Picking a photographer for your wedding can seem like a daunting task on the best of days. The prices seem exorbitant and yet everyone knows someone who went with a bargain photographer and ended up with terrible photos. You don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, but you also want to find someone who will deliver quality images that you will cherish for years to come. Take a deep breath and relax, it’s going to be okay. Here are 5 easy tips that will make finding the best photographer for you much easier.
1. Book your venue(s) first.
Before starting your search for a photographer, it’s very important to have your venue booked. Having an idea in mind of what you want your wedding to look like will help you figure out what style of photographer you’re most interested in. Venues tend to have lists of preferred vendors (Florists, DJ’s, Bakers, Planners, Event Staff, and yes, Photographers) who have worked there in the past. These lists can be a good place to start, as you can ask these photographers to see photos that they’ve taken at your venue previously.
2. Local professional associations are your friend.
Having booked your venue or venues, you’ll be able to look up wedding professionals associations local to that area. Wedding professional associations typically vet their members, so the quality tends to be higher than simply getting a list from your venue of vendors who have done work there in the past. Most associations will have a directory that lists a range of wedding professionals from photographers to florists who cater to a range of price points and creative styles. In Ann Arbor, Borrowed and Blue (link) not only has a directory, but annually gives out awards to vendors who have done outstanding work over the past year. These kind of awards can help you pick out the best vendors for whatever your price point is.
3. Look at tonnes of pictures.
Having booked your venue, and come up with an idea of what you want your photos to look like, go browse the portfolios of the vendors you found through the local wedding professionals association and preferred vendors list at your venue. When you see an image you like, try to describe what you like about it, look not only at the pose, but also the light, and the style of editing. See if you can come up with words that describe what you like about it (i.e. high/low contrast, golden light, soft or sharp backgrounds) to help tell the photographer what you want during a consultation. Browse pinterest, instagram, and google and search with hashtags and keywords (like wedding, wedding inspiration (weddinginspo), real wedding, and wedding photography) to browse a variety of styles. Save pictures you like and bring them to a consultation when you meet photographers you’re interested in.
4. Set a budget.
Think carefully about how much you have to spend and what exactly you want from your photographer. Are you looking for prints? An Album? Or maybe you want digital files and a print release. There are many options out there, and it’s important to consider what you’re most likely to look at and use over the years. Many photographers will also archive your photos, so if you have your heart set on a package you can’t afford now, you may be able to order extra prints or copies, or an album from them at a later date. If in doubt, compromise on a package, rather than a photographer, you can always order more prints, but the photos taken on a wedding day are what you have to work with. That said, it’s always a good idea to ask what their photo storage policies are to be safe.
5. Don’t be afraid to set up multiple consults.
I cannot overstate how important it is to have a good rapport with your photographer. You’re inviting them to your wedding after all! If you set up a consultation with a photographer who’s work you like, but you don’t jive with, you probably should take the time to consider other options. Trust your gut, particularly as you want someone you can trust not only to behave professionally on the day of your wedding, but who will go the extra mile to make your experience excellent every step of the way. That person will be easy to contact, responsive and helpful. They will make deliver your images on time it’s a good idea to meet