Planning a wedding can be a very overwhelming time especially how to choose your wedding photographer. In the very beginning stages as you start tackling what at first seems like a never ending list of choosing and booking your venue, celebrant, bridal party, stylist, decor, florist, clothing, and photographer – to name just a few.
Each component is important in bringing to life the wedding day of your dreams and each will have a different level of priority with you and your fiance and allocated differently in your budget. The perfect couture gown is the priority for some brides while others they are happy with a simple, classic gown off the rack. Some brides want a silk flower bouquet to keep rather than using fresh flowers. One couple will not negotiate on the perfect waterfront location and another will celebrate with their guests in their backyard.
While I may be biased, I do feel that one area couples can not compromise or negotiate on is their wedding photography. A good photographer can bring an entirely different element to your wedding and in how you remember your day. A good photographer can make an off the rack gown look like a couture gown. A good photographer can make a bouquet of silk flowers look like they just came from the flower market. A good photographer can make your parents backyard look like a secret garden. A good photographer can take away the stress and guesswork and help you enjoy your wedding day.
A photographer you have chosen based solely on budget thinking that photography is not an important element, may not be able to give you these things but if you’re going to invest in an experienced photographer with a consistent portfolio of beautiful weddings, here are a few things to consider:
Having someone else’s stamp of approval is very encouraging and gives you a unique insight to their own experience. Having said this, it is important to not book a photographer on referral alone as your friends taste in photography could be very different to yours. Once you have your recommendations you can then “weed out” photographers that don’t appeal to you through your initial connection with their photographs and then how you connect as people.
With your list of photographers, I suggest you actually make a list of the things you love about their photographs that appeals to you to help you short-list. Do you like the portraits of brides and grooms look relaxed and in love in close up, intimate photographs or do you prefer more stylised portraits with a wide angle and sweeping backgrounds? Do you want more black and white images or a balance of colour and black and white? Is it natural light or flash photography that you prefer? Don’t worry about breaking down what is happening behind the scenes with an image – just go with your gut and then you’ll start to see a pattern emerging. Once you have established what you like and don’t like, you can then contact the photographers who’s work you have a connection with for more information about their services.
While looking through a photographers portfolio (online or in person), my best advice is to look for a consistency in their work. Is there consistency with the lighting, post-processing and the “feel” of the photograph or does it feel a little random? Is the editing the same from wedding to wedding or does it change considerably?
Also important is that some photographers choose to show one or two highlight or signature images from a wedding. While this is a great start to see the best of their work, don’t be afraid to ask a short-listed photographer for access to see a completed wedding from start to finish to understand what you can expect for your own photographs. I chose to create my own wedding galleries with entire galleries of weddings in a variety of weather, locations and circumstances to show that I have the consistency to produce beautiful images no matter the circumstances.
Discussing how a photographer chooses to value their work is an entirely different conversation but most importantly you need to understand what you are getting in return for your investment with your shortlisted photographer (as it is different with everyone). When and how will you receive your photographs? When can you expect your wedding album? What will happen if the photographer has to cancel the booking? There are also intangible service offers that you will get in addition to the photography that separates one photographer from others. For example, I only accept a limited number of bookings per year so I offer an exclusive service to my clients and choose to focus on quality in every aspect rather than quantity. On the other end of the spectrum however are photographers that offer in-person photograph viewings or album planning sessions – all of which need to be considered for their own value. Each photographer will provide a different service but a good service offer will help streamline your planning process and your experience on the day and following your wedding.
Because I know you want to cover all your bases in this journey, I’ve made a free downloadable for you with more tips on how to find the perfect photographer for you including the questions I wish potential clients asked me before they booked. I hope you like it!