So you now have your venue and wedding date locked in, NOW WHAT? You pick your photographer, that's what!!!! Photographers, like venues, schedule out anywhere between 6-12 months in advance. Depending on their talent and popularity, they may schedule out more depending on how many weddings they accept in a year. If you reach out to your photographer with less than 3 months notice after going through your Wedding To-Do checklist, you might find yourself surprised with the lack of choices out there. Wedding Photographers are suuuuuuppppppper busy between April-October. It's warm, flowers are blooming, you get the summer and then fall glow - it's magical - plain and simple!
When going about how to pick the photographer that is best for you, meet with them. Have coffee or lunch! We love meeting new couples and hearing about their love journey. This helps you get a good feel for them and how they interact with you and your fiance/fiancee. Be sure you can trust them. I've been very blessed in the 8+ years I've been photographing weddings - I have either known or have been referred to by someone I know. If someone you knows and trusts a photographer, they are likely going to talk about their talent with you. Also, don't be afraid to ask your friends and family members for recommendations. Here is a great example: My June 2020 bride put out on Facebook in January that she was looking for a wedding photographer. I browsed the thread of recommendations - many which were excellent choices, so I threw my name into the thread of photographers that were recommended. Now, my bride was a family member of a friend of mine that I had back in college that I had been around enough to have a friendship with. She emailed me about a month after the initial recommendation thread started saying "I love how clean your work is and I see how much you've grown as a photographer. Can you please send me your pricing information?" At this point, I thought she had already made her choice, so I was THRILLED when she reached out (LOVE YOU, K!!!!). I sent her over the pricing information, she picked her package of choice, and then I sent her the contract and deposit invoice. Now we are planning her engagement session for late April when her fiance comes into town! This is beyond exciting to me and I cannot wait to capture the wedding in late June. Another bride of mine from 2016 had gotten engaged and her mom worked out with a family friend of my family's at a local gym in Virginia. The family friend highly recommended me to her and she contacted me since she was moving to Virginia after being in another state for awhile. "N" appreciated the promptness of responses and how we connected via email. I believe we may even FaceTimed at one point to make sure we were a good fit. Turns out that because of our communication and our connection, N did not contact other photographers that were more local to the VA area where she was going to be getting married.
So when it comes to choosing your photographer - here are a few things to think keep in mind:
1. How important is photography to you? If you aren't that concerned about the images that are captured, you might opt for a low budget photographer who is there for a few hours to capture the ceremony, a few family photos, and maybe a few key events during your reception. Or you may ask a family friend to take the photos for you. The way I explain it to brides is this: PHOTOS ARE FOREVER. They are what is left to relive year after year and for you to share with your children and grandchildren down the road. After the wedding the dress gets cleaned and boxed up and stored away, the flowers die, the cake gets eaten, but the one thing that stays behind are the photos. Please make them a priority when planning. Photographers cannot stress that enough!
2. Do your research - make sure they have the kind of style you love (natural, bright & airy, moody). Are they more photo-journalistic or candid? But the thing you should examine the most, do they capture authentic emotion and joy? If they don't check any of these boxes, move on. What services do they provide you in the package you are interested in? Is an engagement session included? Do they make up a photography timeline? All great things to think about.
3. When you communicate with the photographer, are they quick to respond to your first inquiry (and any message thereafter) AND are genuinely excited for your upcoming wedding? Don't be afraid to ask them questions like how they approach a wedding day or how long they store your wedding images should your computer die. Being in a steady stream of communication with your photographer is key. Keep them updated on any changes that are made during the course of planning. It keeps us well-informed in case we need to make any changes on our end.
4. Budget Budget Budget!!!!! There are so many photographers out there in your community, some more popular than others and we all have various price tags - you are bound to find one that fits your style and budget. And if you LOVE a specific photographer, you may have to adjust your budget in other areas of wedding planning to accommodate them. Several years ago when I was planning my own wedding (which turned out to be the greatest blessing to be that it didn't work out), I reached out to photographer friends located in Arizona. They sent me the cost information and breakdown. I talked about it with my family and fiance and opted to try to find someone more local with a similar style. When doing my research for a more local photographer, I discovered my friend, Joy. We discussed the wedding plans, her style, and then the cost. The next day, after further discussion with my parents and fiance, I emailed her and asked her to be my wedding photographer. Since I was in charge of the photography aspect of wedding planning, I knew what I was looking for and everyone knew how important the photos were to me.
5. One more thing: Do you feel like you can trust them???? This is probably the most important aspect outside of the budget. Check out their website and social media feeds. You will get a good idea and read on the photographer you are researching and communicating with by checking their feeds regularly. Do you feel like they acknowledge your feelings feel respected by them?The photographer you choose will set the tone for how the whole day goes. If you feel like you can trust them, the whole day will go smoothly. You need to have full faith in them that they are not going to miss any important detail of your wedding day. You are most likely going to disclose private information to them about family portraits such as family members who do not get along and maybe even give the reason as to why. A great photographer is sensitive to guests but also direct especially during family portraits. We understand that there are family dynamics that no longer work so the last thing we want to do at a wedding is step on anyone's toes and cause more disruption at such a special event.
Well, I hope this was helpful for you! Like always, if there is a topic you would like included on a future Wedding Wednesday, shoot me a message. I would love to hear them!