You have the ring (and cutest fiancé).
You have the date.
You have the venue.
You have a rough idea of a budget.
Now it’s time to pick your wedding photographer! It may seem like a daunting task–there are SO MANY of them–but I’m here to help make it a bit easier for ya. Here’s a list of things to look out for when you start the research/interviewing/hiring process.
Red Flag 1 – There are no weddings in their portfolio. You wouldn’t want a plumber to fix your car, right? They’re both contracted labor to make repairs, but there is a huge difference in their skill sets. Same with photography. There’s such a difference in the amount of work (and length) of a wedding day and a newborn session. Your wedding day should not be practice. When you’re spending a good chunk of change, you need to know that your ‘tog knows what they’re doing.
Red Flag 2 – The editing style is hella inconsistent. Each photographer has their own style of editing, but pump the breaks if there is a weird mix of dark/moody + light/airy + orange tones/grey greens + super vibrant. This shows they aren’t sure of themselves, so you won’t know how your images are going to be edited.
Red Flag 3 – They won’t show full galleries. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE. Please, please, please ask every photographer you meet with to show you full wedding galleries. Portfolios will show the best of the best of the best, but a wedding day isn’t just portraits. It’s hugely important to know how the photos look when they aren’t just backlit/shot at golden hour. If you plan on having a fun reception at night with the only real light source being your DJ’s lights, you need a photographer who not only has flashes, but knows how to use them. You need to see that their work is consistently edited and that you’re confident that they can work in any lighting condition.
Red Flag 4 – They don’t use contracts. You guys. I cannot stress how much you NEED to have a contract with all of your vendors. Contracts protect both you as the client and me as the photographer. Does your photographer have a backup plan if they can’t be there? Do you get a refund if they lose your images? How long until you receive your full gallery? How are you able to use the images? What is required to book and hold your date? When is the remaining balance due? A good contract will cover all these things and more. If a clause needs clarification, don’t hesitate to ask. I tell all of my couples: There are no stupid questions when it comes to legal matters.
Red Flag 5 – They offer everything under the sun for $1,000. I know it’s tempting when you see a package advertised as “All Day Coverage, Engagement Session, Bridal Session, Wedding Album, Second Shooter, USB, Canvas”, etc. Keep in mind: quality over quantity. Y’all. Hiring an experienced second shooter for an 8 hour day can cost anywhere from $300-$600 alone. Any quality wedding album isn’t going to cost $100 or less. USB drives are obsolete (put a finger down if your current computer doesn’t have a USB port–oh hi, neither of mine or Marc’s do). There’s a reason quality photographers charge what they do. But why? Because they have professional equipment + backups (lenses, camera bodies, memory cards, computers, editing programs, flashes, extra batteries for the camera(s) and flash(es), external hard drives, etc are expensive) + the experience to back it up. The cost isn’t about the tangible items you receive, it’s about the peace of mind knowing that your photographer has got you. I can even look back on my own photography and compare the cost to quality when I was charging $1,000 to charging $3,000–it’s a night and day difference.
Now that you know what to look out for, here’s a few things that should make you want to book right away.
Green Flag 1 – You vibe well with your photographer. You’re gonna be spending a lot of time together, so better make sure you get along.
Green Flag 2 – They not only will show full galleries, but they have glowing reviews from previous clients. You can see how other couples felt by checking out sites like WeddingWire, The Knot, Facebook, and even Google. Don’t be put off by a business having a couple 4 star reviews. Photographers are human too; we make mistakes sometimes. Not everyone is perfect. It’s how they handled the issues that’s important. If they don’t have many/any public reviews, ask if they can get a review from a recent client.
Green Flag 3 – They have a packages that fit your needs and budget. This one is pretty obvious, but with wedding photographers booking as much as 18 months in advance, you gotta be like Sir Mix-a-Lot and jump on it. Side note: if the package you’ve been eyeballing is slightly out of budget, be transparent with your photographer. A lot of the time, we can work with you to create something custom that works for you. For example: book for 6 hours instead of 8. After 11 years of shooting weddings, I am confident that I can capture the super big, most important moments of the day in 6 hours. Is it easier to do in 8? Well, sure. The parts of the wedding day that are most important to me as a photographer are the Ceremony, Family Photos, Wedding Party Photos (if you have a wedding party; some couples are opting not to have them), Romantic Portraits of you and your forever love, First Dances, and Toasts. If having photos of just your dress/shoes/invitation/details aren’t that high of a priority, have coverage start at the First Look (if you’re having one–you can read about why I think you should HERE) or at the Ceremony. If your reception will be going later into the night but your coverage doesn’t extend that late, fake your Grand Exit. You can have those moments captured then announce that the party is still going on back inside. Another benefit of this is you’ll have more of your guests in the photos. Sometimes the older crowd will leave before the end of the night and this is a great way to make sure they’re included too. Another thing you can ask about when it comes to cost is if the photographer offers a payment plan. A lot of us do, myself included! To make it officially official, I require a 25% non-refundable retainer to book and hold your date. The remaining balance is due no later than 30 days before the wedding date. I can adjust the invoicing into multiple payments and as long as the balance is paid by the 30 day mark, you’re good to go. Sometimes making small monthly payments is easier than a large lump sum at the end. Let’s say you book my Full Day package which is currently $3,200 (without taxes). The retainer (minus taxes) is $800. That leaves $2,400 to pay off over time; if you booked with me say 12 months in advance, you pay about $218/month over the next 11 months. Your monthly payments are less than the cost of a mini session.
Think we’d be a good fit? Hit us up HERE 🙂 We have $200 off all wedding packages from now until August 31, 2022.
Its so important to be confident in your vendor choices, especially photographers, and this guide is so helpful. Spend your time researching, go with your gut and feel confident in your choices so that your wedding or elopement are stress free!