One of the first things you'll want to do after getting engaged is choose a wedding photographer! Undoubtedly, it's a major choice because the photographer will be in charge of preserving all the memories of your big day and providing you with pictures you can look back on for a lifetime. Not sure how to choose a wedding photographer or exactly what to look for? We have five useful suggestions to help you navigate the procedure.
In general, people don't ask questions like that, but when they are getting married, they do. I usually give them the same advice on how to avoid disappointment or, even worse, disaster. Although the system is not perfect, I am absolutely certain it would prevent the vast majority of horror shows you witness on social media every day.
1. Rushing to Book a Photographer
When organizing your wedding, it's simple to get carried away and reserve vendors way too early. Yes, wedding photographers are frequently reserved years in advance, but it is not a justification for booking one the day after you announce your engagement.
Before hiring a photographer, do your homework and properly vet each candidate. View their social media profiles, look up examples of their work online, and, if it gives you more confidence, contact former customers. Don't commit unless you are totally satisfied with your decision.
2. Know What You're Willing to Spend
Don't skimp on professional wedding photos. The cost of your wedding's photography (and videography) can sometimes end up being the biggest single expense. An experienced, qualified professional wedding photographer should cost between $2000 to $5000 or more. Packages vary, but keep in mind that in addition to the time they'll spend photographing your day, their fees also take into account the cost of their equipment, travel time, and countless hours of planning and editing.
3. Be Clear With Your Goals
Would you approve of these pictures appearing in print or online publications? Do you want them to remain private or not be shared? It's crucial that your photographer is aware of these details in advance. Additionally, it's a good idea to let the photographer know what kinds of pictures are most important to you. This doesn't have to be precise postures or reproductions of images you discovered on Pinterest; rather, it should be clear what you value most.
Inform your photographer of any potentially awkward family dynamics and let them know if there is a certain person you want them to spotlight. Do you have a grandma with whom you get along very well? Any families coming from a considerable distance? Inform them so you may make sure to take pictures with these people while you have the opportunity.
4. Misleading Portfolios
Portfolios are a challenging topic. Everybody has an opinion about how things should appear, work, and what should be displayed. However, a portfolio frequently contains far more information than just text and images. When you visit a photographer's website intending to hire them for your wedding, your main goal is to determine whether you like their work and whether their aesthetic aligns with your ideal wedding photos. However, staying away from a terrible photographer still requires more than that. The degree of deceit can range from deception to open fraud. Be warned that both can lead to photos that are far from perfect. The former could be a few carefully chosen "excellent" pictures that are incredibly uncommon for the photographer. Or, they might be images that have been stolen from another photographer.
So what do you need to do? You should first look at the whole wedding albums they have already created. You need to see the full variety of their work, not just a portfolio of their greatest images. You must consider whether you would be satisfied with their average standard of appearance before you can evaluate them. Additionally, this should exclude any possibility of plagiarism. I would ask to see many and make sure they are at least somewhat recent.
5. Focusing on the Wrong Things
It's simple to compare the packages and costs of the professionals on your shortlist when picking your wedding photographer and choose who is "best" for you based on that. It goes without saying that you want to get the most for your money, but quality should also be included. Although a photographer might present you with 500+ pictures, you probably won't display or include all of them in an album. Your key priority should be high-quality imagery.
I hesitate to use the cliche "you get what you pay for," but it's not far off. Brides who "spent $600" for a photographer who turned out to be unreliable or untalented tend to express indignation on social media. That is predictable, sure. You might strike it lucky and find a budding photographer who is talented but unsure of how much to charge, but it is extremely unusual. The typical cost is roughly $2,000, so if you're told a price that is significantly lower (or higher) than that, take it seriously.
7. Social Media
I completely understand those who stay away from social media, yet it can be a good way to judge a photographer. Verify whether they maintain a Facebook page, Instagram, Flickr, etc., and whether they do so frequently. The number of followers is less important than who they are, what they do, and whether or not what they claim they have done in the past is true. To the delight of wedding guests, the majority of full-time wedding photographers share sneak peeks, giving you confirmation of their calibre of work as well as some indication that they are actually working for actual clients.
Testimonials can be faked so simply that they are almost useless. Almost always, unless they meet certain criteria, I would ignore them. Make sure it's connected to a legitimate wedding, please (and ideally, see the images from that wedding). Check to see whether they are a friend or family member of the photographer. You should look at the number of reviews; if there are a lot of positive comments on their Google or Facebook page, that's usually a really solid sign. However, in general, resist the urge to get seduced by a few flattering phrases here and there.
9. Contracts and Contingency
If the photographer is working without a contract, leave right away. When you wish to engage a wedding photographer, they should have a contract for you to sign. It's also important to enquire about backup plans in case the worst happens. Most of this should be covered in the contract, but it's still a good idea to be aware whether, for instance, they have a backup photographer in case they're unavailable on the big day. Wedding photographers must be dependable. Therefore you should steer clear of anyone who exhibits these traits.
Ask them for the photographer's information and whether they would recommend them if you know of someone who had lovely wedding photos taken. One of the most effective ways to learn more about a prospective photographer and get a sense of how they operate on the day is to speak with a former client. Even better if that former client is someone you know and trust. If this is feasible, it should be a stronger starting point rather than a replacement for the other checks.
11. Embrace Your Photographer's Vision and Experience
Always keep in mind why you hired this person! Allow them to collaborate with your planner to establish the day-of timeline, and be receptive to their professional input. After all, they are the lighting specialists, and fantastic light is crucial for taking amazing pictures. This is affected by the time of day, artificial lighting, and the layout and orientation of your location. All of these elements will assist your photographer in creating a timeline that enables the greatest pictures to be taken while you celebrate your commitment.
I'll conclude by summarizing the checks that, in my opinion, are most crucial:
- Ask to see several of the photographer's complete full wedding albums.
- A photographer's contract should be requested. Leave if they don't have one.
- Make every effort to confirm the photographer by researching them and their online presence.
This approach isn't perfect, but if you go about conducting these checks, you greatly lessen the likelihood of experiencing one of those nightmare stories when the photographer fails to show up, fails to deliver photographs, provides appallingly insufficient images, and becomes inebriated, etc.
Remember to let any other photographers you have contacted know you have chosen someone else once you have made your choice and hired a photographer. There won't be any harsh feelings, so don't worry. They'll be grateful for the politeness and will be able to let other interested couples know about your date.
I am fortunate to belong to a vibrant group of seasoned wedding photographers. It's your turn now: what guidance would you offer a soon-to-be bride and groom to assist them in choosing the ideal photographer? Let me know here.