Planning all aspects of a wedding can be a long and sometimes overwhelming process. Picking out the perfect vendors who fit your budget, style, and preferences often takes some serious research and consideration. While all vendors are important and contribute to the day in different ways, properly vetting your photographer is a great idea as your photos will be something you (and your significant other, friends, and family) will look back on for decades.
Luckily with the invention of social media, it’s become a much easier process to not only find a wedding photographer that fits your style and budget, but to figure out if this vendor is professional, reliable, and ethical. Here’s just a few things you should consider when looking to hire a wedding photographer:
1. Figure out the style you want
In a market saturated with photographers, you’re bound to come across numerous photography styles. Create a Pinterest board and save every wedding image that speaks to you: bride and groom portraits, decor inspiration, invitations, dresses, locations, and whatever else you love. Sit down with your significant other and write down a list of what draws you to those images in the first place. Do they have a bright, light and airy vibe? Maybe they’re more dark and moody, or maybe they’re simple and classic. Some people want only candid shots, while some people like a mix of candid and posed.
Get an idea of the style you want for your wedding and photos, and seek out photographers who consistently fit that style. Just determining what style you want can narrow down your search significantly.
2. Check their reviews
This is an absolute no-brainer. People love leaving reviews, and you can often find multiple reviews of the same photographer in a couple different locations. Of course, you should check the testimonies on the photographer’s website, but don’t forget to look at their Facebook and Google pages, as well as The Knot and Wedding Wire if they have a profile on those platforms. A photographer isn’t going to put a negative review on their site, so it’s important to look in multiple places so a valid, concerning review doesn’t slip through the cracks.
3. Ask to see work that isn’t in their portfolio
Every wedding photographer is going to post their best photos that they are personally proud of and believe best represents their work. While a portfolio can give you a great idea of the skills a photographer has, don’t be afraid to ask to see work that isn’t highlighted in their portfolio. Instead, ask to see an example of a full client gallery. This will show you what a typical wedding day will look like from start to finish, and will give you an idea of how that photographer works in different lighting scenarios.
4. Reach out to previous clients
While reviews are always a great place to start, it always helps to go straight to the source. Reach out to previous clients via Instagram or email and ask them their experience with that photographer. More than likely, most people will be willing to give you an honest opinion as to whether or not they enjoyed their experience and photos with that photographer. Furthermore, they may give you some insight as to how friendly the photographer is, how they worked throughout the day, and maybe even some extra details that you may otherwise have not known about.
5. Ask for an in-person meeting
While a phone call or Skype session may be more than enough for some people, others may prefer an in-person meeting with their potential photographer. This is a great idea because it allows you to get a feel for them as a person and see if you two would work well together.
Maybe the photographer you’re interested in hiring is very casual and adventurous, but you are more proper and reserved. It would be best to meet in person to discuss your wants and needs for your wedding, because in the end it’s possible that you two are just not the right fit for one another (and that’s a-okay!).
Many times your photographer may have materials for you to look over such as printed wedding albums. This is a great time to get to know their personality as well as what other products they offer.
6. Determine what (if any) add-ons are important to you
An add-on is basically any service the photographer offers that isn’t immediately included in your wedding package. Add-ons may range from engagement sessions, adventure sessions, bridals, wedding day weekends, wedding albums, and much more.
Add-ons are typically priced a la carte, so it’s important to figure out what add-ons you want to include (if any), and determine if your potential photographer offers them.
7. Understand how they work during a typical wedding day
Maybe you’re like me and enjoy being in the moment more than being directed into specific poses. In that case, you want to know how your potential photographer works during a typical wedding day. Are they a fly on the wall, capturing interactions as they happen naturally? Or are they going to set aside time during the reception to get specific poses of you?
You don’t want a photographer that goes against your wishes, or even worse, makes you feel uncomfortable. You should ask them how they work during a typical wedding day and make sure it lines up with your expectations. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your photographer is very into posed shots, it wouldn’t be fair to expect them to shoot candid photos all night when they were upfront with their shooting style initially.
8. Find out their availability
So you think you may have found the perfect photographer, and now you want to reach out to them. Give them your exact wedding date during your initial inquiry to find out if they are available. Many photographers book dates anywhere from 6 – 12 months in advance, while some very well-known photographers get booked up to 2 years in advance.
Furthermore, it’s helpful to check out photographers travel itineraries, which are typically available on their site. You don’t want to waste your time inquiring about a service if that person isn’t even going to be in the same country on your wedding date.
9. Include as much information as possible in your inquiry
The best inquiry a wedding photographer can receive is one that includes a ton of information. While we definitely need to know the date, location/venue, and hours of coverage you need, we absolutely LOVE to hear all about what style you guys love, what hobbies you’re passionate about, and any special touches you want to incorporate on your special day.
This not only helps a photographer determine if they would be a good fit for you, but also helps them get to know you on a more personal level. When a photographer knows more about you, they can better capture who you two are as a couple and individuals.
10. Be confident in who you hire
You’ve finally done the research, chosen the perfect photographer, paid the deposit, and secured your date. The hard part is over! Now is the time to send over your list of desired shots, be clear with your expectations, and be confident in who you hired.
When you’re hiring a professional, remember that you’re hiring someone who not only knows what they’re doing but is passionate about it as well. Micromanaging your wedding photographer is unnecessary. Trust that your hired photographer is getting the shots you want and enjoy your day!