First of all, finding a wedding photographer is the most important purchase of your wedding (besides the dress). Your wedding photographer is the one who captures all the moments that you are most likely going to forget. (I know this from experience both behind the lens and from my own wedding!) Your special day is the biggest blur. It's busy, it's wild, it is the happiest day, but also the busiest. Trust me, you will want to re-live your special day through your photographs. Let’s figure out how you find your perfect photographer match.
1. Find the Style That You Want
One of the biggest things in the photography world is the style of photography. If you aren’t a photographer you most likely have no idea what that means. I will break it down for you so you can look at potential photographers with a better idea of what you are wanting.
This style is the “candid, un-posed” look. Typically, you would see photos of your bridal party dropping it low on the dance floor, your dad wiping his tear from his cheek after the daddy-daughter dance, or perhaps the beautiful detailed ring shot before the ceremony.
This also can be a more “Fine Art” look. Deep black and whites, raw, real emotion and the in between moments. When the style is documentary, you won’t see many people stopped and looking straight into the camera. Lots of photographers can blend this style with portraiture.
This is the classic, traditional look. This is smiling with your bridal party for a few posed photos that your photographer will prompt you all to do. Portraits are getting all of the “important moments”, things like cake cutting, first dance, bouquet toss, etc. This style is less of the raw moments and more of the planned and posed shots.
Okay, there are different styles of styles! Haha. Let me explain. Documentary & Portraiture are the style of shooting a wedding day. The editing style is what the edited image result looks like. Think of it like an Instagram Filter (but way better because they’re professional).
The most common words to describe editing styles are “Bright, Light, Airy, Saturated colors”; “Moody, Dark, Film-like, Nostalgic”; “Washed out tones”; or “True to Color”. Review all potential photographer’s portfolios and see what editing style really fits you. Ask to see full albums or galleries to see how their shooting and editing reflects the wedding day.
A lot of the time photographers only post their favorite photos from a day, so make sure you get the entire day to see how they handle lighting situations, action shots, posed shots, send offs, and more.
2. Personalities Should Mesh
It is SOOOO important to find a photographer who you get along with. Find someone who you want hang out with and who you trust. Your photographer will be with you more than your maid of honor; we are talking third-wheel status. ;)
Meet up with your photographer, talk to them on the phone, get to know them. Make sure you are both feeling each other’s vibes! They should be professional enough to manage crazy guests and to nail a group photo, but also outgoing and friendly so they are unobtrusive while snapping those documentary shots.
Many of times there isn’t an event coordinator and the photographer is running around with the bride and groom trying to make sure they are hitting their timelines for the evening.
Bottom line, make sure you love who they are!
3. Where do I search?
Word of mouth is fabulous. When someone tells you about their experience it is so valuable. Talk to all your friends and family and get their input on their own wedding photographers. Did they like or dislike something about their work?
Reviews are amazing too. Make sure your photographer has everything you are looking for. Are they professional? Did they deliver their photos on time? Do they make you feel comfortable in front of the camera? Was it a fun experience? Instagram is a great way to view portfolios and find new photographers.
You can also search on sites like The Knot, Junebug Weddings, Wedding Wire, or other local wedding websites. They always have lists of photographers in your area that you can explore. To the google machine!
4. Budgets, Budgets, Budgets
Okay, this a big deal, but it should NOT be the deciding factor in my opinion. If you are trying to save more by letting your cousin who owns a Nikon, but doesn't know a thing about wedding photography take your pictures... think again!
This is the area of the budget to spend. A photographer is spending their whole day with you ensuring they are “on point” and capturing every single moment. After they are spending hours with you shooting, they are spending double that time editing and uploading photos to deliver to you.
Photographers spend hours and tons of money on workshops, learning new skills, equipment, software, etc. Basically what I’m saying is professional photographers are not getting paid to just snap a few photos and put a filter on it. It is a lot of time and effort. Value that and keep it in mind when you want to ask your photographer for a huge discount.
Photographers can range from $500-$10,000! You can find photographers in your budget for sure. Make sure you are picking your favorite photographer because of their work, and not just to fit your budget.
This is SUCH an important vendor for your wedding. It is THEE vendor. Ask about what is included in the packages to make sure they are covering everything you are looking for (second shooter, printing rights, online gallery, albums, prints, etc.)
5. Postproduction Deets
When do you want to get your photos back?
Most photographers have a turnaround time of 6-8 weeks. That is a long time, I know!
Ask your potential photographers when you can expect the edited photos or proofs. Some will have turnaround times of only 2 weeks (Holla!). It is a big deal. Make sure you think about it before you book.
When you receive your photos, do you have the printing rights? Are you able to print photos of yourself or does the photographer deliver an online gallery of watermarked images? Are they high resolution or low resolution? How many images would you expect to see edited? Do you have to pay for printing rights? Do you have to pay per edited photo?
Ask about all of the rights of your images!