So you’re engaged! Congratulations! What an exciting time in your life. The next handful of months are going to be full of planning and decision making. There’s going to be a lot to think about and you might not even be sure where to start. However, no matter how small or how large your wedding, you’ll want to make sure you hire a professional to capture your day. Once you get to the point that you’re starting to decide on what photographer will be capturing your big day, there’s a lot to consider. Here are 10 tips for choosing your wedding photographer.
Find a Style That You Like.
Every photographer has their own unique shooting and editing style. Before you start looking for photographers, I suggest figuring out what style of photography you like and how you’d like your wedding to be captured. There are many many styles of photography out there, but most commonly in wedding photography I see Dark and Moody, Light and Airy, Vibrant and Colorful, and Cinematic and Commercial. None of them are right or wrong, and it totally depends on what you’re into.
A great tool for figuring out what style you like is Pinterest. Search for wedding photography on Pinterest and create a mood board of what photos you love.
Determine Your Price Range
One of the great things about wedding photography for a couple is you can find talented photographers in a variety of price ranges. Wedding photography typically costs between $1,000-$5,000 depending on the experience level of the photographer, number of hours of photography, and what’s included in the photography package. Generally speaking, the more a photographer charges the more likely they’ll provide a superior service, product, and experience. However, that’s not always the case, so it’s important to check reviews before committing.
Keep in mind, that if the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you find a photographer who charges very little for wedding photography, proceed with them carefully. This is the most important day of your life, you’ll want to fully trust the person that’s photographing your wedding. The last thing you’ll want is to regret the only physical memories you have from the day.
Don’t Settle on the First Photographer You Find, Do Your Research!
I suggest starting your search on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook is a great resource for brides because there are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to weddings in North East Ohio. You can find all kinds of vendors, support from other brides and more! Check out these groups if you’re not already a part of them:
You can also use Instagram as a tool to look for wedding photographers. There are two ways I suggest searching,
1: Search through hashtags like #ohioweddingphotographer, #clevelandweddingphotographer, #akronweddingphotographer, etc.
2. In your search bar, type in your city followed by wedding photographer and you’ll get a list of people who specialize in wedding photography. You’ll then be able to see their online portfolios there.
If you still haven’t found a photographer who fits what you’re looking for, I would go to Google and search as specifically as possible. Use keywords like the style of photography, the location you’re looking for, and budget key words like affordable or luxury.
Lastly, you could resort to looking on website like The Knot or Wedding Wire where you can find list of vendors with reviews and ratings.
Be Wary of Photographers Who Don’t Offer Consults.
Consultations are key when it comes to wedding photography. You’re likely about to spend a good chunk of money on a wedding photographer, what if you pick the wrong one? It’s hard to get an idea of who a photographer is and how they operate if they don’t offer consultations. And the last thing you’ll want is to be locked into a contract with a photographer that you don’t vibe with or trust. Consultations are helpful for both photographers and couples. You should try and get a feel for their personality by asking them about their background, their experience, their education, what’s their favorite thing about weddings. Any question that would help you feel more at ease is on the table and a professional photographer would be happy to answer them!
You can also ask more questions about the packages they offer. What is and isn’t included in their packages? What’s the turn around time? Will you get a print release with your package?
Make sure you mesh with the photographer you choose. They might have beautiful images, but if their personality doesn’t work well with yours theres a chance you won’t be at ease on your wedding day or they may cause you additional stress. You should feel excited to work with your photographer and trust that they’ll cover your wedding day to your satisfaction!
Ask to See a Full Wedding Gallery
Sure, website portfolios are great to look at but photographers typically only show you the best of the best on their website. After all, the point of a portfolio is to show you images you’ll be most impressed by and attract your attention. Looking at a bunch of pretty pictures is nice, but sometimes it’s what they’re not showing you that you should want to see. It’s okay to ask, a good wedding photographer should have nothing to hide from their clients and will be happy to let you look through all the images from another clients day.
Make Sure Your Photographer Uses Contracts
This is for your protection. You’re likely giving your photographer a good sum of money for their wedding services, you want it in writing what you’re paying for and that they are going to be there on your wedding date. If there’s no contract in place, there’s no guarantee that they will show up or that they will perform and deliver the services or products you discussed. If your photographer tells you that contracts aren’t necessary - RUN!
Ask Your Photographer if They Have Insurance
This is huge, and it’s reason enough to hire a professional photographer. Your photographer should be covered in case anything happens to their gear at your wedding or if something accidentally happens to someone at your wedding involving the photographers equipment. For instance, what if a light falls on a guest at your wedding and injures them? Do they have liability insurance?
Do They Back Up Their Wedding Photos?
Accidents happen. What if down the road the usb drive of your files gets lost or you get a new computer and forget to copy them over. Will your photographer still have your photos? Most photographers keep multiple back ups of files incase something like this happens, some even have offsite back ups incase something happens to their studio or computer. On the other hand, some people don’t back up files and if you lose your files they may not even be able to replace them.
Don’t Settle for a Friend or Family Member Just to Save Some Money.
Let’s say you have friend who just got their first camera and offered to shoot your wedding for free. You’ll save a ton of money, so of course that sounds perfect! However, typically that’s not the case. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the horror stories of how peoples wedding photos turned out because they went with a friend or family member who offered to do them for free. I’ve even had people ask me if there’s anything I can do to fix the wedding photos they got back from their amateur photographer. Out of focus, over/under exposed, low quality, bad colors, missed moments, the list goes on and on of what could happen.
Pay for someone with experience so you can have the peace of mind that you’ll be getting great photos, and let your friends and family enjoy your day as guests!
Trust Your Choice.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you trust whoever you hire to do an incredible job. Weddings are stressful, that’s not secret. The last thing you want to be doing is stressing about your vendors. Choose a photographer you feel comfortable with and trust and it will make your wedding day that much smoother!