I have decided to write this post in an effort to help, not only my clients, but every bride out there choose a wedding photographer.
Your wedding date, short of the birth of your children, is one of the most monumental and important days of your life. When I speak with brides about booking I always tell them that they should book the big three first, caterer, venue (and officiant), and photographer, as all three of these big items book up quickly and are incredibly important.
Obviously I am biased, but I truly believe that wedding photography is one of the best investments you can make on your wedding day. After the food is eaten, the lights turned down, the flowers wilted, the cake gone, and your dress is packed up in that dust protecting box in the top of closet... you are left with the memories of that day. Your photographs from that day are something that you will look at every day for the rest of your life. You will use these photos for canvases, prints, social media, on your bedside table, in your wallet, on your desk, and you will show them to your children and your children’s children. They are a constant and beautiful reminder of that day and the epic and beautiful love you and your spouse felt for each other and continue to feel for each other every single day.
That being said, choosing a wedding photographer is often a confusing and difficult process. There are so many of us. We all have unique packages, pricing, techniques and editing style. So here are a few steps I would follow if I were in your shoes:
Choose Your Style.
Every photographer has a unique style. Personally, I strive for rich tones, deep shadows, and timeless but vibrant colours. Whether it is specializing in natural-lit photography, candid photos, photojournalistic photos, film, or formal portraits. Some photographers have a clean and bright style, while others specialize in black in white, and still others have a “matte” vibe to their photographs. And still, some photographers incorporate a mix of all techniques. It is so important that you do your research and decide what kind of photos you want out of your wedding day, and choose a photographer based on that decision.
Meet Potential Photographers in Person.
Every photographer I know will offer free consultations to meet with you, and you should take full advantage of that. It is incredibly important that you meet with potential photographers and ask questions, go over their contract (more about that later) and make sure you actually get along with them. Photographers are usually there with you for your entire day, from getting ready for the day to getting ready to go to bed (and sometimes still even the morning after for a sunrise session), it is incredibly important that you like them!
Find Someone You Can Trust.
Once you have chosen this person you must be able to trust them. They are a professional, and if you choose the right person for the job they will care just as much about your wedding photos as you do, I can promise that. You don't want to be stuck with someone you feel like you have to micromanage. You want to feel taken care of, like you are in the hands of a professional that will know what they need to do to achieve the collection you are looking for. The best thing about hiring a professional and trusting them is that it is one less thing you have to worry about on your big day!
Don’t Make it About Price.
Do not get me wrong here, I know that you have a budget, and it is so important to stick to that budget. I know that weddings are not cheap, and I know that you have to make a million decisions on what you allocate that money to. Firstly, almost every photographer I know, including myself, will work with you to get their package price closer to your budget. DO NOT eliminate the chance of getting your favourite photographer as soon as you see their package prices, talk to them about it and see if they can help you out.
Furthermore, my pricing on my website is located under the “Investment” tab, not a “Pricing” tab because your wedding photographer is an investment, a smart and calculated investment in art. You are getting an amazing return on these photos, memories that will last you a lifetime. Consider the value when comparing quotes, one photographer may be cheaper, but the more expensive one may give you more bang for your buck, may offer gorgeous photos, and may have that amazing “customer service” experience you are looking for. Not only that, but some photographers offer a base price (for their initial site time), but tack on additional charges later for the actual digital files, or additional printing or coverage options. It is so important to understand what you are getting for the price you are quoted. It is easy to go with the cheaper photographer, but you may end up paying more in the long run.
Also consider that photographers charge the amount they do based on a business model. If you want a photographer that is invested in their company, in their work, in their equipment, and in their craft, then you should expect that they will charge a rate that reflects that. Photography business is not cheap, and if someone is quoting you a very low price keep in mind that they may not be using back-up equipment, they may not archive your photos in case you ever lose them and need to get them back, and they may just walk away from their responsibility, because they are not invested like a true professional would be.
You are investing a lot of money on photography no matter who you go with, and you are trusting this person with your wedding day photography, this cannot be re-done. Talking to any photographer you will know that wedding photography is an incredibly difficult and stressful endeavour, make sure that you go with someone that is incredibly confident in their abilities. Dig deep into those photographers you meet with. Ask to see an entire wedding portfolio, not just the best of the best. Some photographers haven’t done that many weddings, so you are taking a chance on them. Saying that though, I am so incredibly lucky that couples took a chance on me otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today. If they are offering albums or prints ask to see samples.
And most importantly, ensure that your photographer has a contract for you to sign. A contract protects you and your photographer; it outlines their rates and fees, processing times, dates and times. It talks about what happens if equipment is stolen or a tornado blows through that day. Also ask your photographer what they would do if it rained that day, how they would deal with arguing family members or fussy children. Ask them what they would do if it incredibly hot and you are sweaty and shiny all day. Ask them if they would edit every single photo if you have a zit on your forehead. Make sure they can answer these questions and are knowledgeable about how they will accomplish capturing some of your most important memories.