Researching and deciding on the right person to photograph your wedding is an important step in the planning process. With so many talented individuals to pick from, ranging in style, experience, and price, it can feel like an overwhelming task. Thankfully, choosing a photographer doesn’t have to be horrible chore, and by following these simple tip you’ll be able to find the perfect match in no time.
Determine your Budget
Before you even start looking at photographers, it’s important to determine your budget. There is no point falling in love with a photographer’s portfolio to then realize they are $5,000 out of your budget. Luckily there are talented individuals in all price ranges, so once you’ve set your budget, you’ll be able really begin your search.
Ask for referrals
A simple Google search can be a good place to start, but often time you’ll want to get personal referrals from friends, family and even other vendors. Be sure to use all your resources and ask around to those who recently got married. If you’ve already booked your venue, or started working with other vendors, don’t be afraid to ask them for recommendations as well. As vendors we’ve worked with a wide array of other professionals and can suggest companies that fit your style, budget and location.
Explore website and blog
A photographers website is your first impression of their work, so it’s important to take a look around. Read their bio, explore their galleries, and see their latest work on their blog (if applicable). Many times photographers will list their starting price, so look out for that, and be sure to really read the information on their site. This will give you a much better idea about their business, what it’s like to work with them, and an overall sense of them as photographers.
A quick search for reviews can reveal a lot about your prospective choices, both the positives and negatives. Be sure to look into sites like Yelp and Wedding Wire to see what past clients have said. If you consistently hear the same adjectives being used to describe the photographer it’s a good indicator that these are traits you can expect to experience.
Once you’ve determined the leading contenders, it’s time to reach out via email and see if they are available for your date. If they are, then it’s the perfect opportunity to schedule a face-to-face meeting. Many photographers will also send you full pricing info at that time, make sure to read all the details so you’re prepared to ask them any questions or concerns you may have.
TIP: Most photographers book up 8 months to a year in advance so be sure to start researching soon after you’ve set the date and booked your venue.
I’d recommend meeting with 3 photographers in person, as each will have their own style, personality and approach. Someone can seem like the perfect fit online, but this meeting will really give you a look into what working with them would be like.
Were they late to the meeting with no phone call to let you know they got stuck in traffic? Did they seem disinterested or insincere? Did you like their personality, or did you not click?
These are all important things to keep in mind since you’ll spend a large portion of your wedding day with your photographer. If you already find them annoying during a 30-minute meeting, that’s a good indicator they may not be the right fit for you.
Ask To See More
It’s a great idea to ask your prospective photographer to view a full gallery from a past wedding. If you are having a church ceremony, ask to see a gallery from a church. If you’re having a garden reception, ask to see something similar. Locations play a huge part in the overall esthetic of your wedding, and the lighting between a church and garden ceremony will be very different. You want to make sure you photographer has experience with those conditions, and that they are producing work that you love.
Not Everyone is Equal
Every photographer prices himself or herself differently, and although it might be tempting, you can’t compare apples to apples. Just because two photographers price themselves similarly doesn’t mean they will give you the same final product, experience, customer service, and attention to detail. Keep these things in mind as your considering your top choices. It’s not just about the photography, but the overall experience each person will bring to the table.
Does it take several days for them to respond to your emails? Are they clear about when you can expect to see your photos? Do you get an overall sense that they will take care of you in a personal and professional manner?
Trust your gut
When you’ve weighted all the pros and cons, it really comes down to choosing the professional who you believe is the best fit. Don’t stress out about your decision, photography is one of the many aspects of your wedding day; so don’t be afraid to trust your gut to help make the final call.
So what about the photographers you didn’t choose to work with? Don’t forget that behind every business is a person, who deserves to hear from you. Even though it might be slightly uncomfortable, be sure to let any vendors you’ve contacted know that you have chosen to go in another direction.
Speaking from experience, it’s extremely disheartening to follow up with an inquiry or meeting to then be ignored. Taking that minute to say “thank you for your time, but your services are more than we’ve budgeted for” or “we appreciate you meeting with us, but after much consideration we’ve decided to move forward with another photographer” is the considerate thing to do. Letting us know you booked someone else won’t hurt our feelings, and but avoiding us will.
I hope you’ve found this information useful, and that these suggestions help lead you to your perfect photographer.