I am going to let you in on a little secret. You may want to sit down for this.
Are you sitting?
Here it is:
Photographers are not "one size fits all"
*Cue shock and gasps!*
Yes it is true. Just because your wedding photographer created the most beautiful photos of your special day doesn't mean they are qualified to host a posed session with your precious new baby. Even if your favorite Aunt Margaret takes breathtaking images of sunsets, wading birds, and flower gardens she may have no clue when it comes to posing a family or even have the best equipment for shooting portraits at all.
So, in what seems like a never ending sea of photographers, how can you pick the right one to cover one of the biggest days of your life? Here are 5 tips to get you started.
The first thing you should do is literally just check out the photographer's photos on their website. Make sure they have wedding work displayed. Even better, make sure they have several weddings displayed. No two weddings are ever the same and when it comes to photography the more practice the better. Do they know how to take photos outdoors as well as on a dark dance floor. If you have your heart set on a sparkler exit, do they have any examples of that? A photographer who has shot multiple weddings will have inevitably run into a myriad of mishaps, which means they are better prepared if one happens during yours! Having backup gear, knowing how to keep memory card failures from leaving you empty handed, navigating a full 8 hour wedding timeline. All this and more comes with experience.
If you are planning a night time wedding you probably don't want to hire a photographer whose portfolio is brimming with bright airy images. If you are viewing a portfolio and love the posing but not into their desaturated film style edits, probably not the right one for you. Photographers all have their own style. They work best or prefer certain lighting situations, some use flash and strobes like no one's business, others use strictly natural light. Some will edit dark and moody others edit bright and airy. You see where I am going. When looking over a photographers portfolio, think about the style of your wedding and what you want the photos to look like. Then pick a photographer that fits that style. There is nothing worse than someone trying to hire you but then asking you change your artistic style to fit them.
I know, I know. I'm not saying you have to spend $10k on a super experienced amazing photographer. You have to know your budget but also know what good photography costs. Skimping on the photographer is almost always a bad idea. If you have to cut costs somewhere, consider a less expensive dress, slightly cheaper caterer, maybe cut down your centerpiece florals to something a little more simple. At the end of the day your love and your pictures are the only thing you take with you. An experienced photographer can make a $400 dress look like a million bucks while a newbie may make that Vera Wang gown look like a thrift store find (okay maybe not that far!). It may not be a hard and fast rule but in general a wedding photographer's experience level will be reflected in their prices. Trying to save a buck here may have you regretting it once the day is done and the photos don't do justice to all the hard work you put into a special celebration.
Another that might seem like a no brainer but reviews just don't lie! People generally like to share their experience with any service, good or bad. Most sites are set up so that bad reviews can not be removed so you can rest assured that you are getting the whole truth. Unfortunately, there really is no way to get all of your reviews in one place. Be sure to check a couple sites. I personally have reviews on Facebook, on Google, on Thumbtack, and on Wedding Wire. Anyone can really say anything they want about themselves but if you go read their reviews and all those great things aren't translating to their couples, they may not be a good fit for you. Take some reviews with a grain of salt. If a photographer has a plethora of raving reviews and a couple not so great ones they may have run into someone who just would never be happy. (We all know someone like that) Use your best judgement when it comes to reviews.
You may not have thought of this but you will be spending pretty much all day with the photographer you choose. Often times you will spend more time with them than anyone else on your wedding day (even your new spouse!) You really want them to be someone you can trust, feel comfortable with, and lean on. Getting to meet with them in person before booking can be very beneficial. You may love their images, their style, and their price but then find that your personalities just don't vibe. Maybe they are more laid back and you like structure or they are very serious when you just want to have fun! Scheduling an engagement session with them is another great way to get to know them before the big day. When I shoot weddings I like to think of myself as an extra bridesmaid with a camera... but better because I am someone completely neutral and looking out for my couple's interests. I am not just a photographer on your day but your cheerleader, your confidant, your mediator, and your friend.
Do YOU need a wedding photographer?