Your wedding photographer is a hugely important part your wedding day! They will be capturing all the moments — big, small, silly and heartfelt — that you’ll look back on for years and years to come. A good photographer will help you and everyone else in the wedding party feel comfortable in front of the camera and be present in each part of the celebration. They can corral a big group, but also manage to capture special, intimate details. They give direction and pose ideas without managing every movement. Being a good wedding photographer is truly an art in itself.
Finding a Wedding Photographer
So how do you hire the right people? It’s important to know what to ask your wedding photographer to get all the relevant info before you hire. Follow these steps to find someone you love to pose for!
- Consider the photography style you want. Think about the types of images you respond positively to: Do you follow any instagram accounts or bloggers that have pictures you love to look at? Do you like how your friends’ wedding pictures or video came out? If so, why? Any information like this can help you home in on a photography style for your wedding day. If you like more formal portraits, a classic style might be for you. If you’d rather have candids and documentary-style photos, maybe choose one that specializes in photojournalism. Many photographers can shoot in a variety of styles, so it’s important to be upfront about what you want and provide examples.
- Do tons of research. Get recommendations from friends and family and look up photographers online. Also ask your venue manager if they have any photographer recommendations (sometimes you can even get a referral discount this way!) Once you have a list, check out their digital portfolios and social media. Read through reviews to find out what others have said about them.
- Explore their full portfolio. Once you start talking to photographers and companies, ask to see a full gallery of one wedding (ideally one with a similar setting and lighting to yours) so you can see how it looks from start to finish — rather than just a collection of their very best shots. Look closely at the photos: Do you like the compositions? Do the people look relaxed? Is there a nice variety of shots and people captured?
- Make a connection. It’s important to feel like you mesh well with your photographer. Whether it’s a phone call or in-person meeting, get connected with them before making a deal. You’ll spend more time with your photographer than any other wedding vendor; it’s important that you and your partner like them. One smart way to get to know your photographer is through an engagement photo session. We find it’s not only nice to get used to taking pictures with someone before the big day, but you’ll also get a lot of great photos for save the dates, invites, your website, etc. Plus: Photographers will often include a free or discounted engagement photo session if you book your wedding with them. Ask yours if they’ll consider it!
- Know what you’re getting. Your photographer should provide a list of exactly what is offered in your photo/video package, plus any additional travel or food costs. How many shooters will you have day of? How many hours will they be photographing you?
- What happens after? Ask about post-production timeline and how the photos will be delivered to you. What is the estimated time frame in which you can expect to receive your pictures? Will the images be categorized and is this customizable (e.g., getting ready, ceremony, reception, etc.)? Will you get any sneak peaks prior to the full album being delivered? Pro tip: Try to get all the raw footage too in case you ever want to re-edit anything in the future.
- Know Your Rights. As always, read everything before signing a contract. Does your photographer own all your pictures? Can you only share watermarked photos? Will your photos show up in ads and promotions? Is there an added cost to download photos of your wedding? You definitely don’t want any surprises here…If it’s not explicit, ask for a personal use release to be added to your contract so you can print and share watermark-free photos without any problems.
How to Save on Wedding Photography
A good wedding photographer is uniquely and artistically skilled. As such, they come with a cost. The prices will definitely vary by location, experience level and whether or not they freelance or work for a company. Whomever you choose, there are some key ways to get costs down:
- Skip on a second shooter. Unless getting shots from multiple angles is important to you, this isn’t a crucial cost.
- Cut back on the number or hours they spend taking photos on your big day. Your photog definitely doesn’t have to stay the full time. Through the first dance is often enough time to get everything you’d want. (If candids and dance floor shots aren’t important to you).
- Decrease the number of prints or albums in the package. You can always wait a year to order an album or video as an anniversary gift!
- Ask about referral or review incentives.
- Hire someone who is trying to build their portfolio. Look at professional independents like recent grads or people starting their own photography businesses. Be sure to vet them thoroughly before doing this; check out freelance job websites like Upwork or see if they have any references on Indeed, Monster or even LinkedIn. Even if it’s not of weddings, any samples of their work will help.
- Add a wedding photo fund to your registry. It’s getting more common to crowdfund honeymoons, why not do it for your photos?
- Attend wedding expos in your area. You can compare prices and there’s often discounts for booking day-of.
- Getting married during the off-season. If you get married on any day but a Saturday, or any time between November and April, you’re typically eligible for off-season discounts. Ask about off-peak discounts if it’s not clear on the website!
- Book photographer and video with the same vendor. Not only is it easier to manage, but companies often offer discounts for booking both together. Plus, you get the comfort of knowing that your photographer and videographer know how to work together.
- Book a local photographer. Either book someone who travels for free or get a local professional so you don’t have to pay added fees.
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