I remember my hunt for the perfect wedding photographer. It was overwhelming, anxiety ridden, and at times exhausting. You’ve gotta love Google, but it produced a never-ending stream of wedding photographer upon wedding photographer. I swear, it felt like days had gone by, looking at so many different portfolios and websites, and yet I still had no clarity on who to choose to capture our day. Sure, I had those select few who’s portfolios I had always loved as a wedding photographer myself, but given our quick engagement, some of them were not available.
I certainly don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to choosing the “right” wedding photographer, but here are 5 tips to consider:
1. Meet with them
This goes without saying, but meeting someone in person is a totally different experience than solely conversing over email. You get a real sense of their professionalism, their passion for photography, and their personality. I knew that our photographer had to be fun, had to be engaging (since my poor husband lacks enthusiasm in front of the camera) and be willing to go the extra mile for that perfect shot. We have a quirky family…so having a photographer with a bit of quirk as well was essential for me.
2. Ask the right questions
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked what kind of equipment I use or how many weddings I’ve photographed. While these may be important questions to some, I can tell you that even the most amateur camera could probably do just fine. Of course you’d like to expect that as a professional, they have professional-grade gear, but the most important questions you should be asking are ones that count. How do they work with you leading up to the wedding to prepare for the day? What approach do they take throughout the day while taking pictures – are they more photojournalistic or do they get in there and engage with guests and the wedding party to set up the shots that they want? What happens if it rains, if photo-savvy Uncle Joe hijacks family photo time, or if you’re left with 30mins to take photos of the family, wedding party, and couple because hair and makeup took longer than it should? Ask yourself what is most important to you when it comes to a wedding photographer and the questions you ask them will come from the heart and be most valuable to you. That takes me to the next point…
3. Ask yourself the right question
Would you comfortable having this photographer around from start to finish? Would they fit in with the family and make everyone feel comfortable? Is this someone you’d actually like to spend time with? On a day like your wedding day, the answer to these questions should be yes. I’m not saying you should be BFFs come the wedding day, but feeling comfortable enough to be yourself around your photographer will pay off. That person will be there when your dad sees you in your dress for the first time, when the champagne pops and the anticipation mounts before the ceremony, when you see your husband or wife to be for the first time, and when you say “I do”.
Those are THE moments on the big day. Consider what you want out of a photographer during those moments.
4. Do they offer an engagement session as part of their packages?
There’s a reason I include a complimentary engagement session with all of my bookings. In fact, there are a few key reasons.
- For a lot of couples, the wedding day may be their first time EVER having their photo taken professionally. This can be really nerve racking for some. I don’t think it’s fair to have couples show up to their wedding day anxious, nervous, and sweating about having to have their photo taken. Your day should be worry free. Having an engagement session under your belt can really help with these nerves – you know what to expect, and already have a good sense of the approach your photographer is going to take.
- The engagement session is also a really good opportunity to get to know your photographer before the big day. Do you really want them showing up on your wedding day and barely recognizing them? These sessions are a great way to chat, relax, and get to know your photographer beyond the camera. Establishing a relationship with your photographer ahead of time makes those wedding day portraits that much more natural looking. You feel more comfortable being yourself around your photographer, rather than feeling like you have to fill silences and talk about the weather.
- Finally, you end up with photos of yourselves that feel more like you. Sure, you look stunning and incredibly beautiful on your wedding day, but then the wedding dress, makeup and bobbi pins come off and you’re back to being every day you. It’s also an opportunity to take some photos that are a little outside the box. I encourage couples to think about a location or activity that is meaningful to them and representative of their relationship…no matter how weird it may seem. I would LOVE to go to a couple’s home and just shoot them cooking dinner together and cuddling on the couch…if that’s what they like to do together. Sure, it might not be the most picturesque scene you’ve ever seen, but it’s real. It’s every day you.
Bonus: You can use these photos for save the dates or a guest book, to trial your hair and makeup before the big day, or to give to your parents as a “thank you for being awesome parents” gift.
5. LOVE their portfolio, not their price
Like most of us, you’ve become pretty budget savvy while planning your big day. It adds up…in a heart beat. And a photographer is likely one of those big expenses. It’s tempting to want to want to find the most affordable photographer out there, but at the end of the day, what holds more value? Will you really be thrilled to have saved that extra $___, when you get your images back and they do nothing but disappoint?
Find a photographer’s whose work you LOVE, and that fits the style of imagery you are most attracted to. That in itself is worth the extra $. At the end of the day, the food has been eaten, the flowers have wilted, and that epic dance party is a distant memory…until you pull out your wedding album and flip through the photos, reliving those moments like it was just yesterday. Those are the times you’ll thank yourself for spending less on flowers and more on a photographer.
I hope that these tips have helped shed some light into the process of finding the right photographer! :-)