Here are a few tips (from a photographer’s view point) to help you when searching for your perfect photographer.
1. Know the plan and time for your big day.
We knew for a fact that we wanted an evening to night courtyard wedding with lots and lots of chandeliers and ambient lighting hanging from an old oak tree in the middle of the courtyard. I knew that this meant lighting could possibly be tricky. With it being night time for most of the reception, this meant that we needed a photographer strong in their flash and off camera flash skills. While I really love lots of the beautiful natural light photography that I have seen, use of artificial light was just as important to me. I didn’t want blown out whites in my wedding dress or crazy shadows and hot spots on our skin. Choosing a photographer that was proficient in both natural and artificial light was essential to our day.
2. Know your space and location well and choose a photographer that can work within those perimeters.
Again, since we knew it would be an outdoor courtyard wedding, we knew there would be location challenges. We had over 150 guests that split their time either indoors or out on the courtyard. Our photographer had to be able to work within tight space with the appropriate gear in order to get the shots that were important. When you are looking for a wedding photographer, look at their portfolio to see what type of venues they have worked in. Are they similar to yours? Maybe even the same one? Experience is key here.
3. Pay attention to the photographer’s style.
While I absolutely love so many different styles of photography, I know that Bryan and I are both very candid and expressive (so are our children). So I wanted to be sure that our photographer was just as good at catching the in between expressions and excitement as they were at the beautifully planned and posed shots. Another aspect of style to consider is the photographer’s post processing. Do they process the images with a clean approach or are they more vintage or film like? I love many different types of processing, but when it came down to it, I wanted a classic clean color edit on our photos so that they stood the test of time and never went out of style.
4. How will you use your images?
Are you a DIYer? Do you want to be able to design your own book? Or do you want the full package and someone that not only takes beautiful images, but also designs breath taking albums? Since I am a photographer myself and I have access to professional labs, I decided that digital images were the extent of what we needed. While I have absolutely no doubt that Sally’s design skills are impeccable (I mean look at her website, it’s beautiful!) I knew that I had the skill set to design an album and order it from a professional lab. I do not recommend designing your own album if you are not a professional (either in the design world or photography) and have access to a professional lab. There is a world of difference between an album from a chain store and the beautiful signature albums that a lab can create.
5. Consider your budget… yes I said it.
Budget is unfortunately something we all have to consider when we are picking a photographer. That said, remember that once the big party is all over and done, the only thing that you have left are your photographs and a dress that you will most likely never wear again. The photographs will help you remember the day as it happened and even events that you were unaware of. After Sally sent us our gallery of images, it brought back tons of emotions not just for me, but for my husband as well. We loved sitting together and going through each image and talking about what happened, or what our friends and family must have been doing! Even though your Uncle Tom has a great camera, and can take a half decent shot, it does not mean that he would be a good wedding photographer. So when you are considering your budget, remember that while a fancy pants designer gown or an elaborate 10 course meal might sound like the best way to spend your budget, the only thing you will have left after it is all said and done are the images that your photographer captured of your beautiful day so be sure to pick a professional, they are worth their weight in gold. Trust me.
6. Protect yourself and your photographer – sign a contract.
If you are working with a photographer, be sure there is a contract in place. Make sure it covers exactly what to expect on the big day… how many hours, what your collection entails, how long it will take to get the proofs, etc. By signing a contract you are ensuring that your photographer will not be a stressor the day of the wedding. I was actually in a wedding once when the bride’s photographer was a no-show. She didn’t sign a contract and was left without images, a photographer, and lost the deposit that she had invested. Be smart. Cover your bases and only work with a true professional if you value photographs from your wedding. There are many so-called wedding photographers that could care less about your day and only want to cash in. Don’t work with a wedding photographer that doesn’t have references and experience or you could end up regretting your decision.
7. Avoid overwhelming your photographer with a list of shots that you found on Pinterest.
I LOVE Pinterest. Really, I do. I think it’s the best way to get ideas for many occasions, including weddings. I mean, have you searched wedding bouquets on there yet?! Wow, that was an overwhelming task. So surely you have spent a few minutes on there or just online looking at photographs from weddings. While this is good to get an idea of what you want, try not to tell your photographer 200 different shots that you just have to have. Trust that your photographer has the skill set and knowledge to capture the moments that are important. Of course, I think it is smart to have a few must get shots, for example, the only image that I requested was one of just my son holding my hand as he walked me down the aisle. This was the only one I requested. I know that Sally would have shot it regardless, but as a mama with a baby boy who was thrilled to “give me away” I had to have this image. Think of the images that are most important to you (maybe one of you and your favorite Aunt) but try not to overload your photographer so that they feel that they are working from a scavenger hunt list instead of capturing genuine moments.
8. Work quickly to find your dream photographer.
Wedding photographers book up quickly, especially the amazingly talented ones. During their busy seasons they are typically booked a year or more in advance. We also live in a big city where there are tons of wedding photographers available. Houston is large, but I also searched in Austin and Dallas for the perfect photographer just to be sure that I was truly happy with the end results. So while you are dying to try on the latest Jimmy Choo’s to go with your gown, remember that the shoes will be there, but that your perfect wedding photographer might not.
These are just a few pointers from my recent wedding experience. While I admit I am quite picky and the only aspect I was truly concerned with was the photography, I think these tips can help just about anyone find happiness with their photographer on their wedding day.
“ It’s lovely being a parent and being in a strong marriage with somebody who is your best friend. ”