Have you done a recent Google or Facebook search for a local photographer? There are a ton of them out there! It’s awesome to have choices, but too many choices can quickly get overwhelming! No worries! I’m here to help narrow down your search dramatically! And hopefully keep the process as light and fun as possible.
But I can hear it now… “Narrow my search down dramatically, eh? You mean, narrow it down to hiring YOU!” Nope! In fact, you may not be my ideal client and you do NOT want to work with a photographer that doesn’t fit with your style (more on that later).
Real quick, here’s what you’ll figure out in this post (aside from the fact that I’m an awful writer)!
- Why picking the right photographer is so incredibly important!
- The REAL questions you need to be asking your wedding photographer.
- Figuring out your style!
- How not to be tricked by a photographer.
- Why you need to really, really, really like your photographer!
- Bonus: How to to figure out your photography budget.
Ready to go? Let’s do this!
Why picking the right photographer is so incredibly important!
Okay, if you’re getting married outdoors and having your final exit before the sun goes down, you’re going to have a lot more options open to you! But let me give you a universal truth: photographers need LIGHT to take photos. Deep, right? So get this: if you’re getting married in a dark church or going to have a reception past sun down, the photographer is going to need either a) really exensive equipment to deal with the low light and/or b) know how to deal with using a flash! If not, you’re going to get a lot of photos like below! More on this a bit later!
Take if from me; there’s a LOT of bad advice out there! Even from “reputable” wedding websites saying one of the best ways to save money is to hire a friend or college student to document your wedding day!
I have gotten several inquires from people who took that advice and regret it. They focused so much money on the venue and catering and live band that they didn’t have anything left over for the photographer. And now the day is over and the one person there to document it had no idea how to shoot in low light situations and they got a ton of crappy photos.
I speak from experience on this! Skip to 10 years and you’re having a conversation with your kids that look like this: “Our wedding was awesome! I know the photos don’t show it, but believe me… it was amazing!” <— exact convo that I’ve had with my kids.
So yes, the ONLY thing that survives past your wedding day is the photos (and video)!
The REAL questions you need to be asking…
I’ve sat in meetings where brides have pulled out a notebook to ask questions they think they’re supposed to ask a potential photographer. Instead of asking what type of equipment the photographer has (more than likely you wouldn’t understand the mumbo-jumbo that came of their mouth next), ask them “What is your philosophy when it comes to shooting weddings?”
Listen to what they have to say after that. If it resonates with you, you may be on the right track! If they say “It’s a hobby and I want some extra spending cash”, you may want to consider ending your meeting early.
By the way, most photographers will say something about capturing beauty and emotions. Dig deeper! In photographic terms, that’s a generic answer!
Great questions to ask:
- Who would you consider your ideal client? Hint: did they describe you? Or someone very different than you?
- Why did you get into photography?
- What’s your philosophy when it comes to shooting weddings?
- Do you have backup equipment? Hint: if they show up hoping their one camera body won’t have any problems during your once-in-a-lifetime event, this may be a problem.
- Can I see a full wedding you’ve shot? Hint: every photographer can shoot 1 or 2 great shots during a wedding they can put onto Instagram. How did they do with the other 99% of the wedding… especially when the sun went down and there was no natural light to work with?
Stick around till the end of this article and I’ll try to answer these questions from my perspective!
Here are some questions that you don’t need to bother asking:
- What type of equipment do you use? Hint: I’ve been to a few weddings where there’s a guest there that literally had better, more expensive equipment than me. But in all cases, my photos were better. Why? Because Gordon Ramsey could cook better than me with pans from Walmart than I could with the most expensive pans in the world. Besides, more than likely you’ll have no idea what mumbo-jumbo that came out of their mouth next. The only thing you need to be concerned about is the #4 question above.
- How long have you been in photography? Hint: I’ve known a lot of photographers with 1 to 2 years experience and a lot of hustle that are already amazing!
Figuring out your style!
This is a fun one! Question: are all artists the same? Nope! There are as many styles of art as stars in the sky. Why? Because they bring THEMSELVES to the canvas. It’s like they’re painting a part of their soul. Photographers are the same! Cool fact: when a photographer puts the camera to their eye, they document how they view the world. Each photographer brings their personality, their experiences, their worldview. They put a little bit of their heart and soul in every click of the shutter button. Their canvas is their camera. The world is their paint. In fact, that’s what photography means! Photo = Light, Graphy = Drawing. Photography means drawing with light! It’s an art form and you should not lump all photographers under one category — “wedding photographer”.
So… it may be your first wedding and it may be the first time you’ve even thought of this concept and frankly, you really don’t even know your own style. My suggestion: go on Instagram, find 5 photos that you love, study them, be honest with yourself and ask yourself “why do I love these photos.” If you could put a hashtag to describe what you want to communicate to the world with each of these photos, would would it be?
Is it: “#laughter” “#emotion” “#passion” “#posed” “#LookingAtTheCamera” “LookingAtEachOther” “#beauty” “#environment” “#woods” “#bigcity” “#sexy” “#calm” “#loud” “#moody” “#dark” “#light” “#traditional” “#spiritual” “#energetic” “#styled” “#flash” “#daring” “#editing” etc, etc, etc.
Having those words will be a big help to you. Those could be considered “keywords”. Let your ears perk up if the photographer that you’re talking to starts using these words!
It’s also good to know how “hands on” your photographer will be. Some document like a photographer on the sidelines of a football game. Very hands off. Totally photojournalistic. Others “direct” to the nth degree. I’m a hybrid of both. But if you don’t feel confident in front of the camera and would feel more comfortable with the photographer posing you, this may be a good question to ask. If you just want to have fun and let the photographer capture everything, then you don’t want them interrupting every 2 minutes putting you in different positions so they can get their shot. Be on the lookout for this! Are your favorite photos when the two of you are looking at the camera and smiling? Or are you drawn to the moments in between those posed shots where you interact with your person in a more natural way?
But just a word of caution: be careful with “trendy”. Remember that your wedding photographs are going to be shown for generations! Trendy styles can start looking outdated and unattractive really quickly. I’m not saying to go the boring and safe route. Just not so far in the artsy direction that you feel the photos won’t survive the test of time!
How not to be tricked by a photographer!
Can you believe that every photo that you’ve seen on this page is some of my WORST work!? Just kidding! Of course the photos I want to show you are some of my best work and also highlights what I want my brand to be known for.
But every photographer is “guilty” of this. We’re proud of some of our work more than other photos we’ve taken. I get it. It’s understandable. It’s what a portfolio is for, right?
There’s a saying that goes: a blind squirrel will still find a nut every once in a while. Same for photographers. You give even the most beginner photographer a camera that could literally take 2000+ images on one memory card, put them in easy conditions like a beautiful evening sun, two beautiful people with a great connection and I’m sure they could take a good shot or two.
Take the photo above as an example. Hannah and Tyler are amazing. They’re beautiful. They are absolutely crazy for each other. I shot a little over 2000 photos during their wedding. The chances are very much in my favor… I’m going to get some great shots!
That’s why it’s so important for you to check out an entire wedding that a photographer has shot. You want to know what percentage of shots are great! Is it 1 in 100? Or 9 out of every 10? Or are all of them good? How were the shots when the sun went down or they had terrible light to work in? I’ve shot at churches where it’s so dark, there is NO way someone with cheap camera could shoot it without a LOT of blurry photos.
When you get an understanding of how important your wedding is… this once in a lifetime event… an event that can’t be replicated… moments that can’t be recreated… you start understanding the importance of having someone there that knows what they’re doing!
Why you need to really, really, really like your photographer!
I tell this to my clients all the time… the wedding planner, photographer and videographer, you really need to get along with! Why? Because they’re the only vendors that will be with you longer than you’re with your fiancé on your wedding day!
The florist, caterer and cake maker can all be jerks but as long as they do incredible work and deliver on time, that’s about as much interaction you’ll have with them.
So get a photographer that you really like and trust! It’ll help you have a stress free, enjoyable wedding day!
How to to figure out your photography budget.
Did you know a lot of photographers will have their pricing posted on their website… or at least a starting price. Go around and get an idea of the cost that experienced photographers begin. This should give you an idea. I start at around $3,000 but believe me, if you want to find a photographer to shoot your wedding for $500, you’ll be able to find them. But do this only if you really like to gamble because you get what you pay for! Just be careful!
Like anything great, it’s worth investing in. If you’ve met with the photographer who is absolutely perfect for your wedding and personalities but they’re too expensive, ask if they would put you on a payment plan to break up payments into more manageable bites. This especially works if you have a year+ engagement and have time!
You did it! You stuck around and got to the end. I’m really impressed; as writing is not one of my strengths!
You remember the questions that I recommended you to ask your photographer? As promised, I’m going to answer them for you!
Who would you consider your ideal client?
I love clients who are completely crazy about each other! I mean, if the guy can’t contain his excitement about getting to marry THIS girl, I know I can create magic! If I ask about their story and they can sum it up without any excitement and in about two sentences, that’s a red flag to me. Also, if they have an incredible connection with each other and are excited to tell their story in front of the camera, that’s a great sign! If the guy couldn’t care less about photos and is going through the motions because his fiancé told him to and is just tolerating everything… that’s not ideal for me.
Young love is awesome. Or couples who still act like they’re newly in love work really well in front of my camera! I love capturing that energy!
Clients who want to tell their OWN story are awesome. They want authenticity, and try to avoid “fake” as much as possible. They’re less concerned with perfection (posed) and want more real life moments. They don’t want to try to replicate a bunch of poses they found on Pinterest. They don’t care of their hair isn’t perfect because of the wind as long as it captures an incredible moment!
Finally: they TRUST me!
I may add to this list, but what I mentioned above gets pretty close to my ideal client!
Why did you get into photography?
This actually gets pretty personal that I’d rather not talk about online… but I’d be more than happy to tell you all about it in person! Message me below and we can set up a time to meet!
What’s your philosophy when it comes to shooting weddings?
Dang, I really should figure out how to answer this question succinctly; it would probably make more impact! But let me try to explain! I’m not one of these photographers who makes you look at the camera a lot. I’m more into trying to capture the connection you have with each other. So during an engagement session, you’d probably look at the camera and smile once or twice. The rest of the time, we’re goofing off, having fun. I’m making you play weird games to make you both loosen up and laugh. Or asking you to reflect on your relationship to get some deeper, more emotional photos. But if I was going to make a sliding scale between goofy and serious, I’d be much closer to the goofy side than the serious.
And yes, I do group photos during a wedding! I do have people looking at the camera at weddings. In fact, I get a lot! I’m just not known for that. My clients hire me to be on the lookout for authentic moments rather than taking tons of posed photos.
Do you have backup equipment?
Yep. Lots. I’d be nervous not having backups!
Can I see a full wedding you’ve shot?
Just kidding! Of course, you can! Just use the contact form below and get in touch with me. I’d be happy to send you an entire wedding gallery!
I hope my input here has been helpful to you! If you’re still reading this and you think we may be a great fit, just shoot me an email and we can meet up. You can tell me your story and I can tell you mine… and show you a few cool albums in the process!