Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Since we're heading into the busy wedding season, I thought I'd write a blog post on how to choose a good photographer. Whether or not you choose to work with Wisdom&Stature Photography, your special day is very important and only once in a lifetime. I want to do everything in my power to help make it successful, hands on or from a distance! I'm going to share a few basic things to keep in mind while you are looking for your dream photographer.
- (You) Do get what you pay for. Everyone wants to do a wedding with a smart budget, but your choice of photographer can make or break the wedding experience. Don't neccessarily choose the most expensive photographer, but choose one who has an established reputation, a style you connect with and a great personality. I'll touch more on these in a moment.
- Don't pay under the table. Some clients think that paying cash can get them a special price, which is totally understandable. It may earn you a little savings but you could end up with a huge loss in return. A professional photographer with a business should have the integrity to pay their taxes responsibly. If they are not willing to do that, then what other shady thing might they do?
- Don't choose a photographer who is not insured. Slander / libel and equipment insurance protects a photographer in case something happens with a venue, a guest, or loss of valuable equipment, etc. If they are willing to pay an extra $40 or more p/m out of pocket, then it's a huge sign they want to insure you have a worry free wedding day with them. Always ask this before booking with any vendor for your wedding day. Scenario: your photographer is not insured and they drop their $10,000.50 camera into the punch bowl. Worst case, they'll ask you to pay for a new one.
- Do ask every question that comes to mind. Whether it be how they go about editing and preserving your image files, how long they will keep your images(RAW files and edited) after they deliver the gallery to you or what they will be wearing to your wedding, ask away! Better to ask at the beginning than to book with them and find out something you don't like later. It's a red flag if they skirt questions and don't want to be transparent. Also, you may ask a question they haven't thought of before, so be sure to give them time to respond.
- Do connect with your photographer in person (or at least over the phone) before booking. You'll want to get a feel for their personality and people skills before booking them for your special day. Your photographer is the vendor that you will be spending the most time with while planning your wedding and throughout the day(except for maybe a wedding coordinator). They also will be meeting almost every guest you have and spending time with them, so you'll want to make sure they have the ability to make everyone feel comfortable and fabulous in their wedding-attire. A great way to get an idea of how they work is to book them for your engagement photos first.
- Do choose a photographer based on style and image quality. This is so much more important than any price point. Why have a photographer at all if they don't give you the pictures you want? (Going back to "you get what you pay for") So many photographers that charge less than their experienced counterparts are just starting out. Either that or they're trying to get an edge on the competition by charging a lot less to book more. Their motto is probably "quantity over quality." It often means they haven't formed a well-flowing client experience, they use inexpensive equipment that won't deliver as well as a more expensive photographer's equipment would, and they may not be covered by insurance. Once again, ask questions! I will say, just as an add-on, even if a photographer has an expensive camera does not mean that they are a good photographer and vice versa. There are plenty of photographers out there with mid-grade cameras that do a good job and will offer you a great experience.
A few other things that are a good sign:
- Your photographer MUST have a wedding contract in place that you both sign. This should give over the rights of your images to you, you should be signing a model release within the contract, and a lot more(To be honest, I'll probably make a blog post just on this soon).
- Your photographer plans a time to meet with you to talk over your wedding day. (Around 4-6 weeks before your big day is a great time to do this.)
- They create a detailed wedding timeline with you that fits most or all of your needs and leaves you excited about the day to come.
- They are very selective with who they work with. (first, second and third shooters as well as other business assistants. They should all have decent to great equipment and good personalities as well.)
- They always bring 1-2 other photographers with them and are only willing to shoot alone in special circumstances(lower budget, etc.). This is for your protection and theirs, and it's honestly a very thoughtful decision on their part. (backup of of images, extra images from the day besides what your lead shooter gets, someone to get things done while your lead shooter is focusing on you.)
- They are generous with their time and always open to questions. However, they also respect themselves, their employees and their business by not being overly generous. (e.g. they'll stay an extra 20 minutes for little or no charge to get that special sparkler shot you want, but after that it's time for them to go because they've got a long drive ahead and their feet hurt pretty badly from running around all day.)
- They are there for you throughout the wedding day to help you with anything you need(e.g. hold your dress while you pee, get you a snack when you feel like fainting). Your photographer should have a servant's heart and be willing to go the extra mile for you. After all, you are spending one month's paycheck on them! They need to make it worth it.
- A good amount of weddings in their portfolio. Sometimes it turns out okay when a bride uses a beginner wedding photographer, but the best experience is going to be with a photographer who has done this a lot already. I didn't begin first-shooting any weddings with my own business until I had done 10 as a second shooter with other photographers and had been doing portrait photography for the 3 years prior. Nor did I shoot any weddings with low-budget, unreliable equipment. It's okay to ask how many weddings someone has done before you book them.
Well that's all for now! As always, questions and thoughts are welcome.