7 ways to choose the best wedding photographer for YOU.
In the wedding industry, this time of the year is when wedding photographers get a majority of their inquiries from newly engaged brides. Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day are among some of the most popular times to get engaged and our inboxes are often flooded with requests….however, are you blindly sending out emails to local photographers price shopping or are you contacting photographers based on the things below?……finding the right fit for your big day is so important-trust me on this one! If you’re having a wedding in NYC, you may want to consider contacting this photographer – olgatopchii.com.
Although, I’m a wedding AND portrait photographer, I’m going to write how to to choose the perfect WEDDING photographer for YOU. Ohh, you know….just a few things I’ve learned over the years from talking to potential clients or just speaking with non-clients who tell me their horror stories. I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m NOT the photographer for EVERYONE. I’m not going to try to go into “car salesman” mode to try to convince anyone to hire me. I realize that there are different budgets, different styles and different personalities that make the world go round and if we aren’t on the same page with either one of those three…….it’s not a fun time. Let me explain…it’s kind of random and I babble..and I’ll probably leave out a few things by accident…but here goes….
This blog isn’t necessarily about the “technical” side of photography-YES that is ABSOLUTELY important (and I will touch briefly on this) but as a client when you’re looking at several different websites from local (or non-local) photographers, I can’t even imagine how overwhelming it can be to choose your vendors for your wedding day. You see tons of pretty pictures and you think, “where the heck do I even start?”. It’s a bit overwhelming, I get that. So what you are left with in the end are comparing websites of photographer A and photographer B (etc.)-and although photographers would rather NOT be compared to another photographer and simply be chosen because you like their style/their work/their skills, I’m not naive to know that this happens. So both sites look great, their pictures are fantastic, their prices are around the same price point-and let’s just say for the sake of argument, they are both available for your wedding day. Now what?
Sure you could go with a recommendation from your friends/family. That is the best way…word of mouth, but keep in mind that just because “photographer A” was perfect for Aunt Barb or cousin Betty, doesn’t meant that it will be the perfect photographer for you…..
The FIRST thing I would do, is set up a time to go and have a meeting with them. There is something about meeting people in person-you know that HUMAN INTERACTION that technology can’t often provide thru emails. Even Skyping/video chatting is a great alternative if you live kinda far away. You can tell a lot about someone that way. For me, I love meeting with clients, ESPECIALLY if I’ve never met you in real live. This is a time where we can “interview” each other in a sense. Do we have similar personalities? I’m loud and I laugh A LOT, so if you are quite, timid and shy, perhaps you would want to find a photographer that is more like you. Keep this in mind……your photographer will spend more time with you on your wedding day than your Groom will. How’s that as some food for thought?! If you and your photographer are not similar when it comes to personality…it can make for a LONG uncomfortable day for the both of you. You want to hire someone that may feel like they could “be part of your family” or perhaps someone you feel you could have been friends with in a previous life…..or even better….in your current life! I know there are photographers out there that will completely disagree with me and that they feel like a job is a job, just show up and do your job, get paid. I get that, but for me personally, I like to connect with my clients so that I can get those intimate and emotional photos that you can only get by connecting and feeling like you belong-not just a fly on the wall…which brings me to my next point.
2. Photojournalist or NO?:
Being a fly on the wall…or as someone else may like to describe it as a “photo-journalistic” approach. At one point in my life I ACTUALLY was a photo-journalist, I worked for a newspaper and it was my job to photograph things/people/actions and not be involved…..just standing back and letting things happen. And yes I absolutely do this during a wedding (at specific times) and I love to document people’s lives and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face BUT often times, my clients look to me for direction-especially during the portraits. I’m giving my clients direction during the portrait session and that folks is not photojournalism. So when meeting with your potential photographer ….keep this in mind. Everyone wants those cute candids-it’s what we live for, but realistically, we also need to be knowledgable about giving direction and creating a beautiful image. Moving the subject into beautiful light, giving them direction on how to stand….AND THEN….letting things happen. Just some food for thought!
3. Accurate Representation:
It’s very easy to see any photographers best images from their website/blog-site, etc. but if you are going to be given a disc of images (which is becoming more and more common) what will the rest of the wedding look like? Here’s where somethings can be a bit smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, there is no test to take to become a professional photographer. Anyone can simply buy a fancy shmancy camera, get a tax id (or whatever other legal steps necessary), get a website, pick out the best 3 pictures from every wedding they shot and then start advertising..hey, I’m a photographer! Welcome to America….it’s easy and it’s how we all started. With that in mind……it’s equally as easy to trick clients into thinking that ALL of their images will look like the ones they see on their website. Ask your potential photographer to see a sample of another wedding they shot-an example of the ENTIRE wedding files they turned into that client. You will get the chance to see what the portraits look like, what the ceremony looks like, what the reception photos look like..NOT just the best of the best photos from their website. THIS will give you an ACCURATE example of what you will be paying for. I think any reputable photographer would gladly show you-I’m not talking final albums, I’m talking actual wedding proofs from another wedding(s) they shot. How does their lighting look? Do you like how they captured the candids? What about the portraits-is the entire group in focus? See where I’m going?
4. What is their style?:
What you see is what you get. My style is my style….it’s how*I* shoot, it’s how *I* see the world, how *I* interpret the world. Just like the next photographer-we all have our “own signature style”. It’s something we’ve developed over the years and is influenced either by our past, our learning styles, our personalities, etc. etc. Is that style similar to the idea you had in mind when thinking about how you want to remember your wedding? Perfect, than you may have found the photographer for you. One thing that is hard as a client is planning your perfect day and then handing over your faith into a photographers hands to document it the way you want to remember it……it’s daunting……if you like “their style” then I think you will feel more comfortable in your choice.
5. Get a Contract:
Besides the list of questions you came equipped with from googling articles off the internet-get specific on what is covered or not covered. Most professional photographers will provide you with clear explanations about their services prior to any questions even asked-just be very clear what level of service and final products you should expect. The last thing you want is disappointment from not being on the same page. This is where a contract comes into play. For the love of GOD…if your photographer doesn’t give you a contract…please please please walk away. Not only is this a sure way to make sure that you are both on the same page but it’s also unprofessional if they don’t have one. The one way to have a horror story about your wedding photographer is to NOT have a contract. They should also provide you with an identical copy of the one you signed (or the ability to print it off or access it at any time online). Disappointment usually comes from not being on the same page or having the same expectations…..save yourself the heartache.
I realize that everyone has different budgets-trust me, I KNOW this. But something else to bear in mind is that when looking for a reputable photographer expect to pay more than a few hundred dollars. Most photographers that take their job seriously and value giving the Bride and Groom a unique and custom experience will be charging more than the beginner/amateur photographers. They have invested money into professional equipment, training, conferences to learn and stay current in the industry, professional editing software and the number of years experience/skill level…. just to name a few. Because of this they are charging a much higher price than someone who may “have a passion” they have just found. To run a legitimate business, there are insurance, taxes, etc. etc. that they must pay. If you find a photographer who is only charging in the “hundreds” for their photography, please ask them if they are insured and if they have a legitimate business tax ID. Think of it like this: there are different priced motels/hotels? It depends on what experience you are looking for that will determine what you are willing to pay. Would you want someone with a PASSION to cut your hair-or would you want someone with EXPERIENCE?
7. Using memberships to pump up their reputation:
Often times photographers can become part of national organizations such as WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) and PPA (Professional Photographers of America), just to name a few- and they will advertise their logos on their photography websites. Both of them are GREAT organizations, and I myself am part of both of these and there are great perks to being a member…… HOWEVER, these are organizations that you PAY to be part of and they have nothing to do with skill level so please don’t think that you had to be “accepted to be part of these organizations” based on your skills. ANYONE no matter what skill level can pay to be a member.
In an effort to keep this blog post short (trust me I could go on and on for days), I’ll leave you with just those few as food for thought…. If you are a previous bride who has some advice for those looking, please feel free to also comment below! 🙂
Happy Wedding Planning!!