The holidays have a way of bringing on the engagements, and here we are approaching that time of year again. So if you’re jumping on the wedding planning bandwagon, congratulations!
A task high up on most couples’ list is choosing a wedding photographer. But this is also a task that can cause a lot of stress and strain. There are so many talented photographers! How do you know who is right? How do you know what questions to ask? How to do you know what to look for? And my goodness, how much does it cost?
After ten years spent and working with dozens of couples,I have come up with a set of tips for you as you’re beginning your search for a wedding photographer.
- Know what you want. Use the Internet to find examples of pictures you like – and then look for a photographer who makes photos like that! Every wedding photographer has a unique style and vision so it’s important to find a photographer who is exactly the style you’re looking for. Look at lots of photos and then ask to see more. It’s all about getting you the photos that you really want of this special day.
- Interview for personality. Once you find a photographer whose photos you like online, get in touch and set up an in-person meeting with them. (In my case, we do an introductory phone call first and then arrange to meet in person.) While you’re there, in addition to asking basic questions about pricing and planning, you’re also getting to know them. Personality is a key component to great photography. You don’t have to be friends, but you have to feel comfortable, feel that you can trust them, and enjoy their sense of humor (hopefully they have one!)
- Don’t skip the wedding album. Many couples want to save money on wedding photography and consider choosing a less expensive package that doesn’t include an album. While I understand that money is always a concern and weddings are very expensive, I have found that unless you’re super self-motivated, you won’t likely make an album if one isn’t included in your package. Wedding albums are family heirlooms, keepsakes that we pass onto our children’s children. The extra money in the package is worth the quality of the album you’ll receive – and the time you WON’T have to spend making your own.
- Read the contract. Read it carefully and make sure you understand it. (And if they don’t have a contract, wave a big red flag.) You’re going to invest thousands of dollars in the photographs of your wedding day – make sure that your interests and protected! Some of the key components in my wedding photography contracts include a liability waiver, a model release, and a cancellation policy, but every photographer’s contract will be different.
- Ask about “high-resolution files.” The final products from your wedding photographer are prints, albums, and high-resolution digital files. While offering high-resolution digital files is becoming a standard in the wedding industry, every photographer has their own policies and practices regarding the sharing and distribution of these golden tickets. (In my case, the high resolution files are included with the purchase of an album.) Ask if you receive them as part of the package and if not, how much they cost. Ask if they print-ready and enhanced for the best print quality. When do you get them? Are there restrictions on how you can use them? Make sure you understand and are satisfied with what your photographer offers.
- Know where your photos could end up. As wedding photographers, we need to be able to show examples of our work to other prospective clients. Therefore, we’ll likely want to use the photographs we take of you and your family in our promotional materials, websites, and social media profiles. This is how we build our businesses! Ask the photographers you’re considering how they use the photographs in their own promotions and if they will be shared with other vendors like the venue, caterer, and DJ. Make sure you are okay with the answer. I ask for full permission from my clients to use their photos, but never associate their names with the images. Again, every photographer will have a different policy about using the photos for their own business promotions.
For some more tips and resources for hiring a wedding photographer, visit the resources page of my website. And feel free to reach out if you have a specific question or would like to schedule a meeting.