Ten tips for hiring the best wedding photographer.
Wedding photography ranges widely in style, approach and budget; how do you sort through the options and find one photographer that fits your style and personality while still meeting your expectations? We have some valuable tips to help you make that decision. Having met with thousands of couples over the years, we know what the right questions are to ask. Here are ten tips for hiring the best wedding photographer:
- Pay attention to how you feel when looking at the photography. Having a genuine emotional response to the photographs you see in a wedding photographer’s portfolio is a clue that you adore their work and will likely adore the photos they produce from your wedding. Pay attention to how you feel when looking through the images.
- See beyond the website. It’s easy to put together a great website these days. The website is only a shell for the work, so try to see past all the bells and whistles and just look at the photography. Photographers put their best work on their website, but you’ll want to dig deeper. Remember- it’s the photos you’ll be walking away with, not a website.
- See beyond the album. I’ll say the same about albums here that goes for websites. You’re hiring a photographer for their photography, not the products they offer. If you love a particular album, but the wedding photographer you love does not offer this album, ask if they would be willing to work with you to get that album. Most photographers welcome these kinds of suggestions to broaden their product lines.
- Ask to see an entire wedding- even better- one from your venue. Photographers always put their best work on their website gallery, but you want to be sure that you're getting solid coverage throughout the day -especially if you have a dark ceremony or reception site. If the photographer shows a lot of photos from sunny, outdoor weddings, you’ll want to see how they perform in low light situations. Be sure that the weddings you see are from real weddings, not styled shoots. Weddings happen in the real world where weather, light and timing is not always ideal. Working with models and unlimited time is much easier than real weddings. Most of your reception is likely to be in the dark, you’ll need someone who can handle it. Talk to the photographer about how they handle low light situations. You won't want to miss those important photos!
- Personality matters. As wedding photographers, we are with you from the moment you get dressed to the end of the night when you are sweaty and dancing with your guests. Think about this when you meet with potential photographers. Is this someone who will fit in at my wedding? Is this someone I will enjoy being around on my wedding day? How do I think they will interact with my family? You’ll want someone you think is a good personality fit for your wedding.
- Seek out referrals. It’s hard to know what referrals to trust, so be sure to consider the source. Word of mouth is best, and knowing someone who can speak to their experience with a wedding photographer is invaluable. Venues sometimes require that wedding professionals buy paid advertising to get referrals, a practice that lacks authenticity. Look for a personal recommendation from the venue manager. Planners and coordinators tend to work with favorites, but they often have a familiarity with a wide variety of photographer’s work so don’t be afraid to ask. Hearing good things from a few different sources is great and if the wedding photographer has a good reputation in the industry, you will know by talking to other professionals. Ask your florist for a recommendation for a wedding photographer or your wedding photographer for a hair and make-up team.
- Use good sense when looking at online reviews. Websites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Yelp and Facebook can give you sense of what other couples are saying about a wedding photographer, but keep in mind that you are getting responses from the entire population of the internet. You can usually figure out the ones that lack credibility as opposed to authentic reviews, but if there are whole pages of bad reviews, you might want to take that into consideration. Look for an over-riding positive review of the wedding photographer, taking into consideration that it is the internet.
- Interview a minimum of three photographers. Even if you absolutely fall in love with the first photographer you interview, don’t hire them until you’ve met with two others. If you still love that first photographer, you’ll be even more certain after you’ve met with others. We like to call this the “House Hunters” rule. You’ll feel more certain about your choice when you know you gathered all the best information.
- Review the contract and policies with your photographer. Ask to see a copy of the contract after your meeting. Do they have their policies written down? If so, pour through this information to be sure you understand everything. Ask a lot of questions about anything you don't understand. Anything look like a deal breaker for you? Talk to them about it. Most times, they can explain the reasoning behind a policy and they might even be willing to negotiate if they really want to work with you.
- All things equal? Go with your gut! If you’re lucky enough to find two that you can’t choose from, go with your instincts.