4 Things to Know Before Booking Your Photographer
First off, let me say thank you for allowing me to help in your search for the “right” wedding photographer. This isn’t some sales pitch to hire me. In fact, unless I genuinely believe I can provide what you need, I don’t take the job. Wedding photos are incredibly important, and that’s a huge responsibility. A responsibility I take seriously, which is why I wrote this guide to help you get everything you want.
So, to start us off, we need to talk about the MOST important aspect of your photographer choice: style.
Style is everything when it comes to your photos. Style is what separates a photo from being a snap shot of your wedding, to a professional photo. Also, let me say, if you don’t care how style, and you just want photos of the day, which is perfectly fine, then hire the least expensive person who will do the job. Or even buy a bunch of disposable cameras and let your guests provide you with photos of your entire day.
Now, if you do care about what your photos will look like, and lets be honest, you’re reading this because you care, then style is going to be the biggest factor.
What do I mean when I say style? Well, let’s use something other than photography to demonstrate how important style is to your day.
If you look at music, with all it’s different genres, and then within those genres, just how much variety there is, you begin to understand how important style can be. So, just like there’s a huge difference between a band like Metallica and Nickleback, there are differences in how photographers present their work.
When it comes to styles you’ll see things like: modern, classical, artistic, dramatic, vintage, and so on. Every one of these styles means the photographer approaches their work differently. An artistic photographer is going to deliver a set of photos that is wildly different than classically styled photographer. Then, to complicate things even more, within each of these styles there’s even more variety on how they typically chose to express that style. So where do you start in order to help narrow this wide field of options?
Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Look through the billion wedding images on the internet, and visualize yourself in that shot. Dose that express how you want your wedding portrayed? If so, then you know what you’re looking for, and have an idea when looking at portfolios. If not, continue the search.
This is maybe the most important aspect of your search. Once you decide on a style you’re in love with, it’s so much easier to wade through all the photographers that are out there. Instead of considering every photog that approaches you, you’re on the hunt for THE photog who can deliver what you want.
A couple factors you need to consider that affect style: the location of your wedding, time of day when your photos are being taken, outdoors or indoors, and what season/weather you expect.
If you want sunset shots, but your wedding is in the morning, or in the city where the skyline is hidden because of buildings, then you either need to change your location or time (let’s be real, that’s not happening), or find a style that you love that also fits your venue/weather/time of year.
One last aspect of style that you need to know is that, all stylized photos are edited. Camera sensors aren’t as effective as our eyes. So, photographers need to edit the photos in order to create thier style. I mention this because if your photographer doesn’t edit for free, you might end up with out of camera shots, which will look nothing like you expected.
Things to ask, or see:
- Are their shots in the style you prefer (don’t let them tell you they can do your preferred style. They either do it, or they don’t).
- Are the edits apart of the price (just ask this upfront)?
- Is their style consistent (the last thing you want is an expectation of one thing, only to receive something totally different)?
- Some photographers offer studio shoot time, while some only do on-sight/wedding day Often, the more glamorous and modern shots are done in studio, or require a specific lighting set-up on location. (do they have a studio to use, or have the ability to do an on-location lighting set-up)?
Now, I know that’s a lot about style. But as I said, style is the most important factor of your wedding photos.
Next up is the conversation you need to have with your prospective photographers.
First thing you need after you’ve found a style you want, is to have your photographer match your personality. This can make or break the day. Your photographer needs to blend well with you. Are they too serious, or not serious enough? Are they punctual? Are they communicative? Do you feel comfortable around them? Are they trying to up-sell you every time you talk? Your personality, and your photographers personality, need to blend together well. This will make the day of the shoot so much smoother and enjoyable. How do you find out what kind of personality they have?
Sit with the photographer, face-to-face, and talk. Ask them questions, and see how they respond.
See what kind of questions he/she has for you. Did you feel yourself relax around them? Do they draw you in, and give you confidence they’ll achieve your vision? DO they have an album or photo book so you can see that they’ve done what you want before?
Again, the single most important take-away here is that you and the photographer mesh. The more natural and comfortable you feel with your photog the better the experience and the day will be.
Next up is, what exactly do you get?
What will I receive
You’d be surprised how many people assume things when hiring someone. You hire a photographer, you expect photos similar to what they showed you, right? Sure, but what if their portfolio is full of images from clients who had an endless budget. What exactly are you getting, for the price you’re paying?
This is where a photographer needs to spell out clearly what they will deliver to you. Do you want the RAW files (as they were shot out of camera fully unedited)? How many photos can you expect from the day? Who owns the rights to the photos (typically, the photographer “owns” the rights)? Do they require prints and albums be ordered from them?
All of this can be the least pleasant aspect of deciding on a photographer, but it’s also extremely important. It sets, and manages, all expectations and allows for the final delivery to be everything you wanted.
Things to ask about rights:
- Do you provide RAW files (unless you’re hiring your own editor, you don’t need these)?
- How many photos in total can you expect?
- What rights do you have to the photos after they’re delivered (can you post them to social, print them, create albums)?
Lastly, how communicative are they?
As much as this is your day, the thing that will make it unforgettable is the smoothness of the day. Some surprises are fantastic, but the day of the wedding the last thing you want is a photographer telling you they can’t do something you wanted.
So, ask them about how often they communicate before the wedding. Do they stay in contact regularly? Do they have material they’ll send to help you out? Are they asking to see the venue ahead of time? Are they asking to talk with your planner? In the end, this sort of ties together with the personality aspect. If they communicate to the level you want, and are proactive in making the day go as smooth as possible, then chances are you will have a great experience.
If you use these basic guidelines, you’re going to really help yourself, and your photographer operate without any glitches on the day of your wedding.
- Before meeting with photographers, scour the internet and find examples of styles you really like.
- Make sure your photographer has images shot in the style you want
- Are their edits apart of the price
- Are they consistent with their style
- Does their personality mesh with you
- Do they communicate well
- Do they offer rights to the photos that allow you to use them how you want
One last suggestion I offer is this: do an engagement session with the photographer you’re most likely going to hire. This allows you to see how they work, what they deliver, and if the process was enjoyable. Typically, engagement sessions are a fraction of the cost of wedding shoots. This lets you get the clearest picture (pun intended) of who you’ll be working with.
I hope this info helps you. I an wish you the best of luck finding the perfect photographer for your wedding. If you have any questions, regardless if you’ve hired me or not, please do not hesitate to go to my website and click Contact. Shoot me any and all questions. If I can help you make your day amazing, I will.