This post has been one I have been wanting to write for a while now and I am excited to finally get it out of my head and into your hands. These few tips will help you very quickly narrow down that list of photographers out there to help you find the best on for you. Notice I did not stop at just best. The best one for you is so crucial to you enjoying your wedding day. There is a strong chance you will be by your photographer’s side more than you will be your spouse’s side on your wedding day. Let’s dive into how you can find a photographer who you will cherish having at your side for the entire day!
#1 Look deeply into your friends photographs ….
So your BFF got married last year and the handful of beautiful photographs at sunset that their photographer shared look amazing. I mean, they should right? What about their first dance as a couple? How about the family photographs that will sit on your parent’s and grandparent’s fireplace mantel for the next 20 years? How about the photograph when you were walking down the aisle and you see your soon to be spouse for the first time but it was in a dark church? That dress, those shoes and the jewelry that you spent months picking out, do you have photographs to share with your children of what you wore? All of these moments are what makes your wedding, YOUR ACTUAL WEDDING. Ask to see a full gallery, not a best of Instagram post or even an overview blog. See an actual full, EVERYTHING, wedding gallery and look through them deeply. Do not get sold by just sunset sizzle, fall in love with the whole steak.
#2 ….. but ask friends THIS question.
After you have looked through a full gallery of wedding photographs from your friends, do NOT ask them if they love their wedding photographs. There is no need because YOU should decide if you loved your friends photographs. Your friends can love their photographs and you are fully and completely allowed to not like them. That is having a style preference and it is also called being a human. Think about clothes, your friend can love their style, that does mean you should love it on you. The question to ask your friend is this. “Did you love working with your photographer?”. This is probably the most important question to ask your friend but the one that gets asks the least. Was your friend happy with the communication and the planning the photographer offered? Was their photographer willing to go above and beyond being a photographer if the moment called for it? How about the time frames of getting their photographs back and their wedding album, did the photographer meet those timetables set by the photographer themselves? All of these things are so very much part of being a photographer but also have nothing to do with the actual photographs. Your experience with one of the most important people of wedding day is deeply important.
#3 Be You!
This is so incredibly underrated! After you have done all the research, after you have asked your friends and you are finally at a meeting with your potential photographer…. Just … be … you. It can be a little intimidating talking to a wedding vendor who specializes a craft that you are not too familiar with. Some of my couples, when they are explaining what they desire in their wedding photographs, try and use the big fancy photographer terms and they almost always wrong lol! Do not try and meet the photographer at their level, be you and let everyone come together! If you are a planner and very organized and need that from your photographer, be exactly that when you meet them! If you are very laid back and just kinda wing your daily schedule, be that with your photographer! A professional wedding photographer will meet you at where you are and who you are and be the resource you personally need to create photographs and an experience you will love.
#4 Get it in writing.
Any photography package, the prices, the deadlines for the gallery and album, the details, what will you do if (insert bad situation) happens… all of this NEEDS TO BE IN WRITING that is reviewed and agreed upon before you sign. If the photographer tells you that you do not need a contract or that they will figure it out later, frankly, run. Over the years weddings have thrown some pretty unique situations at me and my couples but in every situation we had a solid outline prepared to work off of. The contract is not there to protect just the photographer, it also there to protect you. No one wants to make a phone call or have a meeting where a situation has taken and place and no one has any idea of how to proceed. Some of the key things to have in writing are cancellation of the wedding (from both you and photographer), postponement of the wedding for any reason, the photographer’s responsibility if they can not shoot your wedding for whatever reason (family emergency or injury for example), weather on wedding day issues and storage and archiving of your photographs and what happens if they are lost. These things need to be clearly explained prior to booking.
#5 Communicate. communicate, communicate.
Nothing helps me more than when my couples share what really matters to them on their wedding day! It could be a specific created photograph, it could be capturing a moment, it could be a handful of key family members or special friends, it could be a family heirloom that is a small minor detail… any of those are important for your photographer to document, so tell them! Talk about what matters to your heart, share what you have dreamed your photographs would feel like, share the moments your think about in the sleepless nights leading up to your wedding. 80% of your wedding photographs are usually tied to specific things that any photographer worth their salt will photograph. That last 20% though, that is where we photographers get to be creative and you get photographs of things that deeply matter to you. So do not be afraid in sharing the moments, the people and the details that your heart your love!
I hope that helps all those couples out there starting the daunting process of finding the best photographer for them! The journey of planning a wedding, experiencing your wedding day and finally holding your wedding album in your hands can be a very difficult process. However, if you have the right photographer by your side, it will be a process that you can actually love!