The big day is rapidly approaching and one of the most important moments has arrived: choosing your wedding photographer. Picking the right photographer can be overwhelming and stressful, as there are so many different photographers to choose from, and the resulting photographs from your wedding will be cherished for years to come. Here are some of the important elements to keep in mind:
The best way to start narrowing down your ideal wedding photographers is to look at the sample photographs on the photographer's website and/or blog. Comb through as many photographs as you can from as many weddings as possible, and pay attention to the small details as well as the big moments. Notice what the photographer focuses on, and what the photographer leaves out. How is the wedding compared to the reception, and is one emphasized more than the other? Are the photographs mostly candid or posed, or a mixture of both? Most importantly, how do the photographer's photographs make you feel? Do you feel a strong emotional connection? Lastly, know what kind of editing the photographer will be performing on the photographs once the day is over. How long will it be until you receive your photographs? Some photographers will even send a preview while the rest of the photographs are being edited.
The best photographer is the one you feel most comfortable with. The photographer should not only put you at ease, but also put your guests at ease. You and your partner as well as your most camera-shy guests should feel relaxed and unconcerned. You do not want your guests to appear stiff in the photographs, and the photographer should be unobtrusive in personal moments. When meeting the photographer, you want the photographer to take the time to get to know you, uniquely. Does the photographer seek to tailor your wedding experience to you personally? When you contact the photographer, look for responsiveness, and take the time to really express how you want your special day portrayed. How does the photographer respond to your inquiries? Does the photographer seem professional, well-organized, and flexible?
Ask your candidate photographers what their experience level is. How many weddings have they shot? Are they primarily a wedding photographer or is wedding photography a side project? You want your photographer to capture the best photographs possible, and experience is a good way to tell how the photographer performs when things do not go well, or do not go according to plan. A professional photographer should have photographed at least 30+ weddings. Ask if your photographer has ever had to take photographs in the rain, in low light conditions such as a nighttime wedding or a dimly lit church, or other challenging situations. Professional photographers will have equipment for every possible situation, backup gear, and the experience to handle anything that could potentially go wrong. Concerning large weddings, will the photographer be able to capture every moment? Check with your photographer if an assistant or a second photographer will be present to fill in the views that sometimes get left out in the rush to capture every feature of the wedding.
One point that cannot be stressed enough is to value the quality of the photographs at your wedding over the potential cost of the photographer. Spending the extra money on a great photographer will be worth it for years to come. Photography is usually 10-15% of the total wedding budget, an average of $3500-$7500. Keep in mind that this pricing includes not only beautiful shots of your wedding, but also the time and care placed into the long hours of editing the photographs to capture the best moments possible. Unlike the wedding cake, the dress, the honeymoon, and other aspects of the wedding that can only be lived through once, the photographs from your wedding will remain special throughout your lifetime. For those who are on a tight budget, work with your potential photographer to find the right price, but be willing to splurge a little once you find a photographer who takes extraordinary, high-quality photographs.
As you think about what you want captured in your photographs, remember to keep in mind that these photographs will be around for a long time. How will your taste change over the course of your life? Will the photographs still be classic in the years to come? It goes without saying that recommendations are the best way to feel out your photographer, so make sure the photographs are just as breathtaking as the day they were taken, no matter how long ago the photographs were taken. In addition to recommendations from friends and family, do not be afraid to ask your wedding planner as well. Finally, make sure to start searching for your photographer right away, especially if your wedding will be "in-season", and leave time for getting to know your potential photographers, and for engagement photographs if you plan on having those in addition to wedding photographs.