Tips for Choosing The Right Wedding Photographer
You've probably been dreaming of your wedding for a while and now that you're planning it, it's a lot more daunting than you thought it'd be. You have family members with their own opinions on how things should be done, a lot of vendors to book, and you have to choose a color scheme.
After the flowers have wilted, the cake eaten, and the dress a bit tighter than it used to be, what do you have left? The photos of course, that's why you're here! So I'm guessing you want to make sure you hire the best person possible for the job.
I'm sure you've heard the horror stories about the couples who didn't get their photos or the photographer who was super unprofessional at the wedding, right? So how do you know which photographer to hire and which ones to steer clear of out of the thousands available? I'm glad you asked! I'm going to talk about problems that past couples have had with their photographer and hopefully you'll be able to avoid the same problems.
So let's start with your relationship with your photographer. Just like a marriage, a relationship can't develop well without communication. If you've never met with the photographer or at least talked to them (not just texting or emailing) how will you get to know them? How will they get to know you?
Your photographer will probably be with you on your wedding day even more than your own spouse, so it's important to get to know each other and make sure you vibe well together. If you do, then your photos will feel much more personal, because your photographer will know more about you two.
Another way to find out if they're legit is to read their online reviews. I tell most of my clients to write reviews on google for me, but you can ask your photographer where to find their reviews too.
Before you book your photographer, try to meet them in person or at least do a video call. Talk about you, your wedding, how you met each other, etc. This is also the perfect opportunity for your photographer to listen to your needs and even suggest how many hours coverage you might need. They'll find out what your photo priorities are; sunset photos, getting ready photos, photos of you and your guests, etc.
When you talk to each other, it gives you a chance to see how well you understand each other and how you get along. If you're gut is telling you this person doesn't understand you or doesn't seem professional, listen to your gut! Unless your gut is hungry. Then you should probably meet at a coffee shop and eat. Nothing makes people happier than eating food! Here are some examples from brides who didn't have great communication with their photographers...
"There’s not one bridal photo I would post. When I confronted her with all of this she said 'sorry you seemed angry and we ran out of time' WHAAAAAT. I said 'it was my wedding day a day I can’t ever recreate. And you mean to tell me you didn’t think to tell me I looked angry in my bridal photos?'”
"We spent so much time on photographs that I don't even care about that much (all smile and wave)... we could have spent more time enjoying ourselves and guests and still had adorable photos."
"I loved my photographers work but her customer service was TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!! In the contract it said her turn around time was 6-8 weeks and ended up getting my photos at 16 weeks... I would have been 100% okay with waiting that long if it was in the contract."
Another great way to get to know your photographer is through your engagement session. It gives you the chance to see how they work and be in front of their camera. If you don't find them to be professional or you don't like how the photos turned out, communicate your concerns to them so that your wedding photos will be better. Otherwise, you might want to consider hiring someone else.
Trends come and go; dark and moody vs light and airy, posed vs unposed, editorial vs lifestyle. It's important to already have in mind which kind of photo style you want your photos to be taken in.
When you've decided the direction you want to go in, check out the photographer's work. Is their work consistent in their portfolio? Is their style of work what you're going for? Can you see your relationship captured in a similar way? Ask if you can see some of the photographer's full wedding galleries. These will give you an idea of what the photographer has delivered to other couples and what they can do for you.
Keep in mind though that no two weddings are the same. Here's what might happen if you don't look at a photographer's previous work...
"She staged us or put us in positions that weren't natural."
"Mine was because it was 2012 and photos looked like poop back then." HAHA
"I loved our photographer and her photos are so beautiful but the style wasn’t exactly what I wanted then and now I wish that I had chosen someone more aligned with the style I like."
You might freak out looking at the price tag of photography, but it's expensive for a reason. We've taken a lot of time learning and perfecting our craft and we spend a lot of time making sure you get the best photos possible.
You don't know how many times I've heard people say they wish they could go back and invest more in a good photographer. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Sometimes when people are cheap or discount their services, they give out less quality work because they don't feel like it was valued enough. Not all the time, but sometimes.
"We eloped because we got pregnant. I was having such a hard time reconciling the whole situation that I didn’t want to invite in an outsider. I handed off my camera to my sister to snap a few, but most are out of focus (not her fault). Now I wish I could have just gotten over it and hired someone."
"I feel like my photographer kinda played me and was in no hurry to get me my photos since I paid half price (her special she was running)."
"My photographer knew me too well and her and I struck a deal. I thought I was being 'resourceful' and saving money but in the end I should have just gone with my gut and spend the $$$ on my dream photographer, hindsight is 20/20 amiright?"
When I say professional, I don't mean someone who can't take a joke and is impersonal. I mean someone who knows what they're doing in their profession and can handle tricky situations. Just because your photographer is a professional doesn't mean that they can't become your friend too.
Other aspects of being a professional is in how they run their business. How much experience do they have? Have they registered their business and do they have insurance? Are they clear in telling you what they're going to give you? If you're paying them money, those things are important.
"My photos were gorgeous and I loved them! But the photographer was still a college student and didn’t have a business set up yet, so the whole experience was reallllyyyy unprofessional and I worried if I could trust him to do what he said he would!"
"The photographer we chose for the wedding had also done our engagement photos and we loved those! Fast forward a year and she was transitioning from photography to pursue a different business and we were one of her last weddings she shot. There were a few lovely photos from the day but the majority seemed mediocre. It was evident the photographer had "checked out" and didn't seem to put forth the same amount of effort she did previously. It's heartbreaking thinking about the photos we could have had if our photographer was fully invested."
The last story was a really interesting situation. Most photographers in this situation would have still delivered excellent photos, but you never know. This is why communication is important! If your photographer is transitioning from wedding photography to something else, don't be afraid to talk to them about your concerns. It's your wedding day and you want to get the best service possible.
Unfortunately, these do not exist... yet. So if you can't go back and get better photos taken, what can you do instead?
A lot of people have a vow renewal or destination portrait session where they get all dressed up and have photos taken of just the two of them. Sometimes it's like a second wedding and sometimes it's just the two of them visiting a place they've never been before, maybe even with their closest loved ones too. So while you may not be able to go back to your wedding day, you can still save up and get some amazing photos of the two of you in the future.