There are so many awful stories about brides who have been devastated when they received horrible photos after their wedding, NO photos (eeks!) or by a personality clash with their photographer on their one and only big day.
Unlike the work of your other vendors (florist, stationary, cake, venue…) you won’t see exactly what you are going to get before the wedding and before you book your photographer. That makes the selection process even more daunting and a bit scary, especially considering what’s at stake.
The wedding photos will be one of the few things that you will have left after your wedding (other than the ring on your finger and the man in your bed!). They help you remember the special moments and relive the joy of bringing your closest family and friends together to celebrate. They are the heirloom you will pass on to your children.
You may not have ever commissioned an artist before and you may never do it again. So take the scary out of hiring the artist who captures your memories and helps you relive the day.
These 10 steps will help you choose the perfect wedding photographer. We’ve split them into two posts, how to figure out what you want in your wedding photos and then how to find and book the perfect photographer!
Step 1. Choose a Style of Photography
First, look at a lot of photographers’ work. We suggest starting with theknot.com and weddingwire.com or with a google search. Looking at a lot of work will help you discover what style resonates with you.
We tend to offer a blend of styles, however we love documentary/candid work for most of the day. It captures true emotions as they happen. It allows you to live your day and enjoy without continuous interruption.
Documentary: This style is intended to document or capture the day as it unfolds. It is also often called journalistic or photojournalistic style. Moments aren’t posed, but allowed to occur and be captured organically. These photos are not styled or staged. Shots include emotional reactions to the wedding day events… mom tearing up as you put on your dress, dad the first time he sees you in, the faces of your grandparents as you say your vows, your crazy cousins’ dance moves during the reception and individuals’ laughter during cocktail hour mingling. With a purely photojournalistic photographer, you’ll very rarely see people staring at the camera – instead we choose to capture important moments exactly as they happen, and together all of those moments, from the laughter to the detail shots of bouquets, and cake to the photos of the venue itself, tell a story.
Portraiture: Classic portraiture – think your parent’s wedding album, is very posed and very staged. Individual specific moments may be choreographed in front of various backdrops. Very few photographers end up being purely traditional anymore, however, it’s important to consider how much of your day you want to spend posing for the camera.
Toning & Fine Art: Pay attention to toning of the photos. Are they very colorful? Do they look “washed out” or have a certain tint to them? Decide what you like. You’ll probably be naturally drawn to a certain style – even if you don’t notice it yourself.
Edgy/Bold: These photographers tend to use more avant-garde styles of shooting. Cutting off heads, using different, unusual angles, and possibly lots of different lighting techniques.
Step 2. The word on the street (Reviews and Referrals!)
Read Reviews: While searching and narrowing your list be sure to read reviews! (Take it back to theknot, weddingwire, google reviews or even yelp to check out what other clients have to say about them. Trust your judgement. There are good photographers out there who may have had one impossible to please client. Don’t let a single bad review turn you off, but beware.
Ask for Referrals. Ask around to friends, relatives, co-workers to find out who has gotten married recently or who has been to a wedding. Did they like the photographer? Did they hate the photographer? Many photographers offer referral incentives to previous brides, so be sure to ask if you end up choosing someone who was referred to you.
Check them out online. A professional, reliable photographer should have at least a few “featured” weddings posted in their portfolio online. Check out the about and info pages on their website. These will give you clues about their personalities which may help you decide if they will be a good fit or not. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! (Oh! and Pinterest!) Do they interact well with their clients in those platforms? Are their responses professional?
Step 3. Narrow it down…
Feel the connection. Narrow it down to photographers whose work makes you excited and emotional. Make sure that lots of their photos do this for you! Be sure not to focus on one or two of their images that you like. There majority of their photos should make you excited!
Pay homage to the budget. Look at the Pricing or Investment page on the photographer’s website. They should give you some idea of price range. Email ones that really interest you to ask for more information. At this point you should really just be trying to get an idea of price range. Don’t expect to get a detailed pricing sheet. Be sure to give them some information about your wedding date, venue, style of wedding and why you connect with their work! If their price range is in the ballpark of what you can afford, then move ahead.
…unless… if there is a photographer that really captures your attention but is just a bit out of your range, you may want to meet with them anyway. It may be worth cutting out that 3rd and 4th flavor of cake, going with a less expensive flower in your bouquet or trimming the 4th cousins and part of your college volleyball team from your guest list to ensure you get the photographs you really want from your wedding.
If you love their style and what you see on their website, and their fees are in your budget ballpark, call to see if they have your date available. If they aren’t available, see if they have recommendations or alternate shooters with a similar style. Talk with them on the phone, make sure they get back to you in a timely and professional manner. Get to know them a bit, then schedule that interview. Pick three – five photographers to interview. Be prepared to talk about your wedding venue, what kind of feel you / atmosphere you want to have, what you love about their work and what you envision for your photos.