Find Your Perfect Wedding Photographer
Wedding + Planning Tips:
5 Tips for Finding
Your Perfect Wedding Photographer
WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHY BY
KIER SMITH, FIRSTLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve seen a lot of articles about how to pick wedding photographers and I choose not to reference any. While some articles may have good points, as a wedding photographer myself I feel like I have a slightly different take on the matter.
Without being too self-serving, I should tell you I started Firstlight Photography in 2002, after working for a local newspaper for a few years doing sports photography. At first, we mostly did portraits, head shots and some events, soon we began to receive requests for wedding photograph. Since these were referrals from some of our best clients it was tough to say “no”, although at first, I and no intention of making this a part of my business. What changed? I LOVED IT! My wife and I decided that if we were up front about who we were, we’d attract people we wanted to work with. It worked and with 10 years and over 250 weddings under my belt I still love it.
#5: Realize a good photographer will be more expensive than you thought.
Good wedding photographers aren’t cheap and, trust me, wedding photography isn’t something you want to trust to the $500 Craigslist photographer or your uncle Bob that has a cool camera. Weddings can be very stressful, you are on a tight timeline, and at the mercy of many other people. A couple is relying on the photographer to record their wedding day because when the party is over, cake’s been eaten, and the dust settles, the photos tell the story of one of the biggest days of your life.
Besides the demands of the actual wedding day there is an incredible amount of time that goes into planning and postproduction for your photographer, which is part of the expense. Just to go through the photos taken and get them ready for previews takes 3-4 hours for every hour of wedding photography. I could go on, but perhaps that’s better left for a separate blog post.
#4 Get referrals, look online, and find at least 3 photographers whose style you like.
So, where should you start? The directory pages on www.weddingand event.com , Google, Wedding Wire, or Offbeat Bride can help you find photographers in your area. Facebook can be your friend too, BUT be specific if you post a question. Don’t say “looking for an affordable photographer on my wedding date”. What’s affordable? Bill Gates and I have very different ideas of “affordable”. I suggest saying, “Looking for a photographer in the $2000 range for our wedding date”. Don’t limit yourself, pick at least 3 photographers you think match your style and meet with them. Don’t freak out about budget yet and don’t cut people because they’re $500 over what you thought you wanted to spend. You haven’t written a check yet. Look at hidden costs, some photographers have costly add-ons. Make sure you understand your package options.
#3 Do your homework.
By this I mean, know what you are expecting of your photographer. Not only what types of photos you want, but what are the conditions your photographer will face? Is it a dimly lit church that doesn’t allow flash photography or possibly outside in bright sunlight? What do you want photographed? Most wedding photographers will know the standard things to take photos of, but if you don’t tell them that your favorite Aunt will be flying in from Fargo and it would mean the world to you to get a photo with her, how would they know? We also ask couples to find examples of wedding photos they love and photos that they hate! I’ve met with back to back couples that had many of the same photos as examples, but one couple had a photo in the “love” category and the other had it in the “hate” category. It’s also a good idea to express opinions about editing styles, straight color or a muted vintage look? Do you love or hate black & white photos? Make Pinterest boards you can share with your photographer
You will need to know some standard things about the photographer. Find out how long they’ve been shooting weddings and about how many they’ve actually shot. What kind of a deposit is required? Is there any situation in which they’d refund the deposit? Typically, a deposit is non-refundable, that’s an industry standard. We will refund deposits to our military couples if they get deployed or transferred. It is beyond their control and we understand this.
#2 Don’t get lost in the details.
I get asked a lot about what kind of equipment I use and about my editing software, but I’ve found that when I actually start telling clients most of the time their eyes glaze over and they don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. You might also have preconceived notions about what’s good and what’s not. If I told you I used a Sony a6000 you might freak out, but as a professional I know that the image quality on that camera is every bit as good as my Canon 5d Mk III. Sure, equipment matters a little. If your photographer is shooting with the Costco special with the $100 kit lens it doesn’t mean they can’t take great photos, but it does mean that they will be limited in certain situations. If you’re getting married in a church that doesn’t allow for flash photography, your photographer needs the right lens to be able to get good photos. This is part of your homework and rather than getting bogged down in what equipment a photographer has it is better to inform them of the conditions they’ll be expected to work in and make sure that they’re equipped to do so and what they might do if their main gear breaks. It is good to know if the photographer has backup equipment in case something breaks. It happens and this is WAY more important than knowing if they shoot Nikon or Canon or maybe even Sony.
#1 Make sure you like your photographer!
I am more than happy to meet in some far-flung locations to meet with potential couples because the face to face meeting is so important. As much as the quality of photographs, the photographer’s personality will play a HUGE part in your wedding day. You can’t tell from emails and texts what kind of person you’re dealing with. Since we’re by your side for most of your wedding day, you want to make sure you like us.
Click on a photo to enlarge.