As a wedding photographer, I see emails or posts like this ALL the time:
“How much do you charge? “Looking for a cheap photographer…” “My friend has a camera so I’m just going to have them take my wedding pictures.” “I’m just going to hire someone cheaper than you, that’s too much for ‘just‘ pictures.”
Although it may seem like a logical place to start, price shopping and comparison is the WORST way to find your dream wedding photographer, so I’m going to share 5 questions that engaged couples SHOULD be asking instead.
Imagine this scenario: You find someone on Facebook who says they can photograph your wedding for $500, and you think, GREAT! I’m going to SAVE so much money for my wedding budget! Then comes the wedding day, and your reception is indoors with low lighting. When you get your wedding gallery back weeks later, you discover they didn’t know how to use the flash properly and your reception photos are dark or completely blown out.
What you originally thought was a great deal ended up being a HUGE waste of money!
Now, what should have been a collection of images that you and your spouse, family, and friends could look back on for years, is time and money you will never get back.
I don’t want this to happen to you.
I want to empower engaged couples to make a confident and informed decision on a photographer they’ll be happy with! So here are 5 great questions to help you find your DREAM wedding photographer and know that you’re making an investment that is more than worth it.
5 questions you should ask to find your DREAM wedding photographer:
number 1: Do they have a professional website, reviews, and a variety of content online where you can see their work?
A true professional will have their own website where potential clients can find more information about who they are and the services they offer, and a look at their site will also give you a sneak peek at their photography! You’ll want to read the reviews previous clients left them, whether that’s via Google Reviews or through other sites like Facebook, The Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. Following a potential wedding photographer on social media is probably the BEST way to see recent content! Making sure you find someone legit that others in your area have had a positive experience with and images you like is your first priority.
number 2: Do they have a consistent editing style that you could pick out while scrolling on Instagram?
Are there accounts you follow where as SOON as you see the image, you KNOW whose it is, even if you don’t see the name of who posted it? That’s what you should recognize about your dream wedding photographer! While most people think of “bright and airy” or “moody and dark” as the main editing styles, that’s not the only thing to look for.
- Crop: Does the photographer have mainly close up or far away photos (or a good mix of both)?
- Color/hue: Does the photographer generally have warmer or cooler edits?
- Saturation: Do the photos look very bold and saturated, or slightly desaturated, which might give more of a vintage look?
When you look at their Instagram feed, you should be able to notice consistency in their editing style. If you hire an amateur who is not skilled at editing, you risk getting back a wedding gallery that looks like it’s been edited by several different people, and no one wants that! You want to look through your wedding gallery and know that your photographer can achieve consistently high-quality edits.
number 3: Are you and your dream photographer a good fit?
Opposites attract, but not necessarily for photographers and clients. Let’s say a very soft-spoken, traditional bride hires a very loudmouthed, speaks-her-mind type of photographer, and come wedding day the photographer starts making comments or jokes that the bride (and her family) consider to be crass or unprofessional. The bride may feel uncomfortable on her wedding day or the family may not like that. The wrong fit can definitely cause some awkward moments that can negatively affect the wedding photography experience for both parties.
So how can you figure out if you’ll be a good fit, even before meeting them?
- Visit their website and find their About me and Values sections
- Follow them on social media and read their captions to see if they really resonate with you
- Schedule a phone, virtual, or in person consultation and talk to them one-on-one to find out if they’re a good fit
It’s SO important that you find a photographer who you really mesh with, so the wedding couple can feel free to be fully themselves, and the photographer can also be herself on wedding day.
number 4: What kind of professional gear and experience do they have?
Here’s what most professional wedding photographers are packing:
- A full-frame camera (or 2)
- A variety of lenses (a portrait lens, a telephoto/zoom lens for long distances, and maybe a macro lens for detail photos – preference varies by photographer, but most carry at least 2 with them)
- Flash equipment and PROOF they can take good flash photos!
You should also ask how many weddings they’ve photographed – they should have photographed at least 10 weddings, and some on their own as the main photographer.
Your dream photographer will have professional gear and experience to back up their reviews, consistent editing and will be a great fit for your personality! Now for the fifth and final question…
number 5: What packages do they offer?
At this point, if your potential dream photographer fits the first four criteria and you are in LOVE with their work, it’s time to ask about their packages (note: I’m still not saying price!). A dollar value can’t possibly describe the VALUE of the overall experience you’ll get.
Most photographers have various packages to suit different budgets and wedding types. Here’s what the cost of wedding photography might include beyond just the number (these will vary from one professional to another – I include all of these in my packages)!
- Hours of event photography
- Editing time (an additional several hours to go through 1000+ photos)
- Digital images
- Prints, albums, and more
- Time spent preparing albums
- Shipping client products
- An engagement session
- A second photographer
- Client gifts
When you hire a professional, you can expect a wonderful EXPERIENCE before, during, and after your wedding day, to be treated like a queen, and for every part of your photography to be as enjoyable as possible!
“A photographer’s package is $2,000, and I only want to spend $1,000 on my wedding photography. Can’t I just ask them to take half off and only work for half the hours?”
You might think you’re getting an awesome deal if your photographer agrees to do this, but what actually happens is that you are cheapening the experience when you do this. When you ask for a huge discount, you’re NOT going to get that 5-star experience you read about online from the reviews, and it also takes away from the photographer’s livelihood.
Remember, after your wedding day, all you will have are your wedding rings and your PHOTOS. When you pick the right photographer, you’ll find that it’s about getting the best ratio of quality and experience, not dollars and cents.
I hope that this advice helps you to find a photographer within a fair budget that you’ll be GLAD you spent the money on!
PS – I’ve still got available dates for 2020 and 2021! I’m based in Louisville, KY, and I love traveling for destination weddings and elopements! Click here to visit my website for more info, and sign up for my email list below if you’d like to hear more from me.