Today I wanna chat about a topic that is SO truly just tied to my heart- which is how to choose a wedding photographer. From first hand experience, I know that going with the wrong choice of a wedding photographer, can leave you after your wedding day feeling so sad, frustrated and just like you truly lost out on some of the most dearest memories of your life. As a 10 year professional photographer, and someone who has truly lived with the negative results of this decision, I’m going to give you five things to consider when making this huge decision!
This is the best place to begin, especially if you haven’t considered or may be even noticed a photographer’s image style. Choosing what general style you like will help narrow your search almost immediately.
There are many different looks a photographer can shoot for, but typically the two main categories you could almost classify most photographers in are dark & moody or light & airy. There are tons of variations of these styles, but keeping it as simple as possible, this will be your main dividing category.
So take a look at your Pinterest board or create a Pinterest board of images you are loving. And then ask yourself- solely based on color (darker or brighter) What images am I drawn to the most? What images do I think are absolutely gorgeous? Also consider: if a more classic timeless look is more important to you, what images seem like they would stand the test of time. In my opinion, I tend to think that light and airy images will stand the test of time since they are more natural in color and toning than dark and moody.
What do I mean by content? Look at what the photographer is actually showing in their images. Are people laughing? Are they posed? Are they candid? Are they romantic? Are they serious? Are they high fashion like? Are they focused on emotion and connection? Are they photographing all parts of your wedding day experience? Are they telling a story? Are they capturing posed images?
Figure out what is important to you. If you need to, list it out. My approach to wedding days if very much a story telling approach. I want things to unfold naturally, and get a piece of each part of the day. However, I will for sure position you in a light & angle that is flattering. For example in prep time, I may move you to a better light, position you and then tell you to do your thing. I want things to be as beautiful as possible, while also being natural. To me, those natural emotions are what truly help you to re-live your day, and that is my goal. I don’t want to make you stop all dang day long and tell you to smile at me with every little thing. At the same time, I do of course, get all those necessary ‘smiling at the camera’ portraits. Mom needs those, you need those! But my goal is always your story, in the most beautiful & natural way possible.
What kind of experience does your photographer give to their clients? Overall when I talk about this, I mean how your photographer makes you feel through the experience? This is both during the process of planning as well as on the day of your wedding. This is super important! Not only prior to the wedding can planning can be stressful, but your day itself can have its moments of overwhelm. You absolutely don’t want them to add to any of those negative feelings.
Consider these things: Are they unresponsive or attentive? Are they unhelpful or willingly happy to assist? Unsupportive or there to reassure you? Think about on the day of your actual wedding, how will they show up? Are they there just winging it or fully prepared? Are they crabby and sluggish or happy and excited to be there? Are they considerate of how you’re feeling and doing?
These things are way more important than you may realize now. So my advice: Find someone who makes you feel comfortable, who is attentive to your needs, supportive when you need, completely prepared for your day and just dang happy to be there with you on the best day of your life!
Consider the amount of experience your photographer has. Weddings can be an animal all of their own. So even if a photographer has worked a ton of portrait sessions and are very skilled at it, portrait photographers have the upper hand of choosing exactly where and when they get to photograph- this is not so with a wedding. Wedding days, as a photographer, you encounter all kinds of unplanned + unexpected lighting & spaces. Having an experienced photographer, they should be able to walk into any situation and create the most beautiful images as possible in any given space.
Not to mention experience can help with keeping the day moving as smooth as possible. There can be a lot of things that can go awry on a wedding day and as the photographer we may have to make calls, figure out last minute plan B’s, and experience definitely can lend a huge helping hand in this.
Be mindful, I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong answer here, I’m just here to tell ya, that if you choose someone with little experience, I would just say make sure you are 100% comfortable with that decision 🙂
Once you have made some decisions, here is one important and final thing to consider: do you like them as a person? In order to find this out, take some time and chat with them. While I’m not saying you need to be best friends with your wedding photographer (though I have found some of my favorite people ever working their weddings!) your connection, or lack thereof will help you make a decision that is right for you. You will be working really closely along with them on the day of your wedding. As a bride you will probably spend more time with your photographer than you do your husband! Crazy right? So just ask yourself: do you feel comfortable with them? Do you vibe well? Will you be ok with them sticking around you the whole day?
My last piece of advice you guys, do not settle. I’m going to share just a little snippet of my personal experience. When I walked away from my wedding day, I was disappointed with my photos. And you guys I’m a wedding photographer I should have known better!! I had a photographer who kind of just showed up and winged it, I didn’t know how they worked, but they showed up, not knowing what was important to me or how to really pace themselves well. We missed out on some things that I really cared about, as well as enough time on some things that could have made for some really epic images. For me, budget played a bigger part in my decision, than I’d care to admit (Let me just hide my face now! lol). Afterward, I truly came to the realization, that yes budget was important- but to me, more important were my memories. I truly realized: I can always make more money, but I can never get those moments back. Don’t you want to remember that perfect day in the most beautiful way you’ve ever seen?! Don’t settle. Do what you can to get what you want.