Hiring a wedding photographer doesn't have to be stressful, as long as you make sure to do it with enough time. From varying styles to dates available all of this is important when you begin your search. This post is here to help you take all the guess work out of the process and really get the photographer and photographs that you are going to love for years and years!
1. What is your personal style?
The first step before you even start searching for a photographer is to look at your own style. Are you draw to fashion and like the glitz and glamour? Striking colors and lots of contrast? Or are you more of an ethereal, I like soft tones and brightness? It could be that you like a particular decade like pin-up or vintage styled clothing. What your style is, that is what you'll be drawn to in your photographs.
I've often heard of clashing styles because the bride hired a photographer whose style is completely the opposite. So make sure you check with your personal style first before looking for a photographer, it'll make you happy later when you see the photos!
2. Tools to narrow down search - avoid Google!
Google is so vast and never ending that a quick search can quickly overwhelm and might even stress you out. Unless it's something really specific like "Wedding photographer in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" I don't suggest using Google at all.
Instead use tools like The Knot or Wedding Wire and if you're in Mexico, Bodas. These resources have a list of vendors that have been reviewed and can attest that you'll find someone that will be perfect for your wedding day. You can view their portfolios, check out their websites, and contact them directly. You might have to create an account, but it's something that can be deleted later.
3. Photographer's Style
Every photographer has a style. Especially if they've been photographing for a long time. Some photographers have more than one lead photographer and can provide you with options in style.
It is very important to note that a photographer's style is like their signature, and it's very difficult for a photographer to change styles for a particular event. For example, I shoot primarily classic, romantic, and traditional photos, I won't do vintage style photographs. It's hard for me to change my style since I've worked for 10 years photographing a certain way. Same goes for other photographers.
Sometimes you'll have photographers that can do classic, traditional with a mixture of photojournalism (like me) or perhaps more fashion style with lights and mix in a little romance. Make sure you look through their website/portfolio and you can even ask to see a full event gallery (I always send links to full events!) so you can see from start to finish the real work that is handed over to brides and grooms.
Just to add, Pinterest is a fascinating tool to help organize and plan your wedding, however, don't go to a photographer asking them to shoot exactly like the ones you pin, unless you're hiring the photographer who made the photo. This cramps our style and makes it difficult for you to be happy with the photos later on.
4. What to consider when meeting with the photographer.
There are various lists of what you should ask your photographer, and I'm here to tell you to stay away from them. Ask what you really want to know and not what you think you should know.
For example, don't ask about equipment if you know nothing about photography equipment. Instead, ask if the photos will be able to be printed x size and if there are albums available. Don't ask for the copyright if you don't know about copyright laws. Instead, ask about receiving the images and how the photographer goes about it.
The list goes on and on but you get the idea. Ask what you REALLY want to know and what you really want from the photographer. Write the questions down before hand and if any come up during the meeting, then ask away.
During the meeting, make sure you feel out the photographer's personality. This person will be helping you and guiding you from the book date until well after the wedding. You want to know that you can get along with this person and have great communication with them. You might even become friends after! Happens all the time :).
5. How soon should we hire our photographer?
The whirlwind of getting engaged is such a special time so you should definitely enjoy it! Take at least a couple of weeks to enjoy the flutter of being engaged before you start the planning process. I know that this helped me and my husband and allowed us to just soak it all in before making any decisions on style, theme, colors, etc.
That being said, hiring your photographer along with booking your venue and church, should be one of the first things to get crossed off your list! Why? Because wedding dates book fast and some photographers allow for up to one year in advanced to reserve the dates.
I recommend that you book your photographer 9 months to a year in advanced to avoid issues with booked dates. If the person you really, really wanted has your date booked, consider moving it. Your photos are the only thing that you will have after your wedding, don't skimp on the chance to have the ones you're going love!
6. Other important things to consider:
- Contracts: Ask to see a copy of the contract and make sure you read it fully.
- Payment schedule and if the photographer offers payment plans (I do and my clients find it a huge stress reducer)
- Additional fees: Like travel fees, extra coverage, hourly fees, session fees, etc.
- Ask to see products like albums, prints, and their price lists so you can get an idea.
- Ask yourself: Are you dealing with a professional or a hobbyist? This has nothing to do with equipment, it's all about experience!
Am I missing anything? I hope you find these helpful as you start your search for the right photographer! If you need any additional advice, comment below and ask me! I'd love to help you in any way possible so you have the best photographs of your wedding day.