5 Tips for Finding and Choosing Your Wedding Photographer!
Stephanie Asvale is a Branding photographer, based in the Bay Area and graciously agreed to share 5 Tips for finding and choosing a wedding photographer for your big day!
5 Tips for finding and choosing a photographer for your wedding:
Written by an unbiased, non-wedding photographer.
I’m a pretty thorough researcher when it comes to buying things, hiring people, or basically any investment. So when it came time to find a wedding photographer for myself four years ago, it was a process. I decided I should probably share my tips with others, especially since I’m not selling myself here. I’m a photographer, but I don’t photograph weddings.
Hiring a photographer for your wedding, in my opinion, should be one of your top priorities. That’s because not only is this one of the most important and celebrated days of your life, but if you’re going to have this big celebration with your spouse-to-be and all your friends and family, you want to be able to remember it well. It only lasts a day, you need to have great photos from it so the memories can last a lifetime. “You get what you pay for” definitely comes into play here, and you don’t want to have any regrets. So below are some things to consider.
(1) Do you like their style of photography?:
The first thing to do is a Google and/or Instagram search of wedding photographers in the area where you’ll be getting married. Open up lots of wedding photographers websites in a bunch of tabs in your browser. Start to go through them, narrowing down based on if you like their photography style. There are many different photographic styles, both in terms of perspective and visuals.
As far as perspective goes, do you want a “story” to be told through the images? If so, you might want to focus on photographers who have a photojournalistic style. They have the ability to capture images that tell stories within each one, and capture the little moments as they happen. Do you care more about “posed” images, of you and your significant other, friends and family, etc? Then you may want to look for someone whose catalog of images is mostly that, and less “photojournalistic.” I think ideally you want someone who can do both, because you want pretty portraits of yourself with your partner, friends, family, etc. But you also want to remember those “little moments” from your special day. So browse each website/IG evaluating their work to make sure it’s something you desire.
As far as visuals, some people gravitate to the “light and airy” style. That’s very white and bright, less shadows, less dark. Some people prefer the opposite, lots of contrast and a more dark and dramatic image. And then there are the in betweens, which is what I try to do with my photography. I describe it as “sharp, clean and crisp.” I try not to change it up too much from the original, just enhance what was there naturally. So look for work that you gravitate towards in both of these aspects of style!
(2) Evaluate their capabilities for what you need:
One thing I think many people forget to consider is the capabilities of the photographer they hire. There are many photographers out there these days who only do “natural light” photography. And that’s totally fine! The problem with hiring someone like that as your wedding photographer would be if you plan to get married close to sunset with a reception to follow, or you’re getting married or having a reception indoors. If there is any portion of your ceremony or reception that will be (A) indoors, and/or (B) after dark, additional lighting will be needed to adequately capture the festivities! And if that’s the case, you need to be sure you like the way the photographer you want to hire uses light to capture those images.
So don’t just browse their “wedding galleries,” but browse their blog posts for individual weddings. If a photographer doesn’t include many images with flash from those indoor or after dark situations, it could mean they aren’t confident in their ability to capture them. The same goes for photographers who turn all their indoor or after dark images to black-and-white (which can indicate that they couldn’t fix their color temperature issues, so they removed all the color from the image to mask that). And these are big red flags if this is something you’ll be needing! So make sure you see images with flash, lit in a way that you are happy with, before deciding to move forward with someone. Unless your day will be held completely outdoors during daylight hours, anyway!
Other things to consider when looking through their wedding blog posts: the quality of the images in general portraits, details, moments. Are the images in focus, exposed well, does the color look “right” to you? Does their website and blog showcase a wedding the way you’d want yours to be showcased?
(3) Do they fit within your budget?:
These days many people have the notion that if it has to do with weddings, vendors jack up the prices just because. Well, at least with wedding photographers that is not really the case. There are tons of reasons why wedding photography is expensive. The first one being, photographing a wedding is really hard! (There’s a reason I don’t do it myself!) Wedding photographers do what they do because they love it, despite how grueling it can be on your body and how much pressure you take on yourself for it. Photographing a wedding generally means being on your feet all day while holding up heavy camera gear, so your body is going to feel it the next few days! Then there is the pressure of knowing that if you don’t get “the shot” as it happens, it’s over. You simply didn’t get it and you can’t get it back. And if you lose the images you’re capturing, you’ve lost them forever. You can’t offer a “reshoot” in these instances!
On top of all this, remember that wedding photographers don’t shoot a wedding everyday. They simply can’t. They have to spend other days editing the images, running a business and marketing that business. Usually they are only photographing weddings on weekends. So they have to charge a lot! It covers their time shooting your wedding, the hours going through hundreds or sometimes thousands of images to narrow down the best ones, then editing those. Not to mention the cost of a second shooter or assistant if needed, their gear, their insurance, and other business expenses!
I say this to remind you, there is a reason wedding photography is expensive. And there are many reasons why you shouldn’t go cheap. Mainly, this is your wedding day! You want to be sure the responsibility of capturing it is in good hands.
So once you’ve figured out your budget, and narrowed down your candidates, contact them for pricing. Evaluate their packages based on what they offer and what you want.
(4) Do you vibe well with them?:
Be sure to check out their “about me” page on their website and on their social media accounts, etc. Do they seem like someone you’d want to be friends with? Do you feel like you click with their vision, perspectives, etc? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person on your wedding day and you want to be sure that they are going to help you feel comfortable and be able to communicate with you well. You definitely don’t want to feel awkward or uncomfortable around them! If you believe you’d get along well with them, then I would suggest scheduling an in-person meeting or video conference to be sure!
(5) Lastly, read reviews:
My last suggestion would be, with the photographers you’ve narrowed down, do your due diligence and read up on their reviews. Check Yelp, their Facebook page, website, Wedding Wire and possibly, The Knot. Look for any red flags within the reviews. With the positive reviews, keep an eye out for things that are important to you. Did they make their client feel comfortable, did they stay upbeat or keep them laughing, did they deliver the images in the time they specified, did they handle the timeline and interacting with family and guests well, etc? If there are positives in the reviews that make you think “yeah, this is what I want,” then that’s definitely a good sign!