It’s your big day. You’ll remember it forever. The anticipation you felt when you woke up early that morning. Getting ready with the help of your closest friends. The feeling you got when you saw your significant other waiting at the other end of the petal-strewn aisle. Finally saying, “I do”. And, of course, you’ll always remember the people who were there to help make those memories with you.
But, other than your spouse, there is one special person who will probably influence the memories of your wedding more than anyone else: your photographer.
Think about it: what lasts after your wedding? You leave the venue, the flowers all fade, and your dress gathers dust in your closet for decades… but that wedding album will still get pulled out from time to time. The photos capture it all, from the detail of the lace on the dress, to the formal portraits with your grandparents, to the expressions of your loved ones as they watch the two of you drive away.
So, the decision of who will help you tell your story is probably the most important one you will make about this day… after you choose the one you’ll be exchanging rings with, of course! That might seem like an overwhelming responsibility, given the many wedding photographers out there – but let’s break down a few things to help you narrow the field.
STYLE. Good news: this one should be a fairly easy place to start. Most photographers have an online portfolio which you can browse through to see some of the images from past weddings they’ve photographed. When you’re looking through these images, be sure to consider not only whether the photos are “good” or not, but whether or not you like the feel the images give you.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Does this photographer have a recognizable style, or are they all over the place?
- What words would I use to describe his or her work? (Soft? Sharp? Dreamy? Dramatic? Colorful? Subtle? etc)
- Would this style mesh well with my personal style AND the wedding I’m planning?
APPROACH. This is related to style, but approach refers not just to the pictures the photographer takes, but the way they go about getting them. There are a lot of different words that get thrown around to describe wedding photographers; let’s break down a few.
-A photojournalistic approach means the photographer will be taking a lot of candid images, often with a gritty feel and lots of black and whites. This photographer tends not to interfere much with guests or the bride and groom, instead documenting the event as it happens.
-A more classic approach would mean more posed or directed images, which can result in more controlled and guaranteed pictures, but also means the photographer will be playing an even bigger and more personal role in your wedding.
-A fine art approach usually means that the photographer has some art training outside of just wedding photography. This photographer strives to create images that are stand-alone works of art which could hold their own in a gallery or museum.
This is not an exhaustive list, and photographers can fall into more than one category, so the best thing to do is ask your photographer what their approach is.
Questions to ask your photographer:
- How do you go about photographing a wedding?
- How much direction do you give to your clients?
- Do you have a set list of images to work from when you shoot, or are you more spontaneous?
- Would you describe your photography as more classic/posed or photojournalistic/candid?
PERSONALITY. Let’s face it. Business relationships and real relationships have a lot in common. If you and your photographer don’t click, you’ll see it in your images.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Is this photographer on the same page as me as far as organization vs. flexibility?
- Does this person make me feel comfortable? (This will show up in your photos!)
- Do I think I will enjoy being around this photographer? (You’ll be spending more time with them than you probably expect!)
- Does this photographer seem confident in their skills?
And, last but not least:
PRICING (AND PRODUCT). I want to emphasize both of these things together for a reason. Many photographers will try to convince you that price should be no object in choosing your wedding photographer. I realize that simply isn’t realistic.
However, I do think you should consider how much value you place in good photography, and act accordingly. Of course I think you should invest in a great photographer, but here are some things to ask yourself to make sure you get the most for whatever you invest!
- Does this photographer offer a package which suits my needs? What “extras”, like engagement sessions, can they provide for the amount of money I’m investing?
- Are these packages by the hour or are they for the whole day? Which better fits the needs of my wedding?
- What access do I have to my images with these packages? What format will they be delivered in? What kind of physical products does the photographer deliver (albums, prints, etc)?
- Will the photographer bring a second shooter?
- What base level of editing is included in this package? Does extra editing have an additional cost?
- Would I be willing to cut other unnecessary expenses in order to include this photographer in my wedding budget?
With these questions answered, you’ll be well on your way to making the (second) most important decision about your wedding!
What part of choosing a wedding photographer would you like to hear more about? Leave a comment and let me know – it just might become my newest blog post!