Choosing a wedding photographer should be a fun process. It’s a chance to browse beautiful wedding photos and envision what your day might look like! However, in reality, it’s often not as leisurely as that. There are a million wedding photographers out there showing off their awesome work, and how on earth are you expected to sift through them all and choose the perfect one for your special day?!
Here are the 3 key steps in choosing your wedding photographer:
1. You have to LOVE their images!
I write the word “love” in capitals to stress it’s importance. This step is the number one most important of all. These photos are going to be keepsakes forever. They are going to be shown to your children, and passed down to your children’s children.
A photographer’s images are a good way to see a bit of their personality, and of course their skill. Use Instagram and Facebook, do a Google Search for local wedding photographers, check websites, even Pinterest. You’ll come to find that there will be a particular style you like whether it be bright and airy, dark and moody, boho, natural or cinematic. You also might prefer images that are romantic, candid, funny, traditional or even staged, theatrical style photos (really there’s something for everyone!).
Wedding photography is an art form and these pictures will more than likely be hung on your walls at home, just like art. Wedding photographers take a lot of pride in their work and their own unique style. Don’t ask a photographer to change their style for you, find one that already offers what you want. Once you’ve figured out your desired style, choose 10-20 photographers who’s photos you absolutely love.
Ask any wedding photographers you’re in touch with to see a full wedding gallery. This way you know that they’re not just presenting their best stuff on Instagram. A full gallery will give you a proper feel for what your final wedding gallery will look like.
2. Budgeting for your wedding photographer
The next step is cutting down your choices to just two or three. Initially you’ll need to contact your chosen photographers to find out if they’re available on your date.
Once you’ve done this you’ll need to look at your budget. Everyone has different priorities for their wedding, and so you have to consider what percentage chunk of your budget you’re happy to spend on photography (see below a VERY SEXY pie chart with an example of how to split your budget – feel free to make your own here).
Like I said before, your wedding photos are going to be keepsakes forever. Having a reasonable budget to get the wedding photographer you want is really important. It might mean you’ll have to save up for a little longer or cut back on the number of meals out or coffees you’re having per day. But once you receive your beautiful images encased in a hand-constructed, Italian silk bound wedding album, you will be so glad you spent that bit extra!
What is a wedding photographer worth?
Whether you consider a photographer to be too cheap, or too expensive, in reality it’s all relative, and your expectations are all that really matter. Do you want to spend $2000 on a second hand car or $100,000 on the latest Jaguar XF? For wedding photography, some people want to spend $500 and others will have put aside $50k (seriously!). Really, you decide the value. To some couples it not that important, and to others it means the whole world. As a bit of a guideline, I charge $1800 for my small elopement package, and $5900 for my all-in full shabang package. That’s a pretty huge price range! I always create specific packages for my couples based on their needs and their budget.
*Something to note* – Wedding photographers are creatives, and completely unique individuals. You’ll never find two photographers producing exactly the same work. Remember that you’re not just paying for the pictures you get at the end. You’re paying for their time, energy, expertise and creative eye, and everything that goes on behind the scenes!
Once you’ve settled on what you expect from your wedding photographer, and how much importance you give to your final wedding photos, then you’ll know roughly how much you want to spend. Find someone who is within your price range, and be willing to budge a little if you really want them. If you can see their skill and talent, just know that they will charge accordingly. For most people getting married is a once in a lifetime event, and you will be able to relive that special day over and over again with the help of your chosen wedding photographer.
3. Meeting you wedding photographer
By this time you should’ve whittled down your options to just a couple of wedding photographers. They have to create work that you love, be available on your date, and roughly within your budget. But there’s one final step before you lock them in for your date….
Most wedding photographers will offer an in-person or Skype meeting before any money is exchanged. I recommend that you value this step highly when choosing your wedding photographer. I personally always offer an in-person meeting unless the couple aren’t based in South Australia. The first meeting is the perfect opportunity for both you and the photographer to suss out if you’re the right match to work together.
Of all your wedding vendors, you will spend the most time with your photographer on your wedding day, so you need to like them! Use the first meeting as a opportunity to get to know them on a personal level. Ask them questions about their life and past wedding experiences. It’s a chance for you to build trust and gain reassurance that they can do the job you’re paying them to do to a high standard. In return, the photographer will be gaging whether they connect with you, and that they will be able to meet your expectations.
Don’t sign anything unless you’re 100% happy!
This is a key step in making the final decision of who to go with, but don’t feel the need to sign your wedding away on the spot. My process is to let you leave our meeting and have a final think about whether I’m the right photographer for you. I’ll send you a digital copy of my agreement and invoice to look over in your own time. No pressure. No fuss. It’s ultimately your special day and your hard earned money, so – unless I feel I can’t meet your expectations – YOU make the final call!
Choosing your wedding photographer doesn’t have to be stressful. You just need a bit of patience, and to commit a bit of time to the process. If your wedding is a year or two away, just browse Instagram or Google now and again and look through some wedding images. Let it be like going to an art gallery and admiring beautiful works. It’s an opportunity for you to dream up how you want your wedding to look! Once you’ve found a style you like, search “(Location) wedding photographer”, to find photographers in your area. Get in touch with them and see if their pricing fits within your budget. And lastly, ask them to meet up so you can choose a wedding photographer whose personality you love!
Take your time, and make the most of the experience. Your wedding doesn’t start on the day you get married, it begins from the moment you start planning your special day, so soak it all up!
If you’re considering me as your wedding photographer please fill in my wedding photography questionnaire and I’ll get back to you within 48 hours.