5 Tips for Choosing your Wedding Photographer
When my husband and I were planning our wedding a decade ago, we knew for certain only a few ideas . We were surprised and thankful that our creative and wonderful photographer (Annie-hannah Mancini) was, by way of experience, a bit of a wedding planner. She knew all of the questions that we didn’t know to ask ourselves about the timing of the day, the spot to get married at Fort Roberdeau. She had such great advice. I hope to pass a bit of that on as I share these bits of advice in finding the photographer for you.
Photo by Annie-hannah Mancini 2007
Tip 1: Consider different styles of photography:
This style captures all of the traditional moments of a wedding - usually catching documentary moments as well as lots of portraits.
Think of a photojournalist turned wedding photographer. He or she is accustomed to recording information as it exists in life rather than posing people for traditional portraits. Imagine shots that show your creative cookie table before they are gathered and enjoyed and then shots of children with crumb chocolate cookie-covered mouths enjoying them as well as a few leftover crumbs on a plate. On the surface, these shots might not appear to be “wedding” photos, but they help you remember and see details that might have been overlooked in the business of the day. Traditionally, documentary photographers don’t use much in the way of off-camera lighting.
This style would not only include posed portraits of your wedding party but perhaps even posed portraits of guests at your reception. The lighting would probably be planned for expert beauty shots in those portraits as well and include lots of off-camera lighting. Photos would be polished; the photographer might fix someone’s hair or a collared shirt before snapping the shutter.
4. Photographic Artist:
Someone working from this viewpoint is first and foremost an artist. Shots might be non-traditional. They also might be lit in non-traditional ways, but this might add lots of depth or drama to the final images. Other types of photographers are artists too, but the photographic artist will work in a bit more narrative method rather than in posed portraits.
Find someone who can find beauty in every detail of your day!
Tip 2: Know what photography services generally cost in your area.
Not everyone posts their prices online, but find a few just to get an idea of a ballpark before you start digging. Pricing Methods: Photographers also charge in different ways based on hours and what packages include, so try to compare “apples to apples”. As you do this and familiarize yourself with ways Photographers offer services, you will also figure out what you might like!
2. Budget and Focus:
When Brady and I were getting married, I knew right away who I wanted and why. I wanted Annie-hannah Mancini because she was a photojournalist-style wedding photographer and I was already familiar with her work from a friend. Photography was one of the things that was most important to us and we didn’t care about videography or even having alcohol at our wedding. We wanted a way to remember the moments we experienced and even the ones we didn’t get to see ourselves on that day to last forever so….we budgeted with our photography costs in mind first.
Everything is a balance with your budget and a personal choice. If photography isn’t your most important thing, then that will help you search maybe more on price. If it is really important to you, then focus on the style and personality of the photographer that you choose. Either way, know what good photography costs in your area. Expect $3000 as a starting point and up to $8,000 with adding on portrait sessions like Engagement, Trash The Dress, albums, prints, canvases, etc. If photography services aren’t your focus, then it's better to find someone closer to your price point than attempt to negotiate with the higher priced photographers who are priced that way for good reason.
Have an idea of what photography services cost in your general location.
Tip 3: Consider the number of hours for which you would need service.
1. Think a little bit about your day and your wedding timeline (even what you know of it so far). You should have an approximate number of hours of service figured out.
2. Try to decide (if you might have to choose for financial reasons) whether its more important for the photographer to be there to capture “Getting Ready” moments before the ceremony or Reception Celebration moments much later in the evening.
Based on your wedding plans, how many hours of service do you need?
Tip 4: Research photographers in your area like crazy!
1. Check out reviews if you can find them.
2. Bridal Shows might help, but because of Internet advertising, they aren’t always necessary for photographers to enter to advertise.
3. Narrow it down to maybe 3-5 and start sending emails to inquire about pricing, services, and packages.
4. Be ready to share some details in your email so the photographer knows if there is room in his/her schedule and some details about you and your plans for this momentous day like:
Bridal Party Count
Share some details of your proposal and basic plans for your wedding day.
Share who you (and your husband or wife-to-be) are.
Photographers love to get to know you!
Share if anyone referred you or how you discovered the photographer.
5. Plan for a phone consultation or having coffee at a neutral location to go over what the photographer offers and what is included. There is usually no need to commit at this point (unless you are concerned about reserving a date and know that you have found the photographer for you!) but be up-front that you’re still researching, etc.6. Get to know them, their style, and what they offer!
Try to find a photographer that you get along with - then you can really be yourself for your photos!
Tip 5: Get to know the photographer(s) personality/personalities:
1. You know what is funny? You expect to spend the most time on your wedding day with the love of your life, but really? You spend most of the day with your photographer and bridal party when you think of all of the getting-ready and pre-ceremony time. So, it better be someone you connect with. The photographer should understand you a bit and you should be comfortable with him/her. It will make your day so much more fun!
2. When you get to know the photographer and meet with him/her, you should have an opportunity to see a finished album, check out print qualities and samples, etc. This will continue to give you a first impression on what the work and personality of the photographer are like.