Need a photographer but don’t know where to start? Well, you’re not alone. In a market seemingly saturated with photographers, it can seem like a daunting task finding the perfect fit to capture your special day. However, with careful research and a few helpful tips, you can put your inner bridezilla at ease, and start off your search feeling cool and confident.
Lisa Raffo Ashley, owner & curator of The Wedding Artist Collective offered us some very helpful tips on how to navigate the process of selecting the perfect photographer. From checking portfolios to understanding pricing, these tips will help you pinpoint what to look for when it comes to capturing one of the most memorable times in your life. Keep reading to learn more!
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
The best wedding professionals take every opportunity they have to truly understand the spirit of the couple getting married, and what makes their love story unique. Especially for a photographer or videographer, the task of communicating that is of utmost priority. Behind the lens (and inside their ultra-creative minds), the wheels are constantly churning.
STYLE + BUDGET
Ultimately, style and budget are the two most important factors when selecting a wedding photographer. To feel completely confident in your decision, there are a few important factors to consider that will help you find the perfect photographer for your wedding day.
Choosing a wedding photographer is an intuitive process and one that won’t happen overnight. As we tend to be constantly bombarded with visual stimulation from social media, it can be challenging to stay focused and follow the work of a select group of photographers that may interest you.
With that, word of mouth is still one of the most reliable ways to find someone you’ll like and trust. It’s the old “birds of a feather flock together theory,” and it works. The shared interests, style, and socio-economic backgrounds of the people in your circle mean personal recommendations will carry far more weight than an unfamiliar vendor. Even if that photographer doesn’t end up working with you for your wedding, referral based recommendations are an effective way to jumpstart the research process as you begin the planning process (this can be true for other vendors, as well).
You and your mate will naturally be drawn to a photographer that shoots couples that may have similar characteristics – either themselves or the overall aesthetic of their wedding day. Taking the time to browse a photographer’s portfolio can be invaluable in finding the right fit. Make sure to look at the photos that are reflective of the scenes most important to you. If the ‘getting ready’ images are the ones you’ll treasure the most, see how they are shot amongst a few different wedding collections in the photographer’s portfolio. Likewise, if you are the type that plans to replace traditional family portraits with more candids, see how the photographer approaches those shots.
Before you decide you’re ready to contact a photographer and talk numbers, take time to truly understand the wide range of photography budgets, and what you feel most comfortable spending. Sometimes people underestimate how much photography is going to cost so they go into their search with an unrealistically low number and spend months spinning their wheels trying to find someone “good” in that price point.
As mentioned before, a photographer’s portfolio can be a great indicator of their specialty and of their budget. If you see a lot of weddings in the Hamptons, Napa Valley and Big Sur with extravagant florals, custom paper goods and calligraphy you can probably assume that photographer is starting between $6,000-$10,000. Then again if you see more elopements, city-hall, or DIY details, that photographer may start at $3,500. Of course, these are just examples – to give you a frame of reference. Also, think about the market. Larger city-based photographers will charge significantly higher rates than those who may be located in more rural areas.
THE X FACTOR
I strongly feel choosing a photographer is a “vibe” thing. So, instead of interviewing a photographer with a pre-planned Q&A, chatting about love and life for 10 minutes can often give you a better idea of whether or not you can identify with someone on a personal level. Go with your gut, yes, but also understand their approach as much as possible. When you speak or meet with the photographer, a few good tactical checkpoints will help you get a complete picture of them as a professional. Make sure to discuss:
- Overall approach: Is the photographer more of a ‘director’ with tons of dialogue and a strong vision or does he/she like to let the wedding happen and then capture images more naturally?
- Timing & deliverables: Get as granular as possible when discussing how many approximate images you’ll receive, in what capacity, and when. Will they be retouched? How can prints be ordered? Having clarity on these types of questions helps maintain expectations on both sides and ensure discrepancies about the final product are avoided.
Resource: Lisa Raffo Ashley, owner & curator of The Wedding Artists Collective.