Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now what?
Amongst the many things you’ll be deciding in the coming months leading up to your wedding is the actual Wedding Photographer. Regardless of some articles you may find on The Knot or Wedding Wire, choosing the photographer that will document your most important day IS a big deal. This is not something to leave to your friend who just picked up a new camera and wants to practice, nor is it a good idea to just let your guests capture everything with their cell phones.
Your Wedding Day Images should tell the entire story of your day (trust me, it will be a blur!) and document the details, moments, and actions from start to finish. Whether you have an album professionally crafted or you make it yourself, it should tell anyone who opens it just how beautiful, surprising and filled with love your day was. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve opened my own wedding album through the years, and every time it takes me back to that day. That is what your wedding photography should do for you.
So, how do you pick a wedding photographer?
For most couples, the selection process starts with pricing. When you’re considering what your budget should be for a wedding photographer, consider these things: what’s your overall wedding budget, how many people are attending and how long of a day will it be for the wedding. Your photography budget should be a healthy percentage of your overall costs. Here’s why: at the end of your wedding, when every one has gone home and you’re getting ready to honeymoon, the only remaining tangible thing you’ll have IS the wedding photography. Your wedding photography outlasts what meal you served, what DJ you hired, all the many details you chose to decorate with. Yes, you may keep your wedding apparel, but ask any married woman or man when the last time is they put that dress, that suit on. Your wedding experience is brief, but your wedding photography is time eternal.
Once you have an idea of your budget and how long your event will be, you’ll most likely start the search. Ask your friends for reference, do a local internet search Most established photographers (and this is important) package their prices based on the number of hours for a wedding, but there will be lots of different pricing. Do not feel overwhelmed. While it may seem daunting as to why there are so many different prices, remember this: Order a steak at 5 different restaurants, from Golden Corral to Carnevino, you’ll see dramatic price differences as well. It’s all about the quality. Professional wedding photographers are business owners, with a great deal of investment in both education and equipment.
Here’s where it gets really important: as you start to see styles and images that catch your attention, you’ll want to talk to those photographers. Don’t just ask for a price menu and make a yes/no decision on that, have a conversation with the person whose work appeals to you. If you don’t like that person, you will never like your images, no matter how amazing their work is or how budget friendly they are for you.
Your connection to your photographer is key. You have to like them, you have to feel like they understand your wedding. You have to feel like they WANT to be a part of your day, without any kind of attached sales pressure. The photographer you choose will be with you for hours on an important day for you, it is important you ‘click’.
Don’t limit your viewing to just their online portfolio or social media. Ask to see an entire wedding, from start to finish. This will give you a much better feel for that photographer’s work, and how they handle different environments throughout a wedding day. The reality is, many photographers showcase wedding images designed to draw your attention, yet the wedding couple on display are actually models. Don’t get swept up in a few dramatic, carefully orchestrated images, look at that entire event, preferably at the location you’ve chosen or one similar. If a wedding photographer isn’t willing to show you an entire wedding they’ve shot, keep looking.
Ask to see the wedding contract. First, you should be aware of what you’re signing, but you should also be aware of what you’re getting. Even if you love and adore your wedding photographer, and think they’re the greatest human ever, make sure there is a contract that both manages your expectations and discloses their responsibilities. You want to know what is included, what isn’t, what to expect, and the delivery timeline for your images. Yes, it’s important to trust what your photographer is saying, it’s also important to make sure you get important details in writing. It’s equally important for a professional wedding photographer to have a contract with you, so there are no misunderstandings in what’s expected from either party.
Don’t be intimidated by the pricing of a photography you love, as there are a few ways to navigate through this without compromising your financial future and your forever images. First, ask about payment schedules. Most professional wedding photographers these days offer payment options leading up to your wedding date, and will secure your date with a deposit, rather than the entire package price. Also, consider how long you truly need your photographer there. Most wedding photography packages are time based, and of course the more time this higher the cost. Take a rough sketch of how your day will be scheduled, from getting ready to the final send off, and see where your photography time is best spent. Then, define your image priorities, and how they fit into the timeline. If you find the pre-wedding image capture a priority, but really aren’t interested in having 3 hours of people dancing at your reception photographed, you can lower the amount of time your photographer is there and stay in budget. Conversely, if your wedding is more non-traditional and relaxed, you may want your photography time dedicated to the ceremony and festivities after only.
Found your perfect wedding photographer?
BOOK THEM! Once you have decided on that perfect match, the one person you want to have photographing your wedding, make sure you book them for your date! There’s nothing worse than having to tell a prospective couple, one whom I really want to work with, that their delay allowed someone else to claim their date. Professional wedding photographers often book over a year out, and much like wedding venues, can be very busy on Saturdays throughout a year, the most common wedding day. If your wedding is going to be a Saturday afternoon/evening wedding, don’t hesitate to secure the wedding photographer you want to work with.
Interested in working with me for your wedding? Take a look at my work, Victoria’s Wedding Portfolio and call me today!