There are many opinions on what makes a wedding photographer the right fit, but I think it really only boils down to a few things. Never fear fellow photographers, I think you’ll find my list is very simple and reasonable. For those of you overwhelmed at the idea of hiring a photographer, the good news is that it’s not as complex as you may think. While this list is specific to weddings, all these principles could be applied to most photography needs.
TIP # 1: MAKE SURE YOU LIKE THEIR FULL BODY OF WORK.
All photographers share the “highlights” of their best work on Instagram and Facebook (which is great; I do it constantly) – but if you notice you feel differently as you browse deeper into their portfolio, then they may not be the right fit for your taste. It’s important their website portfolio is consistent and you fall more in love with their style as you browse and that their work will compliment the kind of celebration you have planned. On that note, it’s good to think about the tone of your wedding day before you hire a photographer, so you don’t wind up with colliding styles.
TIP # 2: WOULD YOU WANT TO HAVE LUNCH WITH THEM?
Sometimes, I simply email with clients for portrait or family sessions, but for a wedding day it’s important to get to know one another in person. Not only should you like your photographer, but you need to connect with them. If you don’t think you’d enjoy (hypothetically) going to lunch with them, don’t hire them. Why is this so important? You’ll need to be able to trust them and relax while they direct you from behind the camera. They may even wind up keeping you sane in the midst of wedding chaos! If you don’t enjoy them as a person, this will be nearly impossible.
TIP # 3: THEY SHOULD COMMUNICATE CONSISTENTLY AND KINDLY.
There are probably a lot of photographers out there who create amazing photographs, but aren’t as good at the communication part. Obviously, there may be some exceptions to this rule. However, the business side of working with a photographer is nearly as important as the actual photos. Your emails should be responded to in a reasonable amount of time, in a clear and friendly manner. You should never feel stupid if you have questions, which means your photographer is kind and respectful both in-person and in email. Lastly, the path to your photographs include money, paperwork and meetings. With that in mind, the verbiage used in your contract and invoices should be clear and concise.
TIP # 4: THEY SHOULD SPECIALIZE IN WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
It’s becoming more and more common for photographers to specialize in a few things or just one thing! For example, I shoot weddings, families and individual/senior portraits. I don’t do newborn studio work (baby in the basket stuff), corporate events, boudoir, pet photography or sports events. Additionally, I specialize in natural light and medium format film. This means that the majority of the weddings I book take place outdoors, typically in the summer and early fall. Make sure you are booking a photographer who creates photos that resonate with the style of lighting your venue will have and the timelines your celebration will adhere to. If you aren’t sure, ask! I often refer people to photographers I know specialize in things I don’t offer or lighting I’m not interested in.
TIP # 5: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
Sometimes, when you first look at pricing, your eyes may bug out in shock! Keep in mind, it’s going to be an investment (see here) to work with a quality photographer. As the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Please don’t hire the cheapest photographer you can find, that rarely works out well for either party.
Fun fact? Many photographers only require a manageable deposit of some kind to book (I personally require a 10% non-refundable retainer for weddings), with the full balance due at a later date. If your wedding is a year or two away, that leaves you with time to make financial arrangements. Remember that sometimes photographers are willing to work with your budget if they really connect with you and/or your wedding would be a spectacular addition to their portfolio. No matter what, photography will likely be one of your top three largest investments for your wedding day, so keep that in mind while you plan your budget. It is the heirloom from your wedding you’ll have sitting in your living room, framed or preserved in an album – for all to see. When you think of it that way, it is certainly a special thing that you don’t want to cut yourself short on.
I hope these 5 tips helped in your wedding research!
If you have further questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll make sure to respond in the comment thread!