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The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Wedding Photographer

Welcome back to another round of Wedding Wednesday, babes! Today I’m curating a list of tips and tricks for you lovelies who are planning your wedding.

Maybe you just got engaged yesterday; maybe you’ve had that ring on your finger for a year or so. Either way, YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!! One of the most important aspects of your wedding day will be the vendors you choose. I’m not saying this because I’m biased, but potentially the most important vendor is your photographer. But how do you know which one is the best fit for you? You came to the right place, because I’m going to tell you just how to find your perfect ‘tog.

Step 1: Have in mind a style of photography you like. If you’re into the Dark & Moody vibes, reach out to photographers who edit in that style. Wedding Photography is an art form, and the editing style is the artist’s signature. Don’t ask someone with a bright/airy style to edit dark/moody and vice versa.

Step 2: Talk with your fiancé about a budget you want to stick to. According to WeddingWire, the average cost for Wedding Photography comes in at $2,000 with most couples spending between $1,150 – $3,000 for their day. Prices will vary based on your area and the amount of experience the photographer has. When you inquire with your potential photographer make sure to ask what is included in the package cost, such as an engagement session, albums, print credit, a second shooter, travel fees, etc.

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Step 3: Meet up with your vendors! I can’t stress how important this step is. You need to know if you’re going to mesh well personality wise with your photographer. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together throughout the journey. Can you imagine spending 8-12 hours with someone you can’t stand? If you can’t meet up in person, there’s always FaceTime or something similar. The benefit of getting to know each other over coffee or cocktails is that by the time your wedding day rolls around, it’ll be like you’re friends! You and your fiancé will also be more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.

Step 4: Have a list of questions to ask during the consultation. I know we’ve all seen the lists floating around Pinterest and other wedding blogs, but as someone who does this kind of thing full time (and has for almost 9 years), here are a few questions that you need to ask:
-Is there a contract required to book our date?
-What is your retainer/payment options?
-Do you have insurance?
-What happens in the event that you can’t make it to my event? Has this ever happened?
-Am I allowed to have another photographer other than you on my wedding day?
-What is your turnaround time like?
-How do you go about a wedding day?
-Can we see full galleries from weddings you’ve done before? **This one may be one of the most important ones. You need to know that your photographer has experience with different lighting situations and handles them well. Not every image from a wedding makes it onto their portfolio. Some websites (like my own) don’t showcase flash photography if the photographer specializes in natural light. But that doesn’t mean that photographer shouldn’t know how to use it, especially when it comes to receptions.
-Have you ever worked at my venue before? Sidenote: if the answer is no, that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Experienced wedding photographers adapt easily to new places and typically love shooting somewhere new.

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Step 5: After meeting up with them and asking for full galleries, go through them! There’s no shame in stalking a photographer’s work, especially if it’s someone you’re considering spending a good chunk of change on. Read their blogs, follow them on Instagram; get to know their work and their personality.

Step 6: BOOK THEM! Yay! You found a photographer you jive with and has a style you love. Professional photographers will require some sort of retainer (generally a percentage of the total and non-refundable) to make it official with the remaining balance due about a month or two out from the wedding day.

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Now that we’ve walked through that bit of fun, I want to share a few red flags that you should be aware of during the process. Unfortunately, not all photographers are professional. Photo theft is real, and I’m sure you’ve heard one of those stories on the news about a wedding couple left devastated with nothing after their photographer blocked them, stole their money, and left town. Here’s some things to watch out for:

Red Flag 1: The only work they have showcased is styled. Why is that a bad thing? That means they likely haven’t photographed an actual wedding. Weddings are fast paced, stressful, and generally don’t have the perfect lighting/stylized details like would be found in a styled shoot. This is why it’s important to ask for full galleries.

Red Flag 2: They refuse to share full galleries. This ties in to the above red flag. If they can’t showcase full wedding days, you really have no idea what you’re getting into.

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Red Flag 3: Tons of bad reviews. It can be normal to have one or two reviews that aren’t the perfect 5 stars. We’re all human and nothing is ever perfect, right? It’s another thing altogether when most of the reviews are negative. Make sure to thoroughly vet your photographer. Check Facebook, The Knot, WeddingWire, and sometimes even the BBB. If there are no reviews in any of those places, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from past clients.

Red Flag 4: Inconsistent editing. This can mean several things: a) The photographer doesn’t have a set style, which could mean your full gallery won’t be cohesive; b) the photographer isn’t sure how to edit properly; or, c) the images are stolen.

Red Flag 5: Lack of professionalism/being invested. You want someone who is excited to meet you, work with you, and make sure you’re taken care of. This could be how they dress, how they communicate, or how they work. It’s sad, but I recently booked a client who said over their months of researching vendors, I was the first person to seem to actually care about their love story; I viewed them as people, not a paycheck.

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Red Flag 6: No contract. Contracts protect not only you as a client, but the photographer as well.

Red Flag 7: Packages that include everything under the sun for a low price. We all know the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Quality over quantity is what’s important when it comes to photography. Photographers running a legitimate business won’t be offering all day coverage, 2 shooters, canvases, print credits, albums, and extra sessions for $1,000 or less. It doesn’t make sense and there’s no way their business can thrive. This is also a sign that the quality of work/products aren’t great either.

Red Flag 8: No sales tax. While it may seem like you’re getting a discount by not having to pay taxes, it just means your photographer isn’t running a legitimate, LEGAL business.

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Woo! That was a lot. Thank you for hanging in there. I hope this has been helpful for you Brides and Grooms-To-Be!

Think we’d be a good fit? Click here to set up a meeting 😉

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