Alright so a while back I blogged about what to do to get your wedding planning process started after you get engaged. Click Here if you Haven’t read it yet → OMG,You’re engaged!!! But now what? Well now I’m going to go a little more in depth about how to find your photographer. So sit back and get ready to read because here are 10 steps to finding your wedding photographer:
1- Start looking ASAP: Just like I mentioned in that previous blog post, your photographer is basically the first thing you book after your venue. As a photographer myself, I know that we can book up to two years in advance. There are some years that aren’t as busy so if you’re lucky we could be available even 6 months before your big day but it really is ideal to have your photographer booked as soon as you have your date and venue set. That way you aren’t rushing to hire someone based solely on availability.
2- Budget: How much are you looking to spend? The market, especially in larger cities can be ridiculously saturated with both amateurs and professionals. And within these levels of photographers are different tiers of pricing. Most base it off their experience but your typical professional will be priced based off of their CODB (cost of doing business). Photographers with years of experience, proper gear, who run their business properly and legally, who have taken the time to educate themselves and continue to do so, will have a higher price tag. In comparison to say someone who got a DSLR for Christmas and decided they wanted to shoot weddings so they now charge 500$ for a full day. Or even someone who’s been in the industry for YEARS but who hasn’t grown with the times, continued educating themselves or who don’t upgrade their gear. There are a ton of factors as to why photographers charge the way they do, the question is; do you value them enough to have a budget that equates to a professional with everything above, or are you trying to save some money anywhere you can and are willing to go with the cheaper option? If your budget doesn’t allow for 8 hours of coverage with an engagement session, and an album and all the bells and whistle, but you love a photographer that’s out of your budget, try asking them if they have smaller packages that might work within your budget.
3-Style: Now that you’ve figured out your budget, what kind of style attracts you the most when looking at others wedding photos? When looking at style there’s two things to look for, the aesthetics of the photo and the type of photo it is. Aesthetics would be the look of the photo. Do you like more of the Bright + Airy photos where the colours tend to be a little less saturated and everything is really bright or do you like things a little darker or moodier as some might call it. Or maybe you like dramatic photos and want someone who shoot primarily with flash. And then there’s types of photography such as; candid/photojournalistic, where the photos are more in the moment and captured like the photographer was a fly on the wall. Or are you shy and awkward in front of a camera and would like more posed photos. Luckily most photographers shoot in a combo which you’ll be able to see in their portfolio.
4-Personality: This one is huge in my books and really the most important one. You want to find a photographer whose personality will mesh well with your and your fiancé(e)s. You might think that on your wedding day you’ll be spending the majority of your day with your family but in complete truth you’ll be spending the majority of your day with your photographer. You need to decide if you want someone who’s say, a firecracker that will make you laugh and take the stress off your shoulders or if you prefer someone who’s a little more quiet and that that will only direct you when necessary. It’s all a matter of preference which is why I think talking on the phone, facetiming or meeting in person is really important in your final decision. You should love your photographer as much as you love their work.
5-Experience: This one is tough because not everyone see’s eye to eye on this subject. Here’s my opinion; get someone with experience! It doesn’t have to be 10+ years but get someone who at least has a dozen weddings under their belt. The reason I say this is because weddings can be very difficult to handle in terms of photography, many things get thrown our way during a wedding day and we have to figure out how to deal with it on the spot. Wedding days are no joke and you want, actually you NEED someone that knows the in’s and out’s and will be able to handle anything that gets thrown their way. My first year in weddings as my own business was amazing and not that difficult, why? Because I’d second shot for a few photographers and studios for the two years prior. I was prepared. Yes I’ve learned a lot over the last 8 years in business but that goes for any job. Would you let someone who just got a tattoo gun and ink tattoo you asap because they’ve drawn on some paper before? No. You get an experienced artist or at least someone who’s done a few tattoos before letting them touch your skin. Same goes for weddings. It can’t be done again, get someone who will get it right.
6 & 7-Consultation & Questions: After finding a photographer you love, checking your budget, making sure their style fits what you’re looking for, viewing their website and contacting them, set up a consultation! During this consult you’ll be able to validate if your personalities mesh well together and they’ll be able to talk to you about their experience in the industry. Ask a ton of questions, ones that will help you in deciding if this photographer is a right fit for you. A few examples are:
-How do you approach a wedding day?
-What if it rains? (This one goes both ways; a photographer should have ideas for photo locations in case of rain BEFORE the wedding day, but clients should also discuss this with their venue)
-What would happen if your equipment fails?
-Do you backup our photos?
-What can be expect from you on the day itself? ETC.
8-Portfolio & Albums: My one SOLID piece of advice in this case is to ask to see full weddings from getting ready to the party. I say this because a lot of photographers will only post their BEST photos on their website. Of course we want you to see our best but you should want to see what a whole day will look like and not just the top 15photos of couples during their bridal session on the day of. A friend of mine was married a couple years ago and they found a photographer they liked but only viewed her website and never asked to see more of her work. Fast forward to after the wedding and they received over 1,500 photos of duplicate images and the quality of her work was nothing like what she demonstrated on her site. She had a lot of red flags before the wedding itself but had they looked into that alone it might have made a difference. So do it, ask to see a couple full weddings start to finish. If they already have full weddings on their site then total bonus, you have no surprises waiting for you. Albums are also a great way to look into the photographers quality of work because you can see how the images print. We live in this day and age where people only want Digitals. They receive their online gallery or USB and put them on their computer or hard drive and they stay there for eternity with no use. PRINT YOUR PHOTOS PEOPLE. You will enjoy them so much more when you can open your album or look at your photos on your wall. Your photographer should be able to present products to you.
9- Contract: ALWAYS HAVE A SIGNED CONTRACT. This is to protect you as a client and the photographer. A professional will have a detailed contract that will outline everything that needs to be covered on your big day so that if you have any questions, you can refer to it. Things to look for in a contract are things like; Payment outline, Package information, Liability clauses, Delivery information, Cancellation or Rescheduling clauses, Travel and meal information, etc. When I first started out my contract was barely two pages long and it covered the bare minimum. After years on the job it is now 8pages long and covers everything my clients need to know.
10- AFTER THE DAY: Be aware of the process that will proceed following your wedding day. Make sure your photographer has a plan and has things detailed for you. Most photographers will have this outlined in the contract, but everyone is different. I know photographers that have full-time jobs on top of being photographers so their delivery schedule might be more like 2-5months for delivery on a USB. Where as I offer a timeline of 2-8weeks for delivery with the option to meet and discuss albums and prints afterwards. Ask what happens to the photos once they’re delivered i.e Do they get archived, if so for how long? Can we contact you again if we have any questions or little tweaks we’d like done to the photos? Speaking of editing, is there an additional cost for certain types of editing? Etc. Make yourself aware of the photographers process to see if it lines up with what you’re hoping for.
Testimonials & Reviews: I love me a good testimonial, but sometimes you need to take what you see with a grain of salt. If the photographer has 1million 5star reviews on facebook then personally I’d find that a little odd. Make sure the reviewers are legitimate people and not bots. You can even ask the photographer for real people reviews. Everyone can also be biased in the sense that Marylou hired Photographer A for her family photos. She loves the photos even though they aren’t really that great in terms of quality. She doesn’t care though because all she sees is her family which is totally fine. Her review is more based on her experience than anything else. Whereas you want the whole package, experience and quality so make sure you’re reading review that cover both and then compare them to the work. Is it up to your standard? Do you like what you see? Take everything with a grain of salt. But most of all GO WITH YOUR GUT! That is such an ugly looking sentence but it’s true. After you’ve done everything on this list the best thing you can do is go with your instincts and feelings.
So that’s it folks, 10 steps to finding your photographer. They aren’t complicated, they really are based on how the person makes you feel and how their work speaks to you. I hope this post was helpful and that we can chat about everything listed above as well as all of your plans for your wedding day! I can’t wait to hear from you so go ahead, subscribe to our newsletter which will keep you updated on new blog content and send me an email below! ♥