How To Choose The Perfect Wedding Photographer: Tips for Stress-free Planning
You've met your soulmate and are in love. Oh my goodness, you're engaged! Now what?! I'm sure that's what you are thinking, right? If you have never planned a wedding before, than I'm sure you're not even sure where to start. I get this all the time from newly engaged brides. They are so excited, because the one thing they have been dreaming of since they were little girls: getting married, is now finally a reality. My biggest piece of advice on where to start - research and book all of your vendors as soon as you possibly can, as we all are booked 12-18 months out in any given year. This includes your venue, photographer, videographer, DJ, as well as other vendors for your wedding.
But today I want to discuss the process on choosing your photographer, as I feel that it's one of the most important aspects of the big day! Your wedding images will be the only tangible part of your day (unless you have video, then you'll have that too!), that remains. The cake and dinner food will be eaten, the dress will sit in a closet, the flowers will wilt, but the memories captured will be there for generations.
1.) Select Your Date & Venue: Most photographers will not accept a wedding until a date and location have been chosen. We need to know this information to determine if we have the date open and so we can figure out if there will be any travel fees involved.
2.) Research: Once you have decided on a date and venue, then it's time to start looking at photographers. Make sure to check out several, and ask lots of questions. View their work, look at their info pages to learn more about them, and check out their facebook page.
3.) Budget: Determine your approximate budgeted amount for the photography. This will help you to know how much money you can pay for a photographer, and will probably narrow down your list. However, you can always cut costs elsewhere to be able to afford the photographer you really want and some even offer payment plans (as do I), to spread out the costs over time. Knowing your budget price point helps you in this part of the process.
4.) Style: This is one of the most important aspects of choosing your photographer. You need to know the shooting and editing styles that you like. Every photographer has their own unique style, so you need to make sure that theirs fits yours. Shooting styles include classic, artistic, documentary, dramatic, and lifestyle. As for me, the bulk of my work is considered documentary, fine art artistic. I love to show the true emotions and connections and to capture the little things. I'm always watching what is going on around me and I often hear from my couples that I got an image of something they either don't remember or didn't know even happened. A lot of times, you'll find a photographer that has a mix of these styles. Some are even what we call "hybrid shooters", where they use both film and digital formats. I do this in my photography business, because it allows me to be just a little more creative with my end result. Editing styles can also vary from photographer to photographer. One might be light & airy, while another might be moody and have a lot of deep tones (also me); this is especially important and these styles are completely different. A tip to keep in mind, you can't book with a photographer who produces moody with deep tones, and then expect a light & airy edit. If you want a specific style, you need to book a photographer that already utilizes it. My couples often book with me for my style, with price being secondary.
5.) Lighting Techniques: The access to light is so vital in photography. We have to have a light source of some kind - natural or artificial in order to produce images. You need to know if the photographer's you're looking at can work well in "low light", because weddings usually have some point in the day where the lighting isn't ideal. And that is where artificial light comes in. They must be able to work well in dark churches, or reception halls. I personally use OCF (Off Camera Flash) when I need to and more specifically during the reception. It creates the most flattering and even light, that looks amazing for all of the events including dances.
6.) Inquiring: Your next step is to inquire with the photographers you have narrowed down to. Ask them questions about their style, pricing, and any other information you want to know. Provide them with your wedding details, and then make an informed decision from there.
7.) Book Your Photographer: Once you have gone down the list, and have chosen the right wedding photographer, it's now time to let them know they're the one! At this point, most photographers will setup an in-person booking consultation with you (which I also do!), so that you can meet them, see samples of their products (i.e. albums, prints, ect.), go over detailed forms and the wedding contract, and then finally pay your retainer to secure your date.
I hope these tips help you in your wedding planning journey and give you a better idea of what to expect! If you are looking for a photographer and would like to know if I have your date available, feel free to send me an inquiry here.I'd love to chat with you about your best day ever.