How do you Choose Your Photographer?

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Noelle Thies

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How do you Choose Your Photographer?

Choosing the right photographer for your wedding is one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your big day. Your photos are the only tangible way to remember the most special day of your life, and it’s important to make sure you are making the right decision. But, how do you choose your engagement, elopement, or wedding photographer? To help make this a little easier, here are a few tips for finding your perfect photographer.

STEP ONE – Choosing a style

The first step in the process is to determine what style of photography you prefer. There are dozens of different photography styles, each providing their own feeling. Documentary style photography focuses less on the formalities and more on capturing candid moments full of emotion. While traditional photography is more formal and classic, focusing on poses and the traditional shots. Film or Vintage style photography is either shot on a film camera or uses editing to achieve a vintage look giving you an old-school feel. Editorial photography focuses on dramatic compositions, styled images and gives a very modern approach — think Vogue. Most photographers specialize in 1-2 styles, so once you know which styles you like the best, that will help to narrow down your options. Keep in mind that if you like the work and editing of a particular photographer you can expect your photos to look like the ones you see in their portfolio. Photographers usually have specific styles that they stay in so if you like the look of light and airy photos you probably shouldn’t book someone that tends to edit more dark and moody.

STEP TWO – Setting a budget

Narrowing down a style that you like the most can be difficult so if you are having a hard time with what style(s) you like the most, setting a budget can help you narrow down photographers that are within that budget. Different photography styles can range in prices, so having a budget in mind can help you determine if the style you like and feel connected to is in your price range. Keep in mind that because different styles can vary in prices you may have to consider other styles or raising your budget. Consider the average cost of wedding photography in your area, as well as the national average so you can find the right photographer for the right price. The average cost for a wedding photographer in the midwest is $2,500-$4,000. However, the average cost for a professional full-time wedding photographer in the midwest is $4,000-$6,000 because this a career for them. This means they understand how to provide not only quality work but also care deeply about the client experience.

STEP THREE – Start your search

Social media is also a great resource to use when searching for the right photographer. Social media has become so pivotal to wedding photography, because it gives photographers a place to showcase their work and share their personality. You will be able to learn a lot about the type of photographer they are by looking through their social media. You will also be able to find reviews on their social media pages. Look for local photographers that have the style you like and use hashtags such as #chicagoweddingphotographer or #indianapolisengagement to find the photographers that work in your area. You can also look at the social media account for your venue, and see what photographers they have tagged. This is a great way to find the photographers and seeing that they are familiar with your venue and have shot there before can give you peace of mind as well as start to paint a picture of what you can image your photos will look like.

STEP FOUR – Ask for help

Another great source of information is to ask for personal recommendations from friends and family. They may have hired a photographer for their own wedding or know someone who did, and hearing about their experiences can be valuable in your search for the right photographer. You can also join facebook groups that have vendors and other people getting married in them. This is a great way to see who is local, who is liked, and who is advertising their work near you. Asking your venue or other vendors you have booked if they have any recommendations can also be helpful as many of them will have worked with photographers before and can provide their own reviews.

STEP FIVE – Inquire

Once you have narrowed it down to your top 1-2 options, you should inquire and get your discovery call scheduled. Get ready to chat more with your potential photographer! Best advice is to do most of your research ahead of time and make sure that you have some solid questions before your call. It is highly recommended that you focus on building a connection and getting to know each other as humans. Having a photographer that you vibe with and meshes well with your personality is arguably the most important part of choosing your photographer. Keep in mind you will spend nearly 8 or more hours with them on your wedding day so you want to make sure that your personalities work well together.

Some general questions that are good to ask are:

How do they charge for travel? What do they charge for travel?

How does adding extra time work, if needed?

Will be a second photographer? If not, how much is it to add a second photographer?

Second photographers allow for more photos to be taken, and less possibility for special moments to be missed or not caught from every angle so if this is something that is important to you make sure you ask your photographer about having a second photographer there. Some photographers will include a second in their packages but some do not so it’s always best to ask.

How many photos can you expect to receive and do you get full access to them?

Keep in mind, full access does NOT mean you are able to edit the photos any further after delivery. The large majority of photographers do not allow any additional editing or retouching to be done to their photos. Most photographers will also never give out RAW or un-edited versions of photos. Full access means do you get to download all images from your final wedding gallery.

Is an engagement session included? If not, how much is it to add an engagement session?

Some photographers require an engagement shoot to be done prior to the wedding. This allows you to get comfortable with one another, so when wedding day comes around, you are already used to working together and call easily fall into a rhythm. Other photographers offer engagement sessions but do not require them and some don’t include them at all and they must be added on for an additional investment.

What are the album options?

Having an album made of your wedding photos is such a special and intimate thing! Be sure to ask your photographer about their album offerings to make sure you have the best opportunity to have a beautiful heirloom album.

Remember, the more time you would like to book your photographer for, the higher the investment. Wedding packages generally range from 6-12 hours, so be sure to have a general idea how long you would like your photographer to be present on your wedding day.

STEP SIX – BOOK!

At the end of the day, trust your gut! Make sure to choose who you know will put you at ease, comfort you, support you and capture your day the way you want! The last and final step of choosing your photographer is to book them! Once you have found a photographer and love their style, they make sense for you financially, and you vibe well with them the only thing left to do is to book them! Most wedding photographers book 1-2 years in advance so be sure to book as early as you are able and ready to. This way you can make sure that your dream photographer is available for your day! Once you’re booked it’s time to celebrate because you just chose the person that is going to capture your day so perfectly!