The day came and your partner FINALLY proposed. Or maybe you proposed and your partner said “HELL YES!”. Either way, you are engaged! Now the fun begins…. planning the wedding. You look at the calendar, pick a date, check out locations and start reaching out to vendors inquiring on their pricing. BUT FIRST, let me share some helpful tips and things to consider before you start reaching out to photographers.
If you had no idea this was a thing, girlfriend you are not alone. When I was planning my wedding in 2014, I had NO idea photographers had a style. I just went online, looked at their pretty pictures and asked, “How much do you cost?” As a wedding photographer myself now, I cringe at that. Typically photographers have a “style” to their photography. For some, that might mean bright whites, clean lines, and posed images. For other photographers (like me), their style might be more dark and moody colors, harsh shadows, and wild movement. Maybe you know what style of photography you want for your wedding, but if you are like most brides (or grooms) you’ve never considered a photographers style. I would suggest looking around at all the different photography styles and seeing which ones speak to you.
Now I know what you are thinking. Well maybe you know better but incase you don’t… here’s what you might be thinking “but I will tell my photographer what I want and they will create that exactly for me.” Listen friend, I love you so I am going to be honest. Asking a photographer to shoot in a completely different style than they are used to is like asking a country band to sing rap lyrics at your dance. It’s just not a good idea. Photographers shoot and edit a certain way to what they are used to and what they are great at. We have spent years of our lives developing our unique style so please don’t ask us to change that for you. Just hire the right photographer.
When it comes to the creative world and photography especially, someone hears you are a photographer and think you just take any and all photos. You just had a baby, ask any photographer. Your grandma is having a birthday party, ask any photographer. You adopted a baby goat and want photos, ask any photographer. What people don’t realize is typically photographers narrow in on a niche that they love and they are good at. In the beginning of my photography business, I photographed all the things. I didn’t know what I liked or what I was good at so I tried it all. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for me to learn my skillset. For example, I did newborns for the first year because I thought that is what I wanted to do. I LOVE babies so it sounds perfect right…. WRONG! I quickly realized they caused me more stress and anxiety than photographing a wedding. Sounds absolutely absurd right but it is 100% the truth. I learned I need talking, moving humans to photograph and get me to my most creative self. I still get inquiries for newborns now and again but I refer them to my friend Lindsay because she is a magician with newborns.
I am going to be completely honest, I don’t feel completely qualified to talk on this topic but I feel it is important so I am going to anyways. Experience is a very important factor when it comes to weddings. Experience and confidence I should say! I am not the most experienced wedding photographer. Frankly, I would still consider myself very new to the industry. What I did do right in the very beginning was I got real-life experience before I ever went solo.
What did that look like for me you ask? I reached out to numerous wedding photographers across the state until one finally agreed to let me come along and second shoot with her on some of her weddings. She agreed to teach me how she does her weddings and in return, I would give her my images from the wedding, just like a second shooter would. The kicker, I did this all completely free. I sacrificed weekends with my family to learn as much as I could before I ever decided to charge a client to shoot their wedding. And I am forever grateful for the decision.
I don’t think photographers talk about this enough so here goes. Considering the cost of a photographer. This goes along with experience as well. Of course, well-established wedding photographers are going to cost significantly more than new, first time photographers but let’s dig deeper.
Wedding photography is expensive. I am the first to admit that and when a couple tells me my pricing is too much, honestly, I completely understand. I have no bad feelings with that but also, I will not apologize for my pricing because I spent a lot of time and money in the very beginning (when frankly, I didn’t have any) to structure my business to be successful. What does that even mean? Well, it means I paid a lawyer to tell me how I needed to register my business and sign up with the state to pay sales tax before I ever took a dime from a client. I paid another lawyer hundreds of dollars just to draft a contract that not only protected me but also my clients. I pay a ridiculous amount of money each year on systems to make sure your images are safe and backed up MANY different places. When I decided I was ready to start booking weddings, I upgraded my equipment to make sure I was delivering the highest quality images. News flash… photography equipment is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. I could go on and on but you get the point. And all this to say, at the end of all the expenses I had to decide at what price will I leave my children and husband on a Saturday while they are off having fun, making memories, and begging me to stay. And that is what I set my pricing at.
So while there are definitely photographers that are much cheaper, I just caution you to make sure they have systems in place to protect you and your images. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and ask questions.
Lastly, I have to touch on personality. You probably don’t realize this unless you’ve had a wedding before, but you spend just as much time with your photographer on your wedding day as you do your new spouse (sometimes even more). So I beg you to take the time and consider their personality. Look at their website and see what they are all about. Of course, check out their “about” page. One thing I never considered is the fact that your wedding photographer captures the day through their “eyes”. Yes, we all know what moments every bride wants photos of. But not every photographer sees the little moments the same. For me, as a VERY sentimental person, I focus heavily on moments. I know how special little moments are to me and I find that translates in my photography. I take detail shots but my main focus is the people and memories. For other photographers, their main focus may be taking picture-perfect detail shots. They might be more focused on capturing the things. This is where really getting to know your potential photographer and their view on life and personality can make such a big difference in your wedding photos.
Well, that was a mouth full. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on hiring a wedding photographer and I hope this helps you find that perfect photographer. When you find that right person, take a deep breath and trust them completely!