One of the toughest decisions you’ll probably make for your wedding is finding a photographer. Knowing how to find the perfect wedding photographer for YOU cuts stress. Instead of scrambling on Google, wondering where to search and what to do, let this be your guide.
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You have probably been told wrongly How To Do: Your Venue
Probably most important to you are your venue and your photographer. Your venue sets the scene which paves the way for the vibe of your wedding. And after everything is done, your photography is what captures it all and your wedding album is what you’ll have left.
Your memories. In a wedding album.
- When you’re choosing your venue:
- Make sure you like the photos you’re seeing from that venue. You may really like a venue, but will you like what you have to work with for your photos?
- Dark venue? You need a photographer who knows how to excel in that lighting (or lack thereof)… Take the Georgia Aquarium Wedding Venue, for example…
- If it’s a bright venue that’s heavily backlit, you need someone who knows how to manage and balance that incoming light.
- If photography as important as your venue?
- Then coordinate availability between your venue and photographer.
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Wedding Photography Vibe
I don’t know about you, but I think life should be fun. We don’t have enough hours to waste being so serious.
I like to have fun with my couples and their friends and family. What’s the point of capturing a moment if it’s not fun?? Your wedding photographer should vibe with you.
- Vibe: Here’s how to find the perfect wedding photographer for YOU
- Photojournalism: Think ‘documentary’
- Pro: Captures the story and emotion while being relaxed and unobtrusive
- Con: Some feel uncomfortable in front of the camera and need direction to look flattering. No posed shots unless requested. Posed shots often *look posed*.
- Traditional: Classic posed look that you see in conventional group shots.
- Pro: Well-lit photos by a photographer who works well off a list of requests and can take control to make shots happen.
- Con: Takes time and staging, so the emotion of your day can be missed.
- Contemporary: A mixture of editorial and Photojournalism. This is my style.
- Pro: Posed shots that are flattering and look candid. The photographer has a running list of typical shots, but includes others that are often based on the couples’ wishes and can include dramatic, beautiful, unique photographs.
- Con: Sometimes the vision can get in the way of capturing the personality of the couple
- Photojournalism: Think ‘documentary’
Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer
I shoot contemporary because I value photos where everyone looks flattering and they’re in good light, but I also love candid, real moments. These two styles look amazing together and truly tell the story of your wedding day perfectly in your wedding album.
I know how to flatter people in front of a camera, and that’s what my couples really want.
I’ve studied bodies and can catch when a candid moment looks unflattering, then work quickly to angle myself to fix it.
I’m creative with prompts to keep posed moments enjoying and people looking candid.
I work well when I have to work quickly. I don’t like taking photos for ever if my couple would rather be enjoying cocktail hour.
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Wedding Photography Style
Good news: digital photography has opened up a variety of editing styles. Couples have so much variety to choose from when it comes to editing style!
Look, I’m kind of passionate about this part so I’ll try to limit my opinion here and present facts.
Basically it boils down to this: When you look back at your wedding album 30 years from now, how do you wan to see these photos in print? Do you want to see the editing in your book, or do you want the photos to look as they were when the moment happened?
Dark and Moody: Some photographers edit in a way that crushes the whites so they’re not so bright and changes the undertones to a brown or orange color. Some of my couples have told me it looks like tornado alley or The Wizard of Oz, but that’s because my couples’ preferred style isn’t ‘dark and moody’. Others really love it.
Light and Airy: Some photographers rely heavily on natural sunlight and edit so their photos are very bright. They’re not as comfortable with flash, so skies are often shown white and the photos [when viewed] in a grid are cohesive and similar in color. A lot of my couples like this style, but also don’t want their photos washed out-looking.
Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer
Dramatic: Some photographers rely heavily on flash and shoot and edit so their photos are dramatic. (Fun fact: this style really inspires me!) Skies are shown dramatically and the couple pops because they’re lit with flash. A lot of the shots are posed, since flash is needed and has to be angled and set up.
True to Life: Think of a mixture between Light & Airy and True to Life. (This is my style) When the sky is dramatic and beautiful, the photographer can break out flash to set up the shot. When natural light is beautiful, the photographer will utilize that and create more of a candid look. Editing style is more true to how the moment looked in real life.
Here’s an example of a couple at the exact same location and the exact same time of day. One shot uses flash and the other uses natural light.
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Ask to see a gallery
Thinking you’ve found a photographer you like? Ask to see a full gallery of 1 or 2 weddings.
- Here’s why
- The photographer might be capable of multiple styles (such as I am– “True-to-Life” & “Dramatic”). You should know what to expect from a full gallery with that photographer.
- The photographer might really excel at certain parts of the day and struggle with others. (Think bright settings with a lot of natural light, vs. darker settings such as a reception hall)
- A lot of photographers advertise with the *same* *photos* *all the time*. View a full gallery or two to get a taste at how they shoot a whole wedding!
- When you look at a gallery, here’s what to look for
- Photography is a lot about directing people. Do people look happy and relaxed in most photos? Or stiff and posed in most?
- Is there a good mixture of posed and candid shots?
- How’s the composition look?
- How do they shoot when it’s bright? And what about when it’s dark?
- What if it’s raining?
- When you’re browsing through the gallery, do you like the editing style?
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Ask to See Pricing / Set Up A Meeting
Before you settle on a budget, talk to a few photographers whose style you really love. That will give you a good baseline for where your budget should be. If photography will cost more than you initially thought, this will give you an opportunity to know where to allocate wedding funds and prioritize what’s important to you.
If photography is important to you, don’t settle on a photographer based on price alone. Yikes. (There’s a reason every photographer charges what they charge.)
- When you set up a meeting, here’s what to ask
- Can I see some sample work? Are all the images yours?
- Who will be taking my photos? (Some “photographers” are actually companies and contract out their work!!)
- What’s your favorite wedding photo, and wy? (They might have a few!)
- What was your favorite wedding? Why? (Again… How do we pick ONE favorite?!)
- Is there a backup?
- Equipment? Like, what if a camera breaks? Lens? What if a memory card fails?
- Person? Like, what if you’re puking and can’t come to my wedding?
- How many weddings do you shoot per year? Why?
- Can I see some wedding albums? Who is your album lab, and why do you use them?
- What information do you need from us before our wedding?
- Do you have a process to help me plan my timeline so I can get the enjoy the moments and get the shots I want? If so, what’s the process?
- Can I give you a list of shot ideas? Do you *prefer* to have a list?
- Should we have an engagement session?
- Are there travel costs?
- How will you deliver our photos to us? Do you also offer prints and albums?
- What kind of editing and retouching is included?
- Can we customize a package with you?
- How long will it take before we get our photos from our wedding?
- How do we book with you, and what is the payment plan like?
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Narrow Down Your Short List
If you’re having trouble choosing photographers, communicate why you’re on the fence. Sometimes it comes down to some unanswered questions. Sometimes you have a concern, and their explanation could help.
Think about what’s most important to you, and make your decision based on that!
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite memories 🙂