9.22.2014

5 Tips for Choosing a Wedding Photographer

I had this idea to write a post about how to find the perfect wedding photographer for your special day. Then, I remembered my husband is a photographer and would probably have much more useful advice. So I recruited him for this post instead! I hope you enjoy! 
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5 Tips for choosing a wedding photographer

The photographs of your wedding day are one of, if not the only, lasting physical mementos you will have once all the cake has been eaten, the flowers have withered and you have returned to real life after the honeymoon. So, choosing a photographer who is truly going to capture the special moments, details and atmosphere of your big day is essential and worthwhile. Unfortunately, we live in a time where photography is accessible. It’s great for capturing those family outings, but for big scale events, it can mean swimming through a lot of portfolios to find the photographer that captures your style correctly. Here are a few tips to help you make an informed decision when you need that perfect photographer:

1. Style. Do you like light, outdoorsy and “soft” photographs? Or do you prefer bold, colorful and fashion forward photographs? Both are great and can capture your day splendidly, but is it something you are going to want to look at and be proud of 20 or 30 years down the road. The best thing to do is to look through A LOT of photographers portfolios. Make notes on what photographs you like and why. Note the difference in the style of the photographers. Do they have unique angles, do they have indoor photos as well as outdoor photos, is there anything you don’t like about their photographs that you want to be mindful of on your wedding day?

2. Price. If Cassie could tell you, she would say that I am the saver in our marriage. I am always the one looking for a better deal; not pulling the trigger on something because the price may seem too high even if that is the market price for it. I would usually tell you to take a better deal and save your money for something else. However, with photography, you usually get what you pay for. While you are looking through the portfolios of different photographers, take a look at their prices and what is included within them. If they don’t have prices on their website, ask them for it. Photography is a marketplace where it is ok to haggle with the photographer to get a good deal. The wedding photography industry is a big market and photographers want to have every weekend booked through the summer season. They will usually work with you to make sure that you book with them because they know there is another photographer waiting around the corner to snap you up. Be aware of what you get for the price (i.e., wedding album, how many photographs do you get to choose, how many hours of their time do you get on the wedding day, etc.).

Be ready to spend at least $1800 for 8 hours of photography. If it is more than that, make sure they are worth it or you are getting more from it. If it is less than that, ask yourself why. Maybe they are just starting. Maybe they aren’t good. Chances are they might have some learning to do still. Feel free to be aggressive and ask your photographer everything you need to to feel comfortable. This is a big chunk of change and you don’t want to be disappointed when your wedding is over. There are no do overs.

3. Personality. This one might get confused with style at times. But, make no mistake, the personality of your photographer is incredibly important. Be mindful that you are allowing this photographer into your personal space (and into some incredibly personal moments) on the biggest day of your life. I would encourage everyone to sit down with their photographer for coffee and at the very least, a skype conversation. Ask them questions, get to know them. How long have they been a photographer? What’s their inspiration? What’s their story? This is an interview. You not only want someone who can complete the job well, you want someone who you are going to get along with and feel comfortable around. If they are not presenting themselves well (physically or in personality), despite a good portfolio, make sure their quality is worth the awkwardness, because your comfort is going to come through the lens of the camera and show up in your photographs. Try to book the same photographer for your engagement shoot as you are going to on your wedding day. Use the engagement shoot as a precursor and a warm up for the big day.

4. The Fine Print. You think you know who you want as your photographer, you're almost ready to sign on the dotted line and reserve your day with them. You and your fiance get along with them just splendidly. Here are a few last reminders to take a look over before putting down your deposit:

What is their cancellation policy? Things happen. It is a fact of life. Maybe their car won’t start, maybe it’s a destination wedding and their flights get cancelled. Whatever it is, make sure that there is a back-up plan.

Will you be getting money back? Do they have a backup photographer who will take their place in case of emergency? Maybe they do make it and their camera breaks. Do they have a second camera to continue shooting?

These are questions to be mindful of. Like I said earlier, there are no do overs on your wedding day. Also, be mindful of payment dates. Very few vendors that you will be working with on your wedding day require a full payment in one sitting. Because of this, be mindful of how your photographer (and all other vendors) break up their payments. Is it half now, half later? 10% now, 50% at six months out and the final payment on the wedding day? How do they break it up and is there a return policy involved? If you miss a payment date, they may take that as a cancellation and/or charge you extra in interest for a missed payment.

5. How to get your photographer to like you too. Hopefully your photographer will bend over backwards for you on your wedding day. Any photographer worth their weight will understand that they wear many hats on the wedding day, from pseudo planner to boutonniere pinner to tracking down grandpa who wandered off because they know this is your special day and they have a reputation to be mindful of. However, you can do a few things to make sure your photographer has just as much an appreciation for you as you do them.

Feed them. Make sure you put extra numbers in your catering for your vendors. They are working 6-12 hours to make sure your day is amazing.

Stick to the schedule. You are only hurting yourself if your hair and makeup take an hour longer than planned and you are missing your bridal party shots. At the end of the day, if you run out of time for photos, there are no do overs. Talk with your photographer to set a timeline and stick to it.

Give your photographer guidance as to what kinds of shots you like. Pinterest is an amazing resource, but do not expect them to get every shot on your “Wedding” Board. You hired them because you liked their style, let them be creative and you might be surprised.

Tip your photographer (and other vendors). It’s not a requirement, but budget for some tips for a few vendors who are spending a lot of their time with you. Yes, you are already paying them a lot, but this is a great gesture of your gratitude. $100 for 8 hours of work is pretty standard.

What do you wish you would have known when choosing your wedding photographer? Are we leaving any tips out?

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24 comments :

  1. This looks super helpful! I'm nowhere near needing this for myself, but I'll definitely make a note of it for my friends who are.

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  2. Awesome! I pin baby stuff all the time for later haha

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  3. All of this advice is so good, and SO true. I have so many friends (and family) that are photographers, and they have said the same thing.

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  4. We were SO picky too! At the end I was like "OMG LET'S JUST PICK ONE" hahaha! Thanks lady!

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  5. Oh that's too bad for your sister :( It's rough that everyone thinks owning a DSLR means you can shoot weddings haha

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  6. This is SUCH a great article! As a former bride, I completely agree with finding the photographer that best suits you... and that is why it took me about 5 meetings with other studios before I found the perfect one! Forwarding this on to some of my newly engaged friends :)

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  7. Thanks Katie! We looked at a bunch while planning too!

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  8. 👍👍 Personality! AMEN to that! I had the most amazing photographer for our wedding (Dave Burlison), and one of the best things about him was the fact that we hardly even knew he was there. A wonderful guy though and he even helped coordinate things like our music, helping guests find their seats, ect. Priceless.


    The best thing he did was send me a questionnaire a few weeks beforehand asking me to name the important family members and even asking me if there were any people who should not be photographed together (moms vs. step moms, ect.)



    Some photos from our wedding day....some great great memories. 👰


    Hope you have a great week guys!


    V
    Life+1

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  9. YES! A good photographer makes all the difference. Ours did a questionnaire like that too and it was so thoughtful! Your photos are to die for!!!

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  10. Love all of these- esp personality. It was so fun to read a post from Mr. Sage The Blog! ;)

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  11. Love all of this..clearly I'm not getting married anytime soon but it's nice to know for any occassion. I absolutely love your wedding pictures so it's nice to see the process you went through. Loved the guest post!

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  12. Oh girl I pinned SO MANY wedding blog posts before I was anywhere getting married too! When we got engaged I was so glad I had them!

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  13. This is AMAZING. As a wedding photographer, this is so spot on. It's amazing to me how many clients FORGET we need to eat, too ;) we're not robots running on gas. & after 10-12 hours of shooting? You have MORE than enough shots. This was great, thanks guys!!!

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  14. Just stopping by to say hi and I immediately fell in love with this post and your whole blog when I clicked on the link Madison shared on her blog! I will commence backward-stalking you now...don't mind me if I start commenting on really old posts :)


    Coming from someone who just shot her first wedding ever and had her own wedding just over a year ago, these tips are awesome! Such important factors to consider when planning a wedding.

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  15. #4 I had never thought of before. i'm basically bookmarking ALL of your wedding related posts because they're ALL SO WONDERFUL AND I LOVE THEM. I'm fangirling all over this.

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  16. You're the best. AND YES $4 IS SO IMPORTANT. We were super picky about that stuff, probably only because M is a photographer himself though and I wrote his contract hahahaha

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  17. OH THANK YOU! Hahaha stalk away my friend! SO glad you agree with them :)

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  18. Such great advice! Picking a wedding photographer is really hard but once I found mine I just instantly felt comfortable and knew it was the right fit for me. You give the best advice you should seriously plan weddings for a living!!!

    Karissa
    www.karissaandcompany.com

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  19. HA!!! This was all my husband so I can't take credit for it! We were both event planners for a few years at a private golf club so I think we really enjoy it!

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  20. This is SUCH a great post. As a photographer, I agree with everything Matt has said. I know a lot of these are things that brides either aren't aware of or they forget when they're in the process of searching for a photographer. I think this is definitely a 'must read' for almost every bride out there.

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  21. Thanks! We keep periodically pinning it hoping to spread the word, haha!

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