in your search. If your budget for a car is a Honda, you aren’t going to go shopping at the Porsche dealership right? We are all willing to make little concessions to get what we want though, so if you do fall in love with a photographer that is a little out of the budget, consider trimming other expenses out of the budget. Embossed cocktail napkins are very elegant, but they do end up in the trash at the end of the night. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on the photographer of your dreams?
Signing a Contract
This last little detail is one that is often overlooked in the wedding industry but is essential to ensure that your day is handled with professionalism and care. A good contract will protect both you and the photographer. Make sure it includes your timeline for delivery, what additional products are covered, the amount of contracted time for the wedding day and other details that you discuss while in the booking process.
Some Additional Questions to Ask Your Potential Photographer
How do they handle different lighting situations?
If you have fallen in love with a photographer that primarily shoots weddings in sun-drenched fields, but are getting married in a gothic cathedral, make sure they can handle the lighting challenges that may present.
Do they have back up equipment?
Camera’s are mechanical tools, and they do fail from time to time. Make sure your photographer has sufficient equipment to keep shooting even if they run into gear issues.
How long will it take to receive images? How many images should you expect?
This will vary from photographer to photographer, but make sure you voice your expectations and understand their process. This will help ease your anxious mind while you wait on images and avoid disappointment if you don’t receive as many photos as your Matron of Honor did at her wedding.
If you have questions for a wedding photographer, I would love to help you answer them. Drop them into the comment box below and I will respond as soon as we can. You are welcome to message me through my contact form as well. I would love to serve you during this special time in your life!