How to choose your wedding photographer, coming from a wedding photographer!
I feel like I am very capable of writing this post since I am engaged and currently looking for a wedding photographer myself. My fiancé asked me today, “I don’t even know how people choose a photographer if they don’t know what makes a photographer good.” So it made me start thinking, what is it that draws people to a photographer and what is it that SHOULD draw people to a photographer…….or, do they go hand in hand. And the truth is, they go hand in hand.
1. Attraction. Checking out the website will answer so many questions for you and that’s often where we begin our search for a wedding photographer. Photogs are obviously going to put their best work up on their website, why would they put up their so-so images. They are trying to get your business! As an engaged woman looking for a wedding photographer I want to see pictures that are pretty, vibrant, sexy, modern, classy! I want to see a hot bride and groom b/c that’s what they will make me look like, right!?!??! As a photographer I want to see sharp images that have been edited appropriately. I want the white balance on point, I want details of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g., and while I want details of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I also want the background blurred out (some killer bokeh). Makes sense right?!?!
My final suggestion: Every photographer has a specific “style”. So my best suggestion in picking your wedding photographer would be to compare your wedding style to the photographer’s style. Vintage, Rustic, Modern, Classy, Sexy, Gothic, Conservative, Alternative, etc. If your styles match up, chances are you like their photos, and chances are you would be a great fit for each other! To test this out further, book an engagement session with your photographer. A lot of photogs include these in their wedding package anyway and it will give you an opportunity to get to know them better and them get to know you and your photo preferences better.
2. Money. So this is typically the bottom line….how much? Are we talking $500 (too cheap so they must be bad photos?), $10,000 (too expensive so it must only be for the rich and famous?), we are a country who loves the “medium” option-not too big and not too small-and that is why many wedding photographers are typically around the $2,500-$5,000 range. We intrinsically place value on things we invest in, the more we invest the more we value it. So the $3,000-$4,000 option is usually a go! From my engaged point of view I would go somewhere around the $3,000 option but from my photographer point of view I wouldn’t hesitate to spend upwards of $8,000. As my realistic point of view comes into play here very quickly, $2,500 sounds really great!
My final suggestion: What are you are comfortable spending? How important is it to you to get incredible images of your wedding? Remember that you can spend thousands of dollars on flowers (that will die within days) and decorations (that you will throw away) but if you have a bad photographer, you may not have any decent images or any images at all of the beautiful details from your wedding 10 years from now. Your images will last forever, cheesy, but so incredibly true!
3. Inclusions. What do you get for this amount of money? Here is where I will input mainly my photographer voice. It is a digital world, everything is on computers & cell phones, meaning if you don’t get a disc with all your images in your package, run fast! These should be included in the total cost, always. This should not be an add on, if so, your photographer probably needs to update their price list to modern times. If you get a free album, free canvas, then fine…..it’s a good deal b/c the photogs usually sell these for upwards of $800. Remember though that if you get a disc of images, this won’t include any prints and you need to consider this in the price. If you get a copyright release then you can print wherever you want (Rule of thumb: do NOT print at any location you get newspaper ads for). Do some research first on where to get quality prints if you are going to print yourself.
My final suggestion: Make sure you get disc with images (pay attention to whether they are hi-resolution or low-resolution (high=bigger prints, low=social media pics), research where you can get quality prints, and use logic when comparing what you are getting compared to how much you’re paying.
I wish you much success in finding your wedding photographer! I am a wedding photographer based in Charlotte, NC. I would love to help you further in your journey to getting the best wedding photos ever, feel free to contact me anytime. If you would like to see my wedding gallery, please visit http://bethanyphalen.com/galleries/wedding/