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?
CALLING ALL BLOGGERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES!
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If you are a Small Business Owner:
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If you are a blogger:
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