Are you as excited for this awesome kick off of wedding tip Wednesdays as I am!?!.... No, you say? You didn't even know it was a thing, you say?! Well....
Excuse the late notice but I'm a part of several groups on social media where brides ask questions and ask for suggestions about anything and everything wedding, so I just thought... " You know what?! I think this would be an amazing addition to my blog because, 1) I've been a bride! I know how stressful planning can be, people can use all the help I can give. PLUS I'm a master of DIY! The next thing I have to offer is that 2) I'm also a vendor, and there is a lot of information I can give as far as what to look for and what to look out for!
So today is going to be the first of many Wednesdays where I will sprinkle out my fountains of wedding knowledge onto you so that you wont feel so lost on your road to your dream wedding! Of course since I'm a photographer, I figured that would be a really good place to start.
Obviously you are the one who's in charge here. This is YOUR day! Don't let any parent, friend, bridesmaid, grandparent, or vendor tell you how your day should go. However! When it comes to finding any vendor, make sure that you find one who is seasoned in their specialty and is able to advise you and what to expect.
Also, don't forget that a photographer is an artist. We take great pride in our work and a great photographer will always be doing this because they are passionate about it, not just because they want to make a quick buck.
What does a photographer do?
Obviously, telling the story of your big day is the number one job of a photographer, BUT you have to remember that it is so much more than just that!
The photographer will have to set up multiple meetings and set time aside to speak with their clients in person, on the phone, and through countless emails. Sometimes they will take a day trip to the venue ahead of time to make sure that they get a good look around and know exactly how to plan out a whole day of photos. They have to write up contracts and invoices, schedule, shoot, and edit an engagement session, write out a full day timeline for the pictures throughout your wedding day. Be at your wedding the entire day while running, jumping, laying, crawling and instructing poses in order to take amazing pictures as well as assisting the bride in any possible way to ensure that the day goes flawlessly. After the wedding, the work isn't over! The photographer will spend hours sorting and labeling thousands of pictures to decipher which ones can be used, which ones are too blurry, which ones just didn't turn out, which ones are too dark, which ones are too bright, which ones aren't flattering, which ones are duplicates and which ones are absolutely amazing! Then there will be hours upon hours of editing to follow to make sure each picture is absolute perfection!
Keep all of this in mind when you are looking for a photographer!
Ask yourself, "What about my wedding pictures are most important to me?"
And let me be the first to tell you, PRICE should not be it.
I can't tell you how many times I have seen posts online that say "I'm looking for a reasonably priced photographer."
When I see this online, I don't know how to help this person. Their idea of a reasonably priced photographer could be very different than somebody else's idea of a reasonably priced photographer. I promise I have never met a single photographer who thinks that their prices are unreasonable and I've never met a bride who has hired a photographer who's prices they considered unreasonable for their own budget.
I understand that a budget is important! Absolutely! However you will have a harder time finding a photographer that's in your budget If you don't know exactly what your budget is. Please! Be prepared to put a money value to your budget before looking for a photographer.
You can find a photographer to fit just about any budget. If the only thing that is important to you is that the moment is documented, then maybe you don't have to hire a photographer at all. Cell phone pictures shared between your guests might be enough for you and the best part is that you don't have to stress about that part of your budget! HOWEVER if you are looking for art that documents that day in a way that you will cherish and love and still want to have hanging on our walls 10, 20, or 50 years from now? That is an INVESTMENT! You are investing in your story and your memories. When you really think about it, you aren't going to care about your designer dress, you aren't going to care about the friends you don't talk to anymore, you wont care about exactly what you are eating that day and weather or not everyone loved it. The only thing you will care cherish is that person in the pictures with you and remembering the little details that made that day so perfect.
If you do decide to make a post on a a public site, looking for a photographer, You will want your post to say,
"I'm looking for a experienced, fun, trustworthy and reliable wedding photographer with (insert type of style here) who is available on (insert date here) and is within my budget of (insert price here) Please respond to this with a link to your portfolio/website and have references
What to watch out for...
I have heard so many horror stories of couples who have had bad experiences with their photographer. From taking their money and not showing up, to just not upholding their expectations and everything in between, there are plenty of things to be weary of when looking for a photographer.
Spotty communication. If your photographer doesn't respond to your messages after several attempts at contacting them, what is to stop them from cutting communication all together? If your photographer does not openly communicate with you, that is a big red flag!
Bad reviews. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes and let's face it, you can't please everyone. But if a photographer has several bad reviews, or you have heard a lot of bad things about them, they probably don't have your happiness in mind.
Inconsistent work. When checking out a photographer, be sure to make sure to look for major inconsistencies in their work. Look for a large range of photos from different sessions and check to make sure you like the general style used to edit the images. Inconsistencies could simply mean that the lighting was very different between the two settings (inside vs outside) or if could be a sign that the "photographer" stole work from other photographer and is trying to pass it off as their own.
Bad style. This one is pretty obvious. Don't expect amazing work from a mediocre photographer (or one who hasn't ever shot weddings before)
What to look for...
It wouldn't be complete if I didn't tell you the key makings of an amazing photographer. Here are the main things you need to look for when searching for a photographer.
Contract. Make sure the photographer has a contract the protects both parties incase something goes awry! If the photographer does have a contract make sure they go over it with you and explain each part of it thoroughly so that nothing is miscommunicated and you are not misinformed. This way you will know exactly what to expect from your photographer.
Back up gear. This is just extra insurance that you will have pictures of your big day. If the photographers main camera or lens were to break, malfunction, or the memory cards were to fail, it is always good for them to have back up gear with them to fall back on so that they aren't missing out on anything.
Good reviews. Obviously you want a photographer who has provided an excellent experience for brides in the past. Check reviews, testimonials or ask for references.
Transparency. You want to find a photographer who is completely transparent. Sometimes as artists who are passionate about the service we provide, it can be difficult at first to be up front about our prices. A seasoned photographer will tell you up front what all is included and at what investment. Don't ever assume anything else is included but don't be afraid to ask. A good photographer will be honest and tell you exactly what to expect and what is unrealistic. There shouldn't be any small print. We are here to make sure you don't have to worry about if you will have your big day captured the way you always dreamed. If a photographer doesn't think they can accommodate for your particular needs, they should be able to say it and tell you why.
Well that is at least a good place to start! I hope that these tips help, not only to add some perspective, but to bring to mind important things a lot of people don't think about! If this blog helps even one bride find their dream photographer, then this will all be worth it! Thank you all for sticking with me this long and feel free to add any more tips you might think of to the comments section bellow!
Until next week, Happy Planning!