Choosing A Wedding Photographer - A Bride's Perspective!
How To Choose A Wedding Photographer
By Jeffrey House Photography
Every couple wants a great wedding photographer, but most admit, they're not sure what makes a photographer great.
Does this sound familiar?
Recently, I watching the move "Father of the Bride." If you've seen the movie, you'll remember the scene where Steve Martin's daughter falls asleep on the couch reading about how to save money on your wedding by incorporating DIY. Watching this got me to thinking about the stresses of wedding planning and it inspired me to write this piece.
Honestly, this blog post ins't just for brides - it's for all couples concerned with finding the right wedding photographer. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at choosing a wedding photographer from your perspective.
are you going to be like 70% of couples?
70% of couples didn't like their wedding photographer and they wouldn't work with them again if given a second chance. If you're like me, whenever you hear something like this, you want to know why. Understanding the "why" will help you to avoid making the same mistakes. Let's take a quick peek at the biggest issues couples had with their photographers:
- They were rude and unfriendly
- They didn't communicate well and were often unresponsive to questions
- They over promised and under delivered
- They did a poor job at editing the photos
- They clearly didn't value their clients
- They lacked creativity
As a professional wedding photographer myself, I hear things like this and I'm left scratching my head. If you take only one thing away from this article, it's this -
Wedding photography has very little to do with photographs and everything to do with connections and relationships.
This might sound a little strange to you right now, but by the end of this article, it should make a lot more sense.
your considerations when choosing a photographer
Most couples significantly underestimate the cost of their wedding. To better understand what you should expect, visit www.costofwedding.com. Follow a few easy steps and within a few seconds you will be able to estimate your weddings costs for practically every detail.
Wedding photography prices vary, but generally speaking, the average cost of a wedding photographer in the Saratoga/Albany NY region is $2,800. It's critical to have a good understanding of your photography budget for you begin to plan.
[ CHECK OUT: 7 AMAZING TIPS FOR CREATING A WEDDING BUDGET ]
As you begin searching for wedding photographers, it's likely you will turn to Google for help. It's certainly a logical thought, but the majority of couples make the same critical mistake.
They only the look at the results found on page 1 of their search results.
I'm not sure how this happened, but we have been programmed to believe the results found on page 1 somehow represent the "best businesses." Unfortunately, this is false. Page 1 represents the businesses who spend the most money on marketing! It has very little to do with talent and a lot to do with "pay-to-play."
Do yourself a favor and don't limit your options. Look beyond page 1 of the Google search results and find the perfect photographer for your wedding!
So, you've found a few photographers online.
Google each photographer's exact business name to see what kind of presence they have online. If they don't have a website, that's a huge red flag and it's time to move on. They don't have a website, but they're on Facebook - is that good? Facebook business pages are free and easy to create. These are known as "Facebook Photographers" and it's I'd be very skeptical about them. On average, a website costs between $200-$250 a year. If a photographer can't invest this much into their business, what else can't they do?
Professional photographers should have professional looking websites and they should easily be found across multiple social media sites. It's a lot of work to be active on all of the social media platforms, but they should be on at least 2-3 of them. Also, be sure to check out their social media profiles. Did they just create a profile, but they never do anything on these sites? They should be active on these sites sharing photos, articles, and other related information. Inactive social media profiles is another red flag. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't look or feel right, it probably isn't.
Do They Specialize In Wedding Photography?
It's easy to think that any professional photographer is capable of photographing a wedding, but that just isn't true. Sure, they can show up and take pictures, but that's very different from making photographs.
Wedding photography is highly-demanding and stressful. Many photographers do not like working in this kind of environment. You have be very good at many genres too - portraiture, products (dresses, shoes, cakes, etc.), action (reception dancing), low-light, storytelling, etc. You also have be amazing with people because a wedding is not just about the couple getting married. It's also about their families and wedding guests. You need to make everyone feel comfortable and special.
Your photographer will need to be able to handle the demands of a photographing a wedding while demonstrating professionalism and composure. They also need to be adept at problem-solving. There will be a lot of challenging and different situations that arise during a wedding, and your photographer needs to be able to resolve them quickly and efficiently.
Do You Like Their Work?
Didn't I just say wedding photography has very little to do with photographs? So, why are we talking about whether or not you like their work?
It's a little like dating.
Do you remember the first time you met your partner? You probably didn't know a single detail about their personality, but there was something about their appearance that first caught your attention. The same holds true with choosing a wedding photographer. If you're not attracted to their artistic style, they won't be a good fit. A photographer's portfolio is what creates their first impression.
Now for the big question - What should you be looking for when exploring a photographer's portfolio?
- Do their photographs offer creativity?
- How do the people in their photographs appear? Natural? Relaxed? Happy?
- How do the overall colors of their images look? Natural? Fantasy like?
- Do they seem to use lighting well? Or is their use of flash so harsh it looks more like nuclear blast went off?
- Do you like the overall style of their photos?
Every website offering advice on choosing a wedding photographer will tell you that you need to ask a photographer what their photography style is. I've never understood this, but let me explain what I mean.
You can literally read 10 different articles that discuss the importance of photography style and all of them will be different. One article may explain 12 photography styles, the next explains 5, and so on down the line. If this information is vital, why are there so many inconsistencies?
Let me first say that I agree photography style is important. But, how a photographer defines their style is not. If a photographer were to tell you their style is a blend of documentary and illustrative photography with a touch of traditional styling - do you now know what your photographs will look like? I'm a photographer and I don't, so I'm guessing you're in the same boat.
Even 5 photographers with the exact same photography style will create very different looking images because we all see and feel things differently. We all have different life experiences which plays a large role in how we view the world around us. This is why we previously discussed the questions to ask yourself when viewing a portfolio. Actually viewing a photographer's images will tell you everything you need to know about their photography style, and it will either be something you like or you don't.
Usually, it takes at least 7-9 hours to photograph a wedding. Your wedding photographer is going to spending at least 90-95% of your day by your side. How important do you think it is to choose a photographer with a personality you really like and relate too? If your photographer annoys you, do you really want to spend your entire wedding day with them?
Meet with all potential photographers in-person whenever possible. If it's not possible, then meet with them over Skype. You want to speak with them face-to-face to really get a good feel for their personality as this is the single most important detail to consider when hiring a photographer.
When you love your photographer's personality and you can imagine being friends with them, many great things about your wedding photography will fall into place. For example, the quality of your photos. If your photographer rubs you the wrong way, do you think that will show through in your photos? Absolutely - because when you're around them you're going to feel hesitant and tight. The same holds true if you love their personality. I will guarantee your images will look one hundred times more genuine with real emotion.
Do Their Wedding Packages Benefit You?
Many wedding photographers fill their photography packages with fluff. They offer lots of "extras" to make you feel like you're getting a lot, but in the end, you realize it was just the illusion of value. Before meeting with potential photographers, sit down with your partner and discuss what's most important to each of you when it comes a photography package. You will want to consider:
- Do you want two photographers?
- How many hours of photography coverage do you need?
- Do you want a copyright release for the digital files?
- Do you want a wedding album?
- Do you want parent albums?
- Do you want an engagement session?
- Do you want professional prints?
- Do you want any wall displays for your favorite photos?
One of the most important decisions is hours of coverage. Most couples severely underestimate how much time will be needed to photograph their wedding. One reason you always need more time than you think is that almost all weddings have delays. For example, at practically every wedding, hair and makeup take significantly more time than anticipated. This can easily take 30-60 minutes longer than expected. This can wreak havoc with your wedding timeline. Imagine the stress and panic you'll feel if your bridal session or first-look is scheduled for 3:00pm, but you don't get done with hair and makeup until 3:30pm! Definitely not how you want to start off your day.
When these delays occur, everyone looks to the wedding photographer to get things back on track. Depending on your wedding photographer, that could severely impact the quality of their photos because they too are feeling the pressure. If your photographer has to cut their session from 60 minutes down to 20-30 minutes, it's certainly going to deliver you less photos.
You want the most coverage your photography budget will allow, but 7 hours or less will limit your options. If you need to sacrifice coverage, I would recommend shaving time off the end of the reception. Your photographer will still capture the first dances, toasts, cake cutting, and any other special events you're including. They will even capture your guests on the dance floor, but most couples agree they don't need hundreds of dance photos.
Some couples consider cutting time from the "getting ready" part of the day, but I would caution you against this. Certainly, you don't need a photographer at your bedside waiting to take photos of you the second you open your eyes, but the photos of you getting ready, your details (dress, shoes, accessories, etc.), and time with your bridesmaids are often some of the most special moments from the day.
This is one detail of your photography you should never forgo. The engagement session is one of the most essential aspects to having a great experience with your photographer.
Your engagement session will like be the first time you and your partner have ever been professionally photographed. This time with your photographer is going to be immensely beneficial and it's going to allow you to really start developing a trusting relationship. You will get accustomed to their work-style and you will gain a comfort level with the professional picture making process. Your photographer will learn about you and your couple-style or how you naturally interact with each other. This is key information for your photographer as it will allow them to better manage your photography sessions to ensure beautiful, and flattering photographs.
Is there anything or other detail you'll consider when it comes to choosing your photographer?