Your wedding photographer is, in my (biased) opinion, the most important vendor you will book for your wedding day! The only thing you will have after the wedding day itself are the photos! They capture the joy and excitement of your day and also all of the details that you so carefully planned. Your photos allow you to look back and remember in detail exactly what your wedding day was like, because it will probably go by so quickly that you will want to relive it over and over! Who you choose as your wedding photographer is a big decision, and also possibly the most expensive part of your day. So as someone who has gone through the process of choosing my own wedding photographer and being a wedding photographer myself, I put together some tips to help you with this decision!
The first thing to do when deciding on a wedding photographer is to determine your budget. I recommend putting together a full wedding budget before you book anything!! There are so many expenses that you may not realize until you make a budget and having that taken care of before you actually book things will help so much. There are plenty of online budgets to help you make sure you include everything! When making a budget, decide on your priorities. There are some areas where you can go with a more budget-friendly option and some where you will want to splurge a bit! Wedding photography can range from $500 for a beginner photographer to $10,000 for a very high-end photographer. It’s up to you to decide what fits in your budget and sometimes this will be impacted by whose work you fall in love with! I recommend booking wedding photographer as one of the first things in your budget because you may decide you want to spend more than you originally budgeted and cut in some other areas.
One thing to take note of is that every photographer has different packages. Some photographers may have a very basic package that you have to add extra hours, a second shooter, and travel on to the price. Others will have an all inclusive option that even includes an engagement session. So make sure you are taking this into account in the budget for photography! My wedding packages are all-inclusive with an engagement session, second shooter, 8 hours of coverage, and a full online gallery delivered within 4 weeks.
It may be tempting to ask someone who hasn’t done many weddings to do your photography for a cheap price and save money. However, weddings are very different from portrait sessions, even engagement sessions. So asking someone who doesn’t have the experience is definitely a risk. I started out by second shooting weddings and had second shoot at over 20 weddings before my first solo one! That way I had the experience that comes with being in a wedding setting to compliment my shooting ability. On wedding days there are so many factors other than just the skill of the photographer. You have to know how to shoot and style details, work with many personalities in the bridal party/family, and work in any weather situation! I recommend asking photographers you are interested in booking for a wedding portfolio and even a full gallery so you can review what the final product will be. Make sure you like the way their wedding photos look and not just the portraits!
There are so many different styles of photography out there! My style would be called bright and airy or light and airy. The opposite end of the style spectrum would be dark and moody. There are lots of options in between as well. When trying to decide your style, I recommend looking through blogs, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest to get a good idea of what these styles are like. Think about it in the long term as well. Some styles will come and go and others are more classic. I would take your time with this decision and make sure you have a good feel for what styles are out there and what you like. Once you decide on a style, you can narrow your search to photographers who fit that!
The personality of your photographer is SO important!! You want to like this person because you will be spending a lot of time with them on the best day of your life! Look for a photographer who is personable and makes you feel comfortable. The best way to do this is to set up an in-person or Skype consultation before booking. Once you find someone who fits in your budget and has a style you love, ask to meet up! Many photographers will even offer this to you when you inquire. That way you can review a gallery with them, go through pricing and what is included, and talk through your wedding day. After a 30-minute meeting, you should have a good idea of whether or not this is a person that you would like to spend time with and who will make you feel comfortable on your wedding day!
This item is very important. Many photographers now are moving towards a “shoot and share” policy where they edit all of the good quality pictures from the day and delivery them via an online gallery where you can download all of them and use however you’d like. This is what I do and I think it is by far the best thing especially for weddings! However, some photographers do not do this. Make sure you ask whether you will have the right to download the pictures for no additional cost after you receive your gallery. Some photographers charge you to purchase pictures from a gallery and this could drive your photography cost way up! It also may prevent you from getting all of the photos you like from the day. I would warn against booking anyone who does not have a “shoot and share” policy.
Another thing to consider with your gallery is how long it will be before you receive it. The length of time it takes for a gallery to be delivered ranges from 1 week to 6 months! The time it takes for you to receive your gallery should be included in your contract so that you have a guarantee on when you will receive it. This is an important thing to think about when booking your photographer because you will want to have photos to share from your wedding day and you probably won’t want to wait months before you get them! You will definitely have to pay more for a quick turnaround time because editing is very time intensive and a good photographer with a quick turnaround time will not be low budget, but will probably make you the happiest!
Some photographers also do sneak peek galleries and blog posts before you receive your full gallery. Ask photographers if they do this when you inquire! I do a sneak peek gallery for my couples within 48 hours of the wedding so that they have some photos they can share immediately. This is one of my favorite things to do as a wedding photographer because my couples love looking through the photos and sharing them with their friends and family! It’s the most rewarding part of this job 🙂
I hope these tips are helpful for those of you going through this process right now! Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I’d be happy to provide more information.
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