After years of photographing weddings and meeting LOTS of couples going through the wedding planning process, the one thing I hear from pretty much everyone is “It’s so overwhelming!”. And it is! There’s so much to do and so much choice in every area – from venues to florists to photographers. So I thought I’d help out with my idea of how to choose a wedding photographer that’s right for you!
STEP 1: Style
Before considering anything else, the first thing you need to do is work out what style or look you’d like your photos to have. Do you like dark and moody images? Or light and bright ones? Are really happy, fun filled photos what set your heart on fire? Do you like lots of colour or prefer a desaturated look? Are you more pulled in by posed, dramatic portraits or natural, candid portraits? Photographers have all different styles which is why no one photographer is right for everyone!
For a lot of people, they know instantly what sort of style speaks to them. Generally my couples say something along the lines of they knew they wanted bright, colourful fun-filled photos that are more candid and relaxed. However when one of my besties was getting married and showed me the three photographers she was considering, I was blown away by how different their styles were and couldn’t quite comprehend that they all appealed to her. I realised we needed to find what it was about each photographer’s work that was drawing her in.
If you find yourself in the same position, consider looking at lots of images and seeing if you can narrow down what it is that speaks to you. Save photos you love on instagram or Pinterest without thinking too much about why you like them at first. Then go back to the collection of images to see if there’s an obvious theme to them. From there, when you’re searching for photographers (via Google or Instagram or word of mouth recommendations or whatever works for you), you’ll have a better idea of exactly what you’re after.
STEP 2: Budget
This is an obvious one! While budget shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor, it is of course a very necessary part of the decision.
Once you’ve found a photographer (or a few photographers) who’s style you feel reflects how you’d like your day captured, it’s time to see if they fit within your budget. You’ll find there’s some really cheap photographers, some really expensive photographers and a whooole lot in between.
Keep in mind that some photographers have different packages so it’s possible some of their packages may be within your budget but the top packages may not. It comes down to personal preference but for me, if I had a limited budget, I’d prefer to have a great photographer for fewer hours so the really important parts of the day are captured beautifully rather than ending up with a tonne of average photos of the entire day. This is just something to keep in mind on your search.
A quick note on photography budget. I’m sure I’ll be accused of being biased given I’m a wedding photographer BUT I truely believe you can’t skimp on your photography. Once all is said and done, it’s one of the only things you have to keep from the day. It records everything and everyone from your wedding day and is how you’ll remember the day for years to come (which is a big part of why this is such an important decision!).
STEP 3: Personality / Connection
Once you’ve found someone who’s style you like (step one: tick!) and they’re within your budget (step 2: yay!) it’s time to get to know them to see if they’re the right fit for your day! You’ll be able to get a general sense of them from the about page of their website plus how they write in general on their website. For example, if you’re after someone who is relaxed and easy going you might not go for someone who speaks very formally on their website.
Organise to meet up or chat on Skype or just correspond via email a bit so you can get to know each other and see if you get along easily and you feel comfortable with them. This is a really important part of the process for me. I love to meet couples before they book so that we make sure it’s a positive experience for us all.
Getting to know my couples is also a really important part of how I work and this all starts in our first meeting. I find that getting to know people and having them get to know me makes them far more comfortable in front of my lens and means we get better photos. Win-win!
Anyway, the point is to find someone you’re comfortable with! After all, you’ll probably end up spending more time with your photographer than anyone else on the day because we’re often there for everything!
1) work out or know the style you like,
2) find someone who photographs in that style who has packages within your budget that cover all the things you want photographed on your day and,
3) take a little time to get to know them and make sure they’re someone you feel comfortable with and would love to have hanging around on your wedding day!
I hope this has been helpful for you in knowing how to make the decision (if even just a little)!