Finding the right wedding photographer can be tricky business. After all, there are a lot to choose from. In fact, it probably seems like every time you turn around you find another one that you weren’t aware of before. And thanks to the rapid advance of technology, their images look good, amazing even. So, why do their prices vary so much? Does it matter if they don’t have a website? Who should I book? When should I book? Why should I book who I book when I book them? It can get confusing pretty quickly, but let us assure you . . .
It’s going to be ok.
Whether you have 5 or 50 photographers on your “possibles” list, there are a few simple steps you can take to trim it down quite a bit. And we can help. We’ve been doing this for a while now (10 years), so we’ve gained some insight into what might help you out. But first, let’s go ahead and clear something up:
No Single Photographer is Perfect for Any and All Couples Out There
But there is one that is perfect for you. And it may not be us. Yep, that’s right. We might not be the right photographers to shoot your wedding. And trust us, finding the right wedding photographer for you makes all the difference. So here’s how you can do that . . .
Finding the Wedding Photographer for You:
Hints, Tips, Strategies, Things to Consider, and General Musings
You likely already have a list of possible photographers, but if you don’t, make one. Search Google, ask friends and family, attend a bridal show. You’ll find a lot. Depending on where you are with your list, you may not have seen much of their photography. So, the very first step is simple – take a look at their work. Don’t do a deep dive yet, just look at their photographs and ask one question, “Do I like what I see?” If the answer is no, they are off the list. Easy peasy.
The Dreaded B-Word
Your budget is probably your largest concern. It usually is for most couples. By now you should have a good idea of your total budget and what you can afford for photography. Coming up with a budget is an art unto itself and we aren’t going to tell you to completely rework what you already have. BUT, before you start ruling out photographers based on price, make sure that you have a budget that actually reflects what is most important to you. Do you just absolutely HAVE TO HAVE those cute guest favors you saw on Pinterest, or is your photography more important. The answer to that is different for everyone. If you haven’t asked yourself questions like that, and if photography is SUPER DUPER important to you, now is the time to reevaluate.
And if you want to make room in your budget quickly, the easiest way is to trim the guest list. Yep, we said it. It’s time for hard choices all around and the truly important thing is that you get what you want.
Once you know your budget reflects reality and what is important to you, take a look at photographers’ prices. Pro Tip: If your budget is close, but just a little short of a photographer’s listed price, make sure you contact them before you rule them out. It won’t hurt to let them know where you are price wise. Most photographers we know would be more than happy to help you somehow.
Pick the Style You Want
For the purposes of this post, we are going to break wedding photographers down into 3 categories: Fine Art, Traditional, and Journalistic. Most photographers will actually do a blend of all three of these, but everyone leans a little more one way than the others. Fine Art, usually involves more posing, more intensive work in post production (photoshop/lightroom), and a higher level of photographer involvement. Traditional, is pretty much what you think it is. It’s primarily centered around posed group and individual portraits. Journalistic usually has the least direct photographer involvement and focuses on documenting the events as they happen, with less staged or posed photos. As you look at different photographers it will get easier to see the differences and you will likely start to gravitate toward a particular style.
Request Full Galleries
Eventually it will start getting a lot harder to differentiate between different photographers. This might be a great time to reach out to the ones left on your list and ask to see a full wedding gallery. Up to this point, you have most likely been looking at a photographers highlights – the pics the display at bridal fairs, post on their website and social media, etc. But what you need to see is a full wedding. Most photographers will be more than happy to send you a link so you can see the full range of what they provide their clients. This way, you can get a good idea of what to expect from individual photogs as far as detail shots, posed group and individual portraits, reception pics, dress photos, etc.
And, if you want to take it a step further, you could even request to see a specific wedding that closely resembles what you are planning. Frankly, it is a lot easier to shoot an outdoor wedding/reception on a partly cloudy day with plenty of shade than it is to shoot in low light venues indoors. You definitely want to see that a photographer can shoot what you are planning.
Compare Apples to Apples
This one can be a little tricky, but all you really have to do is pay attention. When looking at a photographer’s pricing, make sure you understand EXACTLY what you get for that price. At this point you are probably starting to compare photographers to one another – particularly when it comes to price. But it won’t do all that much unless you are comparing apples to apples. Some photographers offer digital files and printed art – canvases, albums, prints, etc. – some offer digital files only, and some don’t offer digital files in their packages at all. This is another good time to think about what YOU want. Do you want beautiful, custom art to hang on the walls of your home or are you really only concerned about having the digital files. Either way, before you remove anyone from your list, make sure you’ve made an accurate comparison. Also, check to make sure whether a second photographer is included or if that is an additional fee. That’s another big one that can be easily overlooked.
Weigh Price vs. Experience Carefully
It is completely understandable to base a significant portion of your decision on how well a photographer fits into your budget. However, it is worth noting that price is often related to experience. There are other factors, of course, but experience is a big one. And it is definitely one that can’t be ignored. Or, at least, you may do so at your own peril. Trust us on this one. We’ve heard the stories and a lot of them aren’t pretty. Lost or corrupted memory cards, hard drives, and laptops, camera malfunctions, even dead batteries – they all can and do happen. And what happens to your photography depends on your photographer.
Now, let’s be clear: this isn’t a scare tactic. And this isn’t to say that a “new” photographer won’t be prepared for any eventuality. We all started somewhere, after all. But it is something that you need to be aware of when you are considering who to hire. And it is something you should totally ask about when you meet them.
Set Up a Meeting
Once you get your list down to two or three, set up a meeting with them and talk it out face-to-face. Now, we get it. This can seem like just one more thing to add to your ever growing “to-do” list for the wedding. But it’s totally worth it! Even if it’s just to make sure you like them personally. This may not seem like such a big deal, but if your wedding photographer is shooting your engagements you are choosing someone that is going to be in your life for up to 2 years or more. So, yeah, you want some one that you get along with and you know is feeling your vibes. Of course, we may be a little biased on this point, because we believe that it is so important that we meet with ALL of our couples before anything is set in stone. But that’s just how we roll.
So, There You Go
Those are our tips for finding the right wedding photographer for you. We hope that you liked them and that you make use of them. And no matter who you choose for your wedding day, we hope that you have tons of beautiful images that you will enjoy for years to come. Thanks for reading and good luck!