Choosing the perfect photographer for your wedding is an important decision that can quickly becoming overwhelming for many couples. First, there are A LOT of choices out there! Regardless of where you live, there are likely hundreds of photographers in your area just waiting for your inquiry. So I’ve put together a list of things to consider when photographer shopping to help make this process a little more fun and less stressful for you =)
These are not specifically arranged in an order of importance but more about helping narrow things down as quickly as possible.
What type of wedding are you planning?
Not all wedding photographers shoot all types of weddings. In fact many photographers specialize in a certain type of wedding. Some are purely adventure based, some specialize in large religious based ceremonies, others in smaller and more intimate weddings, some in destination weddings, and some in LGBT weddings. Of course there is cross over in all genres of weddings, but deciding the type of wedding ceremony/reception you are planning on having will help narrow your photographer search.
Once you have a pretty good idea of the type of wedding you would like to have, you can start searching for photographers that have those types of images in their portfolios or even specialize in those types of weddings.
Once you have an idea about the type of wedding you’re planning on having, it’s time to consider the style of wedding photography that you are drawn to. Do you like light and airy images or more dark and moody images? Muted colors vs bold colors? Do you want a style more focused on candids or more about creative images?
Every photographer has their own distinct style that they have developed over their career. It’s important to find one that matches the look and vibe you enjoy. If you want light and airy images, hiring a photographer with a dark and moody portfolio may be a disappointment for you. It’s always best to hire the photographer who’s style and aesthetic matches the look you like, rather than hoping the photographer will change their style to fit your wedding.
Look beyond the portfolio
A wedding photographer’s portfolio is heavily curated to show their very best work, usually with no more than an image or two from each wedding in it. It’s designed as a highlight real to capture your attention and be as impressive as possible.
You absolutely should ask potential photographers to see entire wedding galleries, and be wary of anyone that hesitates to provide examples to you. You definitely want to see how they deal with all of the different lighting scenarios throughout the day, the different events throughout the day, and the consistency in which they edit/deliver their final images. Most photographers can put together a 20-30 image portfolio that is stunning, but it’s the other 97% of the images that they are delivering that matter!
Ideally you’ll want to see images from weddings that might be similar to yours. So don’t be afraid to ask to see things in a similar scenario, indoors/outdoors, day/night etc. while also paying attention to all of the types of photos they are delivering (candid photos, family photos, details photos, ceremony photos, reception).
You knew this one was coming at some point LOL, but it’s important and will absolutely be a key in finding the right photographer for you. Deciding on your wedding photography budget will help narrow your search and keep you on track as it relates to your entire wedding budget. Obviously every couple sets their budget according to their priorities, so deciding how much of your budget you can allocate to your photos will help frame all of your decisions as you move forward and start inquiring with potential photographers.
As you begin your search, you’ll quickly see that photographer pricing and package structure is all over the map. Some will have their full pricing available on their website, some will have starting prices to give you a baseline idea of what they may cost, and some will have no pricing info publicly at all available and will require an inquiry to get that information.
Likewise the way each photographer packages their services will vary greatly as well. Some will have an all inclusive approach that will have a larger up front price but will include everything you’ll want, some will have initial pricing with additional add on options or features, and some will be strictly a la carte and will ask you to create the wedding package you’d like based on adding only the items you want.
There are no hard and fast rules for how to approach this, but as the client it will be important for you to understand what is important to you. Do you want full day coverage, or are you okay with partial day coverage? Do you want a second photographer to capture alternate angles throughout the important moments of your day? Do you want an engagement session prior to your wedding day? Are you interested in having a professionally designed and printed wedding album or large wall art created for you or are you content with just digital images?
Did we just become best friends?
Your wedding photographer will likely be one of the few people that you quite literally spend your entire wedding day with. Many wedding photographers offer full day wedding packages that include 8-12 hours of coverage that day, so finding an awesome photographer that you’ll enjoy being around on your wedding day will definitely be something to consider.
Obviously first and foremost you should be choosing a photographer based on their work and the type of images that they will deliver for you, but an equally important part in how your wedding photographs will look is how you feel in them. If you’re uncomfortable, it will show. If you’re stressed out or annoyed, it will show.
What are past couples saying?
There’s really no better way to get some insight into the experience you can expect from a photographer than to hear from their previous clients. Some photographers will feature testimonials on their websites, but you should definitely dig a little deeper than the selection of hand picked raves they’ve chosen to feature. Most photographers will have a Facebook Page, or Google Business page listing, or Wedding Wire/The Knot profile where they will have real life testimonials and reviews written directly by their clients.
If you have questions, never be afraid to ask them. Most photographers will expect it and many will try to schedule an in person meeting or FaceTime/Skype consultation to give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have and to build a relationship with you.
These are important decisions you’re making that will impact your memories of your wedding day forever, so take your time, ask questions, gather your information and make the best decision for you!
I hope this has been helpful for you, and will make your wedding photography shopping a little more enjoyable!