I am new to this whole wedding business. I am writing this piece today to offer my advice based on my own experience in hiring a wedding photographer. Wedding photography is one of my biggest priorities on my wedding day (other than marrying the man of my dreams and having a great time of course!) On my wedding day, I know that I don’t want to have to think about what my wedding photographer is doing. I want to be able to live in the moment of my day and focus on living the memories that I am creating.
As a photographer, I know the value behind having beautiful lasting images that will last for generations to come. I want my great-grand kids to be able to look at our pictures and feel the emotion behind the day and to be able to see just how much love their ol’ great grandparents had for each other, even so long ago. Having been in a number of weddings, attended two handfuls more, and photographed along the way, I have seen first hand the impact that a photographer can have on the day.
Good photographers help control the flow of the day. Good photographers help create peace of mind and make the bride and groom feel comfortable. Good photographers are aware of family dynamics, must have shots, understand their equipment, have back up equipment just in case, know how to utilize available light and fill flash, and capture key moments during the day. Great photographers are personable, interactive, creative, responsive, multi-talented (think- know how to bustle a dress, provide you with bridal resources and recommendations, etc.) and are fun to be around. Great photographers invest in their education, talent and equipment.
Here are my main pieces of advice:
Employ the Rule of 3: Contact the top 3 photographers whose style you are visually drawn to.
Photography is about images right? You want to choose a photographer who captures moments the way you like to view them. Do you like more formally posed and traditional images or do you like photojournalistic and candid type of images? Look through the photographer’s website to see the photographer’s style. You will learn a lot about the photographer’s style through the images in their portfolio, on their blog and posted on other forms of social media. Feel free to ask a photographer for more recent samples of their work, or to view an entire wedding gallery to get a better idea of their wedding photography style. A photographer who doesn’t want to show you more, is one to avoid!
Plan your photography budget around your expectations:
If you are expecting great images and a great experience, you will pay a premium for a photographer who can deliver. In Boston, the going rate appears to be between $3,500-$10,000+ for the top level. If you are looking for a middle of the road option with someone to cover most of the day and give you some files in the end so that you can use the images, expect to spend in the $2,000- $3,000 range. If you are hiring a photographer because your parents insist on having some family portraits and you could care less about it, you should expect to spend in the $1,000- $1,500 range. Price doesn’t always necessarily ensure a great photographer or a bad photographer. So it is important to do your research and consider these other key pieces of advice.
Evaluate Responsiveness, Personality and Customer Service:
My biggest pet peeve during the search for a wedding photographer was the surprising lack of response that I got from some photographers. Some photographers simply sent a form email back saying that they would be in touch, only to never follow through. Others simply sent their pricing and continually followed up with me begging me to hire them but without spending any time to learn any specifics about me and my fiancé or our day. One didn’t even know my fiance’s name after 3 different interactions!
The photographers that stood out to me were the ones who followed up on my inquiry within one business day (even on the weekends). Some called me on the phone directly. Others set up Skype dates to chat about their photography business and to learn more about what we were looking for. They showed me the value in their business by taking time to learn about us and educate me about the process and how they operate. During the time of having phone, in person or skype consultations, I was able to learn a lot about the type of personality the photographer had and whether we would work well together.
You will be working with the photographer you choose for well over a year in most cases. You want to be a great fit for each other and be able to know that you can count on the photographer to be there when you need them. Treat every step of the process like an interview and stick to your gut instinct. You should be happy in the end!
Finally, consider reviews and recommendations
With so many photographers and wedding vendors out there in this world, it helps to have recommendations from others to help get you pointed in the right direction. There are a million wedding resources like The Knot and Wedding Wire that rate and compare photographers. Read these reviews carefully. Do your research and evaluate the photographers using the tips I have suggested above and you should be more than able to find a great fit for you.
In the end, finding the right photographer for you is about balancing all of your priorities and finding the best fit. How cool would it be to walk away after your wedding day with a new great friend, beautiful images and lasting memories of the best day of your life? I hope this post helps to get you closer to that point!