WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
(and how to choose the right one for your wedding)
(and how to choose the right one for your wedding)
Finding a photographer and/or videographer for your wedding can be a tough decision. It can be tough trying to decide on a style, a budget, how many hours of shooting you want on the day of the wedding, etc. It can also be hard to tell what you’re actually getting when you do choose a photographer, so we suggest really doing your homework on any photographer you’re considering for your wedding and take into consideration these key things when making the big decision!
It seems obvious to review a potential photographers work on their website, but it helps to know what specific things to look for when checking out their past work so you don’t overlook a few things that you could end up not liking when it’s your turn. Does the photographer have a good concept and eye for lighting and composition? Take a look at shadows and highlights, are there harsh shadows and bright highlights The photos should have a good balance of light and dark while still looking natural. Below are good examples of a properly exposed photo.
Also keep in mind that lighting and editing trends come and go. Decide if you want classic lighting and editing techniques or more trendy ones before you book your wedding photographer so you can see if your style is compatible with theirs. Also think about what kind of style you want your wedding photos to be. Dramatic? Traditional? Creative? Modern?
Think about the overall feel of your wedding and how you want it all to be captured. It’s good to be able to convey to your photographer what you’re envisioning so they can work with you and also offer suggestions based on what you like. Below are some examples of different styles of wedding photography.
Not all photographers have a “studio” but they should have a work space with professional looking equipment (cameras, lenses, lighting, computers, etc.) They should also have their own work on display in the space. Most photographers are proud of their work and want to show it off! Try to get a good idea of their professionalism and if they represent themselves and their work accurately.
Schedule a meeting with any photographers you’re serious about hiring and check out real wedding albums of real couples they have photographed. You know their online work is great, but you might only be seeing the best shots from their favorite weddings. When you get the chance to view wedding albums, you can get an idea of how they shoot an entire wedding and how it comes together in the end. Be sure to pay extra attention to weddings that are in a similar location (or the same) as yours!
Most wedding photographers are great with people. A great wedding photographer will interact with everyone the day of the wedding to bring out their personalities and get the shots that will make the wedding personal to the couple. When you meet with potential photographers take note of their personalities and decide if you think they’ll be good to work with. It isn’t just a matter of if they’re fun, but also if they seem like they’re an authority on the subject of photography and can take control of a situation to create the best images they can. After all, directing bridal parties, in-laws and those pesky flower girls and ring bearers can be tricky. You’ll need someone who isn’t afraid to take control!
We all know and love the magic of Photoshop and any professional photographer will retouch your album photos so you look amazing, but it’s a good idea to see if they rely too heavily on it. Photoshop should be a tool, not a crutch and if your photographer doesn’t take a good photo to begin with, then they’ll be re-touching photos for hours which may be adding to your overall cost. If they’re good at what they do, they will be taking photos that don’t need a lot of re-touching. Many contracts will say that you get all the “digital negatives” which means you will be given all of the photos taken the day of the wedding, but they will be unedited. If it’s in your contract to receive digital negatives you should be able to use them as they are without it being obvious that they haven’t been edited. You don’t want to get stuck with a bunch of photos you can’t use, so ask your photographer to see their unedited work just so you have an idea of what you could be getting. Below are some examples of great unedited images.
Booking your photographer is one of the best things you can do early on in the planning stages. There are a few good reasons to do this, the main one being to avoid the stress of waiting too long and not getting the photographer you really want. But another good reason that’s often overlooked is to minimize your monthly payments. Some photographers will let you start making payments as soon as you book your wedding and if you book months in advance, you have plenty of time to stretch out those payments. If you book with just two or three months to go, your payments will be higher. Some photographers require a deposit on booking and then the full amount due 30-90 days before the wedding which can also be financially stressful to make two large payments, so check with them during your consultation to see if they offer the payment option you’re most comfortable with.
During your consultation, be sure you know exactly what you want, what you’re getting and what you’re paying. Wedding planning can be stressful and you’ve probably already signed a bunch of contracts with other vendors, but don’t let that distract you from your photography contract. Your photographer will probably be very familiar with their own contract and can forget to explain things in depth, so be sure to read everything carefully and make sure it’s what you verbally agreed to during your consultation. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions, they don’t want there to be any misunderstandings either!
If you want to see if your styles really mesh, schedule an engagement shoot with your potential photographer. It’s a great way to see how they work, how they direct you, if they take your requests into consideration and if your personalities are compatible (yes, that matters!). You’ll be surprised how you can start to feel comfortable with your photographer and it will prep you (not to mention your groom) for your wedding day. It’s like a test run so that when the big day comes that’s one less thing to stress about and less stress means better photos! Also be sure to check with your photographer about any deals they may have about booking them for both an engagement session and wedding photos. They may have a deal or offer some other perk such as an upgrade to your album.
Wedding photographers work with a lot of vendors and often times they will endorse one other on their websites. Look for a “Partners” page or a “Preferred Vendors” page on your potential photographers website and see who they work with. It will give you an idea of their professional network and what kinds of businesses they work. Plus, it could help you find other vendors you might be looking for! Not all photographers will do this, but it’s good to keep in mind if you want to know more about your photographers reputation and work ethic.
Professional photography companies will often have a few awards or recognitions under their belts. It might be something small like a local pick for best wedding photography or something bigger like top ten wedding photographer on major wedding sites like The Knot or Wedding Wire. They may also have awards specific to the photography industry (not just weddings) that they don’t advertise as much or aren’t well known to non-photographers, but feel free to ask them about it. You might be surprised how much non-wedding work your photographers do and what they’ve been recognized for. It doesn’t hurt to have a good relationship with an award winning photographer, they may be photographing you for a long time including anniversaries, maternity shoots, newborn photos and family portraits!
In the end, you should feel good about who ever you choose to be your wedding photographer. If you’ve done your research you’ll know which option works best for you and you can cross one more thing off your to-do list!