You’re working your way down the list of things you need to prepare for your wedding and you’re to the box that says “find a wedding photographer”.
If you have no idea how to even begin looking for a wedding photographer, never fear. We’re hear to help!
Find the Best Wedding Photographer for You
Your photographer has the very important job of getting all of your memories gathered from your special day.
A great photographer is going to make you look and feel amazing, get all those family photo’s done with a smile, and capture special moments of you and your guests throughout the entire day. These are your memories and even after the cake is all gone, these photo’s will be what you keep from this special day.
Think of your photographer as part of your wedding team!
You want to love their work before you begin working with them. You want to feel totally comfortable around them because they’re going to be your shadow on the most important day of your life. If you feel uncomfortable or awkward it’s going to come through in your photos.
So how do you find the best photographer for you?
Research, Research, Research
We keep seeing all this advice to pick your style, and then find a photographer that fits your style. But how many of us actually know what our style really is?
In our opinion the best way to find your favorite photographer is to stalk your photographers on social media and pick out a few that you are drawn too. We don’t mean stalk them in a creepy way, just follow their accounts and look at as much of their work as you can find online.
Check out their websites, twitter, facebook and instagram. Do they post regularly? Do they respond to comments?
You’ll be drawn to some types of photos over others. Guess what? That’s choosing your style.
Some of the photographers may have a more moody instagram and some may have a bright and airy instagram. Which of those really appeals to you? Again, that’s your style.
Where to start?
It helps to have your date chosen and your venue booked before you begin searching for a photographer, Just like so many of the other choices, if you fall in love with your photographer and they aren’t available, you’ll be starting over (although they might be able to recommend someone for you).
The first place we always recommend starting is by asking for recommendations. Did you love the photo’s from a friends wedding? Maybe you want to meet with their photographer.
Don’t worry about your friends thinking you’re copying, they’ll be flattered that they found a great person and can refer them.
We have used the same photographer for two weddings and we love to recommend her anytime we can. Her work is amazing and she was amazing to work with.
Checking out bridal fairs is a great way to actually meet and see a few photographers. Google can also be your friend, just be sure that you’re searching for photographers in the area of your ceremony.
Look at wedding sites and real weddings and make notes about the photographers that you find. Check out their websites and their instagrams.
The best thing you can do for a vendor that you love is leave a review about how amazing they are so that others will know. And of course a great way to find vendors is to read reviews. Don’t just look at how many stars they might have next to their business, actually read the reviews and see what people say about them.
How did the photographer make them feel? Did they do something above and beyond that showed they’ll go the extra mile? Find out what makes them stand out from their peers.
Reach Out for Info
We know that it can be kind of awkward reaching out to photographers, but we’ve got a template that you can copy right into your e-mail and just tweak it for yourself.
Hi [photographer name],
My name is (your name) and I found you on (where you found the photographer, whether on a website, at a wedding expo, a referral, etc.).
I was really impressed by your work (add details here, even if it’s just I love your instagram feed and I can picture myself in it)
We are getting married on (your wedding date) at (your wedding venue) and are interested in learning more about your wedding services. Would you please check your availability and forward your current pricing and package information along with your contract.
Thank you in advance!
(Your name and contact information)
Be sure that you expand on this e-mail so that it’s not just a generic request. Tell them where you found their work and what you loved about it, they’re going to be much more excited to work with you if you’re already passionate about their work.
You may not hear back from a photographer immediately but you definitely want to get some kind of response within a few days. You want to be sure that they’re responsive.
Set Up Interviews
Once you have confirmation that they are available on your date and their services will fit into your budget, it’s time to set up some face to face meetings. If you’re having a destination wedding and can’t meet in person, a video chat is a great option.
It’s great to start with 2-3 photographers and then narrow it down. You can certainly interview more but then you may wind up with too many choices and a harder decision.
You can get a lot of information through e-mail but nothing will beat an in person interview. Your photographer understands that this is a big decision and they should answer all your questions, but nothing can beat an instant friendship.
A few questions that you might ask (these can be ice breakers for you!):
- How did you get started shooting weddings?
- What do you love about this job?
- What’s the worst part of the job?
- Tell me the funniest thing that’s happened at an event.
When you meet in person it will be helpful to have your mood board or Pinterest ideas available to show your photographer so that they can get a feel for your style.
Feel the Vibe
There are certain things that you will want to be aware of when you’re meeting with potential photographers. Once they’ve met the basics :availability and budget, it becomes more about a feeling.
When you meet them do you share a vibe? Are you comfortable talking with them and asking questions? Do they make you feel at ease?
You don’t have to become best friends with your photographer, although you might before its all over. You do want to be comfortable around this person, after all they’re going to be following you around your entire wedding day and the reception.
Do you feel comfortable describing what you want to them and do you understand their answers clearly?
A great photographer is going to have the chameleon ability to blend into your wedding crowd to capture snapshots of all your guests and also easily command 14 people to stand in a row to get family shots. They need to be assertive enough to corral your crowd, but also have enough social grace to make these same people feel great and capture photos of them.
Look at All the Photos
When you check out a website or social media you’re going to see the photographers best work. That’s exactly what they should be showing you, but when you get further into the interviews ask to see a couple of full wedding albums.
You want to see if this photographer is great at getting the details. Do the family photo’s look comfortable and natural? Did they get lot’s of crowd shots at the reception? Does this photographer make the action shots look as great as the staged photo’s?
If the full album looks as good as the shared portfolio then you’ve got a winner.
You’re also going to want to see albums in the same setting that you’re using. If you’re getting married at night or in a dark church you want to see their work in those lighting situations. Tricky lighting, or nighttime shots need a photographer who knows how to shoot in those conditions.
It’s much easier to complete your research if it’s similar to what your wedding will look like.
Read the Contract
Yes, read the whole thing. Phone a friend and have them read it too and then ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
Be sure that you understand the pricing and what it includes. Many photographers have a standard package that will cover quite a bit of stuff but you have to understand exactly what’s included to be able to compare packages and your budget.
If you need extra time what are the additional charges? It’s generally going to be less expensive to book extra time up front than it will be to pay overtime after the fact. Does it include an engagement session and what are the limitations on booking that? Does this include a second shooter?
Understand Your Rights
A photographer is an artist and their contract may stipulate that they own all the images from your wedding, including photo’s of you.
This means that a photographer can submit these photos for publications in magazines and blogs. They can use them for advertising, either on their own websites or in print ads.
It can also mean that you aren’t allowed to share your own photo’s on social media unless they include a watermark, or that you are unable to print the images without ordering them through the photographer.
These are important parts of the contract that you need to understand.
When Will You Get Your Photos
How long does it take to receive the images after the event?
You can expect anywhere from 4-8 weeks, all the way up to 6 months for the full album due to editing. Your photographer may be working multiple weddings and events each weekend and they may spend an additional 40 hours just editing photos. For each event.
Be sure to ask when you can expect your proofs and how many you can expect to receive. Will you only see retouched versions or are the originals available to you also? And exactly what the next steps are when you select the photos that you love?
Sign the Contract
This is where you have to trust your gut. After you’ve compared prices, packages and met with photographers the real decision just comes down to a gut feeling. As long as you’ve done your research you’re going to be happy with any of your finalists.
Once you find your perfect wedding photographer, be sure to let any other contenders know asap. They may have you penciled into a calendar so give them their time back so that they can book another lucky couple. Just send them an e-mail thanking them for their time and letting them know that you’ve chosen a different photographer for your event.
Now you can schedule that engagement session and get to know your photographer even better!