From One Bride-to-Be to the Next: 5 Tips For Choosing a Wedding Photographer
An essential part of the wedding planning process is booking your photographer. Once your wedding is over, your photos are going to be one of your most treasured items. You don’t want to pick the first photographer you come across. Picking a wedding photographer is one of the biggest expenses in the wedding planning budget, and like any major purchase you make, this requires a lot of time and research. I’m personally in the process of picking my own photographer and it’s definitely a lengthy process.
Just like picking a venue, finding a photographer that meshes with your style and personality is key. They are going to be by your side the entire day so you want to make sure everything runs smoothly, that way when you get your photos back, there are no surprises. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re in the midst of choosing a wedding photographer.
Feature image via NylaGray Photography.
Do Your Research
Your photographs live long after your big day so you want to make sure your photographer really understands your vision. First things first, decide what you’re looking for from your photographer. Do you need just one lead photographer or do you need one lead photographer and an assistant photographer? This really depends on the size of your wedding and the types of photographs you are looking to capture. If you’re looking for various angles of you walking down the aisle and various shots of the first time he sees you walking down the aisle; it may be hard for one photographer to capture all this by themselves.
Next, research photographers in your area as well as photographers that your venue is associated with and compile a list of potential candidates. Reading reviews are key. Check various sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire and read reviews from brides and their experience. Word of mouth is also key. Ask family and friends if they know anyone who has used photographers you are interested in. Recommendations are vital in the wedding planning process and they are going to be one of your best resources.
Now it’s time for a little detective work. Go to your photographer’s Instagram page and social media accounts and examine their work. Do you like their style of work? Keep a critical eye while you are scrolling through images for what’s drawing you into each photograph and how you recreate similar images on your big day.
Again, more research. After browsing various photographer portfolios, start to figure out your wedding photography style. Long are the days of just traditional portrait photography, like you’ve seen from your parent’s and grandparent’s wedding albums. When looking through wedding portfolios decide if you prefer artistic shots over posed shots? Do you want a variety of candid and documentary shots? Do you also want dramatic shots? Photography style is really important to pinpoint, because, in many ways, it will lend a helping hand in choosing a photographer.
Meet with Photographers
Once you’ve made a list of potential photographers, now it’s time for an in-person consultation. Meeting with the photographer that you are going to be working with is really important. You can clearly express what you are looking for and how the photographer plans to achieve your vision. It’s also really important to review their sample wedding albums. You want a sample of their work so you can get a better idea of how your images will look. When reviewing, make sure to review with a critical eye. Don’t get sidetracked by just looking at the bride and the details of their wedding. Look at the posing, the layout of each photo, colors, lighting, and backdrop. You really want to make sure their style of work correlates with your vision.
Discuss the Packages
The natural next step is the cost of service. Of course, at this stage, you aren’t going to know nitty-gritty details like how many prints you may need or if you’re opting for parents albums and the details of your wedding album. However, what you want to figure out is how many hours of service are in their packages and if you will need overtime from your photographers. The standard hours for wedding photographers are usually 6-8 hours and the max number of hours is 12. You want your photographer with you from start to finish–beginning with you getting ready and ending with your wedding exit. Depending on the timeline of your day, you want to figure out if you can customize a package that best suits your needs as well as how much they charge for overtime if needed. To stay in our budget, my fiancé and I decided we would like our lead photographer to stay with us for the full 12 hours and the assistant photographer is going to stay for approximately 8 hours; leaving after our first dance.
Turnaround Time After the Wedding
Lastly, during your consultation, you want to discuss the turnaround time of receiving your images. Every company is going to vary slightly with the post production time due to the uploading process and retouching time. You also want to get a rough estimate of how many images you should expect to receive. You want to discuss with your photographer image rights and watermark policies. There may be a fee to legally own all the rights to your images. You want to make this clear when choosing a wedding package that way there are no discrepancies later on.