For a lot of reasons, choosing your wedding photographer will be one of the most important decisions you make for your day. You’ll need to put in the time to research and meet the best photographer to document this once in a lifetime moment. Here are my thoughts on things to consider when choosing your wedding photographer.
You need to like your photographer. You don’t need to be best friends but you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person on one of your most emotional and potentially stressful days of your life. Because of this it is so important that you and your partner have a connection with your photographer and your energy levels work well together so that photo time doesn’t feel stale, uninspiring or anything like work.
To get to know your photographer, ask them about their story; chances are they weren’t always a photographer. Read their website bio. Follow their social accounts. Find something to connect with. I can’t tell you how many of my brides know that I have a German Shepherd.
Meet your photographer in person, or by video chat. Seeing someone’s face makes it more personal. It’s also an invitation into each other’s lives if you think about. Now you know what my living room looks like on video, or you know what style clothes I wear. Meet your photographer before you book. Or after. Or do some engagement photos. Just put a face to an email account.
Tell them your concerns for the day. Are you camera shy? Do you hate overly posed photos? Are you worried about your venue space? Clearly state your expectations on budget or wedding day timeline. And ask for advice. Photographers have been to tons and tons of weddings but this is the first time you are planning one. Ask about the photographers’ preferences so that you can incorporate them into your day. If your photographer says her favorite shots are bridal portraits, ask what that means and how you can get the best ones. Engage in a back and forth with your photographer so you each have a chance to set expectations well before the wedding day.
Every photographer has their own style and creative vision. Research their style, read their website for information about their unique photography, pick out examples of their work that you like best. You can’t hire a photographer and ask that they replicate your favorite Pinterest photos.
Choose timelessness over trendiness. While you may want the most Instagram-worthy photos now, those wishes will be long forgotten. Choose a photographer that takes timeless photos. It doesn’t mean they need to be formal or stuffy or un-you. But just a photographer that is going to take photos you’ll want to look through 20 to 50 years from now.
Choose authenticity. Your photographer’s primary job (besides not having blurry images) is to capture you and your partner as authentically as possible. There you are laughing. There you are whispering to each other on the dance floor. There you are tearing up during your Dad’s toast. Photos of these moments must give you a feeling when you look at them. So look for a photographer that specializes in capturing real moments instead of crafting picture-perfect generic moments.
Choose creativity. Photographers are in the business of creativity. Their enthusiasm to create a story with you should shine through. Look for their creative flair. Ask them about how they stay inspired. Get creative yourself and talk with your photographer about some of your ideas. And then trust them to execute them their way.
Locking down your favorite photographer is sometimes all about timing. Wedding photographers, like venues are booking up often 9 months to a year in advance. They get tons of eager bride inquiries each week and there are only so many weekends during the wedding season. Be thoughtful and responsive when you begin discussions with your photographer. If you are really interested ask about a good faith retainer, or how to block off a date while you pull together your contract and retainer fee.
Photography should have a substantial place in your wedding budget. Sometimes you can score the perfect photographer at a lower price point, but don’t underestimate the importance of hiring a skilled photographer, that has a great eye, professionalism, a style that matches yours, and exceptional communication skills. Anyone can take a decent picture, but this is no ordinary day. This is an irreplaceable, historical day for you and your partner, and you’ll regret not having amazing photos 10 or 20 years from now. Last thing I’ll say about money, is that don’t forget you aren’t just paying for their time at your wedding, but also (directly) the editing and processing of all those images taken, the equipment bought or rented, and (indirectly) their continued professional training, software, and all the things they need to run a successful photography business.
So you love your photographer’s style and personality, they are within your budget, and available for your date, so what’s left? Booking. Booking is obviously the last logistical piece, getting contract and invoices in order etc.. But it’s also the moment you put your trust in your photographer to tell your love story. If you have any doubts double down to look for their attention to detail. How well have they communicated with you to this point? Do they seem organized? Are they patient in answering your questions? If everything feels good, and the stars have aligned then it’s time to book!
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