If you were my friend and I was going to attend your wedding wearing dancing shoes and carrying a clutch not a camera, this is the advice I would offer as you search for a photographer. If you are visiting my blog because you are considering working with me, I included a few notes about how I do things!
- Identify your personal style. Are you conservative or wild? Somewhere in between? Where in between? I would describe my personal style (how I dress and decorate my home, etc.) as classic and minimal with interesting details. If I were hiring a photographer, I’d want that description to apply to their work as well. Consider some things that are important to you- I love poetry and great movies, so I would want to find a photographer whose work is sensitive to the way it feels to be close to the person you love, and who views the wedding day as a story to be captured in its entirety. In short, bringing some self-awareness to your decision making will ensure that you are matching up with a photographer who will create images that have lasting appeal for you.
- View a full wedding or two in a similar or if possible the same venue as your own. This is not to try to mimic photos that worked well before, but to ensure that your photographer knows how to expose images properly in this setting. Get in touch if you would like to see specifics in my portfolio.
- Check out reviews online or get references. You can find reviews from my clients here and here, and I’m happy to provide references on request.
- Know how long it will take to receive your images and/or album. I send preview photos the week after the wedding, and the complete set is ready 2-3 weeks later. I have a full-time editor, so no matter how busy I am this turnaround time doesn’t change. I let my clients set the pace for their album design and ordering.
- Ask about back ups. My assistant and I shoot to two cards at the same time in our cameras and one full set of images is stored in a safe, untouched, until you receive your edited high res files. The back-up cards aren’t re-used and this prevents images getting lost due to download issues. Then I make one more copy for a total of three, and a set gets stored off-site in the event of a disaster at the studio. If you interview someone who says, “Oh, I/we download the images and make a copy,” quite frankly that is not good enough. Download errors happen, and hard drives fail. Your photographer should also have back up equipment in case something breaks while shooting.
- Be informed about your photographer’s level of experience. An experienced photographer is confident because they know what they are doing and can create strong images in light or dark settings, rain or shine, indoors or out. I’ve been shooting weddings full time for 14 years, and I try to get better at it every year!
- Is your photographer full or part-time, low volume or high volume? Generally you will receive better customer service from someone who is not managing multiple career interests, or taking on too much work to compensate for lower rates. A full-time, low-volume photographer may cost a bit more, but that difference may matter less and less as you realize that your needs are a priority and are met promptly. Other than your wedding planner, your photographer will be the professional you interact with the most.
- Ask if your photographer will work with you on determining important shots and a timeline. Sharing a short list of must-have images will ensure nothing important to you is missing but still allow your photographer freedom to respond creatively to spontaneous inspiration. I work closely with my clients to plan for the big day and to be informed about their needs and wishes.
- Pick someone whose work makes you feel the way you want to feel when you look at your images. For me the true value of a photograph is that if it’s done well, it reminds us how we felt when the image was created. If you cherish your photos, they become more valuable over time.
I hope you find this short guide helpful as you navigate the many choices available. Please reach out to me if you have any questions!