So he asked and you answered with a resounding yes! You wear your ring with pride and now it is time to start the planning. As soon as you have your venue confirmed you need to confirm your wedding photographer, so here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Whats your style? There are so many wonderful styles of photography out there and it is important to settle on a style prior to making a final decision. Do you want traditional looking images that are posed similar to the ones of your parents? Do you want your whole wedding shot on film? Or a whole day documented in a photojournalistic approach? I would highly recommend doing some research around photography styles and seeing what catches your eye. Here are a few different detailed descriptions as listed on Here Comes The Guide. Do you connect with their work? Can you imagine you and your beau in place of the couple you see on their website. If so this is a photographer you should reach out to.
(Image on the left is an example of fine art, image on the right is an example of traditional)
2. Know your rights. Most photographers stipulate in their contracts that they maintain ownership of their images. Meaning they can use it for advertising, on social media, and more. Also, they may stipulate that in order to share your images on social media that you only share those with their watermark, or giving them photography credit. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it is important that you understand how in which your images will be used. You also want to ensure that you are given a print release for your images. Some photographers may require you to purchase this, where others don’t require an additional purchase.
3. Do you mesh? This person is going to be participating in one of the most intimate times of your life. It is important that you get along with your photographer and have established a level of trust. A lot of this can be established via social media. Check out their blog, their Facebook page, and their communication style. I have often found myself connected to others on social media because I can see parallels in our lives. We both love dogs, we both have kids, we both recently purchased our first home. I also have found myself connected because of how they are able to connect others through their imagery. It is important that you and your photographer can have open and honest conversations about your ideas and your likes and dislikes.
4. Have they shot a wedding like yours? So your wedding is completely indoors, in a church followed by a reception inside a hall. This is not to get into a discussion around natural light photographers versus dramatic light photographers, but more an understanding of what your photographers capabilities are. Ask the question don’t assume. If you have found a photographers work that you love but everything on their website shows natural light images, ask to see work that they have done in low light situations, and visa verse. If everything you see on their website is dramatic light, but you know you want your bridal portraits shot in natural light, ask the question. A photographer running an established wedding business will more then likely have experience in low light situations and natural light situations, and can show you examples in galleries not located on their websites.
(Image on left is a low light situation, image on right shows an outdoor lighting situation)
5. Set up an interview. Either in person or via phone, there is nothing wrong with requesting an interview with a photographer. This is another opportunity to see if your personalities mesh, as well as establish a different level of trust. Emails and text are great but sometimes you need to hear the energy behind the words to know if this is the right person for you to work with. You can also take this as a chance to review their work on a deeper level, such as their wedding albums and how their work looks on print. Lastly, you can check their professionalism, do they arrive on time, do they appear presentable? Remember photographers are artist, so they probably will not show up in a three piece suit. I have known photographers that looked like they stepped off of a runway and others who have pink hair and nose piercings, and both produce amazing work, are professional, punctual and in love with what they do, which leads me to my next point.
6. Are they in love with what they do? Now I might be getting into some murky waters here, but since this is my top 10 pointers for finding a rockin’ photographer here goes. I have been really fortunate to run in circles of photographers who are some of the most passionate, artistic, and creative people I have ever met. Their passion, love, and painstaking attention to detail comes out in every single image. No one is perfect, but what feels perfect is their passion and love for what they do. You want this person as your wedding photographer. I have met with more then one client who shared with me that they appreciated that I didn’t make them feel like I was doing them a favor by being a part of their day. I was shocked to hear that this type of mentality existed. Your wedding photographer should make you feel like every moment of your day is just as important to them as it is to you.
7. Tell me a story. When you think back on your wedding day you probably won’t remember much of the details, but more of how you felt. I was married four years ago and I couldn’t begin to tell you what my bouquet looked like or the details in my veil. That is why you want a photographer who can curate a story. Someone who is comfortable capturing the details and the emotion of your day. If I can barely remember from four years ago, imagine twenty years from now? Find a photographer that can be a story teller for you, that can lay out your day from when you are putting the finishing touches on your lipstick, your groom is adjusting his tie, until you are getting sweaty on the dance floor. Of course how long your story is told depends on which collection you have selected with your photographer, it is important to discuss timelines with your photographer to ensure that your day is captured in the timeline discussed.
8. Can I afford you? That is the question of the hour right? You love their work and everything else lines up, now it is time to discuss cost. In the world of photography it is important to have a clear understanding of the cost. What are you getting for their services? Every photographer is different when it comes to this, and there are of course market trends as well. I am a firm believer in having an experience when I am paying for something. From the time I start engaging with the person until my finished product is delivered what is my experience? I am also a firm believer of ‘you get what you pay for’. There is nothing that can beat quality, no matter any amount of albums, prints, usb’s those can not make up for a quality photographer. If you have set your photography budget for $3500 and your dream photographer is $4000, I am the first one to say, come up with the $500! Your wedding day is worth it, but if your have set your budget at $3500 and your dream photographer is $7500, then I would recommend that you search for someone within your target budget. Just like you wouldn’t haggle with your hairdresser or your plumber, I would not recommend haggling with your photographer, however after careful review of their packages you should ask about possibly swapping or upgrades for items you know you will not get use from. I have heard over and over that wedding photography is expensive, but keep in mind that even though it was one day for you, it is several weeks for us. On the day of we may carry anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 worth the camera gear, give or take. All the hours spent on editing, software, taxes, insurance, licenses, shipping, studio expenses and so much more. It is important to remember again, you are getting what you paid for, and that should be quality, time and an amazing experience.
9. Confirm who will be shooting your day. If you are looking at a larger photography studio the name on the wall may not be the person capturing your day, and that does not mean you should shy away. It just means that that lead photographer has taken, in some cases, years to train and work with other amazing photographers to shoot in their style. Whether or not you are dealing with a studio or an individual you should always ensure there will be a second shooter. Most include this a part of their collections, and others have this option as an add on, and I highly recommend it. A great second shooter will capture angles and moments that your lead may not, as they can not be in two places at once.
(Beautiful image captured by my second shooter as this groom saw his bride for the first time! His jaw literally hit the floor!! Because I was covering the bride I would have never gotten this image without my awesome and trusted second shooter)
10. What about the gear? So as a photographer I have seen arguments back and forth about gear, the right gear, the wrong gear, and also who cares about gear?? As a bride or groom, gear is probably not as important as it is to a photographer but I have added this for a few reasons. It doesn’t take the most expensive camera to capture a lovely memorable moment. I recently saw some of the most amazing pictures on a group and the photographer had all of her gear stolen and was shooting on a commercial camera. I mean you would have never known the difference her work was memorable, engaging and creative. Most of your more established photographers travel to weddings with cameras that have dual memory cards, in case one fails, and multiple cameras. I recently saw a video of a photographer who was capturing the bridal party departing the ceremony and she literally fell into a lake, camera and all! Talk about a horrible experience, her memory card was saved but the camera was a goner. Luckily like many professionals a back up was packed and ready. Things happen and you want to work with someone who comes as prepared as possible. This is again where a second shooter comes in handy. Also, unless you are getting married at 8am in the morning, your photographer should be prepared for low light situations. Today most professional cameras can handle a low light situations with no problem and most photographers also have some sort of additional lighting when needed, wether it be a video light or a camera flash. Ask the questions, as you want to ensure no memories of your day are lost because of gear. You want to know their back-up plan.
(Me dual camera shooting a lil film and a lil digital)
Happy shopping and I hope these tips will help you in making a decision to identify a trusted, amazing photographer.