THE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
While your wedding day may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, your photographs will be an enduring memory for years to come…so you want to get them right! Finding a great wedding photographer is not just a matter of seeing a portfolio you like and booking on sight, but requires careful research and deliberation to find someone whose style, personality and budget fit your own.
So to help you out, we’ve put together ten steps to help you find a great wedding photographer that is perfect for you.
DECIDE ON A PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE
The first step in narrowing down the perfect wedding photographer to capture your special day is deciding on the style you prefer. Perhaps you want those classic portraits in traditional poses, or maybe you want something more documentary which captures the raw emotions and spontaneous moments of your wedding day. Some photographers have a more creative, artistic style than others and there are some who even shoot using film if you want a really vintage edge.
Having a basic idea of the style of photography which resonates with you is an important stepping stone in finding a great wedding photographer to make it happen.
SET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUDGET
When it comes down to it, you’re probably going to have a set budget to work within for your wedding photography and it’s important to establish this from the outset. There might be some room to move, but falling in love with a photographer’s style only to discover that they are thousands of dollars outside of your budget will only lead to disappointment…or debt!
When setting your wedding photography budget, it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford and how important photography is to you on your special day.
GOOGLE SEARCH AND READ REVIEWS
Depending on where you live, a quick google search will probably come up with hundreds of wedding photographers in your area and you can literally lose hours perusing what’s on offer. Online reviews from recent newlyweds are a great place to start for recommendations and from there you can check out the photographer’s website and online portfolio.
When reading reviews, take into consideration the professionalism with which the photographer worked and if they delivered what they said they would. You should also check out their other social media accounts to see what previous clients have said about their personal experience.
GATHER PRICING AND PACKAGES INFO
Once you’ve decided on photographers whose work you like and have good online reviews, it’s important to get an indication of price before you get carried away. If their rates are not indicated online, then send them an email to request a quote.
It’s important to take into consideration that costs will differ depending on how many hours you would like to book them for, if there will be a second shooter supporting the lead photographer and any additional events you would like captured (such as an engagement session). But if you request a quote for their standard “shooting fee” and packages, as well as the type of album you think you’ll want, that will be a good starting point for comparison.
HAVE A CONSULTATION
While many couples do book photographers online without having ever met in person, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting to get to know their personality and learn a little more about their work. Meet them at their studio so you can have a relaxed get together to chat about your wedding plans and what you envision for the photos of your special day. If you can’t do it physically, then at least try and have a Skype or Facetime conversation.
At this stage, it’s also important that you ask exactly who will be shooting your wedding as some studios have multiple photographers working for them. While you might love the style of one particular photographer, another might not be quite what you’re looking for. So make sure you know who will be turning up when you’re getting ready on your special day.
REVIEW FULL WEDDING GALLERIES AND ALBUMS
When meeting in person, it’s also a good idea to ask to see a full gallery from a wedding to get a well-rounded idea of what you might come away with. An online portfolio is often a highlights gallery, showcasing the best work the photographer has to offer. But it’s important to see the whole spectrum of what the photographer captures throughout the day to be sure that you’re heading along the right track.
Also, consider the setting you have chosen for your wedding and ask to see similar examples. If you’re having a sunset ceremony on the beach, then ask to see a wedding album that the photographer has shot in this setting. If you’re having a glamorous ballroom reception, then make sure they have the ability to capture the dramatic lighting and ambiance of the space.
You should also look critically to make sure the photographer captures those special moments that make a wedding day so special. Are they there for those split-second exchanges between the bride and groom, do the images translate the energy and celebration of the dance floor and is there emotion in the facial expressions? If you want a candid, documentary style, you need proof that your photographer can deliver it.
DECIDE IF YOUR PERSONALITIES ‘CLICK’
Remember that your wedding photographer is going to be with you throughout your wedding day, from having your hair and makeup done to intimate nighttime portraits at the end of the evening. So you want them to share your wedding photography vision, be comfortable in their presence and wholeheartedly trust in their expertise.
Somebody that is assertive in grabbing those candid moments, but won’t be intrusive or get in the way of you and your wedding guests. They should be someone that presents in a respectful manner and can offer guidance and suggestions without being intimidating. It might sound like a lot to ask, but there are plenty of wedding photographers out there who tick all the right boxes, so it’s just a matter of finding one whose personality “clicks” with yours.
SELECT A PACKAGE THAT ONLY INCLUDES WHAT YOU TRULY WANT
So you’ve found a photographer whose style you love, whose rates are within your ballpark and whose personality you can engage with. Now it’s time to nut out the details as to which of their packages you want and sign the contract. If you have the funds available, consider hiring a second shooter because it will mean twice as much coverage and will ensure all of those spontaneous, candid moments aren’t missed.
It’s also at this moment you can decide whether you want to do an engagement shoot (which is a great way to become better acquainted with your photographer and feel more comfortable in front of the camera), as well as if you want any other events documented. If you’re having a destination wedding, then you might want to do a portrait or “trash the dress” session the day after. Or perhaps you’re having a multicultural wedding with traditional elements in the days leading up.
If you’re at all concerned you might run over time, it’s usually better to select a longer coverage from the outset as the overtime hourly fee is often at a higher rate. It will also mean one less thing to get stressed about on your wedding day if things are falling behind schedule.
DETERMINE POST-WEDDING DELIVERABLE TIMELINE
When selecting your package, check with your wedding photographer how long it will take to get proofs back and how many images you should expect. Keep in mind that uploading and processing large raw files takes time, so don’t be surprised if they indicate that it will be more than a month.
It’s also a good idea to check if the photographer will retain the rights to the images and where they may be posted, as well as what rights you have to print and use the images on social media (ie. do they need to be watermarked?). Establishing all of these things up front will save you from any surprises after the wedding and make sure both you and your photographer are on the same page.
SOAK UP YOUR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE
If you’ve done your research and put in the time and effort to find a great wedding photographer, then your wedding day photographic experience should be an unforgettable one. It’s not every day that you get to be photographed by a professional looking so radiant and glamorous, so make the most of it!
Then all you have to do is wait in anticipation to see the finished results and a professional wedding album that will be an enduring and beautiful memory of your special day.
“An amazing experience – thank you Kraig, Chris and the team!
You definitely created the experience we wanted and made everything so easy from set up, picking the layout to tunes. Nothing was too difficult. On the day the dance floor was always packed – we (and all of the wedding party) had an amazing time – I think the pictures prove!
Thank you for being part of our special day!”