We asked the best of the best in the photography business for some advice. What should you (or shouldn’t you) do when hiring a wedding photographer?
What to do:
When choosing a wedding photographer, I believe one of the most important factors is feeling connected on a personal level. This, of course, comes after being attracted to their work. Is this someone that you could imagine happily spending your wedding day with? Do they make you feel calm and confident? Is it someone that you would want to be friends with? If you answer no to ANY of these questions- keep looking. The most important thing to remember is that how you feel will show up in photos. If you are irritated or annoyed with your photographer, it will show. If you are anxious and nervous, it will show. If you are calm, confident, and happy- that will be how you remember your day.
Tons of Research. There are so so many amazingly talented photographers out there. I think the first important step is to establish the style you want in your images and narrow down the options. Meeting in person, face-to-face, is a must and I believe the only way to really connect with someone. Hiring a photographer that makes you feel comfortable, confident and at ease is so important on your wedding day. This could take some time, so I would start early on looking for your photographer and enjoy the process!
Set up a Skype or in person meeting with your photographer candidates. Face to face is a great way to get to know your vendors, answer any questions you may have and see if it’s a personality match. I also ask potential clients to send inspiration boards to see if it’s a match stylistically as well. When you make that connection with your photographer, that is when the magic happens! And every bride wants the photos of their big day to evoke emotion and really capture who her and her fiancé are. You’ll know when you meet the right photographer! Just follow your instinct.
Trust the photographer’s timeline. It is inevitable that things run behind on a wedding day and a good photographer (and often the planner as well) will be building a timeline with buffer time in order to allow for smooth transitions and low-stress photo sessions. Allow them the time that they say they need for each section of the day to create the kinds of images you love in their portfolio without things being rushed and cut short.
Find the photographer that matches the type, style and location of your wedding. Even further, find photographers who share your passions! When photographers choose to only work with the specific couples and weddings they’re passionate about, couples are being incredibly well-served in the process. Couples around the country have found their perfect photographer and are absolutely loving this idea of specialism.
What NOT to do:
Don’t let your mom, your mother-in-law, your wedding planner, or a bridesmaid choose for you. It wonderful to get recommendations, but at the end of the day, you, the bride, need to feel comfortable and confident with the person you select. Get a sense of your photographers personality however you can and be sure that it’s a fit for both parties.
Don’t Hire Uncle Bob or a Friend. Yes, it is way cheaper and sometimes free to hire a friend or the infamous Uncle Bob to photograph your wedding. However, they are family to you and if something were to go wrong ( heaven forbid ) you don’t want that to ruin your relationship with them. You want your family and friends to have a fabulous time at your wedding and not have to worry about working. You really want to hire someone who is a professional and amazing at what they do – not just out of the convenience that they own a digital camera.
If you like the look of film and are looking for a film photographer for your wedding, don’t assume that all photographers who shoot film will shoot a majority of your wedding on film.
Don’t judge and book your photographer based solely on their online portfolio. Be sure to see all the delivered photos from full weddings and engagement sessions so you know exactly what to expect. You can do this by exploring their client proofing galleries, seeing if they post full sessions/weddings on a blog, or by asking them to show you. Sometimes photographers only place their best work on their portfolio website, and you don’t get to see everything from one wedding. It’s just one or two photos from a variety of weddings, session or styled shoots. So don’t hesitate to ask them. That way you are clear on what their aesthetic is, how they shoot, what kind of poses they do, what photos they tend to deliver, etc.