There are so many factors that go into planning your wedding. Budget, style, taste, and preference are all monumentally important for food, decor, venue, etc. It can be exhausting just to think about! When it comes to choosing a photographer however, the process is a fun one. While there are even more components at play when choosing, photography is arguably one of the most important parts of your day and wedding photographers can become an invaluable source of calm and organization day of.
Once your wedding is all over, the cake has been eaten, and you’re all nursing your hangovers, all you will have left is the photos. They will be what you show friends and family who couldn't attend and, in the future, your kids or other new family members.
So how do you want your day to look? How do you want it to feel? Which parts/moments are the very MOST important to you? Those are the types of in-depth questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a photographer. Obviously liking their style is the first component, but once you have a few artists in mind there are more factors at play.
Nothing is better than a word-of-mouth referral, except maybe a referral from tens and potentially hundreds of people. Sites like Yelp, The Knot, Wedding Wire, and even Facebook allow you the chance to take a peek at tons of in person reviews from past clients. Sometimes you're even able see examples of the work the photographer provided for them. It's also nice to see a wide array of reviews for a business that came from over time instead of five or so of the best/most recent the vendor may have posted on their website. People also get very specific in their personal reviews, especially when reviewing the service for an event as special as a wedding, so that gives you great insight into lots of different aspects of their service. Look for keywords and things you except from your photographer as well as any issues or poor reviews and how the vendor handled them.
There're so many different styles of photography, you want to make sure your photographer shoots in a way that lends to your appreciation of the photos. Do you love candid photos where no one is looking at the camera? Do you love beautiful landscape photos that don't miss a single detail in the backdrop? Are you adamant about having only posed photos that look perfect from every angle with nothing left to chance? Maybe you want your entire portfolio in black-and-white, maybe you wanted to look like film, maybe you want a more light and airy modern approach, maybe dramatic reception lighting is a must. No matter how much you may like them as a person or how great the reviews they may have, you absolutely will not love your photos if you don't like the style they consistently put out. Make sure not to just jump into booking the "best photographer" out there because they maybe not be the best for you.
Many photographers post wonderful examples and galleries of their work across multiple modes of social media. It's difficult however to see an entire day of photography and only 50-100 images. You want to try and see everything from the getting ready photos to the last dance. All of the changes in light and all of the different moments on a wedding day require planning and expert adaptation by your photographer. You want to know that they are equally as good at capturing photos in the evening Shade as they are in patchy light and dark reception areas. There's nothing wrong with asking for a bit more in-depth look at their portfolio.
After you've gone through all of the logistics, this is one of the most important factors for your day. Wedding days, while incredible and life changing, can also be incredibly stressful for you and your close family and friends. You would never invite someone you don't get along with to the wedding, and that goes for vendors as well; especially for the photographer. They are going to be in your space, in your life, and they'll be paparazzi-style photographing you all day long. You want them to ease your tension, and make you comfortable, fit in with your crew, and lend to the beautiful wedding day experience as opposed to taking away from it. When you get together for your consultation, ask yourself if this is someone you could spend an entire day with. Are they personable enough to deal with overbearing parents and wild bridal parties? Will they be able to work with the kids in your wedding? Do they seem patient and calm? Sometimes people can create beautiful art that you admire, but they just won't fit in with the day you've dreamed of and that's ok. You want someone who will help you bring out all the fun of your day and capture it perfectly!
Obviously budget is one of the main contributors when it comes to planning a wedding. If you've gone through all four of the categories above and in the end you are attached at the hip to your photographer, it will absolutely be worth it to invest in them. Remember, photographers and other vendors charge premium rates for wedding photography services because of the planning, skill set, and requirements of the day. We've invested a lot in learning about different types and styled of weddings, learning how to shoot correctly to give you everything you want throughout the day, functioning professionally and comfortably with other vendors, dealing with the stressful family situations or weather mishaps, and just about everything in between. You very rarely find a high-end/high-priced photographer whose clients don't gush about them being worth every penny. There's a reason people pay the rates that they do and there's a reason photographers charge them. Make sure you're not only comfortable with all of the stylistic qualifications, but happy with the amount of money you'll spend on keepsake photos that will last the rest of your life and beyond. This is one industry where the adage "you get what you pay for" absolutely holds up.