Imagine it’s four weeks after your wedding and your photographer emails you saying your images are ready. Your excitement grows as you go to open the email link to your gallery. You call your new husband over and you both sit waiting for the pictures to load. Then all of a sudden, you both simultaneously make the same face of disappointment. All kinds of questions start running through your head. Why are my pictures so dark? Out of focus? I’m missing a huge chunk of the day! Waves of panic start to set in as you realize this day can’t be redone. After the flowers have dried, your dress has been hung up, these pictures are all that remain. This is why I stress to anyone I know getting married that its imperative to find the right photographer. This person is in charge of creating the only photographic memories you’ll ever have and that’s not a job to be taken lightly. So if I were getting married today, after years in the industry, here’s how I would choose a wedding photographer:
This is how you’re going to determine the photographic style and editing style that’s right for you. Go on Pinterest and search for “weddings” and pin anything you’re immediately drawn to. Don’t linger on any one image, just keep scrolling and pinning. When you’re done, take a look at the board and start finding commonalities. Are most of the images edited bright, neutral, or dark? Do they look candid or a little more posed? Are they close up or far away? Do you see a lot of smiles or is the tone more serious? These are really important factors you’ll want to take note of since they will become one of the baselines you use to find choose the right photographer for you. So once you’ve identified what most of these images share, make a list and use this as your guide as we go into step 2.
This can sometimes be a controversial topic but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a set budget, don’t follow some online article that tells you how much to spend or how much of your budget should go to a,b, or c. Go with what your gut tells you. For some couples, photography is a HUGE priority and they don’t mind making it a big part of their budget. They would rather allot less money to other things then have to settle for a photographer that isn’t in line with what they want. Then there are the couple’s who prioritize other things over photography and would be happy with a photographer just starting out. There is a large spectrum of choices. You just have to figure out what’s right for you two.
Now that you know the look you’re after and you know how much you want to spend, it’s time to get to searching! This is the fun part. You want to make sure you’re searching for a “Wedding Photographer” specifically. Since you don’t want to leave this day to chance, it’s best that you choose someone who specializes in weddings so they can handle just about any scenario that gets thrown their way. A photographer that photographs newborns is probably not the best choice for a high-energy, 200+ people wedding. You could use a couple of different techniques to start narrowing down your search. One way to do this is to click on the top 20 websites that come back after your search. Another way to do it, is to just click on the websites with descriptions you find interesting or feel might be a good match. I’d say to look at between 10-20 photographers if you’re in a more rural, less populated area. And if you’re in a more metro area like Houston, LA, New York, you may be better off broadening your search since there will be a lot of styles and photographers to choose from.
As soon as you start clicking on photographer’s websites, scroll the homepage to get a vibe for what they have to offer. Then head over to their portfolio or blog to see some real weddings, bridals, and engagements. As you go through these images, make sure that they meet most of the criteria you outlined in step 1. If they don’t, I would suggest moving on to another website. Once you’ve found a portfolio or images that you like, I’d suggest seeing who’s behind the camera and checking out the about page. This should give you a good idea of the type of person you’ll be spending your whole wedding day with. If you get good vibes and like them, like their work, see if you can find some pricing on their website. Not all photographers list this so you may have to reach out to them. If so, fill out that contact form and look to hear back soon!
At this point, half of you were able to find pricing information without contacting and about half weren’t. For those of you that reached out to a specific photographer, you should expect to hear back in 48 hours. For those of you that were able to find a photographer in your price range AND one whos images really resonated with you, make sure you contact them asap. Photographers typically book out a year to a year and a half in advance depending on the month, so there may be a chance your date is already booked.
This is one of my favorite steps. When you get to meet your photographer/s to be over the phone, in person, or via skype, it will really solidify whether you’ve found the right person or not. This is a chance to determine if you’re a good fit. It’s likely that the photographer will also be asking you some questions to determine if you’re a good fit for what they have to offer. This is a good thing because you want them to be sure they can deliver exactly what you want. You’ll want to ask them these questions so you know you’re working with someone who has your best interest at heart. It’s also a good idea to have your fiance meet them as well since this person is going to be spending a lot of time with both of you. If you feel a connection and feel like this is someone you like and trust who puts out consistent quality work. Then I’d suggest booking them immediately!
Really knowing what you want before you start your search will make it so much easier to come to a decision. If you’d like more tips and advice check out the resources section here. Or if you’d like to know how to avoid being a bridezilla, why a first look matters, or want to pick out some potential engagement locations, click here.