It’s Wedding Wednesday and today we are talking about a very important topic – choosing a photographer for your wedding day!
Selecting your wedding photographer is one of the most important steps of your wedding planning process. It may be the most important step (after choosing your wedding date and venue, that is!). Wedding photography is an investment and photographs are meant to last. For this reason, it’s important to follow a series of crucial steps when choosing your wedding photographer.
The first step in selecting a wedding photographer is figuring out what photography style you gravitate towards. And by ‘photography style’, I mean two things: 1. the TYPE of images you want to see the most of on your wedding galleries; and, 2. the SHOOTING and EDITING style that appeals to you the most.
- The TYPE of images – I always recommend that couples looking for a wedding photographer ask themselves the following question: ‘What are you looking forward to the most when you think about your wedding photo gallery’? Are you most excited about gorgeous, posed portraits like the ones you see in your parents’ wedding albums? Some photographers focus on producing classic wedding photographs, with lots of posed shots of the couple and their family in traditional spots or with traditional backdrops (like a ceremony altar). Or maybe you’re looking for more unconventional portraits that have dramatic compositions? Many modern photographers like to produce more creative portraits with less formal poses that incorporate movement and are shot in unconventional locations. But maybe what you’re looking forward to the most are the candids from your ‘getting ready’ process and your wedding ceremony, or the shots of you having fun with your friends and family at your reception. Some photographers approach weddings in a photojournalistic manner, focusing on capturing unscripted moments of details, people and action exactly as they occurred, with as few people looking at the camera as possible.
Nowadays, most photographers like to include a good mix of all of this in their wedding galleries, so that couples get a good amount of traditional and posed portraits, modern and authentic portraits, and documentary-style photographs. However, if there’s a specific style you love (or a type of image that is most important to you), make sure you select a photographer who understands your needs and can produce images you’ll adore.
- The SHOOTING and EDITION style – It goes without saying that there are many styles of photography out there. When selecting a wedding photographer, ask yourself the following questions: Do you want a photographer who shoots film, so your photographs have a dreamier and grainier appearance? (Film-like images can also be produced by skilled digital photographers, but make sure they are proficient in consistently producing those kinds of images.) Or do you want images that are more crisp, true to life, and lightly processed so that they look natural? Do you want images shot from a traditional vantage point, or images that are more fine art and artistic (shots taken from unique angles or focusing on showing traditional wedding day elements in an unconventional way)? Do you like bright, airy and joyful images, or do you prefer dark, contrast-y, and moodier photographs? Do you prefer color images or would you rather see more black and white photographs in your gallery? Do you want pictures that mostly use natural light or do you prefer images that have a lot of artificial light added to it? Every photographer adopts a shooting and editing style that they will rarely deviate from. Pick a photographer whose style matches yours. You are guaranteed to get the types of images you want from someone who has a proven and consistent shooting and editing style. It doesn’t matter what style you go with, as long as you love it!
The next step in selecting a wedding photographer is to do your due diligence. Check with friends and family and solicit recommendations. Chances are, someone in your social network has already worked with a wedding photographer that has produced beautiful images in your preferred style. Your wedding planner or venue manager may also be able to refer talented photographers they have worked with in the past. Otherwise, search local listings for photographers with good online reviews. Visit their websites, social media accounts, and their blogs! Seeing online some of the images they have shot will give you an idea of their shooting and editing style. Going through their website, social media, and blog will also tell you a lot about the photographer’s personality. Getting to know the person behind the camera is crucial in figuring out whether your personalities will mesh. Remember – your photographer is with you more than anybody else (even your future spouse!) on your wedding day.
Check whether the photographers you are interested in are within your price range. Don’t forget, however, that photography is an investment, and settling for lower quality images for the sake of saving a few bucks is never a good idea. The right photographer can make a budget wedding look incredible, so I always recommend prioritizing your wedding photography over anything else.
Once you’ve selected a few photographers within your price range whose style appeals to you the most, narrow your list down to a few favorites. Reach out to them to inquire about their availability on your wedding date. For those who are available, request to have an in-person or a Skype meeting, which should further help you decide if they are a good fit for you. If you are hiring a photography studio with more than one photographer on staff, make sure you are meeting with the person who will be there shooting your wedding day.
During your in-person or Skype meeting, make sure you and your future spouse connect with your photographer at a personal level, and that both you and the photographer feel comfortable around each other. Study how the photographer speaks and acts. Are they handling themselves with professionalism? This is important to get a better idea of how they will behave on your big day. During this meeting, your should also ask to see a full wedding gallery and review the photographer’s images carefully to ensure they can produce the types of images that are most important to you. You should also inquire whether they have worked at your venue before and request images from that wedding if they have.
Discuss wedding package rates with the photographer. You won’t know what your wedding photography will cost until you’ve nailed down what you want. Ask your photographer for the standard rates on their most popular packages. Find out what their base fee is and how many coverage hours are included. Inquire about their prices for add-on items like additional coverage hours, coverage of pre-wedding day events, second shooters, engagement sessions, albums, prints, etc. Ask about the photographer’s post-production workflow (what they do and the timing of their editing process), and the cost (if any) for basic and/or additional edits.
Once you’ve evaluated a photographer’s work and fees, it’s time to make your decision! Make sure to book your wedding photographer far enough in advance to ensure they are still available on your wedding date.
Once you’ve booked a wedding photographer, don’t forget to ask them for an engagement shoot! It’s always a great idea to take your photographer on a test run! Not sure whether you should take engagement photos? Check out THIS blog post, in which I explain why I think that engagement photos matter.
Do you have any other recommendations for couples in the process of selecting a wedding photographer? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!