Booking a wedding photographer can be a little bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. Some brides know exactly what they are looking for when it comes to the style of photography they are looking for, while others don’t know the difference between high quality and mediocre quality. Some brides prioritize choosing and budgeting for a photographer above all else, while others don’t see it as a priority at all. In a sea of so many different styles, prices, packages, personalities and pretty photos, how on earth do you find a photographer that’s the right fit for you? When it comes to booking a wedding photographer there are certain steps that can be followed to ensure you are making the best decision and to save you some stress as well.
Questions to ask yourself:
How important is photography to you?
If you answered this question with a VERY important then you will need to take careful consideration of all of the steps to follow. If the wedding photography is a top priority to you, odds are you know what kind of style you like (even if you don’t know what that style is called) and you probably have loads of beautiful images pinned to your wedding inspiration board. If this is you, then you will probably be more selective in your search for that perfect photographer who is just the right fit and you will need to carefully consider and decide what style you want, what you can realistically afford and do your research.
However, if you answered this question with an “ehhh, I mean it’s not the most important thing in the world to me,” then you will primarily need to focus on your budget and what you are willing to pay for your wedding photographer and go from there. The following questions will be beneficial in your search as well, but you will not need to analyze them as closely.
What percent of your overall budget do you want to allot to photography?
This is a decision you need to make BEFORE you start your search for that perfect photographer. It is important to know what you can afford/what you are willing to pay before you find a photographer you really like and begin steps to hire them, only to find out you can’t actually afford them. If photography is more important to you, then you will want to allot a larger portion of your budget to your photographer- I mean, the photos are the only thing besides your memories that will last from that day. If the photography isn’t as important to you, budget for those high priority items first, and then see what you have left over to spend on a photographer.
What Photography style do you like? (Documentary, Portraiture, Fine Art, Edgy/ Dark, Bright& Airy, etc.)
This is probably the most important question you need to answer. You need to know what style you like in a photographer to know what to even look for when you are doing your research. If you are drawn to those quirky, un-posed and candid photos, then you like a documentary style more. If you liked the elegantly posed and more traditional photos most, then you are looking for a photographer who showcases a lot of these on their social media accounts and website. In addition, if you adore those bright, colorful and vibrant images that are just splashed with natural light and an airy feel, then you need to find a photographer whose photos all have this effect. On the other hand, if you find yourself admiring more dark, moody, high contrasted photos with a lot of shadowy depth, then you need to look for photographers whose style replicates this look. No matter the experience level of a photographer, most lean toward one or the other of these looks and you need to decide what you like on that spectrum and then find a photographer whose work is in line with that.
Things to look for in a photographer:
Check out their website
Don’t just look at a potential photographer’s Instagram highlight reel, find the blog section of their website, or wherever they have full wedding albums and look at how well they capture the emotions and moments happening. Did they get of those big moments? Is there diversity from photo to photo, or were they all shot in the same location/ posed in the same way? Doing your research by scouring a potential photographer’s website will help you to determine if you like their storytelling ability and also help you get a feel for their personality. Speaking of personality, this leads us to the next thing to look for.
Do you like their personality?
Do you mesh well? Most photographers have (or at least they should) an “About Me” section on their websites. It is important to read over this and get a feel for who they are as a person and what their personality is like. Is this someone you would get along with or hang out with? You can also meet with them in person or on Skype before hiring them to see if you guys would be a good fit together. This is very important because you will be spending a lot of time with them on your wedding day and you want the photographer to be someone who takes control, but also has a calming presence. Odds are the photographer will be in charge of a lot and they will help the day flow well, so its more fun to have someone who you like and trust and want by your side through out the day.
What all is included?
Don’t forget to find out what all they include in their price. You don’t want to spend your entire photography budget on a photographer only to find out later that that price only included their time spent taking photos and not the actual photos themselves. Find out how many photos are included in that price before you commit. If it is none, or only a few, you will want to budget for being able to actually purchase your images as well. Is a second shooter included in the price (recommended for weddings with 100+ people)? Is a wedding album included in the price, or any prints? These are some questions you should ask before you choose a photographer just so that you make sure you know what all you are getting. A photographer’s packages should be clear and concise so that you know exactly what you are getting.
Other things to consider:
You have a small budget but Photography is important to you
If photography is a priority for you but you are working on a very small budget, have no fear you can still stay within your budget while getting some high quality photos. Finding a less experienced photographer who has a style that you really like is the way to go! This is a win win for you and for the photographer. Typically, a less experienced photographer will be willing to take your wedding photos for very cheap because they want the experience and to build there portfolio. This allows you to spend what you can afford but still get the kind of photos you like. Find someone who takes high quality photos, who has enough of a portfolio (even if there aren’t wedding photos in it) to showcase their talent and style and who is confident in themselves and there ability. Make sure that their photos are all clear and crisp, that there is consistency in their editing and that they have second or third shot for another photographer before.
You don’t have to stay local
Can’t find a photographer in your area whose style you like and who is in your price range? Don’t be afraid to outsource your research to other areas. Denver, Utah, Portland, Dallas and LA are all huge hubs for very talented photographers. If your budget allows it, you could totally afford to pay for some travel expenses (usually it isn’t too much) to get that dream photographer you have been searching for. This goes for those on a small budget as well!
Can they work well in various lighting settings?
Anyone (or almost anyone) can take a beautiful photo in that perfect golden hour lighting. However, sad as it is, golden hour only lasts for about 15-20 minutes and the rest of the wedding photos are taken during the other 6 or so hours of the day. Be sure to check a potential photographer’s portfolio to see how they handle low light, indoor and harsh lit settings. Make sure that the indoor and low-lit photos aren’t blurry or orange and make sure that photos in the sunlight are still soft and clear. If a photographer doesn’t have any photos showcasing their work in these types of settings ask them to show you some.
Choosing a wedding photographer doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. You just have to do your research and decide on what is most important to you. I hope that these steps help to guide you along in a smooth process of finding that dream photographer you’ve been looking for!
copy by Hannah Distasio