I hear it again and again and again… not only from random strangers I meet but also from my portrait clients who didn’t have the opportunity of knowing me back when they were married.
It’s the same few stories over and over again, but it always starts with this… “I wish I had chosen a better photographer for my wedding and done more research first.”
And it’s always because of one of the following; “I still haven’t received my proofs or my album and after 2 years and a baby, I’ve given up on ever getting the pictures”, or “The photographer had photographed my parent’s wedding so it was unspoken that they would be doing mine as well, but their style was so old-fashioned and traditional… I wish we’d had something fun and candid”, or “My uncle/friend/aunt/cousin had a really expensive camera and we were on a budget, so we didn’t even look around for other options. The pictures are not very good and they hardly got any detail shots or candid moments of us with our friends and half the time they didn’t know what they were suppose to be doing because they had never shot a wedding before”, or “We got married in a small town in the middle of no where and there weren’t many options for our photography, we didn’t realize we could hire someone to travel in from somewhere else so we got stuck with an inexperienced/traditional/generic photographer who was way old school”. I’ve even heard, “I thought my wedding photos were good until I saw the photos you did for my friend/sister/brother. Now I don’t really like mine anymore.”
Every time I hear this from someone, no matter who they are, I feel so sad about it and just wish that there were something that I could do to make it better. But you can’t re-play out your entire wedding day just to get better photos, so the best I can do is try to educate whoever I can before they make the same mistakes.
The photography from your wedding day is the one tangible thing you will keep and carry with you for the rest of your lives. When you’re gone, your album will be passed down to your children. The wedding photography is essentially the first heirloom that you will have as a newly married couple. Don’t you want to be PROUD of it and shouldn’t it really capture the essence of who you are and what your love is and means? It’s not a job to take lightly. Not just anyone can capture YOU and your love and all the beautiful moments from your wedding day.
So, you ask, “How can I make sure I hire the best photographer for my wedding?”….
1. When you look at a photographer’s work, it should speak to you.
The photographer you hire for your wedding should have work in their portfolio that moves you, even if it’s of a stranger’s wedding. You should not hire a photographer just because they are the right price and have okay looking photos and could get the job done. While that would be a step above hiring Uncle Joe, are they really going to capture the day in a way that is going to make you say “WOW” and cry tears of joy every time you look at your wedding album? Really search around online for photographer’s websites in your area and beyond (nearly every photographer I know will happily travel to another state to photograph a wedding). Ask for recommendations from friends and family. Really dig around their online photo galleries, check out their Blog that shows their most recent work, and check out their work on their facebook business page. Try to view as many images as you can online of the photographers you are interested in. When you find someone who’s work you love, don’t stop there. Keep looking around at different photographer’s images. Make sure you’ve found the perfect style to suit you. You’ll find that you will keep going back to the ones that really speak to you and those are the photographers you should consider for the next steps.
2. Read some of the photographers Blogs & their bio pages. Check out their Twitter feeds.
A photographer’s website might have a great display of images and a fun style, but you can really get to know who a photographer is through their blog and what they have to say about the shoots that they post and the personal entries that they write about. Do you think you would enjoy hanging out with this person in real life? Could you be friends? Do they have a similar personality to you? Do they like the same things that you do? You have to spend hours and hours with your photographer, not only on your wedding day, but on your engagement and bridal sessions, as well as in meetings and consultations. Are their personalities going to annoy you or offend you?
3. Check out their Facebook Page and read customer reviews online.
Make sure your favorite photographers are true professionals and don’t have upset customers by checking out websites like weddingwire.com for reviews and ratings. Even a basic Google search often has reviews posted under their business listings. Ask people in your community and your other wedding vendors if they’ve heard good things or bad. Check out their Facebook Page and see what kind of feedback and comments their fans are leaving for them. How many fans do they have?
4. Call or email your favorite photographers to make sure they are in your budget and then meet with your favorites in person.
Okay, so you LOVE their work and you are now a devoted blog stalker. You haven’t even met and you feel like you KNOW them already. What’s next? First, make sure they are somewhere within your budget and if they are, schedule a meeting with your favorites to make sure you really click in person. Again, you have to spend a lot of time with your photographer, so you want to make sure you enjoy being around them and that they are easy to talk to and work with. Be yourself when you meet with them because they also want to get a feel for who you are and make sure that they like you just as much! If you don’t click, don’t get upset… you’ll be happier in the end when you find someone who you do connect with. If you hire someone you don’t love in person, chances are they don’t really “get you” anyway and won’t be able to capture your personalities as well as someone who does.
So, you’ve found your dream photographer but they are out of your budget, what now?
Aside from the actual “joining of two hearts” part of the wedding, and all the family and friends and love and celebration, the photography is the next most important part of the day. You don’t get any do 0vers so you have to make the best decision you can up front. Unless the photographer you love costs as much as the entire budget for the wedding, you shouldn’t allow the cost of the photographer to be the make or break factor. Can you do a few DIY projects or choose some cheaper flowers to make your photography budget a little larger? Can you opt for a buffet dinner as opposed to a sit down dinner to save a few more pennies to put towards your dream photographer? If you’re still having a hard time coming up with the money, ask your photographer if they offer a payment plan or if they have any other options. If your dream photographer knows how much you LOVE their work and how much you’re dying to have ONLY THEM photograph your wedding, perhaps they will come up with the perfect solution to make it happen. We want to work with couples who value our work and want to be our cheerleaders. Maybe they offer a gift card registry, so that you can have all your friends and family purchase gift cards towards your photography in lieu of a traditional wedding gift. Be flexible. Many photographers offer a discount for weddings that take place Monday-Thursday. If you’ve found your dream photographer but haven’t set a date yet, maybe you should consider a weekday wedding.
Hopefully this will help steer some engaged couples in the right direction! Happy hunting and good luck!!!