Selecting the Perfect Wedding Photographer
The hard part is over, right? You've wooed, flirted, and asked (or answered) "the question." You've chosen a date, picked a location, and chosen a band. Now all that remains are a few minor details before you can, at long last, take the plunge. Right?
If you’re like many couples, the next item on your list is your photographer. Can't possibly be that hard... I live in [insert your metro area here]... how many wedding photographers could there be? The answer: a lot. How do you find them? And once you have, how do you choose?
At a time when technology and the Internet have made it easier for photographers to enter the field and harder to stand out from the crowd, brides and grooms are facing a sea of websites, all with at least a few pretty images. Some claim grandeur ("Available for international travel and destination weddings!" or "Award-winning wedding photographer!"). Others dangle low prices. So what matters most?
Step one: Make a list.
Just because there may be 100 photographers in your area, that doesn't mean that all 100 will do a job you'll be happy with. Start with a bunch of names, and look at their work... who does work that resonates with you? Whose work clicks with your vision of the day? If you love funky/artsy photography, then those photographers primarily offering traditional wedding portraiture probably shouldn’t go on your list, and vice versa.
Where to start? Here are a few suggestions:
Remember, the important thing is to get a good idea of what's out there and compile a decent list of names that you'd feel comfortable with.
- Who are your friends using? Are they happy with the images, products and service they've received? But don't limit your list to just these names... especially if it's been a year or so since they used them... the wedding photography field changes fast!
- Who does your venue recommend? Venues that have good experiences with photographers will often keep their names on hand. Keep in mind, though, that these lists are subjective and may or may not include the best talent around.
- Ask your wedding planner... these professionals work with different photographers all the time, and because they know that their reputation may hang on how well the photographer they recommend performs, they're generally going to point you toward good, solid photographers.
- Check out wedding photography websites like photographik.org
- And of course, when all else fails, Google knows pretty much everything.
Step two: Narrow it down.
Once you have a fair number of names in front of you, it's time to start crossing some off (or, if that strikes you as too mean, then just circle the ones you really love). How do you do that?
There are several factors that go into choosing a photographer and every couple will have different priorities at the top. How good is their work? What sort of albums/prints/engagement sessions/etc. do they offer? What do they cost? Do they have established businesses, or are they just starting out? Only you can know what’s most important to you, but here are a few ideas that may help:
- Quality matters! Go through your list and look at each photographer's blog, if he or she has one. A blog will let you see the kind of quality and consistency that a photographer will deliver, week after week, wedding after wedding... not simply the 20 best images they've ever taken and put on their website. If their work doesn't inspire you, move on.
- Yes, price is a consideration... but a quick word on that: in a year, or five, or ten, when the cake, food, and dancing are all a memory, your photographs will be how you remember your wedding day. I've heard many couples say they wish they had spent a bit more on a better photographer.
Step three: Meet'em!
After all this work, now is the time to meet your top choices. Give them a call and set up a time to sit down face to face, go over some more of their work, and get to know each other. You'll want to see what their albums look like (which also allows you to see complete weddings, not cherry-picked images), talk about their packages, and get a vibe for how they'll tackle your wedding day.
You will want to get a sense of their business. There are tons of lists of questions to ask available online, I won't repeat them here. Simply put, make sure you’re satisfied with their level of experience and that they have everything in place (insurance? equipment?) to make sure your photography comes off problem-free.
But one of the biggest goals for this meeting is to get a sense of their personality. You'll have your photographer near you for most of your wedding day, and while some are better than others at blending into the background, choosing someone you enjoy being around will make your day that much more fun and relaxed. Do you click with your photographer? If you do, chances are you’ll love your photos. Does your photographer drive you crazy? If so, you'll probably remember that every time you look at the images, no matter how good they are.
Ready to get started? Don't be intimidated... there's a lot of amazing talent out there, including someone who's just right for your wedding. We can’t wait to meet you!
DISCLAIMER : The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent the views of photographik or any member of the photographik organization.