There are a ton of photographers out there, all waiting for you to sign on the dotted line. Some are extremely talented, some are “meh”. Some are very pricey, some are bargain basement.
So, how do you go about making an informed decision about hiring a photographer for your wedding? Do you base your decision on price, alone? Do you decide by paging through the photographer’s portfolio? There are many things to consider.
Read on to get some tips for choosing your wedding photographer.
Tip #1 - Experience is Not Just Technical Expertise
Just because a photographer is successful at one kind of photography, that doesn’t mean they are great in all kinds of photography.
True story: I worked for over six years as a real estate and commercial photographer. I was hired by real estate agents to photograph sellers’ homes and I was good at my job. A client called me one day to book a photoshoot that was a “redo”. My client hired a drone operator for aerial shots, and a digital camera for on-the-ground photos.
The drone guy was also hired to photograph the interior of the house. He was already there to do the drone work, and he had a “good” camera, so why not?
My client flat out hated the drone guy’s interior photos.
So, why did this go sideways? The drone operator only had the skillset for taking images and video from the sky. He was not trained in real estate photography. I patiently explained this to my client. Just because you have the fancy camera, does not mean you have the skills to take photos that will sell a million dollar property.
The same is true for any photographer who has expertise in other areas. Just because someone is good at taking prom photos doesn’t make them a great wedding photographer.
Hire someone who has experience as a wedding photographer.
Tip #2 - Look closely at the Photographer's Portfolio
Looking at a photographer’s portfolio allows you to get a sense of their photography style. Take a closer look and ask yourself these questions:
- Are their photos light and airy or dark and moody?
- Do you like to be trendy? There is a trend these days for dark and moody wedding photos. It’s not for everyone, but if you should find a photographer who has a more trendy style.
- Do the photos speak to you? If so, by all means, hire a photographer who shoots in that style – whatever it is.
- Do you like the way the photographer poses people? Posing is a separate and distinct skillset.
Many couples, however, lean toward the light and airy style, which is pretty timeless. If you don’t take a serious look at a photographer’s portfolio, you will not see a full representation of their work. Most photographers only shoot in the style they prefer to keep their style consistent.
Keep in mind that even within a particular style you will see slight variations. For example, my style leans toward light and airy, but with pops of color. I love pops of color!
The benefit is that you will begin to recognize which style you prefer. You will also be able to spot poor-quality work after you’ve looked around for a while.
Always ask to see samples of a photographer’s work.
Tip #3 - Read the Reviews
You can find a photographer’s reviews in a number of places:
- their website
- advertising sites such as The Knot
- Google Business
- social media.
Read all of the reviews, even those that are from non-wedding clients. The truth is, many photographers who specialize in wedding photography also take on other types of work, such as family photography and event photography. The reviews will give you lots of information about the photographer, including reliability, flexibility, attention to detail, personality, etc.
Reviews of a photographer’s work will give you valuable information for your decision.
Tip #4 - Communication is Key
Communication is a skill that is often underrated. As your wedding day approaches and the jitters are setting in, the last thing you need is to be chasing down your photographer because you are unclear about something and you need an answer. Look for someone who communicates clearly, who listens to you, asks clarifying questions, and cares about their relationship with you.
Consider this: Your photographer is the one person who will be with you on your wedding day from start to finish. Choose someone who instills confidence in you and creates clear, consistent communication with you from day one. If you dislike your photographer’s personality or approach, there will be a negative effect on the enjoyment of your day.
Do you feel awkward in front of the camera? I’m not talking about taking selfies with your friends on a Saturday night. I am talking about having a posed photograph taken – a portrait. If the thought of posing for portraits on your wedding day makes you uncomfortable, stay tuned for my next post on how your photographer should pose you.