Now I know I’m a little bit biased because I’m a wedding photographer, so obviously I’m going to think wedding photography is important… but just think about it for a minute. You are spending tons of money and tons of time planning your color scheme, your flowers, and all of these little details. But in 10 years are you going to remember what those centerpieces that you paid hundreds of dollars for look like? Probably not. So you want to make sure that you put money into the photographer so that you can get those little details and the special moments captured the way that you want to get them captured.
That is why I decided to give you five tips for choosing a wedding photographer. Now, these five things are not just going to point you straight to me. I know that different people have different tastes in style and different priorities when booking a photographer, so you might read these five things and realize I am not the best fit for you. That is totally okay because your wedding day is about you and you need your wedding photographer to be perfect for you!
This might sound crazy, but I think that looking at a photographer’s personality is really important because they’re going to spend your entire day with you. I have attended friends weddings as a photographer and as a guest, and I feel so much more connected to the friends when I get to photograph their day because I am there before they even have their makeup done, I’m there when they’re soaking up the moments right after they are married when no one else is there, and I’m there with them for all the in-between moments. So if you know that your personality is going to clash with your photographer’s personality, then definitely do not go with that photographer. You want to have some kind of connection with them, because they are going to be an important friend on that day. On that note, if there a photographer who is just going to show up and take pictures and not be a friend and not serve you and take care of you when you need them, then don’t hire them. You’re going to want somebody who’s going to serve you on your day and do so much more than just take pictures.
- Style. There are a lot of different styles when it comes to photography. My personal style is light, airy, joyful, natural, and romantic. I think that a wedding should be captured in a happy and genuine way and I want all of my pictures to reflect that. There are a lot of photographers to go for a darker style, or more muted style, or a moodier style, or more journalistic style and that’s totally fine. I know many photographers who are excellent at what they do but have a very different style preference. But know that if you hire me, your pictures are going to be light and bright and natural and airy and if that’s not what you’re looking for then there are plenty of other photographers are going to do things differently.
- Packages. When you are looking to hire a wedding photographer, you need to think about what your personal priorities are. What’s most important to you? Is having an album really important to you? Is having a canvas really important to you? Is having the digital files so that you can print and share as many as you want important to you? Is having a second shooter important to you? These are all things to consider because different photographers offer a wide variety of packages. For example, I have learned that in order to do the very best job that I can I need to be at a wedding for 8 hours. Not everybody thinks like this. Some photographers will squeeze everything in with 5 hours… more power to them. I used to offer a 6-hour package, but I found that people were booking that package to save money and then they were not getting the coverage that they deserve. So now I only offer an 8-hour package, which is just really simplified things and it guarantees that I’m going to be able to do the best that I can for every couple who books with me. Also, I no longer offer a package without a second shooter. Because again, this was just a money saver for people and it was killing me and they were having to miss out on a lot of variety in their album. A second shooter may not be that important to some of you, but if you want pictures of the groomsmen getting ready and the bridesmaids getting ready at the same time and if you want more variety in your album, they are very important. Basically having a second shooter just guarantees that things are going to go a lot more efficiently and you’re going to have a lot more variety. Plus when I bring my husband, he is able to connect with the groomsmen in a way that I would not be able to, which just makes the day a whole lot more fun. The most important thing to me when booking a wedding photographer was having digital files so that I knew that I could print as many in the future and share as many as I wanted to. So all my packages include digital files. Some photographers don’t do this, which I think kind of gives them the power because you’re always going to have to purchase prints from them. I also do not include multiple prints and multiple canvases with my packages just because I know that is kind of overwhelming and if you have 15 different packages to choose from it’s going to be really stressful to choose. But I have an online site connected to my gallery delivery website so when couples get their final gallery, they can then choose to order exactly what they want when they’re ready. I also do include one package with an album because they are such a beautiful keepsake. So if you are looking for a bare minimum 5-hour photographer that shows up with just one photographer because you want to save money, that’s totally fine; you just have to think about what your priorities are and what is important to you.
- References. Find someone who knows your photographer personally. Just because someone has a few reviews on Google does not mean that they are going to be the best fit for you. So try to reach out to someone who knows that photographer personally. If you reach out and hear negativity, then you might want to choose someone else. Something that is really important to me is a quick turnaround time with galleries; I don’t want you to be waiting several months to get to experience your wedding day through your images. So I work really hard to deliver really quickly. Some photographers overbook themselves or work two jobs which is fine, but they have a lot less time to get your photos done and you might be waiting a couple months to get your photos back. So if a quick turnaround is important to you, then make sure that you have that conversation with your photographer upfront.
- Relationship. I think this goes along with personality, but you definitely want to find a photographer that you are going to be able to have a healthy relationship with. If you try to reach out to a photographer and you get bad vibes from them or they will not communicate with you well in the very beginning, then you’re going to have trouble down the road. So don’t think of your photographer for your wedding day as just another vendor who’s going to show up and take pictures. It’s important for them to know you well and to have a good connection with you so that they can serve you in the best way. This is why I also include a complimentary engagement session and I really try to convince my couples to make time for this. It’s not just so that they will have those photos, but so that we get time to connect with each other so I can serve them well on their wedding day. The last wedding that we were at as soon as we started portraits the couple was joking with us the groom immediately went to nuzzle the bride, which is a pose that I showed them during their engagement session. If we have not done that engagement session, he would have looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to do that right away. So try to find someone that you’re going to connect with and have a good relationship with.
I understand that I might be biased in thinking that choosing a wedding photographer is the most important decision you will make when planning your wedding, but I know from personal experience as a bride and as a wedding photographer that it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
Also, I think there are a lot of ways to cut back in order to save money if you have a tight budget, but honestly I don’t think photography is one of them. If you want someone who is going to have the experience to take care of you and to deliver beautiful images and a timely manner, then you’re going to want to save and make that a priority in your budget.
I hope these tips will help you in your wedding planning process and would love to connect with you!