10 Tips When Searching for Your Perfect Wedding Photographer
10 Tips When Searching for Your Perfect Wedding Photographer
By : Emily Hatch
I know, you've read a billion of these already but I wanted to bring up some tips that most Wedding Photographers want you to know beforehand when searching for your "perfect" wedding photographer.
1. Do you absolutely LOVE their style? DO RESEARCH. If you say anything other than "OMG YES!" Don't jump so quick to hire just yet. You have your wedding day for one day, and you get one chance to have it captured exactly how you imagined. Make sure that the vision you have and the style of that photographer mesh. You can't hire a dentist to fix your kitchen sink. They can try their best, but it's just not the same. You should be able to have the confidence in your photographer that they will capture the true emotion behind your big day based off of their style of photography.
2. Social media stalk the CRAP out of them. Seriously..... (in the words of Shia Labeouf) JUST DO IT. Why? We love that shit. It lets us know what you like about our style and helps us connect with you on the expectations you have for your wedding day. You'll also see how they connect with their clients and fan base. Pay attention to their posts about their clients and the way they speak (or type in this case) about them. You should be able to see your photog's personality through their posts. Also ask for galleries from previous weddings to view. Most photographers use online galleries for friends and families of the bride and groom so that everyone has a chance to see the images without disturbing the bride and groom all the time. You can definitely see their consistency in previewing their galleries that they have delivered to previous clients.
3. Ask questions. Ask questions. ASK QUESTIONS. Communication is important in any relationship but even more so with photographers and their clients. So many times there is a lack of communication and the bride will have assumptions or concerns but never voice them and later create a problem or awkward situation. If you have any doubt or worry at all, ASK. We are all ears. We can answer it the best we can and explain it a way that helps you better understand why you can trust us. Communication is THE most vital role when hiring a wedding photographer.
4. Get word of mouth reviews. Ask friends or family that have used that photographer before about their experience! I only say this because I've seen so many photographers fall victim to spam accounts and internet bots leaving faulty reviews on their social media platforms. Sometimes it is a hassle to remove them and they wind up affecting that photographer's bookings. I know this may be a newsflash to some people but not everything you read on the internet is true. If you haven't HEARD from someone personally about a bad experience, overlook bad reviews on facebook/websites. Word of mouth, folks. Word. Of. Mouth. Goes a long way. And even if that isn't the case, remember there are always two sides to every story. ;)
5. Deposits. Contracts. Meetings. These three subjects should be something your photographer mentions in their first three emails. Deposits are your way of securing that photographer's job for a specific day. Deposits aren't uncommon so don't be offended by it if your photographer asks for one. It's to protect both of you :) Contracts are made between clients and photographers to protect you both as well. The photographer is in a legal binding contract to perform a job without fail and the client is under protection for if that photographer violates any notions of it. It also protects the photographer against natural disasters, unruly guests and other unforeseen circumstances. It is VERY important to discuss ALL sections of your contract with your photographer so that you both have a clear understanding on what you are purchasing from the photographer. Meetings are a way to feel the vibe with your photographer and see if you have that connection that you want for the day of your wedding. If you and that photographer don't instantly become best friends, do you want to spend 8-12 hours with them on your most exciting day? Prob not. Meetings also help you get to know your photographer while they get to know you. Any delay on these three things will cause unnecessary stress on the bride and groom. ALL clients should be attended to promptly and efficiently.
6. The famous question.... "Is a second shooter really necessary for your wedding day?" The answer to that is, Y E S M A ' A M P A M. Despite what you have heard on cons as far as having a second shooter has nothing on the pros of having one. Point A. Say you have your photographer and don't hire a second shooter through them. Shoots your 8 hour wedding and the card corrupts on the import to their computer. BAM. Your photos, gone. Just like that. A professional photographer automatically shoots on TWO cards anyway in case this happens, because it can. To anybody. But let's say they didn't and now what do you do? I don't wish that situation on anyone but if we can prevent that from happening, LET'S DO IT. The job of the second shooter here is that backup card of your day. Point B. You are on a budget and only have enough to purchase 6 hours of wedding coverage. With one photographer you can feel rushed in the process of having photos taken throughout the day. That can be stressful. With 2 photographers for 6 hours, you can kill two birds with one stone in most cases. Plus you get that dynamic variety of views from your ceremony and reception that would normally be completely one sided from just one photographer. I could go on and on for hours about why second shooters are important but I'm pretty sure those two reasons alone are enough for the average bride.
7. Weddings are just as stressful for us as they are for you. And if any photographer tells you different, they are lying LOL. While you and your fiance are planning away at the beautiful decor for your ceremony, your photographer is busy planning away your timeline for smooth flow on the day of the wedding as well as making sure their equipment is all clean and up to par for performance. (oh yeah.... we will get to those timelines, don't you worry lol) This also falls back to communication. You can get busy being carried away in wedding planning, and if you hired a professional wedding photographer, odds are they are busy photographing other weddings, too. The line of communication ALWAYS needs to be open. The more communication between you two, the less stress for the both of you on the day of.
8. TIMELINES. The thing you never knew you needed. You know you've found your perfect wedding photographer when they offer to help you plan a timeline for your wedding day. If you think you won't need one, I can assure you, you will. You'll thank us later :D This is more than likely your first wedding, but when hiring a professional, they've been to countless weddings and one thing we have learned to monitor quickly was TIME. Time is valuable. Timelines are a guaranteed way to get the most out of your wedding day. Work with your photographer on a timeline that you both are comfortable with so that throughout the whole day no matter where you are, you both are on the same page.
9. Honesty. We want you to be honest with us just as you want us to be honest with you. If there is something you are unsure about when it comes to hiring us, the last thing we want you to do is hold back from us. We hope to establish the trust with you early enough in the planning that you won't have a problem coming to us over a concern. The LAST thing we want is for you to feel as if your opinions or worries are inferior to ours. We only offer suggestions from a point of view where our experience has put us in similar situations and we've found the best way to resolve them. Your photographer should be able to address any problem or concern with ease or at least know of someone that could help in the matter. In the end we hope to have made new lifelong friends with you so that honesty is just something that comes second nature for us ;)
10. The Friend/Cheap Photographer or Professional The literal biggest debate known to brides and wedding photographers. Granted this is not a post to bash any other photographers but to shed light on the pros and cons of having your friend or a "cheap photographer" versus a professional photographer.
Experience is the underlying KEY factor when hiring someone to photograph your wedding. Referring back to point 7, do you think your friend would be able to handle a stressful situation or would they panic with you and not find a resolution? Experienced wedding photographers can work in some of the most stressful situations. For instance, you've planned this outdoor spring wedding for 2 years now and all of the sudden it's storming on your wedding day and you don't have a backup plan. (Also another point of suggestion, ALWAYS have a backup plan) Your friend has no idea how to take pictures inside somewhere, so do you just miss out on those images? Unfortunately, yes. Not that she couldn't still take them but they probably won't turn out if they know nothing about manual settings on a camera. *Nice cameras, don't make you a photographer. Experience is shooting in manual mode which tells your camera what it should be doing instead of relying on the camera to read sensors in certain light* What if your friend becomes ill or has a family emergency and can't make it to your wedding now? What do you do? Professional photographers include in their contract about this exact situation. When you book them for your wedding, chances are they have already contacted other photographers on their list of associates to act as backup if something were to happen to them. THIS is so reassuring on your end. Knowing that your photographer has thought of every possible outcome and has a solution for it. Friends are there to have a good time. Yes they can be very attentive in the beginning but they can often get distracted or lose focus on the initial importance behind being the photographer. Important moments are missed and you can't go back in time to retake them. Professionals never lose their focus. From the moment they arrive until the moment you send them packing, you and your fiance and your guests are their priority. Every moment is a priceless moment in the art of photography. Friends have only heard stories about wedding photography where as professionals have SEEN the worst happen and always come extra prepared. What happens if your friend runs out of room on their memory card or drops their camera half way through the ceremony? You are out of luck, my friend. Professionals have backup equipment on hand as well as spare batteries, memory cards and external flashes or lighting equipment for any and every lighting situation. Don't forget that second shooter you thought you didn't need either ;) BAM, extra set of hands, cards, cameras, batteries and flashes, too.
"You get what you pay for" <------ TRUEST STATEMENT YET. Keep this in mind when making your final decision as well as this blog post so that, hopefully, deciding on your perfect wedding photographer won't be as stressful as brain surgery. HAHA.