9 Steps to Choosing a Great Wedding Photographer
Wedding Photography is something you cannot hear, taste or see and you really don’t know what you are getting until after the wedding, unlike the wedding cake, music, venue, flowers, DJ. Wedding photography should be carefully researched and selected regarding professional skills, artistic style, and personal demeanor are extremely important when choosing your photographer.
Step 1: Settle on a Style for your Wedding Photographer
Before you begin researching a wedding photographer, you’ll need to decide on what photography style you want for your wedding to help determine which kind of wedding photographer you want to shoot your wedding. Get inspired! Check out Instagram blogger’s feeds and even wedding images on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great place for inspiration like this. Once you have a good collection of images try narrowing down to a specific look that means something to you. Think about the colors, mood, how they make you feel when looking at them, and most importantly can you see yourself in the images.
Remember one thing, you don’t need to settle on one style, in particular, most wedding photographers can do a blend of documentary-style and portrait style imagery as well as a mix of black & white and color images, and so on. However, if there is a special type of photography that you love, make sure you stick with that when selecting your photographer.
Step 2: Do Your Homework on your Wedding Photographer
Start your research by reading reviews from newlyweds and browsing local listings, like ones on Google or the Knot or even Wedding Wire. The best way to find photographers in your area or area of where you are getting married and narrow down from there. Carefully review each potential photographers’ websites, blogs, and social media accounts. Check out the weddings they have shot to get an idea of their shooting style. How do they capture the moments that are most important to you? The design of their website may also give you some insight into their personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages too. Is the client’s feedback positive? How does the photographer respond? How do they interact with their Instagram followers, do they seem friendly and personable? You get what I am saying!
Step 3: Set Up Meetings with the Wedding Photographer
This decision is not one that can be made on looks and images alone. You need to meet with photographers either in person or via Skype or FaceTime. This way you can talk to them and ask questions instead of looking at a pricing sheet and guessing how they are as a person. Set up as many meetings as you would like. Make sure you find out if they’re available for your date. Let them know the venue you are getting married at, what your budget is and what you want to be included in your package. Provide your photographer with as much information as possible. This way the meeting will run smoothly and you will feel good about them being your potential photographer after the meeting is over.
Step 4: See a Wedding Album
Don’t base your decision solely on what you see on a photographer’s website or social media feeds. For a good reason, photographers will only show you the best of the best from a plethora of weddings. The problem is you won’t get a well-rounded idea of their work. If they haven’t done so already, ask to see a few wedding galleries of full weddings. When I meet with my clients, I do an album viewing of 2 different weddings, so you can get an idea of how we capture a wedding day.
You want to see examples of images that are going to be similar to how your wedding is going to look. For example, if you’re having a beach ceremony or your venue is dark on the inside, you want to see images that are similar to those situations to make sure that the photographer you hire can accomplish images for those settings.
Make sure you are looking at the albums with a keen eye. Look at the smaller moments of how they capture the day. Did they get images of when the bride and groom see eachother for the first time? Does the lighting look good? How sharp and crisp are the images? Are they oversaturated? These are just some of the things to look out for amongst others.
Step 5: Make Sure Your Personalities Mesh
Don’t underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is your photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? Do they treat you as a friend or a client? Do they make you feel important? These are important questions to ask yourself when discussing your photographer. How did they make you feel and are you excited to work with them?
Step 6: Compare Packages
You won’t be able to come to a final dollar amount until you are for certain that you know how many albums you need, where your wedding photographer is based, how long you want them to be at the wedding, if you want an engagement session and how much of a demand they are for shooting weddings. Packages can range anywhere from $2,000-$15,000.
When speaking with a potential wedding photographer find out what their album fees are and how much it costs for them to be there to shoot the wedding. It’s important to find out what their standard package rate is and what it includes. Do they offer 2 photographers? Do they offer full-day coverage? and if you’re interested, do they offer videography?
Having 2 wedding photographers included in your package has a major benefit and even if they don’t include them, will there be a second wedding photographer? The second shooter can be confirmed at a later date but having the second wedding photographer in attendance has a major benefit. They can capture more of the “behind the scenes” images, photojournalistic style images, and even guests mingling. They will capture crowd reactions at the ceremony and cool dancing at the reception from other angles than the main photographer.
Step 7: Ask About Rights
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all the photos taken at the wedding. This allows the photographer to use them for promotional use like websites, blogs, ads, and publications. In other words, if you want to post any of the images, most photographers require you to post images with their watermark on it or credit the photographer with capturing the image. If you want to create any prints or albums on your own, you’ll have to buy the rights to the images which can be costly. Try negotiating with the photographer or find a photographer who includes the albums and prints in their packages.
Step 8: Get the Post Production Details
It can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks for a photographer to get your entire wedding gallery edited and then another 3-4 weeks to get your albums done. Why? Your photographer is shooting an enormous amount of raw files as well as a lot of weddings, especially during the fall, which is considered their busy season. Here is what you should ask your photographer when meeting with them! How long will it be before my images come back to us? How many images will we be receiving with our package? How will they be delivered? Will the photos be retouched during the process or does that happen after I chose the images I want to be retouched? All these questions are important when speaking with your photographer!
Step 9: Prep Together for the Day-Of with your Wedding Photographer
Remember your photographer is the pro, so – this will be helpful – you shouldn’t spend too much time putting together a detailed shot list together for them. Instead, pass along your day-of timeline, give them an idea of what kind of images you want to be captured and let them do their thing. This is also the perfect time to give them a heads up on any familial or friendship intricacies they should be aware of like divorced parents, a grandmother that needs to be remained seated for portraits or a groomsman and bridesmaid that don’t get along (Hey, it happens!). If you’re looking to have your wedding published in a magazine or online down the road, be sure to relay that information to your photographer.