Wedding Tips: Finding The Right Photographer For You

October 23, 2009

Choosing your wedding photographer may be the hardest decision you make when it comes to planning your wedding. After all, photography is the one thing that you can’t preview until after your wedding day has passed. As both a wedding photographer and a former bride, I know how hard this choice can be. There are so many types of modern wedding photography and photographers available that it can feel like a daunting task – especially if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Since this is the time of year when brides begin their photography search, I wanted to help those of you who may be feeling overwhelmed. To help simplify your search, here are seven tips on how to find the right photographer for you! *drum roll please*

Tip #1Find Your Vision
This is important when you are starting to plan your wedding. But I believe this is also a key factor when choosing your photographer. If you want your wedding to be elegant yet relaxed – look for a photographer whose images have an elegant feel but also capture a relaxed side of the couples. If you are planning a formal evening event – look for a photographer who can beautifully capture weddings at night. This is the first step and a great way to begin narrowing down photographers to those who can capture your day as you are envisioning it.

Tip #2Be Inspired
Once you know how your wedding will look and feel, start searching for photographic inspiration. Introduce yourself to what is available and possible for your own photography. Check out magazines (both wedding and non-wedding related), websites and blogs, friends’ wedding albums – even movies, artwork and clothing catalogs. Today’s wedding photography is no longer restricted to what weddings should look like but rather art that can express your creativity and uniqueness as a couple.

When you find an image that resonates with you, ask yourself – what is it about this that I love? Am I intrigued by the fashion-inspired poses and look? Do I love its candidness and how the couple is not aware of the camera? Do I like the setting, the colors, the composition? Is it emotional or telling a story? Likewise, ask yourself, what part of this photograph do I not like? Being able to see the differences between images and identifying what you truly love will help you make a more educated decision when narrowing down potential photographers.

Tip #3Start Local
Ask your friends for referrals for photographers that they have had a good experience with. Look through local photographer blogs, sites and wedding magazines. Organizations such as the WPPI, the WPJA and Wedfog are also great resources to find professional wedding photographers in your area.

When viewing a photographer’s site, search for their most recent weddings. Just like in Tip #2, ask yourself what you like and don’t like about their photography. Do these images fit how you want your wedding to be captured? It is also important to look at the people in the images. Do they look comfortable and relaxed? This is a direct reflection on how well the photographer is interacting with them.

If you are not finding anyone locally, try searching nationally. Many photographers can travel for their couples and have reasonable travel rates. Although doing this will give you a much larger pool of photographers to sort through, it can also increase your chances of finding that amazing photographer that is perfect for you.

Tip #4Get Specific
Pick your top three photographers and contact them about your date. Most brides at this point will simply ask a photographer, How much? It’s alright to ask this since wedding photography is an important investment. However, asking only this does not help the photographer understand your needs or your wedding. Tell the photographer how you envision your day. Ask them if they have photographed a wedding like yours before. Also, say which of their images you love and why you love them. Providing them with this information, gives them a very clear picture of what you are wanting for your wedding photography and if they are the right photographer for you. If they aren’t, they can tell you right away thus freeing you to move on to the next candidate.

Tip #5Don’t Let the Price Stop You
Something worth mentioning is just how common it is for couples to underestimate their photography budget. Most of us have never invested in professional photography before our wedding and have no idea how much it should cost. The truth is, you get what you pay for. I underestimated my budget and ended up paying more than I ever thought I would. But do I regret it? Well, my fancy wedding dress is in a cardboard box. My wedding cake was inedible before our first anniversary. My bouquet wilted before I could preserve it. What do I have left that perfectly captured the beauty and meaning of my wedding day? My wedding photographs. I fell in love with my photographer and trusted his vision because he knew and understood mine. Even though he was outside of my budget, I still kept an open mind and found that he was the right one for me, despite the price. My advice: find the photographer whose work you love and who you believe is worth paying for. Gorgeous wedding photography is an investment you will never regret.

Tip #6Pay Attention to the Man (or Woman) Behind the Curtain
Just like in the Wizard of Oz, there is always a mysterious man (or woman) behind the curtain – pulling the strings and making all of the magic happen. Well, now that you have told them a little about yourself and have decided that you like their work, it is time to see who is the photographer behind the camera.

Here are some questions to keep in mind. Do you feel comfortable with the photographer? Do they seem comfortable around you? How about their personality? Are they friendly and outgoing? Do they seem like they will get along with your family and friends and other vendors? Are they open to your opinions? The photographer will be with you more than anyone else during your wedding day. Do you cringe at the thought with this photographer or are you excited to see what they will create?

This is also a good chance to find out about the photographer’s approach. The approach or style is how they interact with their couples and how they photograph a wedding. Some choose to be very active in creating their images and will direct and pose you. Others will step back and simply capture the day as it unfolds. Most common is a mix of both styles with one being dominant over the other. By talking with the photographer about how you want your wedding experience to be, they can tell you which style will be best for you.

Throughout the meeting, look for a connection between yourself and the photographer. Do you have common interests? Do they feel more like a friend than a wedding vendor? Are they excited about being apart of your day? Are they ready and willing to help you throughout your photographic experience with them – before, during and after your wedding? When a photographer gets what their couple is looking for and that is what they specialize in and you are comfortable around them and able to be yourself in front of them and their big camera, that is when the magic happens.

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And now, here’s a bonus tip: To avoid disappointment, communicate with your photographer upfront about what you are looking for. If you feel strongly about something, say so. If you are unsure or unclear about anything, ask. Don’t leave it up to chance or that they might figure it out.  The easiest way to disappointment in your photography experience is to not share what you really want or to assume a photographer will understand what you want without being told. But this can be avoided if you communicate with them about what is significant and meaningful for you – both in your photography and in your wedding day. If you do, they will be glad to create photographs that you will treasure for a lifetime.

So what do you think? Are you inspired to begin your search? How has your experience been so far with wedding photographers? Please do share. I would also invite you to leave any questions or other topics you would like to see on this blog. Happy hunting to you!


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