You're engaged and planning the wedding of your dreams. Naturally, you want to find a photographer who will perfectly capture one of the biggest moments of your life...but where to start? The seemingly endless list of wedding photographers can seem really daunting and you can be tempted to just choose one at random.
HOLD THE PHONE.
Before making a rash decision, do some research. Now, I know there are a TON of advice articles out there on finding a wedding photographer, but sometimes that advice can get overwhelming too. You don't know anything about the technical aspects of photography, the best gear on the market, or what ineffable quality to look for when meeting with potential photogs. I may be going against the grain here, but forget about all of that stuff. I'm going to give a few easy, practical tips to keep in mind when choosing the photographer that works best for you and your beloved.
1. What is your style?
Easy, right? Now, I'm not talking about your potential wedding style that Pinterest tells you is necessary, I'm talking about you and your fiance's s t y l e. Your personal style, lifestyle, social style. Defining how you live on a daily basis and then finding a photographer who aligns with that sensibility will make everyone happier since everyone is jiving.
Are you a free spirited romantic whose home is filled with antiques and art nouveau prints? Chances are the formal, traditional photographer who specializes in posed portraits isn't the right fit for you. Which is okay; not everyone is going to be your cup of tea. If you're having a private, artistic elopement in the wilderness, perhaps look for a photographer with an easy going attitude and laid back, photojournalistic style.
PRO TIP: Always look at the photographer's portfolio or blog and see if their style stays true to how they portray themselves on social media. View an entire wedding or elopement on their website for consistency and don't make a decision solely based on Instagram or Facebook.
2. Do the photos make you happy?
Okay, so you've defined your style and found a few photographers who are jiving with your personality. Cool! Next step, do their photos make you happy?
Do they elicit an emotion when you see them? You're going to have these photos for the rest of your life and you'll(hopefully) be looking at them every day...sitting on your bedside table, hanging in the hallway, perched on shelves...these are not photos you'll want to get sick of seeing when you wake up in the morning.
If you find yourself gasping in awe at a particular photographer's work and wanting to BE in their photos, that's a damn good sign. Ask yourself why you feel that emotional attachment so you can vocalize what you love about the photos when you meet for a consultation. Is it the color and composition that are visually stunning? Or does the photographer capture truly emotional moments of the day and tell a story with their work? Perhaps you love the romantic bride and groom portraits?
Whatever your personal reason may be, finding a photographer whose work makes you HAPPY will pay for itself in the long run when you have cherished photos for years to come.
3. Do you LIKE the photographer?
Alright. You've found a photographer whose work makes you happy...next you have the consider the photographer themselves. Your wedding photographer is probably the person you will be spending the most time with on your wedding day, so it's important that you like them as a person. When you talk to them, does their demeanor give you the warm fuzzies? Can you picture(hehe) yourself chatting with them for 8 hours and not feel awkward, weird or like you need to find a quiet space by yourself? Get to know the person behind the camera.
Pro Tip: Read the photographer's "About Me" or bio and learn about their interests, personal life and mission statement. If their philosophy connects with you, keep that in mind when reaching out for a phone call or face to face meeting.
4. What's included in the price?
This is a big investment and it's really important to know what the package you're purchasing includes. Hours of continuous coverage, second shooters, travel fees and number of photos delivered are all things you should be considering. Also, note if the photographer you're hiring includes a print release in their packages. Some photographer's "sell" the digital photo while others sell prints with an option to buy digital copies at a premium.
PRO TIP: Does the package include special gifts or extras? Lagniappe services and gifts are a tell tale sign of a photographer who is invested in you and will go above and beyond to give you an elevated customer service experience.
5. When in doubt, get them on the phone.
If you're still overwhelmed with options and see yourself running in circles, the best advice I can give is to get your potential photographer on the phone(or better yet, meet in person). Chat about your expectations, worries, and questions that their website didn't answer. Actually talking instead of communicating via email goes such a long way in connecting and building that bridge of trust.
Some things to take note of when chatting with a potential photographer:
- Tone of voice. Do they have a pleasant and self assured tone when answering your questions?
- Listening skills. Do they sit back and listen to your concerns or are they bulldozing and dominating the conversation?
- Confidence. Your photographer should know their craft inside and out and have no problem answering the tough questions with grace and gusto.
- Sense of Humor. Do they laugh or are things strictly business? Weddings can undoubtedly be stressful events, and there is a lot riding on photographers to capture everything perfectly. Finding a photographer who is able to take the hardest situation in stride and still laugh in the end will go a long way in easing wedding jitters.
I hope this short list helps you in some small way to finding the photographer who is best for you!
Remember: Don't stress too much and just trust your gut. Everything will work out in the end.