Searching for a great photographer is an exciting part of planning a wedding! However, considering that most folks don’t hire wedding photographers on a regular basis, the multitude of choices can sometimes feel overwhelming. Finding the right photographer may take a little work, but it’s worth it! Here are some key points to keep in mind and some important questions to ask.
How do different photographers’ images make you feel? What catches your eye when you look at their work? Do the subjects tend to be looking into the camera, or does the photographer seem to have a knack for capturing genuine, candid moments? Does one of these approaches appeal to you more than the other?
Some wedding photography portfolios showcase the kinds of images you’re likely to see in magazines and on wedding planning websites- crisp, clean photos of flowers, decorations, and traditional bride and groom portraits. Other portfolios might feature a documentary approach that focuses on the authenticity and emotion of a couple’s celebration more than the staged details and decorations. A great wedding photographer documents as many aspects of the day as possible but, ideally, your wedding photography priorities should be aligned with those of your wedding photographer.
Shooting styles aside, different post-production and editing techniques will also affect the final appearance of your photos. Do you prefer vibrant, colorful images? Classic black and white? Or are you more drawn towards the look and vintage feel of an editing style intended to mimic old film? There are a ton of different editing styles out there, and numerous photographers for all of them. Finding a photographer whose editing style appeals to you is time well-spent, as chances are pretty good your wedding photos will receive the same treatment as those you see on his or her website.
Are you hoping to receive professional prints of your wedding photos, or would you prefer to make prints on your own? Some photographers offer prints with wedding day coverage. Some offer digital files, but they may only be available for an additional fee. If digital files are included, be sure to ask whether they are low-resolution files only suitable for social media sites, or high-resolution files intended for professional quality prints and enlargements.
Have you considered a wedding album? Digital media and storage will continue to change over the coming years. With this in mind, many couples opt to have a printed collection of their favorite images in a bound book. Today’s custom printed albums are a far cry from the relics of our parents’ generation, featuring the best in digital printing, leather and fabric cover materials, and binding construction that is guaranteed for the life of the album. Some wedding photographers include professionally designed albums with wedding day coverage, while some charge extra to design and deliver these products.
Connect with your short-listed photographers. If you can, try to meet them in person. If you can’t, don’t worry. Many couples plan ‘destination’ weddings away from their hometown, and this may not always be feasible. With this in mind, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If not over coffee, at least set up a time to connect over the phone. You should be able to ask plenty of questions this way, and you should still be able to get a feel for a photographer’s approach to his work.
Chances are you want someone who is confident, upbeat and engaging. You also probably want someone who is considerate, accommodating, and genuinely concerned about the success of your wedding day. Deciding how you feel about your photographer’s approach to his work is a personal choice, but you should feel comfortable around him. After all, he is going to be an important part of your wedding team from start to finish!
Wedding photography rates are generally commensurate with experience, equipment, and skill. That is to say, the higher a photographer’s booking rates, the more of these qualities you are likely to have working for you on your wedding day. If you see photos that are clear, creative, candid and dynamic, chances are pretty good the photographer has made the investment in top of the line equipment, has a high level of technical skill, and has developed a good photographic ‘eye’ over the course of numerous years and countless weddings.
Photographers offering lower rates are often able to do so either because they are newer to the profession and are making the transition from hobbyist/amateur to full-time professional, they shoot with less expensive gear and/or don’t invest in business insurance, or they specialize in high volume work by photographing a higher number of weddings per calendar year than average.
Figuring out your overall budget and then trying to stick to it can be tough. Ultimately, how important is your wedding photography to you? Amazing images from your wedding day will last a lifetime. So will mediocre images. If you receive a wedding album, chances are good that it will become a cherished family heirloom. You should be excited as you bring it out, not preparing your family and friends with disclaimers of how you wish you’d hired a different photographer.
Wedding planners recommend that you allocate 15-25% of your overall budget for photography, but this is simply a guideline. Your investment should match your priorities. Feeling the pinch? Try to remain flexible in other departments. Could you maybe opt for a more cost-friendly flower that is still rich and colorful? Perhaps you could cut back on your wedding favors. Your wedding photographs will be priceless, and you should be proud of them for a lifetime.