How do you know if your wedding photographer is right for you?
So you feel connected to their work, which means you’re already on the right track.
But what about everything else?
Not all wedding photographers are the same. Whether you book me for your wedding or not, my hope is that you have a photographer that you trust to document your day. At the end of the day, the goal is that you will love your photos and cherish them for all the years to come.
With that being said, here are some key things to look for when deciding on your wedding photographer. Some of these you can ask directly to photographer’s you’re deciding between, and others you can find out in a simple conversation or by browsing their social media profiles.
Are they passionate about what they do?
Personally? Photography is not just my job, it fuels my soul. Though – don’t get me wrong! As much as I live and breathe photography, I don’t let it take over my life. There are plenty of times where I don’t bring my “fancy camera” out on an adventure with my husband and my dog. I just use my phone for when I want a moment captured. However, I am constantly inspired by movement, light, music, and in-between moments that usually go unnoticed. I allow inspiration to come to me in many different forms, and basically hit pause to soak it in, whenever I can.
I know that celebrating love is what I do best in life. The best way I can serve others is by capturing moments for them to cherish and share forever.
I promise my couples to photograph their day to the best of my ability, and to communicate along the way and let you know what I need to do just that.
What kind of experience do they have?
You might not care about how many weddings they’ve shot or how many years they went to school for photography – or maybe you do! If this is something you care about, don’t be afraid to ask! We all have a story to share.
To summarize my thoughts on this: You should have someone who is experienced, so they know what the hell they’re actually doing. No room for “practice” at an event like yours! Although, no matter how experienced, they also shouldn’t feel like weddings have become mundane. They should still feel excited, and should still understand the weight and responsibility that goes into documenting one of the most important days for a couple. It shouldn’t be taken lightly or like it’s “just another wedding weekend.” This is YOUR wedding weekend. This is probably your only one, too. You should have someone who knows all those feelings you are having and rallies along side of you in that.
Also, you gotta find out: Are they a legitimate business? Do they have contracts? Do they pay taxes? Do they have a business license and business insurance? I always recommend having someone who is on the up-and-up, not a hobbyist who wants to get paid under the table.
Do you vibe with them?
Oh man, this one is so important!! Just because you like someone’s portfolio work on Instagram doesn’t mean you know them personally. The words you’re reading in their captions could come off so differently in person. Think about it – do they suffer from RBF? Are you cool with that?
As an introvert, I know this all too well. My communication online was GREAT but in person? I needed a lot of work. I’ve had to make myself practice saying my thoughts out loud so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in a candid conversation. (Yes, I’m crazy, haha, but it helped tremendously!)
Want a snap shot of what I’d be like on your day? My vibe is peaceful. I can be very calm (on the outside) in moments of stress. But I am also bubbly, talkative, a huge promoter of giggling and laughter, and I hustle my ass off as needed. I’m a smile-all-day kinda photographer when it comes to your wedding day, because I know your guests are watching me too. I am professional around guests and vendors alike. I can small-talk your Aunt Marie and still get my work done for you. I’ll pause to let your grandpa take photos with this disposable camera, but I can also put my foot down if mom wants too many last minute family photo variations than our timeframe allows, and will politely let her know we can do those during the reception. (And actually stand by that promise)
I force myself to step outside of my comfort zone for YOU so that my comfort zone doesn’t hold me back on your wedding day. You feel me?
Never be afraid to ask to meet for coffee or to jump on a phone call. Yes, I know, phone calls can be WEIRD in our digital world. But you know how context is hard to grasp via email sometimes? Same goes for text and social media. I think it’s important to hear voices and to have an authentic conversation (doesn’t even have to be a long one!) in order to really get to know one another and to see if you’d be a good fit.
Can you trust them?
Communication is key, fam. Does your potential-photographer communicate well? Do you feel listened to and cared for?
What does their contract say if they get sick the day before your wedding? Do they have a backup plan? PLEASE actually read the contract.
It wouldn’t hurt to read some testimonials from past clients. Really read into them, too! Do they mention the character of the photographer or just their work? Are there any bad reviews? How did the photographer respond to those?
These and my other points are all things that help build trust. (Feel free to add in your own, of course.) If you feel good, then you’re probably good.
Use an engagement session as a trial run!
In engagement session, you’ll really get to see what your photographer is like working behind the camera with you as their subject. How do they go about posing? Do they make you feel comfortable? Do you love the photos you received from the session?
For me, wedding packages include a complimentary engagement session. With this, you kinda already have to be “sold” on me for your day. However, it can be flexible! I have had couples in the past book just an engagement session and later when they booked their wedding, we transferred that engagement session into an additional hour of coverage. Easy peasy.
Do you really want to know how to know if your wedding photographer is right for you?
ASK FOR FULL GALLERIES!
OMG talk about last but not least. The longer I’m in this industry, the more I advocate for this. I put it in caps because I really really mean it. (Seriously – as I wrote this section, my fingers were suddenly moving lightning fast on my keyboard, trying to explain why this is so important.)
Here’s the thing: Photographer’s shouldn’t have anything to hide.
Yes, we have work we’re more proud of than others, and sometimes there are things that end up out of our control. The lighting at a venue could end up less than ideal and everything ends up a bit grainy to overcompensate. It’s also possible that the editing style of the photographer has changed since the last time they shot at the venue you’re asking to see photos from. But as long as we did the best to our ability for that wedding, we should be proud of the work we are delivering to couples, and I personally never hesitate to send a full gallery whenever I can. I just might include a note of why you could expect something a bit different, etc. Does that make sense?
They don’t have to have shot at your venue before to show you a wedding with a similar lighting situation, or in the same weather conditions (if applicable). If you’re having a great big dance party in a ballroom with a DJ for your reception, you don’t want to see a gallery that was a 2 hour elopement up in the mountains where their “reception” was ordering pizza at their AirBnb. Yes, it’s pretty rad, but that might not be what your day will look like. We gotta be realistic in our comparison here. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony overlooking the lake, you don’t want to see a formal ceremony in the Catholic church. These don’t give you any idea of what your gallery might look like, you know what I mean? Never be afraid to ask to see a gallery that has similar scenarios to what you’re planning for your own wedding.
You know how Instagram is known as the “highlight reel” of our lives? Yeah, this goes for photographer’s too, friend.
We show the best of the best. The one, scroll-stopping photograph. The styled shoot we collaborated on and got to make our own (without the pressure of tight timelines on a wedding day).
But do they show photos from actual wedding ceremonies? What about all the moments in between the “big moments”? Do they take family portraits? Do they pay attention to the little details?
Take a peek at their social and see if they share these. Regardless if they do or don’t – let me say it again – ASK TO SEE FULL GALLERIES. This will either build your confidence in who you’re about to put a lot of trust in, and you’ll immediately have your mind made up and want to move forward – OR it will show you that maybe you’re not a great fit after all. (And that is totally okay!!)
This day will be filled with moments you’ll get to take hold of and share with others for the rest of your life. The photographer you hire is the one in charge of documenting those moments for you. Ask all the questions, do all the research, but ultimately – just trust your gut.