When I first began shooting weddings I thought I was a good fit for EVERY couple and that I could and should be hired for any wedding, no matter what. Time and experience has shown me over the past decade + that this is definitely not the case.
Every time I meet a new couple who are interested in hiring me to photograph their wedding I have almost as many questions for them as they do for me. I also offer suggestions on what they need to do before they decide on the right photographer, even if it means they don’t hire me. The goal of these meetings is not to persuade a couple to hire me, but for the couple to make an informed decision to hire the best photographer FOR THEM. Below is my boiled down version of what I outline.
The first item on your list should be style. You want to make sure your photographer captures weddings in the way that you would like your wedding to be captured. I don’t love labels so I won’t throw out terms like “dark and moody” or “light and airy.” Instead, find photographs that speak to you and embody how you want to be photographed on your wedding day. A great place to start is on social media. Scroll through photographs/photographers and start to hone in on what styles you are drawn to.
Make a List
Once you find out what style(s) you like best, you need to start narrowing the field. Use social media, your family, and friends to identify wedding photographers that you’d like to consider. Many photographers travel for weddings, so don’t let location box you in. As you sift through recommendations, websites, and Instagram feeds keep a list of photographers (at least 10) whose work you absolutely love.
Maybe the biggest consideration for a wedding photographer for many couples is budget. Depending on where you live and where your photographer is located will dictate budget. In general, expect to pay between $2000-$10,000 for your wedding photographer. If you hire someone who has only shot a handful of weddings over a one to two year period they will be significantly less than a photographer that has shot hundreds of weddings over 10+ years. You can cross check your list of photographs and their packages with what your budget is and create a solid list of five wedding photographers that you want to meet with. I will caution you, though, that wedding pictures are the only thing the remains after your wedding day so make sure you leave room in your budget for a quality photographer.
Face to Face Meeting
This is so important. You want to make sure their personality meshes with yours. I like to meet potential couples for coffee whenever possible (or at the very least a FaceTime call). You do not want to spend your entire day with someone that you don’t like, even if their photographs are beautiful. And truthfully, photographers don’t want to spend an entire day with someone they don’t vibe with either. I half jokingly will tell couples over coffee that if they don’t like me then they shouldn’t hire me, but it is true. I will be by your side most if not all of the day and I want to make sure you have the absolute best time ever.
With the rise of social media and the decline of pricing for cameras there are a lot of “professional” photographers out there that have no business promoting themselves as professionals. I have seen a huge influx of people telling me things like: my photography backed out last minute, my photographer had an equipment malfunction and I never got my wedding photos, I paid my photographer a deposit and they ghosted me, my photographer never showed up for my wedding, my photographer’s pictures on Instagram looked great, but the ones they delivered to me look horrible, etc. It is unfortunate, but there are quite a few scammers out there (and not just wedding photographers, this also includes florists, DJs, bakers, etc.). Equipment every wedding photographer should have:
- Cameras: Should be at least two, full-frame camera bodies, that shoot to dual memory cards
- Lenses: Multiple lenses and backups
- Lighting: Lighting/flashes for both cameras plus a backup
- A professional website: If your photographer only has a Facebook page or Instagram account be very weary. Instagram photos are so small that it is impossible to tell if the photos are good.
- Reviews galore: You should be able to find reviews for them on Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you cannot find many or any reviews then you should be concerned.
Questions You Should Ask
In addition to the above list to vet your photographer, here are some other questions you need to ask:
- Can you show me a full wedding gallery?
- How long after the wedding will we receive our images?
- Do you have liability insurance?
- Are you licensed in (your state) as a business? (Ohioans: you can look this up here https://businesssearch.ohiosos.gov)
- What is your editing/touching up process?
- What do I need to do to official book you as my photographer? (retainer, contract, etc.)
- Do you have reviews from past couples?
Hiring a wedding photographer is a big decision for most couples and likely one of the bigger expenses. Take your time when selecting the best photographer to capture your wedding.