You’ve scoured Instagram, Pinterest or perhaps heard recommendations from your best friends. Now you’ve got a long list of photographers and no clue on how to sort through it. Oh the joys of wedding planning! But you know how important those photos are, don’t you? After your wedding you get to walk away with 3 new things: your new spouse, new memories and new photos to capture it all. Those images are the heirlooms that can tell your story to family and friends for years to come. No pressure, right?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Walk through these 10 steps below to help you choose your perfect match. Your photographer is with you from getting ready moments to that grand exit so it’s important to find someone you click with who will document your story in your way! So, sit back and enjoy some tips on how to select your photographer.
1. What Photos do YOU Love?
Before you jump in, pause and take some time to reflect on what photos you are MOST excited about. Going into “the hunt”, if you will, can be intimidating. If you approach it with clear objectives, you’ll have something to measure against. Are family photos important to you or are couple portraits what you’ll frame? Do you crave detail photographs showing off your gorgeous curated style or are you more interested in guest candids and the people attending? Look for photographers who show these off and capture them well! If not, then buh-bye!
2. Avoid Preconceived Budgets
If I were to ask you right now, “How much would it cost for a plumber to come and fix that leaky faucet?” Would you know? I sure wouldn’t. Oftentimes, we try to pin a number on the cost of services before we have input from industry professionals. Do yourself a favor on ALL of the vendors you need for your day and reach out to get an idea of costs first. Then build out vendor-specific budgets to fit your priorities and end budget. Start your search open-minded. it’ll be less stressful and more fun!
3. Photo Editing Style
Remember sepia tone or selective color photos? Now we cringe when we see those rise up from the depths of Facebook. Your first real task is to take a scroll through your photographers’ Instagrams to get a quick overview of their style. Do you prefer earthier tones that maybe have a bit of grit and show off your current style? Or do you crave classic and clean looks that will be more timeless? Cross off the photographers whose style you don’t love and head to step four.
4. Explore Websites
Whether on a website or a Facebook page, your next goal is to find a broader collection of their photography work. Instagram is like a museum. It’s a highly curated gallery of the best images. So exploring “Portfolio” pages or “Blogs” on photographer websites will show you how they handle photos in less-than-ideal locations. Your wedding day often takes place in a myriad of rooms or spaces that may be dimly lit or even dark for receptions. Do you see examples of that in your photographer’s portfolio?
5. Ask for a Full Gallery
Can’t find a full gallery of a wedding? Ask for one! A photographer should never be scared to share an example right away with you. This will show you family portraits, getting ready moments and reception photos that you may not find immediately in their Instagram or website portfolios. Seeing a full gallery will pretty quickly shrink your list.
* Remember that you’ll never see a full gallery that shows off your wedding…cuz it hasn’t happened yet! Feel free to ask for a few full galleries that may reflect elements of your day like old church cathedrals or dimly lit venues, but please spare your photographer from trying to show you evidence of all your wedding day photos before they happen. Trust us, we’ve got you!
6. Send that Email
You’ve narrowed down to what photo style you love, which photographers have a well-rounded portfolio and you’ve stayed open-minded as to how your vendors will fit into your end budget. Now, it’s time to connect! I recommend sending emails to 3-5 photographers that you love. Keep tabs on their response time. Are they quick communicators, personable and willing to connect? If not, say farewell. But if so, set up a chat!
7. Talk to The Photographer
Yes, hop on the phone! Set up a Zoom. Meet in person. Some vendors you can afford to just chat with via email. NOT your photographer. Your photos need to reflect you. They should capture your genuine smile, those quirky laughs, that eye-roll as your new spouse cracks a joke. Don’t skimp on connecting with your photographer. If you aren’t comfortable simply chatting with them, how do you expect to be relaxed when they’re snapping photos on your day? Find a Friend-tographer. For reals. I wanna be your friend. I want us to click as well! I want to know how to serve you best, soak in those moments and capture your personalities – authentically and honestly.
8. Ask Them Questions
How long have you been photographing weddings?
What do you love most about photographing weddings?
How do we plan for photo time during our wedding day?
Around how many photos will I receive and when?
How can I print the photos when I receive them (print-release)?
What are the next steps if I want to work with you?
How many weddings did you lead shoot last year?
Can I see a full wedding gallery (if you haven’t asked already)?
Do you have plans for Covid postponements, photo backups, personal emergencies?
What do your photo packages look like, can we customize?
9. Go With Your GUT!
By now, you’ve hopefully narrowed it down to 2 photographers that you’re debating between. Think through their portfolio, their personality and their professionalism. Who would you simply love to have by your side throughout your wedding day? Who will walk in that door while you’re getting ready and get you all excited for the gorgeous images to come? Go with your gut!
10. Still Stuck?
Uggg, decisions are HARD! Decision-making fatigue is a real thing. You can tell your photographer that! We’re human too and we totally get it. Email them saying, “Hey, we love you but we’re stuck trying to decide between you and so-and-so and would love some clarity on ‘blank’.” OR, if you have two super equal options, then sometimes money talks! What is your best move for your budget and just relax in that decision.