Nearly to Newlywed: Choosing Your Wedding Vendors – Pt. 3

It’s another Wedding Wednesday!  That means we’ve survived another half a week of work… let’s all celebrate with a glass of wine!  Today we are picking up with the Choosing Your Wedding Vendors series and talking about photographers.  If you want my opinion, your photographer is one of the most important vendors, and investments, when it comes to planning your wedding because they’re the only vendor who offers a tangible product when the day is over.

Wedding Vendors

When I planned our wedding day I did more research for photographers than I did for any other vendor.  I also interviewed more photographers than I did any other vendor.  I had had a certain style in mind when it came to photographing our day and I looked at a billion local photographers websites to see if their style matched what I was looking for.  As I did for all the other vendors, I created a spreadsheet with the name of each potential photographer [or their company], their contact information, services offered, rate information, comments and whether or not they were a candidate or not.  From there, I narrowed down who I wanted to meet with.

To get to the point of putting everything in a spreadsheet, you want to make sure you start with the basics – what are YOU looking for in a photographer?  Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself to get your research started:

  • What style photographer do I want?
    • Photojournalistic – the photographer captures the emotions and events throughout the day, telling a story.  Photos tend to be more candid photos than the traditional posed photos.
    • Artistic – Photographer finds fun, unique ares, poses, etc. for photos.  Photos tend to be full of color, different angles and scenery.  A lot of posed shots but not the traditional shots your parents had when they got married!
    • Traditional – Focuses a lot on the formal posed photos.  Photographer is very involved in directing wedding party, families, guests, etc.  Not a lot of candid moments captured,
  • What can I afford?
  • What do I want included in my photography package?
    • Here are some options to think about:
      • Engagement session
      • Hours of service for wedding day
      • Copyrights to photos
      • Second Photographer/Assistant Photographer for wedding day
      • Travel costs

The answers to these questions should get you started to kick off your search.  When I was starting my search I knew I wanted a photographer who had a photojournalistic style because I don’t really love too many posed shots; I also knew that I wanted an engagement session, full copyrights to the images, a second photographer and at least 8 hours of coverage the day of the wedding.  So I made sure I looked for all these options in potential photographers packages before reaching out.  If they didn’t have information on their websites about the packages they offered, I would make sure the “must-haves” were included in my initial email so they knew exactly what I wanted.  I also confirmed that they had my wedding date available – if they were already booked they were no longer a potential candidate.

Once you have narrowed down the photographers that are potential candidate, set up some a meeting to learn more about them.  Because you are going to be with your photographer for most of the day, you will want to make sure you connect on a personal level.  You’ll also want to make sure they’ll get along with your family and friends.  For instance, when I was meeting with photographers, I liked to hear their background and interests.  I knew my wedding was going to be rowdy, probably a little raunchy, and full of late-night drunks [that was pretty accurate of the day, too] so I had to make sure the photographer who photographed our wedding could handle that.  I met with a couple photographers who were a bit too innocent and I think they would have been shocked at some of the things they heard or saw that day.

Here are some of the questions to ask when you meet face-to-face, via Skype or over the phone with your prospective photographers:

  • How did you get started in photography?
  • How many weddings have you photographed so far?
  • How many photos do you usually take during a day?
  • Do you photograph any other events that day/weekend?
  • If my wedding goes longer than the hours I have booked, are we able to add extra time to our package?
  • What happens if you get ill and can’t photograph my wedding?
  • How do you usually choose a second photographer/assistant [if this is included in your package]
  • What’s your editing style?
  • Of the total amount of photos you typically take, how many of them are edited?
  • How long after my wedding with the images be ready?
  • What will you [and any second shooters/assistants] wear?
  • What’s the payment schedule look like?

These are just some questions to get you started.  The photographer should have some information to go over and questions for you too.  You’re sure to come up with some more questions as the meetings progresses, too.

Here are a couple of recommendations I have when you start thinking about your photographer:

  • I strongly encourage you to do an engagement session with your photographer.  Engagement sessions allow you and your fiance to get to know your photographer while also giving your photographer the opportunity to see how the two of you interact with each other and take direction.
  • Request a second shooter or assistant photographer because they can capture extra moments that your photographer might not [for example capturing the moment the bride and groom see each other when she walks down the aisle – it’s so special to capture the groom’s perspective that moment he sees his bride and vice versa with the bride seeing her groom]
  • If you think 8 hours is enough time on your wedding day, you’re wrong!  We ran out of time during the day and I totally wish our photographer could have stayed longer to capture more of the reception party!
  • Pin images on Pinterest like crazy and share them with your photographer.  I brought these images with me to the initial meetings with each photographers so I could give them a firm idea of what my style was.
  • Your photographer will eat up a decent portion of your budget – be OK with it because like I said above, it’s the only tangible product you’ll have when the day is behind you.
  • If you really like a photographer and they aren’t available on your date, ask for recommendations of photographers.  They almost always recommend photographers with similar styles and price ranges! [that’s actually how I found my photographer, she was recommended by another photographer I reached out to!]

I hope this information has given you the push to get started on your photographer search.

Photographers – what advice would you give couples looking to book the photographer for their day?  Married and engaged couples – what advice do you have?




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