Can I see a show of hands from those of you that received a stunning engagement ring in the last few months?! I am beyond thrilled for all of you newly engaged brides-to-be!! There are lots and lots of things for you to starting thinking about, planning, and looking forward to! A majority of brides start their planning journey by locking in a date at their dream venue – the one that they can already picture themselves marrying the man of their dreams at!! Then, brides start to think about how they are going to remember every detail of this beautiful day – enter, the wedding photographer search!
As you and your fiancé are discussing the most important day of your life, there’s bound to be a lot of internet searching (thanks Google & Instagram!), shopping, and review reading for each and every one of your vendors. As someone who JUST planned a wedding, I know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by how many options there are! But don’t worry, I’m here to help. 🙂
In this post, I am going to share some insight on how to find the perfect photographer for you and your day. Someone who you can completely trust to capture the joy you are experiencing during this extra special season!
Before Beginning Your Search:
Before you start reaching out to potential wedding photographers, you have a little bit of work to do – trust me, it’ll be so helpful in the long run! Talk with your fiance and decide on two things: budget & style.
1 | Budget
Start doing some research to find out what wedding photographers in your area charge, just so you can start with a realistic jumping off point. Many wedding photographers offer a range of packages that will play a part in the total cost of your wedding day collection! Will you want a second photographer assisting the lead photographer in capturing your day? How many hours will you need your photographer to be present at your wedding? Do you want to add something special like a bridal or boudoir session? These are all things to ask when consider when deciding on your photography budget! Of course, the more you would like to add to your package, the more you will need to plan within your budget!
2 | Style
Style is a little bit easier (and a whole lot more fun!) to make a decision about. I’m sure you’ve seen, wedding photos come in a WIDE variety of styles! Some are bright and colorful, while others are deeper and more earth-toned. Some photos are really posed, and others have a more photojournalistic approach! What is attractive to you initially? Find what appeals to you now, but also be sure to consider what style will be beautiful for generations to come. Looking beyond the current trends is a must! There was a point in the photography world where it was IN to make a photo black and white, and have one thing in the image (like the flowers) in color. This was SUPER trendy at one point, but now seems dated! Think about what you will want to see in your photos in 25 years. 🙂
During Your Search:
Once you have made some important decisions that will help guide your search for a wedding photographer, it’s time for the fun part – getting to know potential photographers! I would suggest starting by reaching out to 2 or 3 photographers in your area whose style and personality you LOVE (Instagram is a great help with this!). You will quickly learn what you like (and don’t like) in a potential wedding photographer! As you find photographers in your area whose style you love, whose pricing fits within your budget and who impress you with their initial contact – be sure to do these three things before booking!
1 | Consider their Extended Portfolio
When you land on a photographer’s website or Instagram page, you will immediately see highlights of their work. But remember they are just that – highlights! The photos you see are the photographer’s best-of-the-best. You want to make sure to look beyond what you see initially, because it may not be an accurate representation of what YOUR wedding photos will look like!
I recommend you click over to a photographers blog and check out their most recent work. This will help you to get a better sense of what their photos will look like from start to end on a wedding day! While portfolios can give you a general idea of a photographer’s style, blog posts are more likely to capture a wedding in its entirety. Beyond this, you can always request to see photos that the photographer has taken through all parts of the day – details, getting ready, ceremony, family photos, reception, etc.!
2 | Ask Lots of Questions
When you are emailing or chatting on the phone with potential wedding photographers, think of it as an interview! You are trying to find out if this person is the absolute right fit for you and your big day. And, on top of making sure to ask the photographer the right questions, you also want to be asking yourself questions through the process!
Here are a handful of questions that I think it important to ask!
Ask the photographer these questions…
“Tell me about your process?” Finding out how a photographer is going to work with you from the point of booking through the delivery of your wedding photos is important. Will they be someone you interact with often through wedding planning? Are they going to help you build the perfect wedding day timeline? Will they be helpful in making sure your wedding day runs smoothly? You want to get a clear picture of what you can expect through your engagement if you choose to book this photographer!
“About the images… When will I receive them? How many will I receive? Will they be retouched? Am I allowed to download them?” Every single photographer will answer these questions differently! It is not safe to assume that the photographer you are speaking with handles the delivery of your photos the same way as the photographer you spoke with yesterday. Make sure you are clear on these things!
Ask yourself these questions…
“Will their photos stand the test of time?” When you look at the photographer’s portfolio, can you imagine yourself sitting on the couch with your boo in 25 years and still LOVING the images? Will these be photos that you are proud to display on the wall for your grandchildren to admire? Remember that besides your marriage, your wedding photos will be the only thing that lasts beyond your wedding day!
“Do I feel excited about this photographer?” When you think about this photographer capturing all of the memories during this season for you, do you get excited?! Do you LOVE the images they produce and trust that they will be a great addition to your vendor team? If the answer is no, you should probably keep looking!
3 | Make SURE you Connect!
This is probably the MOST important thing to consider when searching for the perfect wedding photographer! This is going to be a person you spend a lot of time with on one of the biggest days of your life – you want to make sure you get along with them. 🙂 I highly encourage you to find time to talk with photographers over the phone or in person so you can get a feel for whether or not the two of you mesh! If you don’t like your photographer as a person, you won’t have a good wedding experience. You could find the best photographer in the world, but if they don’t care to get to know you or desire to serve you well, they are doing you a disservice!
I believe it is SO important that you have a strong relationship with your photographer before you get to your wedding day. One way I do this with my couples is through an engagement session! I include an engagement session in every one of my collections because I have learned that it gives my couples a chance to get to know me as a photographer and learn to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Then, once we get to the wedding day, I feel like an old friend that you can trust to do what is best for you!
I know this is such a big decision – I’ve been on your end before! The most important thing I can tell you is to find a photographer that you trust. Completely. That trust will not only enable your photographer to capture those gorgeous, timeless images but will also relieve you of the stress of worrying about this part of your day! Now, go find your perfect wedding photographer! (or you can contact me here ;-))
Kieran Claire is a photographer based in Greenville, SC who specializes in romantic, elegant, and timeless weddings & portraits.