Most people can agree that good photography is the key to a proper wedding. The right picture can instantly bring you back to one of the happiest moments of your life. But capturing these pictures requires the assistance of someone who is both experienced and professional. Hence, this is why we are going to provide you with a few tips that you can use when finding the best wedding photographer.
Start Searching Right Away
Researching and getting in touch with the top wedding photographers in your area is one of the first things you should do when planning your wedding. The main reason why is because the best photographers can be booked more than a year in advance so you’ll want to be sure that you don’t miss your chance. If your top selection is already booked for your date, you will have plenty of time to select and meet with the next one on your list. Alternately, if you absolutely love the style of your first option, you can also ask them to recommend a colleague they know that offers a similar style and that might be available on your wedding date.
Get the one you want: Peak wedding season (when most couples get married) is generally considered to be between the months of June and September. The busiest day for most wedding photographers is on Saturdays, regardless of season. If you plan your wedding on a Sunday or Friday and/or off-season, there is a better chance that the top photographer of your choosing will be free.
The key to finding the best photographer for your wedding is persistence. While some photographers are easy to find and seemingly always available, the best ones aren’t because they will either be on the road or busy with another wedding. To receive the best results and get an idea of what style appeals to you (clean, matte, high contrast, shallow depth of field, etc), start with trusted online wedding sites like Decidio, WeddingWire, and TheKnot. You should see some samples of their work, read about their experience and reviews from previous couples, and links to their websites if you want to learn more.
If you do not find one that ‘clicks’, go ahead and ask people you know who have already been married. Ask them if they liked their photographer and if possible, refer to their wedding photo album. On the same note, you can probably receive good recommendations from your wedding planner or any other person who is involved with your wedding.
After you have made your short list of favorite photographers, set up a date/time to meet with them. IMPORTANT: When setting your appointment, make sure you will be meeting with the actual person who will be photographing your wedding, not a sales consultant or studio owner! Remember, you will be working with this individual for many hours on one of the most important days of your life. Feeling comfortable and liking them as well as their images will make the magic happen and produce the best results.
Looking at Samples
Before you decide on a wedding photographer, you need to be sure that their skills are up to par with what you’re looking for. Aside from understanding their style, you’ll need to know how well they perform in certain settings and environments. For example, if you are throwing a beach wedding then it would make sense to hire someone who has had experience in that department and is savvy at taking outdoor photographs.
Think about the style and tone that you would like your wedding photographs to express. Are you going to take a serious approach or more light-hearted one to them? Would you prefer certain angles? These are all questions that you should be asking during your meeting so that you can narrow the selection down to who you would like to work with.
Remember that not all photographers are created equal. Some may perform better than others, but there is one characteristic that is really valuable: professionalism. A truly successful wedding photographer should have more than the latest in photo equipment, they should command all of the skill sets required to take stunning photos as well as act professional and courteous throughout the process. The good news is that professionalism is something that you can actually gauge during the interview process.
Research Tip: You can see how much other couples in your area have spent for wedding photography over the last year by using our awesome wedding cost tool.
Lastly you’ll need a wedding photographer that fits well within your budget, which in many cases is easier said than done. Remember that these professionals not only have to have the latest in equipment on hand, they also spend countless hours editing the hundreds of pictures taken so that you look your absolute best in the finished product.
That said, while most wedding photographers offer set rates, there is nothing wrong with going in and trying to negotiate. Contrary to what you may believe, everything associated with weddings is negotiable, including the photography. You should feel at ease discussing various pricing options with a photographer in hopes of finding a better deal. For example, you can opt to cut extras like additional photographers, additional prints, mounted prints, or ask for limited editing/retouching services. Also, if you’ve been referred by a past client (or can refer them to future clients) then you can mention this upon contacting them and hopefully work for a lower price.
Finally, don’t be afraid to walk away. If you feel as though you aren’t receiving the best value for your dollar or don’t feel 100% confident in your selection, move on to someone who can provide more value for your wedding and deliver the type of photography that you’re really searching for.
Are you a wedding photographer, planner, or bride that would like to add to the list above? Step forth and be heard!