Yay, it's almost the weekend! Since working for myself the days merge a bit and the 'working week' is a little more flexible.. still, there's just something about that Friday feeling that's hard to beat!
It's getting to that time of year, when 2018 brides are starting to get serious about wedding planning. For the majority of couples, choosing a Wedding Photographer is one of the most important parts of planning a wedding, and with good reason. It’s a cliche, but the day really is over so fast, and over time a lot of the memories are shaped by the moments your photographer has captured.
Two different photographers can capture that same moment entirely differently and evoke different feelings, depending on how they shoot and edit, so choosing someone whose style you love, is so important. Here is my 6 step guide to getting it right.
- Determine your style. Now if you’re a photographer you might know this right of the bat and have your jargon down, but you may also have no idea! Pinterest & Instagram are my favorite starting points for this activity but you can also do this with friend’s wedding photos and wedding blogs, basically any source of inspiration. Spend time browsing wedding photos and save the things you like. You don’t necessarily have to like the particular dress, or the color scheme. At this stage I’m really just talking about the photos themselves, the moment that is captured, the tones, the overall mood and how it makes you feel. Once you’ve done this you will probably start to see some themes. Do you favor elegant fine art styles, full of soft bright light and beautiful poses or have you veered towards lots of movement with couples laughing and engrossed in each other rather than looking at the camera. Chances are you will see some common themes and this will be a great start to narrowing down your photography choices. Also consider things like your personal style and the artwork you have in your house, can you envisage the style of photograph hanging amongst your decor? Read about some of the most popular styles here.
- Know your budget. Wedding photography can vary dramatically in price based on location, experience and demand. In the Seattle area prices can vary from $2k up to $8k and more if you need to pay for travel, but more expensive doesn't always equal better. Once you've determined the style you prefer you will likely find photographers who deliver it in most price brackets. Of course, paying for experience offers its benefits, if you can afford it, but there are also many newer photographers who are insanely talented and a little more budget friendly. Sit down and work out what you can afford up front and don't be tempted to meet with photographers who are way outside your budget, no one needs that kind of temptation in their lives!
- Do your research. Armed with some knowledge around the style you like, and how much you're willing to pay, you are ready to begin your search. Now, I'm not going to lie to you, there are thousands of choices out there! Asking friends and family for recommendations can be a great starting point but remember that like all art, it is incredibly personal, so just because your cousin thinks her photographer was the best ever, doesn't necessarily mean you will! Search for local photographers online, local is always to going to be the most cost effective option. Check out their galleries and social media and read any online reviews to see what other clients are saying, although bear in mind that the ones they've chosen to post on their website will be heavily curated so look for other sources such as google or yelp. Don't necessarily be put off by a single negative review, there are always two sides, but do pay attention to how the photographer has handled it. Retaliatory or defensive responses always make me a little wary! If they have price lists posted check if they're in budget, if they don't, send them an inquiry and ask them to share. Beware of photographers who resist telling you the price upfront, it can be a waste of your time, and theirs, to make time for an in person meeting if they're going to end up trying to close you on something way outside of your budget. Also, don't be afraid to ask for a full gallery. Naturally photographers cherry pick the images they share on social media and their website, and you'll want to get a good feel for how the whole day is captured. If you're working with a Wedding Planner expect them to take care of all of this for you so you can jump to step 4!
- Meet them! One of the things you don't really realize until afterwards, is that the photographer is probably the person you spend the most time with on your wedding day. They are going to be a part of all the most intimate moments, from getting ready with your bridesmaids, to giving you a pep talk when you're getting insanely stressed over something (for me it was my bridesmaid burning a whole in the front of her dress 3 hours before the ceremony - but that's a story for another day!) and even those 'alone' moments with your partner as you get your couple shots done. As well as the style, their personality is the most important factor. You have to have someone you mesh with and like being around, someone who puts you at ease, brings out the best in you and makes you feel beautiful. It is always easier to gauge this in person, but if that just isn't possible for whatever reason, make time for a Skype or FaceTime call instead.
- Interview them! I was so nervous meeting my photographer for the first time, he was so talented and his site was awash with celebrities he'd photographed so I pretty much felt like he was interviewing me! The truth is though, that wedding vendors are used to clients shopping around and fully prepared to answer any questions you have. You'll want to make sure you know how they like to work, what's included in the package and how long you'll have to wait for the images amongst other things. Here's a great guide from The Knot on what to ask during that initial meeting.
- Get busy choosing. Once you've made your decision, lock that shit down! Despite the thousands of options, great photographers are always in demand, and having made your decision it's pretty heartbreaking to lose them. If you're working with a planner they will review the contract for you, otherwise, make sure you read it carefully and are comfortable with all the small print. If there's something you're unsure about don't be afraid to ask!
If you're still confused about where to start and want some help then get in touch! My Planning & Design package takes all the legwork out of planning. I'll source vendors and arrange meetings for you based on what you like, handle the negotiations and review contracts, so all you need to do is make the decision! Alternatively, if you just need a little help and advice I offer a one on one consultancy that might be that little crutch that you need.