Choosing a wedding photographer is a big decision.
Your wedding cannot be redone. It’s true that if you’re made of money, you could stage another wedding and use all the same people, props and places. But it wouldn’t really be the same, would it?
After your wedding, your photos are the main memory keeper. You share them with friends, you email them to relatives overseas who couldn’t make it, you flash your gorgeous handmade wedding album in front of every visitor to your home. I’ve read and heard so many horror stories of regret over disappointing (or even non-existent!) wedding photos – it breaks my heart.
So we’ve established it’s important to make a good choice, and that’s what you want to do. The pressure’s on now! How on earth do I choose from the hundreds of wedding photographers out there? Do I even really need a professional?
Here’s my two cents about a few key things to consider when choosing your wedding photographer.
Before you complete this checklist I’d suggest that you build a list of potential photographers based on recommendations from family and friends, and any other data gathering you might like to do. Sites like Easy Weddings are a great resource to help find relevant suppliers in your area.
First things first: Like their style
Visit their website (if they don’t have one, run quickly in the opposite direction!) and have a look at their portfolio. Does it represent a fairly consistent style? Or does it look like the photos were taken by 10 different photographers? Can you picture yourself (all dolled up in your beautiful gown) in the place of the couples in the photos? Ask if you can have a look at one or two “complete” weddings, so you can get an idea of how they document an entire wedding day. Not every photo will be worthy of a 20×30 inch canvas, so make sure you’ve got realistic expectations about the final set of images you will receive.
If you like their style, then it’s now worth investigating further.
Second: Like the person
You will probably be spending a fair chunk of the happiest day of your life with your photographer. Meet them before you book, or at least have a phone conversation – don’t do it all over email. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do you feel comfortable talking about your desires and ideas for your wedding? Can you tell that they are really listening to you, and aren’t just imposing their own ideas on you? If you can hit it off with your photographer, it makes you more relaxed, which makes the photos more natural.
This is one of the main reasons I offer engagement shoots – I get to know my couples, they get to know me and how I work, and they get used to being in front of my camera.
So you like their style, you get along great, time to keep ticking off the list. By now your shortlist is probably a bit shorter, but that’s ok – we’re working towards one winner.
Third: Like their price
Figure out your budget and stick to it. You might think it would be in my best interest to leave this one out, but it’s not. If you’re not comfortable with how much you’re paying, it won’t be a positive experience overall. There’s a reason this is third and not first though…
Think carefully about what percentage of your wedding budget you allocate to photography. You really do get what you pay for (almost all of the time). Think about the value that these images, albums and prints will hold as you reflect on them all through your married life. You’ll probably find that the value will greatly outweigh the initial cost.
So far, so good – it’s all coming together. Everyone would love an unlimited wedding budget, but maybe your list is a little shorter now ’cause one or two of your contenders is just out of reach of your bank account.
Fourth: Like their products
Every photographer will offer different “finished products” with their wedding services. If you have your heart set on a particular album style, high-gloss acrylic mounted print, or DVD slideshow, make sure it’s on offer before you sign on the dotted line.
If you’re not sure what you want, look for a photographer who offers a range of different ways to display your images. Most pros will have good relationships with their suppliers too, and will be able to help you with custom requests – it’s worth asking the question so you’re not disappointed later. Most high-end products are only available to photographers, so if you choose a package that includes only a disc of images, you may not be able to DIY the same quality as a good photographer.
Almost there – eliminate any more from your list that you need to, and it’s time for one last step before picking a winner.
Fifth: Like their recommendations
Check out their testimonials or reviews. Maybe ask if you can phone a previous bride to talk about their experience.
Now you’ve got all your info, it’s time to book. Hopefully you’re left with a clear winner!
Ultimately, your wedding photography should be all about you – if you feel comfortable with your photographer, and confident that all your requirements are being met, you’ve got a good start to a successful partnership that will result in images you’ll treasure forever.
For more hot tips, the latest images and a dose of Monday morning pick-me-up, you can subscribe here.