I was reading the magazine Brides and I saw a statistic that said “overwhelmingly the most difficult wedding vendor to choose for couples was their photographer”. So I thought I would try to help by offering some advice when it comes to choosing your wedding photographer.
Since I am a photographer but I am not married and not yet engaged (I do have a boyfriend I hope to get married to) people often say to me “you must have your wedding all planned out” The truth is I don’t.
Of course the follow up question is “who will photograph your wedding”
I am going to tell you that even as a photographer choosing the photographer is hard 🙂
But knowing what I do about weddings and photography I would like to offer 10 ways to choose your wedding photographer….
How to choose your wedding photographer:
1. Be sure to have figured out where you are getting married and on what date. Then begin to think about what you want your wedding to feel like. Will it be romantic, formal, casual, fun, whimsical, epic? Hint: the wedding photographer you choose their images should feel this way too 🙂
2. Begin looking at wedding photography. If you are like many women out there this is something you may already do. As you look start collecting images you really like and then try to identify why you like them….is it the dress she is wearing, the feeling of the image, the location, the light, her hair style?
3. Ask yourself what is the most important photo you want on your wedding day? Are you dreaming of a magical portrait of the two of you in a vineyard or rocky coast? Are you looking forward to having a legitimate photo where you are really smiling? Is it the pic of Dad walking you down the isle? Are you looking forward to looking most at the incriminating dance floor photos after people have been drinking for a few hours? What are you most excited about?
4. Speaking for wedding photographers in Maine—we travel….A ton 🙂 Just because we don’t live in the town your wedding is in it doesn’t mean we aren’t fluent and capable of photographing there. In fact one might argue that if you would like unique images you would be best hiring someone who hasn’t photographed at your location before as they will be bringing a fresh eye. That said—hire someone who has photographed 50+ weddings as the lead shooter. Practice makes perfect. So now that you have some criteria for the credentials of your photographer—begin looking in the state or country you are getting married. So for example start checking websites for Maine wedding photographers, look at local directories, read the local and regional wedding magazines.
5. Look at the full galleries from your married friends. Ask them what they wish they had and how the experience could have been better. Looking at the whole gallery can give you and idea of how the photographer documents the entire day. Some photographers are more photojournalistic (people not looking at the camera—capturing the day as it unfolds), some are more editorial (portrait based but with a feeling that they are not posed—often these people are great at capturing the wedding details as well), and others more formal (think of the older generations pictures—where most of the time people are looking at the camera). I for example know I like the editorial look and feel but I want a wedding photographer that can use their expertise to be able to do all of these styles at different points in the day. (that is what I do when I am photographing a wedding)
6. Bookmark your favorite wedding photographer websites. Which ones speak to you? Which ones make you excited about your wedding? Which ones did you see a photo and think I want that?! Which sites feel professional and yet you still want to get to know the person behind the camera? Are you drawn to fun photos, intimate images, romantic looks? I myself know I like a variety. I love a photo with laughter but I also love a photo where it looks like a private moment of just the couple deeply in love.
7. Now email them—this is where you will begin getting pricing and start to unravel their personalities more. Which people did you enjoy corresponding with the most? Do you get the feeling from them and their website that you can trust them? Read their online reviews.
8. Once you have narrowed it down to three photographers you might want to chat with them on the phone. Have them walk you through a wedding day with them. Ask questions. See if you enjoy chatting with them.
9. I know that I have not talked about budget here. Most brides are not like me and in the field and do not realize that photography should be 8-10% of your entire wedding budget. In Maine many of us begin around the $4,500.00 mark. I didn’t bring up budget because photography is a feeling—its a relationship with the person you trust to capture the moments of your wedding—it is not like buying anything else. It is something that is worth the money you spend on it as long as you found the right match. Trust me as a photographer who is very particular about photos even I need to find the right match and I know around 100 awesome wedding photographers.
10. Trust your gut. As you chatted with people via email and the phone—go with someone you think you will enjoy the most on wedding day. Which photos can you see yourself in? Which blog do you enjoy reading and looking at the most?
If you can do it—splurge on a package that includes an album. There are many wedding photographers out there who still have not made their own wedding album. Lean on your photographer to carry that weight and end up with an heirloom product that you as a consumer can not buy. It is worth it. Seeing images in print is different than on the screen. That is my last piece of advice. Good luck 🙂 Don’t be afraid to ask questions or email me if you don’t underhand the lingo on someones price sheet. We are always happy to explain what things mean. Making an educated decision is the best way to go.
In short the number one criteria for how to choose your wedding photographer is do you love their work? Do you like their compositions, the way they color and tone things?
The number two criteria for hiring your wedding photographer is can you work with them and what will the experience of working with them be like?
The number three idea for hiring a wedding photographer is criteria is trust and reliability….things like how many weddings have they photographed, do they have reviews, are they a full time wedding photographer, are their prices similar to others that you loved? Do not hire someone because they are a friend and they “do photography”, do not hire someone because your mom wants you to, and do not hire someone because they are cheaper—hire someone for the reasons I listed above—you love their work and they are professional.
Wedding photography is unlike any other type of photography. It is different because it is fast paced and requires a variety of skills. Photographing food or children is not the same as photographing a wedding. While the food photographer might provide you with some great images the experience will not be the same as if you work with a full time wedding photographer. I for example can take pictures of kids that are “ok” but I am not a children’s photographer—you would have a much better experience and better images if you hired someone who does children’s photography full time the same way I do weddings full time. Finding the right wedding photographer can be stressful and challenging–I hope these steps and tips help you to narrow down your search.
Wedding photographers are a wealth of knowledge as we usually see 8 or more hours of between 20-40 weddings a year—if you have a question ask us 🙂
Best of luck to you again—feel free to email if you have any questions I will be happy to listen and or give you advice and guidance. Feel free to leave a comment about how you choose your wedding photographer 🙂
Finally remember the wedding photographer should be no less than 15% of your budget and ranges go all the way up to 30% of the budget because at the end of the day the only thing left are the photos and the dress.