Let's face it, wedding planning can be EXHAUSTING. When planning my own wedding, I found it to be so exhausting that we ran away and eloped. There are so many options out there and knowing what to look for is key! Here are 4 simple steps to finding the perfect photographer for you.
Tell me everything, dahling!
STEP 1: Check out that sweet, sweet website. A great photographer's website will tell you most of what you need to know. You can see the quality of their work and to see if their rates align with your budget. It is also helpful (but not required) to have a basic idea of the style of photography you like before checking out photographers. There are a ton of different styles out there: light and airy, dark and moody, documentary etc... Having a basic idea can certainly help you narrow it down but you can also use your website exploring time to figure out what kind of style speaks to you! I consider my style to be "Vibrant and Moody" as I love bright colors but I also love capturing dramatic, emotive moments. Every photographer has a different style though, so it is important to get a photographer who already shoots in the style you're looking for. You should never hire a "Light and Airy" photographer but expect your pictures to be dark and moody, I promise you'll be disappointed. Instead, hire a dark and moody photographer.
Pro Tip: Check out your photographer's business Instagram and Facebook page too! These sites are typically updated more frequently than websites.
Once you've found a photographer who shoots in the style you like, it's time to do a little research.
STEP 2: Check out their reviews/Get some referrals. This is an important step. Don't skip it. Again, a photographer's website is going to have MOST of the info you need but unfortunately, there are some really unscrupulous jerks out there who will put photos that do not belong to them on their websites and others who have been known to "take the money and run". It sucks, but doing your due diligence and researching your photographer is a great way to protect yourself. Read all their reviews and decide for yourself if you would like to proceed to the next step. A referral from someone you know and trust is also considered a review! First hand accounts of how your photographer works, communicates and performs is great information to have!
Pro Tip: Yelp, Facebook, Google and wedding websites are all great places to check out reviews.
Get really... familiar with your photographer
STEP 3: Meet them in person! This is also SUPER important. You and your photographer should totally dig each other's vibe. Your wedding day is so important and your photographer will see you in some really intimate and vulnerable moments. I mean, do you have any idea how many of my bride's bare butts and boobies I've seen? Like, a LOT. Your photographer's personality should put you at ease, make you feel confident and protected all at once! If you are getting the feeling AT ALL that your photographer doesn't respect you or care about you, they are not the photographer for you! Now, sometimes meeting your photographer isn't possible. I had a destination elopement and I wasn't able to meet my amazing photographer ahead of time. You know what I did do though? I checked out her social media (Love ya, Jaz!). From her social media I learned that she has a bunch of tattoos (like me!), has a gorgeous pitbull (like me!) and can swear like a sailor (holy shitballs, just like me!!). From what I gathered from her online presence I had a sneaking suspicion that we would get along famously and from her website, rates and reviews that she would be the perfect photographer for me.
AND SHE WAS.
There is a massive "wedding photographer's questionnaire" floating around the internet and I've had a few couples bring it in tow to our meet and greet. Years ago one of my prospective brides was going through the list and about halfway thru she got to the question "Can you please list all of the gear you will be using at my wedding?" I rattled off my list of camera bodies, lenses, strobes and power packs as she stared at me. When I paused she looked at me and chuckled "I'm really not sure what any of that stuff is or why I'm supposed to care!?!" We had a good laugh about it but here's the thing.... you don't have to know or care about every single piece of your photographer's gear. That question was designed to help couples weed out the pros from the amateurs. Ya know, to make sure that we aren't attempting to shoot a wedding on our cell phones. I am not at all saying that you shouldn't have questions prepared. You should! Ask as many questions as you want but in my opinion, here are the two questions that REALLY matter.
Are you a licensed business?
Do you have business insurance?
If those answers aren't "yes" and "hell yes", this is not the photographer you're looking for.
We're almost to the finish line! Just one more VERY important step!
STEP 4: Read your contract, read your contract, read your contract. Once more in case you missed it, READ YOUR FREAKING CONTRACT. Seriously. Read it like, 10 times before you sign it. Ask questions! Don't be shy! I love it when my couples ask questions because it means that they READ THEIR CONTRACT! Your contract serves to protect both you and your photographer. Your contract should cover everything from the hours your photographer will be working, to how many pictures you can expect to how and where your photographs will be shared. I've heard some horror stories of brides who paid out the wazoo for their photographer and then only received 100 photos from a full day of shooting. I've also heard of brides waiting months and months and months to see their pictures. To both of those things I ask, what does your contract say? If for some reason that information isn't in your contract, ask for it to be! Any photographer worth their salt knows about how many pictures they can produce and how long it will take them to get edited. If they don't know, don't sign and keep looking. If everything looks great and you feel awesome about it, congratulations. You've found what you're looking for!!!