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Honestly, it is pretty overwhelming how many photographers are out there, and picking one for your wedding day can feel almost impossible! Before my own wedding and before I started photographing weddings myself I thought that finding the best photographer was as simple as finding a photographer online with a nice portfolio, and who was available when needed and within my budget. Well, while some of those assumptions aren’t completely off, it is a little more nuanced than that. Did you realize for example, that whether your personalities click or clash with your photographer can be a huge determining factor in how your pictures will turn out and how you will feel about them after your wedding day is over? This might sound a bit dramatic, but it’s true! It is so important to find the wedding photographer who matches YOU and YOUR needs perfectly, and with a little guidance, I promise that this is possible!
To get you there, today I want to share with you 5 steps to picking the right photographer for YOU! And just a quick disclaimer, though I totally wish I was, I am not the right photographer for every couple either! 😉 So without further ado, here are my tips for choosing the photographer that is right for you and who will ensure that your pictures will be treasured memories that you will love to look back on for years and years to come!
1. Make sure that you love their shooting and editing style!
Photography styles come in many different shapes and sizes. Take a moment to sit down both individually and as a couple to identify the style that resonates with you. Do you like dark and moody? Light and airy? Clean and classic? Artistic and fine art? There really are endless styles, and choosing which style matches you and your personality is a little more complex than simply looking at a picture and “liking it.” One idea to help you figure out your style is thinking ahead to your dream home. What kinds of colors will be accenting your living space? What style will the furniture be? Will your space be dimmed and accented with darker browns and black? Will it be open and spacious and light and filled with neutrals? Will it be cheerful and bright with pops of bright colors? Now imagine your wedding pictures hanging on your walls. What style would fit your dream aesthetic? Another great exercise is to write down three “emotion words” that you feel describe you and your relationship with each other. For example, would you describe your relationship as “deep, serious, intense,” or maybe “bright, joyful, cheerful”? Then look for photographers whose images evoke this feeling!
I’ve found that identifying your own personal style as an individual and couple, and writing down a few key words that you feel describe you as a couple helps in choosing the photography style that is right for you! At the time of our own wedding, dark and moody was trending, and although I am grateful for the pictures I do have from my wedding day, I do wish that I had taken some time to figure out what style truly resonated with me and us as a couple, because perhaps we would have sought out a bit brighter and more timeless one.
Bright and joyful may not be the words that you would use to describe your relationship or the mood you would want depicted in your pictures. Maybe intense and passionate is more up your alley. Whatever the style is that really resonates with you, take some time to figure it out before you settle on a photographer! It is also important to note that when you hire a photographer, you hire them for their quality AND style. In most cases you won’t be able to ask a photographer to change their style of editing.
Quick Tip: Just as there are many different styles of editing, there are also many different styles of shooting. Be sure to ask your photographer to explain how they tend to work on the wedding day. For example, some photographers are more of a documentary style shooter and stay in the background all day, and some are extremely hands-on and directory and some are the “fly-on-the-wall” during certain parts of the day, and more proactive during other times.
2. Take a good look through their portfolio and make sure their quality is consistent and lives up to your standards!
This might seem like a “duh” point. Of course looking through previous work is important, but I have been surprised at how many couples book a photographer without having seen a full set of images from a previous wedding. Now, you don’t have to ask the photographer to deliver a full gallery to you to go through, but if they have a website, make sure they have a portfolio section large enough to give a good overview of the quality they offer. If they have a blog, that’s even better! Look through their blog posts from past weddings to check out the quality (no weird coloring, no blurry faces, etc.) and make sure it lives up to your standards! If they don’t have a blog and their portfolio is very limited, you could ask them to send you a handful og sample images from a previous wedding, I’m sure they would happily share some more images with you!
Quick Tip: Gear is NOT necessarily an indicator of good quality, however one good question to ask the photographer could be what camera they use. I would suggest asking your photographer if they shoot with a “full frame” camera. You don’t have to know what this means, but in short full-frame cameras, compared to crop cameras handle low light situations better and tend to have a better resolution than “crop-sensor” cameras. For weddings especially when they are inside in a church building and for indoor receptions, I find a full-frame camera and its abilities in low-light important.
3. Meet with the photographer in person before the wedding, or have a video call!
I honestly wanted to put this point FIRST because of how important this is! Your photographer will be spending ALL day with you! If you are planning on booking a photographer for a full day of pictures (8+) hours, and they are shooting your details and preparations as well, then chances are you might even see more of your photographer than your future spouse on your wedding day! Crazy, right? To me this means that your photographer should be someone that you really click with. Someone who you enjoy having around. I know that might sound like an interesting qualification to consider before you hire a vendor, and if you want a photographer who just shows up, takes pictures, leaves and delivers the pictures then that is fine as well! However, in my opinion and experience, we link the pictures we have to the experiences we have while taking the pictures. If you have a photographer who you both really like and who you have great chemistry with, someone who makes you feel comfortable and almost forget that the camera is even there, then chances are that your EXPERIENCE with them will be a lot more enjoyable than if you have hired someone who you barely know and don’t necessarily click with. Chances are your smiles and laughs will also be more authentic and genuine if you are truly feeling at ease and enjoying the experience!
Getting to know my couples before the wedding is so incredibly important to me, because to me, when I know my couples well, when I know who they truly are and who they truly are together, then I am able to capture the essence of them in a unique, authentic and genuine way! I don’t know how a photographer is supposed to be able to capture authentic images that truly represent YOU if your photographer doesn’t even know you!
For this reason, I highly recommend having an in-person meeting or a video call with any photographer that you are considering. Find out if you click! A huge bonus is if the photographer offers an engagement photoshoot before the actual wedding. I honestly believe every photographer should offer this service because it is a great way for you to meet before the wedding, work together and get to know each other. I offer all of my couples a free engagement photo shoot before their wedding for these reasons and more, and I will absolutely be sharing a blog post on the benefits of this at a later time!
4. Book a photographer with a high level of professionalism!
When it comes to your wedding you want to hire someone that you know, like and TRUST, and my next point is focused on that last aspect- trust! I cannot tell you how many couples I’ve seen who end up scrambling at the last minute to find a photographer because the one they had originally hired bailed at the last minute, and they didn’t have a legally binding contract! So, my number one factor to consider in regards to hiring someone you trust is that they have a contract for both the couple and the photographer to sign! When you get the contract make sure you read through it carefully and ask your photographer any questions you might have before you sign it!
Also be sure to ask your photographer about their timeline of their photo editing and delivery after the wedding. Make sure that it is in your contract how many edited images you will be receiving, when you will receive them and of what quality they will be. I would suggest hiring someone who delivers images either in their original or high resolution 🙂
Quick Tip: Occasionally it happens that there will be an electronic failure and a photographer might lose some pictures from the day! I would ask your photographer what steps they take to ensure this does not happen. I have never lost any of my data because I shoot on two cards simultaneously, switch cards at the end of every section of the day, and back up my pictures to several hard-drives and clouds as soon as I return from a wedding. Whoever your photographer is, make sure they are taking the necessary steps to avoid any data loss from your wedding day! Sometimes things just happen, but it’s always good for the photographer to be taking precautions to avoid any data loss!
Your budget is important! I don’t suggest that any couple start out their marriage creating debt because of their wedding expenses! HOWEVER, I do suggest that if you want to save money, you decide to save on a post other than the photographer (another blog post in the making?) I am definitely not suggesting that you splurge and use up your entire budget on photography, I think it is incredibly important for you to find someone who fits within your budget, but when setting a budget for your photography expenses, remember that at the end of the day your images- aside from your spouse- are the only concrete things you will take away from your wedding day! When everything is said and done, and the sun sets on your big day, the MOST important thing will be the memories you walk away with and the pictures that tie you back to those memories.
When setting your budget for you wedding, if professional, high quality pictures are important to you, I suggest prioritizing this expense in your budget and then finding a photographer within your budget who provides high quality work worth the investment! If professional and stunning images are not a priority for you, that is completely fine as well, the important thing is to figure out how much of a priority your wedding pictures are compared to other expenses and then budgetting accordingly 🙂
Freebie! 24 Questions to ask your wedding photographer
So that’s it! My 5 tips for picking a wedding photographer who will provide you with the images of your dreams for you to look back on with a smile for years to come! My hope for all of you future brides and grooms out there is that you find a photographer who makes you feel amazing, and that you end up with images that you truly will treasure for years and years to come. I hope this guide serves as a helpful resource to get you there!
Because I know all of these tips might feel a little overwhelming, I have put a guide together with 24 questions to ask your wedding photographer before you book them! It lists out 24 questions and I also include a worksheet for you to fill out to help guide you through the 5 points above that I mentioned! If you would like to download this freebie guide, you can do so by filling out the form below and I will send you an e-mail with a download link! Happy planning! And don’t forget to let me know in the comments below if any of you have any tips for choosing the best wedding photographer! Let’s share the wisdom, and leave a comment below! 🙂