Choosing a photographer is one of the most personal decisions you will make for your big day. You want to make sure you vibe with them!
Here are 5 steps to help you choose the photographer of your dreams (with a few recommendations from me)!
Photo: Amanda Summers Photo
STEP #1: BUDGETING FOR YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER: HOW MUCH DO THEY ACTUALLY COST?
DO: Set a reasonable budget based on the area you live in, don't just rely on Googling "average wedding photographer cost" because it is going to vary drastically based on the area you plan to get married in.
DON'T: Cheap out! Your photos are the one thing, besides your new spouse, that will be with you loooong after the big day.
I know, budgeting is the least fun/romantic part about wedding planning, but it is really important, especially in the beginning of the planning process.
"Expect to pay at least $4.5K in the DMV area for licensed professional..."
The first step is to figure out your overall wedding budget and how much you would like to allocate towards photography. Try not to put too much stock into percentage-based planning (I'll go more in-depth on this an upcoming post!) but doing a little research or consulting a planner can help you understand the average prices for your area. I would expect to pay at least $4.5K in the DMV area for licensed professional, but prices vary based on the number of hours in a package, whether they include a second shooter, etc.
Photo: Julia Summers Photography
STEP #2: KNOW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE BEFORE YOU CHOOSE YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
DO: Look at different examples of photography to see what type you vibe with.
DON'T: Ask photographers if they can change their editing style- you fell in love with the way they tell a story through their editing and asking them to adjust that isn't the best way to start a convo with them.
Personality and photography style are two of the most important factors when choosing a photographer. You are going to be with your photographer for almost your entire day and you want to feel comfortable with them as you take your getting ready shots, your wedding portraits, and all of your other photos throughout your big day!
"You are going to be with your photographer for almost your entire day and you want to feel comfortable..."
You don't need a perfectly curated Pinterest board before you start looking for your wedding photographer, but you should have some kind of visual idea of what you want your photos to look like. Are you into darker, moodier photography? Great, then search for a photographer with a track record for gloriously moody photos. Do you want someone who shoots with film? Make sure you include that in your search terms.
Choose a photographer based on their editing style and make sure it is consistent. Also, look at their gallery to see if you and your wedding party are represented in the photos- the last thing you want is to choose your dream photographer only to get your photos back to see that your BFF has been white washed.
Photo: Cat Deline Photography
STEP #3: DO SOME RESEARCH: KEEP YOUR WEDDING STYLE IN MIND
DO: Take a look at their entire gallery so you can see how they tell a story from the walk down the aisle to the candid shots and family portraits- it is important to know how they film a wedding day!
DON'T: Just assume someone is great based on just their Instagram- Google them, take a look at their website, or ask another vendor for their recommendations.
Consider your wedding venue:
Do you need a photographer who is great with dimly lit spaces or tented weddings?
Someone who can get creative with a smaller space or find a hidden gem down the block from your venue for your first look?
Look at the photographer's social media:
Do they feature couples who look like you? Will you be well represented by them if they photograph you?
Do you like their editing? Does it look consistent?
Check out the photographer's website and wedding galleries:
Does the photographer have examples of diverse galleries including shots of the ceremony, newlywed shots in different locations, candid shots, and family portraits?
Do they have information on their packages and pricing directly on their site?
Read their reviews:
Are the reviews mostly positive?
Are their reviews specific about what they did well or do they seem like they might be fabricated by someone who wasn't an actual client?
If you have already hired a planner or chosen your venue, ask for their opinion or check out their social media for vendor tags.
Photo: Vanessa Bennish Photography
STEP #4: ARE THEY THE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER OF YOUR DREAMS? INQUIRE + SET UP A CALL TO FIND OUT FOR SURE
DO: Fill out the contact form on their website and include your date, location, which package you might be interested, and include something specific that you LOVE about their photos (you get some bonus points for that one!)
DON'T: Try to set up a meeting via DM.
It is really important to meet with your potential photographer to see if you feel a spark! You want someone who is talented, who matches your vision, and who you and your future spouse hit it off with. Sitting down with a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or meeting up on Zoom are great ways to find out if someone is that person. And I’ll let you in on a secret: this goes both ways. Your photographer also needs to know your expectations for your big day and feel like you would be a good fit for each other.
"Do you feel a spark with your potential photographer?"
Have a handful of questions ready for your photographer when you sit down. Here are some examples!
Can we see an entire edited wedding gallery? (If there isn't one on their website)
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
How long after the wedding will we receive our photos? (FYI: Faster doesn’t always mean better.) Some photographers send sneak peeks and highlights, others will deliver the entire gallery at once.
What rights will we have to the photos? What publication rights does the photographer retain?
Will you bring a second shooter?
Let it flow like a conversation, don't let it feel like a job interview (even though that's kind of what it is!). When potential couples Google questions and just go through them robotically, they lose a really great opportunity to connect with the photographer. Do a little research to see if you can answer some of your own questions beforehand so you can focus on really getting to know the photographer and how they can make magic on your big day!
Photo: Elosinio Photography
STEP #5: ONCE YOU'VE FOUND THE PERFECT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, BOOK THEM QUICKLY
DO: Communicate with every person you've spoken to, even if it is just to let them know you have gone with someone else.
DON'T: Make your decision solely on price - look at all of the factors!
Now it's time to choose your dream photographer! Who did you fall in love with? Which photographer do you see there with you on your big day? Think of photography as an investment- remember these photos will last a lifetime!
If you are between two wedding photographers, ask yourself:
Who did you feel an instant connection with?
Think about their vibe: are you looking for someone who is going to keep you calm, hype you up, or both?
Which editing style do you like the most?
Who would you hang out with in "real life" outside of your wedding? Would you want to grab a drink or a coffee with your photographer?
"Don't make your decision solely on price. Consider all of the factors."
After you choose your photographer- CELEBRATE! You are one step closer to your big day!
Photo: Deanna Did That Photography
Still looking for the perfect photographer? Here are some photographers I love and recommend to my couples!
...and many more!
Follow along on Instagram for more tips and tricks to plan your big day!