I could be completely biased about wedding photography because I am a photographer. But at one time, I was a bride; then, I worked for years with brides, and during that time, I listened to their dreams, questions, and stress points. So yeah, I think I’m qualified to be biased in saying that picking your wedding photographer is one of the most critical decisions when planning your wedding because the photos from your wedding are one of the only lasting, tangible ways you will have to keep your memories from that one, significant day.
When starting this (overwhelming) search for the right person, I think there should be a few things to consider to ensure you’re hiring someone that checks all the blocks and will deliver their absolute best.
Here’s how to decide on a wedding photographer…
First, a little prep work:
1. Build an inspiration board:
It’s not a new idea regarding Pinterest boards for your wedding. Still, instead of building a shot list/inspo board AFTER you hire your photographer, I recommended making one BEFORE you even open google to search photographers.
This board will give you a visual aid of what style, poses, and direction to want your wedding photos to be like. THEN you can use it as a reference when checking out different photographers and their work to see if they have a similar style and can give you those dream wedding photos.
2. Know your budget:
Wedding photographers can range in pricing due to their expertise and many other factors. But nail down what YOU are willing to spend on photos.
Most photographers will have their pricing fully displayed or have a starting point on their website; knowing your budget can filter out the ones that may be over your comfort line in the budget. If you find a photographer close to or a smidge over, reach out to them anyways. You’d be surprised how many photographers are willing to work with clients at custom price points.
NEVER meet a photographer in person or on the phone if you don’t know their full pricing! This wastes time for both of you.
3. LOOK at the photographer’s work:
Become a super creep and really look at all the pages on their website, any galleries they provide, and social media handles. Look for consistency, style, and if they capture anything in a unique way that you like.
Cross-reference their work to your inspiration board in step one. If their work is making your heart soar with excitement, then you’re on the right track to reaching out to and hopefully hiring them.
But don’t jump the gun yet! There’s more to do.
4. Check out the reviews:
Review ratings and testimonials of past clients are one of the strongest forms of proof of how the photographer is and how they are to work with. Read through the ones you can find by googling them and make notes on the photographer’s top-rated strong suits that can help you during your planning and on the day of your wedding.
5. Evaluate how fast they communicate with you:
Okay, you have done all the steps above and found a photographer (or two) that you could see fitting the job.
Now is the time to jump over to their contact form on their website and start talking with them.
Here is where you need to be a little judgey.
You want a photographer good at fast replies (typically responding 24 hours on weekdays), answering your questions promptly and without hesitation, and getting you the information via guides, pricing lists, etc., right from the start.
This kind of communication is vital in knowing that this photographer will not leave you hanging but, instead, be your guide through this journey.
6. Do they provide guides:
Wedding photographers (like me) who have guides and suggestions to share with potential clients from the get-go are just adding the cheery to your theoretical sundae because they want you to have all the tools and resources to make your planning seamless and stress-free. Thus giving an incredible experience that is chill and enjoyable.
7. Ask for sample (full) galleries:
Wedding photographers love to share their work from featured images on websites, social media, and blogs. So don’t be afraid to ask them to send over a couple of full galleries that might match the style or location of your wedding.
Reviewing full galleries like these is another step in ensuring a photographer’s work is solid and cohesive to your goal of owning bomb-ass wedding photos.
8. Do you vibe?
By this point, you have a good idea of who and what the photographer is like through emails or chatting with them in person or on the phone.
But do you vibe?
Could you see yourself as friends? Or someone you could quickly be yourself around? If not, believe me when I say you don’t want them around you when you’re makeup-free, half-dressed, or slipping in your attire while getting ready. OR even when you’re sharing kisses and intimate moments with your new partner during the portrait stage.
Awkward silence is so much more painful when a camera is your face. And your day should be all bout having fun and enjoying the moment.
9. Do the Terms and conditions work for you?
I swear you’re almost to the part where you can say yes, but before you do, be your own CEO/lawyer, review the contract several times, and fully understand the photographer’s work process.
Take notes on the photographer’s workflow process, such as; when to expect questionnaires for timeline creation, image previews after the wedding, how long it takes for the images to be edited and delivered, and album creation timelines. Having notes on these things can save you from confusion and wondering when to expect them.
Make sure that everything in the contract seems straightforward and fair. If you find yourself in a situation where the photographer is holding you to the contract terms, you don’t want to be surprised because you simply didn’t read it.
10. Ask questions and then more questions:
Going off from the previous step, you want to ask questions and more questions. Please make sure you are crystal clear and confident in the photographer to deliver their best work and give a stress-free experience.
Bonus: Try them out by doing an engagement session:
You’re 99.8% sure you’ve found your wedding photographer, but you’re still curious about what it would be like to have them do photos for you. Totally understandable! This is where you can ask the photographer if you can book an engagement session with them (if you haven’t had one done already). Most photographers will love to work with potential clients in a setting they do best- by taking pictures. And this session can break the ice in getting to know each other really well before the big day.
But please only do this if you’re pretty sure you want to hire them. Again, you don’t want to waste time and, in this case, money.
Based on everything you’ve researched, learned, and seen from the photographer, it’s time to make a decision!
But don’t let your guard down, be picky! These photos are everything to you, and you have to be confident that whom you’re investing in is the right person for the job.
Trust your intuition. Look over your notes. Make the decision.