How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer: A Guide For Indecisive Brides
So, you probably came to this page because you're engaged and looking for a wedding photographer! That's awesome! Even though I don't know you yet, I'm stoked you're here. On this page you'll find tips on figuring out which wedding photographer is right for you.
You may notice there are hundreds, thousands, or even ten thousands of wedding photographers where you live. Since I am based out of New York City and Palm Springs, CA, I am in a saturated market full of wedding photographers. No sweat, though. That's not going to be a problem. We all have different clienteles and there is a perfect wedding photographer for each couple.
Now, there are a few things overlooked when narrowing down your wedding photographer, but I'm here to tell you what to look for:
First, you need to figure out what kind of style you want for your wedding pictures. Do you want photos that look like editorials straight out of Vogue (extremely popular in Asia), or do you want candid, documentary photos that tell a story? Second, figure out what candid and documentary style means to you. Believe me when I say everyone has their own definition.
More things to consider: do you want edits that look natural and straight out of the camera, or photos that are more creative in color? Do you want very deep or dark shadows (the blacks in your photos)? Or soft and bright images that pop off your screen? While I specialize in natural photos that remain true to their colors and resemble film, there are other photographers who edit with more muted and moody palettes (darker shadows, a certain tinge of blue or purple, etc.). I'm here to tell you there is nothing wrong with either style. It simply depends on what you (and your fiance, and probably your parents and grandparents) prefer. I'm all about staying true to yourself on your wedding day, whether that means you as the bride or groom calling all the shots or you including other people's opinions in your wedding planning process.
Next, go through the galleries of each photographer you're interested in. Spend time scrolling through full wedding galleries (meaning, look at each wedding one at a time). You want to make sure you like their work. You need to make sure each wedding that photographer shoots is consistent in their editing and shooting style. You need to make sure your photographer has enough experience. You need to be confident about hiring them, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you don't see any full wedding galleries on their website, email them (politely!) and ask for it.
As you look through complete galleries, follow that couple throughout their day. Listen to your gut. What stands out to you? Do you feel like you know these couples personally? Are the photographs evoking any kind of emotion in you? Do you see yourself in these photos? Then, think about your venue. Is your ceremony indoors or outdoors? How about the reception? Does the photographer have examples of different kinds of light in these situations?
Continue looking through each and every page of that photographer's website. Look for any and all information the photographer wants to share with you. See if there's a Frequently Asked Questions page. Chances are, any initial questions you have are on there. Read their bio and about me page. Do you connect with what this person is saying? Are you getting the feeling like they're the one for you?
About wedding photography pricing: find a pricing or investment page to get a feel for how much your wedding photography will cost. Just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Good wedding photography will cost you, but it will be worth every penny. These days, anyone with a DSLR or even a smart phone can call themselves a "professional". And sure, there may be someone cheaper, but does that photographer know how to handle crises situations on your wedding day? Will that photographer make sure that your photos are safely secured and not get lost? Will that person provide you with the same kind of service a seasoned professional will? Does that person have reviews about their work or referrals for other vendors? Probably not. I'll tell you again, good wedding photography will cost you, but it will be 100% worth it.
Finally, reach out to the photographers. Fill out their contact forms thoroughly. Don't write a generic one liner that you copy and paste to every other photographer. Don't half-ass this. You want the best wedding photos (at least the best your money can get you), right? Not shitty ones you'll regret 20 years from now. You're on a journey to creating the ideal wedding day for you. In order for that to happen, you need to be invested your planning process. Once you click that submit button, wait for the emails to roll in.
Right here is where the relationship begins. Trust me when I say this, you want to have a good relationship with your wedding photographer. They're going to be the only vendor that will be with you all day long wherever you two go. You'll need to be vulnerable with them in order to be comfortable in front of the camera. It doesn't matter how awkward you are. A good wedding photographer will make sure you feel like a rock star on your wedding day, and the pictures will prove it.