How to choose your wedding photographer
So you’ve googled the heck out of wedding photographers in your area, asked your friends for recommendations and inquired with several different photographers.
But what do you do when you’ve got a few recommendations (and they all look great), or you’ve received so many different pricing guides (and they all look great too), that you don’t know where to start, or how to know if a photographer is right for you? It can be soo overwhelming!!
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you’ve got Photographer Comparison Anxiety?
And if you do - I’m here to help!
The first thing I want you to do is banish all thoughts of packages and costs and deals and photographers from your mind, and think about a couple of things:
What kind of wedding photos make you feel happy when you look at them?
How do you want to feel when you look back on your images?
Do you like your photographer, and do they make you feel confident in your choice?
What’s more important to you – albums, prints or just digital files?
WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU - PRINTS, ALBUMS OR DIGITALS?
Let’s start with number three first, because I like to be different, but mostly because it will affect the kind of photographer you end up choosing (…but it’s not number 1 because it’s not the most important factor).
In this day, everyone wants digitals - so let me assure you that all my packages come with digital images so you can download and print, print, print! And it’s so easy to print your images! But…it’s time consuming. And the prints aren’t even that great anyway, especially from budget labs like Officeworks and Kmart. And even if you have the best of intentions to print your images yourself, it can be one of the first tasks to end up on the bottom of the priority list. I should know, I am basically the poster child for this! Dan and I got married nearly TWO YEARS ago, and the only printed images we have are the ones our photographer surprised us with. I still haven’t ordered any bigger prints or albums!!!! And I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER! Shame on me, hey!
This is why it is so important to make sure that albums and prints are included in your wedding photography package. I’ll share more of my thoughts on the importance of printing with you in a later post, but for now I want you to think about what’s important to you. And to make it even easier for you, I offer special payment plans on all albums and print products, to make things easier for you. You need to have these in your life!
WHAT KIND OF WEDDING PHOTOS MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY?
Do you like light and bright photos? Or dark and moody (if so, I’m probably not your gal). Is your chosen venue light, or dark? Will your photographer know how to handle this (I will!)?
Is the photographer able to tell the story of a wedding properly? Almost anybody with a camera (or heck, even an iPhone these days) can call themselves a ‘photographer’ – but can they capture moments, and string those moments together to tell the story of your day?
'Photography is the art of story-telling without words...'
Capturing moments is more than just having a camera glued to your face and pressing the shutter 50,000 times – it’s about anticipating moments before they happen, and being ready for them. In addition to being a light chaser, I’m also a serial moment-stalker and I am on hyper alert all day for sweet moments, especially the kind of moments that you don’t even know are happening. The way your groom looks at you while you aren’t looking…that one is my personal favourite!
It’s very important that you love looking through your wedding photographer’s work, everything from getting ready to the very end of the reception. At the same time, pay attention to what they display more of on their website. Detail shots? Reception shots? Or photos of people? Ask yourself what makes you feel happiest – photos of details or people? A photographer who shares mostly detail photos on their website, might not be the photographer for you if you prioritise photos of people.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL WHEN YOU LOOK BACK ON YOUR IMAGES?
I want you to feel happy, joyful, and emotional. Look, I’ll be really honest here – I want you to cry! Big, fat, happy tears are my Holy Grail.
Every single photo should take you on a wander down memory lane, bringing back the laughter and happiness that you felt all day, to place you back in the that is as vibrant and as rich as when you first lived it. I want you to look at you and your husband, and see and feel how much love you have for each other.
When you flip through your album with your little ones, and tell them how much mama and dada love each other, I want them to see and feel it too.
And one day, I want you both to pull down your album, on your 50th wedding anniversary, and coo over how young you look, and feel so grateful at having lived a life with someone so wonderful.
do you like your photographer as a person?
You REALLY need to like your photographer as a person, and they need to make you feel happy and confident in your choice.
This one should really come first, because I think it’s the most important!
Before you book in with me, we'll catch up via Skype or in person, so you can tell me all about your wedding day and so we can make sure that our visions match, that we connect and get along with each other! You need to make sure that your chosen photographer is excited by your vision when you describe it!
Ask yourself - when the photographer make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Do they seem assertive enough to provide you with direction on the day? Do they seem friendly enough to bring out your relaxed smiles? Are they a good listener? Do they seem calm, confident and experienced? Are their mannerisms off-putting? A wedding is a living, breathing, unpredictable thing and your photographer has to be very go-with-the-flow and technically consistent no matter what. Do they seem like a person who gets you, who can make your wedding day truly fun and happy?
You will spend more time with me on your wedding day than any other vendor, so it’s important that we get along – so by the time your wedding day comes around, I want you to consider me as a friend, someone you like hanging out with, who makes you laugh, who has your back and who takes freaking gorgeous photos of you while doing it.
At the end of the day, a photographer you really like, and who you have a genuine connection with, will be able to do a better job capturing your emotions - your love, your joy, your stillness. Just as a celebrant who gets YOU (and by you I mean you and your spouse) will do a better job with the ceremony, a photographer who gets YOU will do a better job capturing the magic of your wedding.
SOME LEGAL THINGS TO CONSIDER
This one is a really little thing, but does your photographer have a contract that you can sign? An ideal contract should protect both of you, and cover as many scenarios as possible.
Some things to keep an eye out for, that protect you:
What's included in your package? How long will your photographer be with you on your wedding day? Make sure it specifies time shooting, and how many photos you'll get - digital images? Edited? Albums? Prints? Make sure it's all spelled out in the contract.
What are the payment terms? Is there a deposit? When does the balance have to be paid by?
What happens if the photographer gets sick?
What are your entitelements to refunds if you need to cancel (should something really bad happen).
Here are some things that your photographer might include in a contract to protect themselves:
That they are the exclusive photographer.
That they get a meal during the reception.
What happens if one of your guests behaves inappropriately towards the photographer.
That the Photographer retains copyright in the original files, and edited files (and that you get the rights to print them or share them online)
A model release.
The length of time the photographer is obliged to store your photos.
How many time syou can ask for photos to be re-edited.
Privacy of information.
Limitation of liability.
Dispute resolution procedures.
Contracts don't need to be scary, and are so important. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about photographers not sending out contracts, who then demand extra money to stay longer at a wedding (although they already said they would stay that long), photographers taking three times as long to deliver photos, or not delivering photos at all - and the clients get shafted because there's nothing to prove what they are saying is true.
Everything else is just noise.
Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event and after the day is finished, all you will have left is each other, and your wedding photographs. These photographs will be treasured by you for your whole life, and will be loved by your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren one day.
So - yes, it’s important that you keep your budget in mind, pay attention to things like composition, editing styles, story-telling skills and any other technical question you want.
But when booking in a photographer, do you feel confident that your photographer can not only capture what the day looked like, but also what it felt like?
If your answer is YES, then you found your photographer!
If you found this post helpful I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
If you are an awesome bride looking for an equally awesome wedding photographer, I'd love to hear from you! You can find some basic info on my packages over here, and if you would like the full pricing guide hit the button below to get in touch with me!