If you've been planning your wedding for even two seconds you already know that putting that "looking for a wedding photographer...GO!" post on your IG or FB account was at best, a terrible idea. You probably underestimated just how many different photographers your friends knew.
When it comes to planning your wedding, choosing your wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions that you will make. You've already picked the perfect partner, most likely chosen your favorite venue, have all these amazing ideas for decor, seating, ceremony and reception details and you definitely want to make the right decision to hire the very best person to capture it all. Sifting through those countless referrals from that social media post can be extremely nerve-wracking.
Problem is, not every photographer is created equal and while so many talented people exist in your circle of friends there are some things we always encourage our couples to think about before taking that leap of faith to hire the perfect wedding photographer for their important day. So if you're still reading, thank you...we hope we can help!
An experienced photographer is always prepared for any moment to happen. On the wedding day, those experiences are plenty and a great photographer will capture things you didn't get to see and never realized happened . They can also take a mediocre space or room and turn it into something that is beautiful. They will take the time to move unnecessary items in the background and pay attention to details that will enhance your photos and bring them to the next level.
An inexperienced photographer usually lacks the proper expertise and quite often makes the most beautiful venues or scenes look quite ordinary or painfully average. Time delays and impromptu weather changes that effect lighting and operation of equipment are very common in the wedding industry and a stressed out photographer can influence the entire mood and enjoyment of the day itself.
For these reasons we encourage everyone to make photography a priority in your budget. The decision you make here can ultimately make or break your entire wedding day. No pressure...haha. So how much should you pay for wedding photography?
Your wedding budget is something to take serious for obvious reasons. The practice of setting aside a good portion of your budget for photography follows the same principle as most things in life...you get what you pay for. It's our recommendation to spend as much as you can on photography and the majority of brides you talk to will whole-heartedly agree. We highly encourage our brides to choose us solely because they fell in love with the style of our images and not because of price.
A good place to start is by focusing on the images and how they make you feel. Can you see them hanging on your wall in your home or gracing the pages of your social media accounts? Can you see them in a wedding magazine or some super fun wedding blog? Wedding albums should be a secondary priority because if all you have are poor quality images you will always have poor quality images, no matter how they're packaged or how beautiful the outside of your wedding album is. Don't be distracted by the photographer offering the most albums or print credits for the same price. Knowing that your wedding will be captured in the style that you love by an experienced photographer should be #1.
Does your photographer include digital high resolution images with your package or do they charge extra? You should consider this because purchasing prints or digital files can add up very quickly. If they offer a second shooter, you might ask to see their work first...it's not always evident how experienced this second shooter is and most great photographers are better than any two photographers any given day of the week.
Sometimes the best way to start your search is to ask your recently married friends about the experience they had with their wedding photographer. If you like the style of their photographs then put that photographer on your short list and go from there. I don't recommend choosing photographers solely based on recommendations from wedding venues. While true vendor referral lists do exist, most smaller venues get kick backs from the referrals they make or their preferred vendor list is made up of family and close friends. Any good referral in the wedding industry will be based on quality of service not commission fees.
It can also be helpful to look at photographs from photographers that have worked your venue, sometimes doing a keyword search with your venue name will help you find those particular people.
The growing popularity of photojournalism or documentary style photography is a breath of fresh air to the wedding industry. Story telling is at the forefront of a wedding photographer's mind and with a playful mix of story telling and candid portraiture you might find yourself with a winning combination perfect for your wedding day.
It's the job of your wedding photographer to capture natural images of people laughing, crying, hugging and kissing – and all those little moments that would go unnoticed by the casual observer. Our clients hire us because they don't want cheesy posed photographs -- you know the type of photographs your parents most likely have from their wedding day. Our couples often want a mix of photojournalistic and classically staged images like those epic magazine cover photos everyone freaks out about on Pinterest.
Sure, our clients want natural photographs of their friends laughing and their parents crying but they also want a beautiful family photograph that their parents and grandparents will treasure forever. A good balance and mix of these different styles can ensure that everyone is happy, your day is stress-free and fun!
Our favorite part about wedding photography is working with different elements of light throughout the day. An experienced photographer should be able to tackle any lighting situation if the need arises. They should understand how to light a scene and create stunning photographs even in the darkest of rooms. Pay close attention to photographers that claim to "specialize" in natural light photography...it could mean that they simply haven't mastered anything else. It's a painful truth and one that is often overlooked when searching for the perfect wedding photographer. It's always beneficial to know how to use lighting and have the skills for any situation if the situation presents itself.
You should always ask to see more of the photographer's most recent work, not just the chosen money shots they put up on their Instagram account. If they blog or post teaser galleries on their Facebook page, pay close attention to the consistency of their work.
If you're wedding is in June or October, ask to see weddings from the same month you've chosen. If your wedding is going to be candle-lit, you want to make sure your photographer is capable of shooting in that scenario. Just because a photographer shows beautiful outdoor wedding photos on their website doesn't mean your indoor photos will look the same. If you're getting married outside, it's important to find a photographer that can work with harsh light as well. Unpleasant shadows or overexposed images are hard to fix.
In our experience, a wedding photographer should be flexible to your requests. It's your day and you should have a say in the photographs that are taken. We are super good at listening to the ideas from our bride and groom and always want to work together to make the experience second to none. Our clients also respect our expertise and passion for what we do, which helps create beautiful imagery on your wedding day. A true professional photographer shouldn't need a long list of must have shots like all the wedding blogs and magazines suggest. If we're taking time reading your list all day we might miss some real moments that need to be captured.
If you are wanting family photos, an accurate and concise list of group family photographs is helpful to allow sufficient time in your schedule.
We always have an arsenal of camera gear with us on your wedding day. We bring a minimum of 5 camera bodies, 6 lenses, 4 flash units, batteries, chargers, cables, stands, memory cards, light boxes and whatever else we might need. A good photographer knows that equipment can fail without notice so we always carry backups.
They say it's the photographer NOT the camera that takes a good photograph and we totally agree. However; a cheap lens or camera body cannot match a professional grade lens in sharpness and clarity. Having quality gear helps produce higher quality results. We shoot with camera bodies that cost 3-6k and lenses that cost roughly the same. We bring top quality professional equipment because we think you deserve the best.
A wedding photographer should also have a valid certificate of insurance – and some venues even require this for a photographer to attend. Something to think about.
While it has its advantages, please don't underestimate a great wedding photographer just because they've never been to your venue. We photograph at new venues all the time and part of the reason we love weddings so much is because we get to experience new spaces, backdrops and property we've never used before. It can sometimes be a disadvantage if your photographer is overly familiar with your wedding venue. So if your photographer has photographed at your venue before ask to see multiple weddings to make sure they aren't just doing the same thing each time.