It’s not too long ago (okay, 6 years) that I was starting the search for our own wedding photographers. I kind of lucked out – I was posting on the community boards of The Knot at the time, and saw someone’s engagement pictures that I absolutely loved. I went to the photographer’s website and after seeing a few of their weddings, was pretty much sold! When we met, we clicked, and to this day, I am so happy that my husband and I invested in our wedding photography.
It can be intimidating finding the right photographer. Hopefully these tips will help you in qualifying the team who will capture your wedding day memories!
First, try to figure out what style you like. There are a lot of different words photographers use to define their style. I have used words like “clean,” “modern,” “photojournalism,” and “stylish portraits” to describe my own style. Some photographers classify themselves as “natural light” photographers. Some have a distinctive vintage style that comes through in both their editing and the clients they attract. In either case, it boils down to you know it when you see it! There’s no easy way to search for photographers based on style, so you may have to look at a lot of blogs to figure out what you like. One of my last wedding clients said during our initial consult she liked the golden light she saw so often in many of my images. I explained to her that type of light is basically only around about an hour before the sun sets, so knowing that this was already a priority of hers, we would make sure to work her wedding timeline around that golden hour. You should definitely tell your photographer what really appeals to you in their work, so they can strive to produce that same quality for you.
Determine your budget. Photography packages range wildly, from hours to services and products. You and your fiance should determine what it is you want once your wedding day is over – digital files? A custom designed album? Do you want an engagement session? Some photographers have packages that range in hourly coverage (anywhere from 6 to 9+). Sometimes booking the smallest hourly coverage either means you don’t have as much time for getting ready shots, or your photographer may leave before all your reception events are completed. By letting your photographer know what you want covered, he or she will be able to help you select the right package for your event.
Meet potential photographers. Unless you’re having a destination wedding (and even then, there’s always Skype!), it’s important to meet the person who will be tailing you literally the. entire. day. It’s a great opportunity to not only ask questions about their work, but see products like albums in person. I always love getting to know the couple a bit during the meeting – sometimes couples don’t opt for engagement pictures, so getting a chance to talk to them in a relaxed setting makes covering the wedding a little easier.
Ask how the photographer covers a wedding. This will give you insight into how the day will go. I tell clients my coverage is split into 3 types of photography: photojournalism, which is the majority of the day, capturing the events as they unfold; family formals, which typically take place after the ceremony; and lifestyle portraits, which is a smaller section of the day devoted to getting images of the bridal party and then just the bride and groom. As the photographer explains his or her way of covering a wedding day, this may prompt some additional questions from you.
Ask to see a few full galleries. This is particularly important if you are leaning towards a photographer with a heavy editing style. I have a clean editing style, and most of my adjustments are minor – essentially making sure the image is good to be printed. Significant retouching is not done on all photos, and this is the case with a lot of photographers. A full gallery will give you a sense of what you can expect to see in your final digital files, if those are part of your package.
Ask for details on your services and products. If an album is part of your package, make sure you see the album in person, if possible. Many photographers specify a certain number of spreads (or images) for their albums, so it’s worth asking if the size of the sample album is what you could expect to receive. If your package includes digital files of any type, what are your rights? Most photographers own the copyright, but provide clients with a print release. If you want an engagement session, does the photographer have any location restrictions, or a travel fee?
Ask what to expect after the wedding. Will your photographer be posting your wedding on any form of social media post-wedding, and if so, how long will it take? When will your gallery be posted, or when will the final files be sent to you? If an album is part of your package, what is the design process, and how long post-wedding will you see the first draft?
Share anything specific you want in your wedding day coverage. I, for instance, don’t work off a shot list, but I am always willing to honor a client’s special requests! At Gloria + Michael’s wedding at Serendipity Gardens, they wanted to duplicate a wedding photo from Gloria’s parents’ wedding day. Of course I was happy to do it! Sharing requests is a good way to make sure you and your photographer are on the same page.
See if they have reviews online, or if any of your vendors have recommendations. Sites such as Wedding Wire and WeddingChannel.com have photographer profiles with reviews. It’s always good to see what previous clients have to say about the photographers you’re considering! Your venue and other wedding day vendors are also great sources for referrals.
Go with your gut. If you’ve decided to take the time to meet with a photographer, you already like their style. Meeting them and getting a better understanding of how they will cover your event, and what is expected after your wedding, should help you to feel comfortable with your photographer and guide you in making a final decision. Good luck!
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