If you are recently engaged and/or planning a wedding, more likely than not, you are overwhelmed by how many wedding vendors are available to you. A photographer, specifically, can be one of the most important people you hire for your wedding. In fact, you'll spend more time with your photographer than you will with any other person you hire for your wedding.
You want amazing photos, but there are so many choices. Where do you start? Today, I'll go over tips that will help you choose the perfect wedding photographer. No matter what kind of wedding you are planning, you should consider the following when making this important decision.
1. First things first: start searching right away!
The best wedding photographers book at least a year in advance so as soon as you pick a date for your wedding, start looking for your wedding photographer. There's nothing worse than finding a photography you absolutely love, only to hear that they have already booked your date.
2. It's all about style
When you're looking at a photographer's portfolio, take notice of the images -- are they dark and dramatic, or colorful and bright? Try to imagine your wedding and the style that comes to mind. For those unfamiliar with the different photography styles, most photographers will describe their style on their websites or you can ask them whether they focus on portraiture, candids (also called documentary or photojournalistic), fine art (which is focused on creative angles and images worthy of display) or a combination of these styles. According to Wedding Paper Divas, you consider how well they perform in different settings and environments. For example, if you're getting married on the beach, make sure the photographer is skilled in outdoor wedding photography.
Equally important, ask photographers you are interviewing if they will consider your ideas. How much creative control do you want to have? Some brides have lots of ideas they want to incorporate into their wedding, while others would rather leave all of that to the professional. Be sure to communicate your needs to the photographers you are talking to and make sure they are able to accommodate your wishes.
One last note on style: find a photographer who is able to create timeless images. Trends are fun but they come and go. Do you want to look back on your photos in 10 years and wonder what you were thinking? Enhancements such as selective color, texts, added images and heavy vignettes will date your photos and probably won't stand the test of time. Look for clean, colorful images that accurately reflect reality with no obvious editing effects.
I highly recommend meeting with the wedding photographer you plan on hiring whenever possible. If meeting is not possible, have a video call or Skype consultation with the photographer. You will undoubtedly spend more time with your wedding photographer than any other vendor so make sure personality-wise that you're a good fit. Some photographers are bold and take center stage wherever they go, while others quietly do their job while you barely notice they are even there. The best wedding photographers will remain unnoticed at times such as the ceremony but will also know how to direct people when necessary to ensure family and friends are present and look their best during the formals.
The more times you meet with your wedding photographer before the wedding, the more relaxed you will be in front of the camera. I suggest meeting with the photographer for an initial consultation/booking and also at least one more time before the wedding. This could be meeting at the venue or having an engagement session with the photographer.
4. Ask to see a full wedding album
When you meet your photographer, ask to see a full wedding album. This is important because photographers put only their best work on their websites. You want to make sure the photographer can photograph the entire wedding beautifully, not just a handful of images. It's even better if you get to see a couple different albums from different wedding venues. Ask the photographer if he or she will be the actual photographer who will photograph your wedding and be sure that the images you are looking at were taken by thatphotographer. Believe it or not, some photographers show sample albums filled with photos that they did not actually take. If the images don't match the ones you've seen on their website, move on.
When possible, hire a photographer that specializes in weddings. Have you ever heard the phrase: jack of all trades, master of none? The same applies for your wedding photographer. Many photographers shoot families, newborns, Seniors, maternity, etc. and while that is great, someone who specializes in weddings is going to be the most knowledgeable on how to make the best use of your time. They will always be in the right place at the right time. Wedding photographers will also be experienced in working with other professionals, such as wedding planners, officiants and day-of coordinators.
5. Does your wedding photographer network with other professionals?
You may be wondering why this is important. Consider this: something happens to your wedding photographer the day of your wedding and they are unable to be there. While no wedding photographer ever plans on not being able to photograph your wedding, knowing other professionals that could step in to take their place in the event of an emergency is essential. Do they have back-up? You are safest going with a photographer who will include a second photographer (a plus if they are also a wedding photographer). At the very least, you will have a photographer in the rare event something happens to your lead photographer.
6. Evaluate price!
Not all photographers are at the same skill and experience level. You can't expect the same quality from a $500 photographer than you would from a $5000 photographer. While it may be tempting to go with the most affordable option, remember that your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. There are many ways you can save on other aspects of your wedding in order to afford a professional wedding photographer who you can trust to capture your special day. With that said, depending on your location, expect wedding photography coverage to start between $2500 and $3500. Engagement sessions, wedding albums and prints are often an additional cost. When in doubt, choose an adequate number of hours to ensure plenty of coverage on your wedding day. It's better to have an hour of wiggle room in case something takes longer than expected. Plus, adding on hours after the fact can often cost you more.
7. Reviews and Testimonials
Be sure to do some research on photographers' reviews. While friends and family may recommend a photographer, it always good to read testimonials from actual couples who worked with the photographer. Good places to check for reviews are WeddingWire, The Knot and Google Plus (Google maps will also display reviews).
Finally, check out these Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer!