Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
Of all the vendors you have to choose for your wedding, the photographer is arguably the most important. Long after the cake is eaten and the dress is dirty, your wedding portraits will still hang on your walls. Here are some things to consider when choosing your wedding photographer:
No two photographers are exactly alike. The first thing to consider when choosing a wedding photographer is their style. If you’re not sure what style of photography you like, create a Pinterest board of wedding photos you like, and see what they have in common. Are you drawn to high contrast, punchy images or the soft film look? Do you like photos that are highly stylized and posed, or those that have a photojournalistic feel? Before you interview a wedding photographer, make sure you like the work currently shown on their website; those photos are most likely what your photos will look like.
Let me be clear: your wedding photographer does not have to lug around $30,000 in photography equipment to produce beautiful wedding photos. I’ve seen gorgeous photos produced with a $300 camera and poor images with a $6,000 camera. However, you do need a photographer with an SLR. It is almost impossible to get high quality images with a point & shoot camera. Also, what happens if your photographer breaks their camera or lens? Do they have backup equipment? What happens if the lighting in your ceremony or reception space is terrible? Do they have off camera lighting for your portraits? These are things you want to ask your wedding photographer before you book them.
Not everyone with a camera and a website is capable of properly shooting a wedding. Weddings are wild, unexpected, rushed, and often extremely stressful. The schedule never goes as planned and photographers are often forced to work in situations that are not ideal. It is important to hire a photographer who has experience shooting weddings and can adapt to any situation. You also want to make sure your photographer knows how to use their camera in manual mode. You don’t want your photographer to get in a tricky lighting situation and not know how to expose correctly. While it’s true that a lot of things can be corrected in post processing, a great photographer should get the exposure right in camera.
There are two parts to this one. First, what will your photographer do with your photos after they leave the venue? If their computer crashes a week after your wedding, will all your wedding photos be lost? Make sure your photographer keeps backups of their files until your photos are delivered. Secondly, what will happen if your photographer has an emergency and can’t shoot the wedding? Do they have an associate or assistant who can shoot the wedding instead? What will happen to the money paid to your photographer if they can’t come and you have to hire someone else? These are important questions to ask.
A great wedding photographer will make sure that your wedding day schedule has enough time for all the photos you want. Ask your photographer if they will help with your timeline before the wedding day. Even if you want a documentary approach to your photos, you will still want some time set aside to take photos with your wedding party, family, and new spouse.
It’s likely that you will spend more of your wedding day with your photographer than anyone else, including your new spouse! Make sure you like and get along with your photographer. I highly recommend meeting your photographer in person before booking them.
Almost anyone can take a great photo every once in a while, but a great photographer can produce beautiful photos at every wedding. In addition to reviewing their portfolio of favorite photos, ask your photographer to see one or two full galleries of weddings. If one of those galleries was for your wedding, what would you think about it?
This is the part of wedding planning that no one wants to talk about- the money. While you should choose the best vendors you can afford, you do have to make sure you can afford your photographer before you book them. What is the deposit or retainer fee required to book? How much is the total package? How much will it cost if the photographer has to work overtime? How much will it cost to add a second photographer? Will you have to pay travel costs for the photographer? If you want digital files, are they included or available for purchase? How much will you need to spend on prints, albums, and wall art? Before you sign your photography contract, make sure you can afford the photographer and have enough left for a tip.
I hope this is helpful to you when choosing your perfect wedding photographer.