Yep, I am doing it. I am going to break down the most important points of choosing a wedding photographer and what to think about for your wedding day regarding pictures! This piece of the wedding day is going to last the longest, yes even the dress ends up yellowing, so really taking the time to chose the right photographer is important. There are so many brides that I have personally spoke with that had no clue what they were getting into when they started this part of wedding planning. Knowledge and confidence is key to not feeling left in the dark and taken advantage of.
Most brides seem uneducated(WHICH IS OK!!!) and a little terrified when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer.
So let's start with the obvious...
Before you start to research photographers, think of an ideal budget you have for this aspect of your big day. Photographers usually price their work per hour and then bring in the add ons like albums, canvases, engagement shoot, and second shooter. All of these things will raise the price of your package. $1500-$2500 is a decent budget and can get you a really good photographer with a few package options.
-An entry level photographer - one who is trying to build a portfolio with charge around $150 an hour. This photographer may have only acted as a second shooter with only a few Lead shooter weddings.
-An experienced photographer - one with at least 50 weddings under their belt as a LEAD shooter will charge anywhere from $225-$250 an hour. Usually has a few key second shooter they prefer to work with.
-A senior photographer who has at least 100+ weddings can charge anywhere starting at $300+ per hour. They are going to come with a whole team and offer major package incentives.
So know your budget and then you can start to look at the right category of photographers. Not sure of the photographers level of knowledge? Ask for their wedding count! This number will tell you how many weddings they have done as the Lead photographer. Which means they can run your wedding day with knowledge and experience.
What is your ideal style? When you flip through Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram what style get's your attention most? Do you like the sunny open feel or do you before dark with a little bit more emotional feel to it? Make a Pinterest board and share it with your potential photographers! Know that they won't duplicate this board but know where your personal inspiration for you wedding day is coming from. I love seeing bride's boards!
I will put some examples below:
Light & Airy v. Dark & Moody
Also in style, do you like candid portraits or more formal posed? Ask to look through a few potential photographers portfolio to get an idea of their individual style. No style is right or wrong, it's ALL about personal preference.
Now that you have those 2 things narrowed down. Ask around to friends and family photographers that they have worked with. It is ALWAYS comforting to know someone that has had a great wedding day experience with their photographer. Some also offer incentives for being a referral. (I know Jheart does!)
4. What do you WANT?
Photographers will offer more than just day of service hours. Here are a few add on shoots you may want to consider! Outside of these add on shoots some photographer offer albums, canvas, and other prints options.
Engagement Shoot - A great way to announce you are getting married! It is also a fabulous way to get to know well you & your photographer work together. It also helps add a personal touch to your special day!
Bridal Shoot - This is a session prior to the wedding where you just take pictures in your dress! It can be scheduled when you do your hair & makeup trial so it looks like they were all taken on the same day. Plus you can display them at the wedding!
Bridal Boudoir - I LOVE boudoir sessions. Not only is it the perfect gift for your new hubby, but it's shocking how beautiful, confident, and sexy it will make you feel as a bride!
5. QUESTIONS TO ASK
Now that there is a budget, preferred style, and possibly have a few photographer leads to start with, let's talk about great questions to ask potential photographers. No question is a stupid question! Honestly the more questions a Bride asks me the better I feel.
1. What would you say your style is?
2. Do you always work with the same second shooter? Can we only use a second shooter for the ceremony or do we have to hire them full day?
3. When should we expect photos back after the wedding day? When do you provide a preview or blog post?
4. How many weddings have you done as LEAD shooter?
5. Do you organize a timeline for our day to best suit your photography needs to get all the shots we are looking for?
6. Do you set up consultations so we can meet and chat?
7. How are the pictures delivered? Digital? USB? Both?
8. Do you make packages special to weddings or do you only offer set packages?
9. Do you have a back up shooter if you are ill and can't shoot the wedding? Do they do the editing too?
10. Do you have a contract?
11. Do you have insurance?
12. Can I contact a previous bride and ask her experience working with you?
I know there is quite a few questions but all of these details are important. You will figure that out when it gets closer to your day and even after the big day. You will be glad you asked these questions! Any great photographer will be able to answer all of these questions for you to help make you feel comfortable with how your day will go, what you are paying for, and what to expect after the day is over.
6. THINGS TO JUST KNOW
Sometimes it's just easier when someone points out the obvious. So here are some obvious details to remember:
*Having more than one PROFESSIONAL photographer at your wedding is not necessary. Each has their own style and flow to structure a wedding day, so trust me, just using one company is better! Of course family can shoot as long as they do not interfere with the work flow of the professional.
*No photographer is going to allow Brides to personal edit or filter their images. Yes, this includes Facebook and Instagram filters. We take a lot of pride in our work and when a filter is added it produces an image that is no longer ours.
*Professional photographers do not give out RAW images. Most clients would not even be able to open and view a RAW image, you have to have special editing software. Also, as a client you probably don't want the RAW image. Personally my back of camera is really dark so that I don't loose details and highlights.....as a client, you wouldn't want to hang that image on your wall.
*Professional photographers do not offer Copyrights to the images. They will however offer print release. These two things are very different. Print release gives the client privileges to print the images as they see fit. Copyright signs over all right from the photographer to the client over the image. We don't really want to give up the rights to our artwork.
*Photoshopping "Aunt June" into pictures because she wasn't there, isn't an easy task. So unless you want to pay big money to have her added, you might just have to let that go.
I really hope that this helped some Brides decide the best photographer for their big day! Choosing your photographer in the giant ocean of photographers can be so overwhelming, but going into the process with confidence and knowledge is the best place to start.