Now that you’re engaged, you’re going through lists of what to do and where to start. You come across – find a wedding photographer – and think to yourself “okay but where do I start?”
From understanding different photography styles to considering your budget and reviewing portfolios, Kasey and I are determined to help you through the process even if you don’t choose to work with us.
We’ll walk you through all the essential steps to ensure that your wedding photographs are nothing short of amazing. So, let’s embark on this journey together and help you find the perfect fit!
The importance of choosing the right wedding photographer
Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event so you want to make sure your day is captured in the most beautiful and authentic way possible. An experienced photographer knows how to capture details, emotions, and all the candid moments that make your wedding day unique. They can tell your love story through their lens, preserving those special moments for you to relive and share with your loved ones for years to come.
Choosing the right wedding photographer goes beyond simply finding someone with technical skills. Your wedding photographer should be someone you feel comfortable with, someone who can blend in seamlessly with your guests, and someone who can capture the essence of your love and the joy of your celebration. They understand your vision, your style, and your personality as a couple.
Taking your time, doing your research, and choosing a photographer who can truly capture the magic of your perfect day will make a dramatic difference.
Understanding wedding photography styles
Wedding photography is an art form, and just like any other form of art, it comes in a range of styles. Understanding these styles will help you determine the kind of look and feel you want for your wedding photographs. Here are a few popular wedding photography styles you want to be familiar with when choosing a wedding photographer:
1. Traditional/Classic: This style of photography is timeless and focuses on capturing formal and posed shots. The photographer will guide you and your guests through specific poses and group shots to create a traditional wedding album.
2. Photojournalistic/Documentary: This style aims to capture real and candid moments as they naturally unfold. The photographer will blend in with the crowd, capturing genuine emotions, interactions, and the overall atmosphere of the day.
3. Fine Art: Fine art wedding photography is all about creating artistic and visually stunning images. The photographer will use creative lighting, composition, and post-processing techniques to create unique and artistic photographs.
4. Fashion/Editorial: This style takes inspiration from fashion and editorial photography. The photographer will direct and pose you in a more fashion-forward and glamorous way, creating images that look like they belong in a magazine.
It’s also common for photographers to blend styles to meet the needs of their clients so keep that in mind when you are researching potential wedding photographers.
Factors to consider when choosing a wedding photographer
1. Budget: This is the big one! The jumping off point. It’s better to sit down and be honest about your budget before looking at anything else. Determining your budget for wedding photography early on will help you narrow down your options and ensure that you’re looking at photographers who fall within your price range. Yes, wedding photography is an investment and is worth the money but staying grounded in what you can afford will help avoid disappointment.
2. Style and Vision: Consider your personal style and the overall vision you have for your wedding and then hop onto websites and IG feeds and explore what really lights you up! It’s important to find a photographer who can capture the essence of your day in a way that resonates with you, your style, and your personality.
3. Experience and Expertise: Photographers that have been in business for more time have the skills and knowledge to manage different lighting conditions, challenging locations, and unexpected situations while anticipating and capturing those fleeting moments that make your wedding day special. Of course, the more experience the higher the price tag – keep that in mind while shopping around.
4. Personality and Compatibility: We cannot stress this enough – you need to be compatible with your photographer! They will be with you throughout your entire wedding day, so it’s crucial that you feel comfortable and at ease with them. Schedule a meeting or a phone call to get to know them better and see if your personalities mesh well. A good rapport with your photographer will help you relax and be yourself in front of the camera, resulting in more natural and authentic photos.
5. Reviews and Recommendations: Reviews and recommendationss can give you insight into the type of experience and quality you can expect. Take the time to read reviews and testimonials from past clients to get a sense of the photographer’s professionalism, reliability, and quality of work. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from friends, family, or other wedding vendors who have worked with photographers in the past. Personal recommendations can often lead you to hidden gems in the industry!
How to research potential photographers
Once you figure out your style, budget, and overall vision for your wedding photography, it’s time to start researching! Here are three ways to find the right photographer for you:
1. Browse online directories and wedding blogs: Check out online directories and wedding blogs that feature local photographers. These platforms often provide comprehensive portfolios, and client reviews to help you get a sense of each photographer’s work and style that you can utilize in making your decision.
2. Explore social media platforms: Instagram is a fantastic place to discover talented photographers. Remember to use relevant hashtags that include your city and the word photographer, i.e., #clevelandweddingphotographer #clevelandwedding, etc. You will be able to see their style, get a sense of their team and what it would be like to collaborate with them. Do they post regularly? Does everything look cohesive and consistent? Are they easy to contact? These are all questions you should be asking yourself as you browse potential photographers.
3. Attend wedding fairs and exhibitions: Wedding fairs and exhibitions are a fantastic opportunity to meet photographers in person, see their work, and ask them questions directly. Take advantage of these events when you can, to build connections and gather information from various vendors.
Once you have a list of potential photographers, it’s time to narrow it down based on their availability, pricing, and compatibility with your vision. It’s time to schedule meetings or phone calls to get to know them better before making your final decision. See below about setting up those meetings and asking the right questions.
Meeting with potential photographers and asking the right questions
Here is your opportunity to interview your photographer! Remember they will be working for you so making sure you are a good fit is crucial.
Here is where you can get a better sense of their personality, professionalism, and overall compatibility with your vision. Focus on these key questions during your meetings:
1. Availability: This is a no brainer but making sure they can work on the date you need should be the VERY first question. In fact, we would be surprised if they didn’t check that with you before you set up the meeting. Double and triple check availability on your wedding date so there are no mistakes or major problems later!
2. Portfolio and Style: Ask to see their portfolio if you haven’t already and inquire about the specific style of photography, they specialize in. Don’t forget every photographer is different but there should be consistency in the type of style, lighting, etc. Look to be sure that their portfolio is consistent and their style aligns with your vision.
3. Experience: It’s always good to double check how long they have been in business, how many weddings they have photographed, and if they have any formal training or certifications. Experience and expertise really matter when it comes to managing the unpredictable nature of weddings so knowing up front if a photographer has only been in business for 6 months. That doesn’t mean you should not hire them; it just means you should know.
4. Backup Plan: You do NOT want to end up with a photographer that doesn’t have a backup plan, gets sick the night before, and can’t photograph your wedding! It’s important to ensure that there’s a contingency plan in place to avoid any last-minute disappointments. Ask them what they do when there is a problem or emergency.
5. Working Style: Are they hands on? Do they strive to be unseen? Can they take charge with difficult guests and family in a kind but firm way? Be sure to ask about their approach to weddings and how they typically interact with clients and make sure their working style aligns with your needs and preferences.
6. Pricing: Don’t be afraid to ask for pricing before you meet! Inquire about their packages, pricing, and what they include in each package and if they offer any add -ons.
7. Post-Wedding and Delivery: Ask about their process once the wedding is over, including the number of edited photos you can expect and the timeline for receiving them. You want to make sure you know what to expect in terms of the final product and when you can share your photos with family and friends.
Remember to take notes during these meetings and trust your instincts. Choose a photographer who not only answers your questions but also makes you feel comfortable and excited about the prospect of working together!
Bonus: Understanding pricing and packages
Because we want you mentally prepared, Kasey and I think it’s important to understand pricing and packages. Wedding photography prices can vary significantly depending on many factors such as experience, location, and the services included. Here are some things you should know:
1. Base Packages: Most photographers offer base packages that include a certain number of hours of coverage, a specific number of edited photos, and an online gallery for viewing and sharing.
2. Additional Services: Inquire about any additional services the photographer offers, such as engagement shoots, albums, or prints. These services may be included in higher-tier packages or available as add-ons at an additional cost so it’s good to be prepared to ask.
3. Hourly Rates: Some photographers offer hourly rates for smaller, more intimate weddings or elopements or they offer an hourly rate add-on. This option can be more cost-effective if you only need a few hours of coverage.
4. Overtime Charges: If your wedding runs longer than initially planned, ask about the photographer’s policy on overtime charges. Knowing what to expect will help you plan your schedule and avoid any unexpected costs.
5. Payment Terms: Clarify the payment terms and schedule. Some photographers require a deposit upfront to secure the date, while others may offer installment plans. Make sure you are comfortable with the payment terms before making any commitments.
It’s a BIG decision hiring your wedding photographer! Our focus with this post was to translate the massive world of wedding photography into digestible and easy to understand terms so you feel confident you have the tools and insights you need to hire the right team for you!
Whether you choose to work with us or not, our shared mission is to help you navigate your wedding with ease so you can focus on what really matters, your love and new beginning together.