Oh crap. Choosing the best photographer for your wedding

The most important decision of your life. Don’t f*ck it up.

Just kidding.

One of the most frequent posts I see from the newly engaged bride-to-be is something along the lines of, “I need a photographer! Preferably one that is under $XXXX!”

Look girl, I get it. It’s why I shop on Amazon, or why I look things up on Amazon while I’m at Target. It’s why Aldi is my jam. And I’ve never planned a wedding. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you don’t (hello, Etsy).

There’s so many decisions to make while you’re planning a wedding – but the good news is you already made the most important one. So now it’s time to find out what’s most important to you. Decide what part of getting married is the most important to you and start there. And if it’s photography, start here.

Style. Above all, you should decide what type of photographer you prefer. Decide what style of photographer you want. Decide what type of photography speaks to you. Light, airy, pastels? Dark and moody? Find photographs that you really love and figure out what you like about them. Pinterest is a good place to start, but don’t hang too long. And remember Pinterest is filled with styled shoots which may not be realistic.

Do you prefer a photographer that shoots primarily candid and emotionally with a journalistic feel? Or one that shoots mostly posed, pretty portraiture? The former focuses more on observing moments, being unobtrusive, and shooting moments one wouldn’t normally notice. You’ll find photos that you don’t know were taken, and moments captured that you forgot about. Photographers that focus on portraiture will shoot primarily posed photos, lots of smiling directly into the camera. This is not to say that photographers who prefer a journalistic/candid approach don’t get the posed photos as well. But it’s important to look at where their passion (as well as their strengths) lie.

In addition to their shooting style, consider what type of editing you prefer. Light, bright and airy made popular by Jose Villa, or dark and moody, which Gabe McClintock has perfected? Muted tones, or vibrant and bright?

Consider several photographers. Look at a lot, and start narrowing your choices down based on what you’re drawn to. Find photographers that you like, whose work speaks to you, and think about what draws you to their photographs. What does their work make you feel? At the end of the day, when you’re looking at your photos in 10 years, what do you want to see? What do you want to feel?

Personality. This one and style tie for most important. The one thing I tell all my clients is if you feel uncomfortable, you’ll be able to tell. Your photographer is there the entire day, and has the most interaction with you personally. She/he will be your go-to, your my-mom-is-pissing-me-off-get-her-away-from-me friend, your hair-fixing, veil-straightening attendant at all times, because their mind is on a few things: your mood, your hair, the sun, and what TIME IT IS. Find someone you get along with, because someone you can be the most emotionally open around, be yourself with and be vulnerable around is going to give you the photographs that make you feel something. You should feel completely yourself and at ease.

Being in front of the camera is always awkward. But your photographer should put you at ease, make you laugh, and make you feel comfortable.

This is why I always recommend meeting your photographer in person prior to booking, and doing an engagement session. Your engagement session is a good indicator of how your wedding day will go. It’s a good idea of how you and your spouse will interact and respond to the photographer. You’ll be able to gauge how comfortable you are interacting with each other and being yourselves around the person you’ve chosen to capture a very important day. And if you don’t like your engagement photos, or don’t feel comfortable, SPEAK UP! We would rather you be happy with your photographs.

Experience. Yes, experience is important. A good photographer should be able to produce the same skill level of work in different conditions. Many people can take a beautiful photograph when the light is perfect, and the moment is right. But a good photographer should also be able to create and find those moments that are beautiful.

Weddings are also high pressure situations. The day goes very quickly, and photographers must make do with the time, light, venue and subjects they’re given. Sometimes moments have to be created.

Photography isn’t easy. It’s hard to understand, and even harder to execute. It takes an understanding of light, equipment and people. It isn’t just snapping a photo and putting a pretty filter on it.

Professionalism. The other part of working a wedding is the ability to be professional, to know how to handle people, anticipate and be inconspicuous and discreet. To capture the highlights and meaningful moments of the wedding without getting in the way, or drawing attention to themselves. There’s a lot of people-wrangling involved, and the ability to take control and get along with people goes a long way in keeping everyone happy.

Do they have a contract for you to sign? Legal stuff, ugh. Its a PITA. But ultimately it’s there to protect you. And signing a contract with a photographer defines expectations. There are no grey areas when it comes to what’s expected and your photographer is held to the standard you’ve hired them for.

And speak up! Your photographer wants to know how she can make your life easier. It’s so important for me that my couple not worry about drama or logistics and just enjoy the day as much as possible. So if i need to creatively intercept your mother every time she heads for you, then that’s my job.

It’s a balance, between being a creative dreamer, and a professional, controlled, boss-lady. 

Happy hunting! And as always email me with questions!!

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