When you hire a professional photographer for your wedding, they’ll typically have you sign an agreement that states not only when, where, and how long they’ll be snapping away, but also what deliverables are included.
Unfortunately for consumers, photography packages vary wildly and without any strong correlation to price or quality. This is because both the artistry and business acumen of photographers as a group also vary wildly.
So we’re going to take off our photographer hats and put on our tiaras and give you some tips on choosing the right pro.
1) Do I even need professional photos?
Ask yourself whether photos are even important enough to pay money for. If you don’t take photos when you travel or hang with friends, if you don’t post pics on social media, if you don’t surf Pinterest or IG, you might not be the kind of person who needs pictures to remember life by. Instead of hiring a photographer, save your money and let your guests crowd-source your memories. If this doesn’t apply to you, read on.
2) What style of photos do I like?
Spend some time browsing pics on Pinterest and IG. Look at your own social media photo posts. Figuring out and being aware of what you like and don’t like will help tons when you start talking to photographers.
3) Where do I find photographers?
There’s no good single registry. You can find them through their posts on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, and many have profiles posted on a variety of online wedding sites. Of course, you should also Google “wedding photographer” for the location where you’re needing them. All this goes without saying that if you’re reading this, you’ve already found one team 🙂
4) Quality before cost.
Make the photographer’s artistry and reputation your top priorities and worry about cost second. You can always find a cheap photographer, and if you’re reading this far, photo quality probably ranks for you. So create your short list of favorite photographers, and write down what you like about each.
5) Read their reviews.
It’s good to know what others have to say about the pros on your short list. Browse for reviews, and ask for references. Follow through on this. If others have had issues with a photographer whose work you really like, you can either move on or use that as a basis for conversation to get the pro’s side of the story, If the pro is defensive, red flag. If the pro owns the issue, then you’ll have something to think about.
6) Decide what coverage and deliverables you want.
When you’re comfortable that you’ve found three pros with a style you like and a reputation you trust, it’s almost time to start talking money. But money for what? You could ask for their packages, but those will be varied and hard to compare. Instead, tell your pros what coverage and deliverables you’re interested in, and ask them to price that out. Now you can compare apples-to-apples. To help you know what you want, here are some common options:
- a second photographer for all or part of the day
- a simple album, an heirloom-quality album, or no album at all.
- digital images with permission to print or digitals for online sharing (cheaper)
- physical prints, and if so, what sizes (8×10, 5×7, 4×6, etc.)
- how many hours of coverage you’ll need
- how many coverage locations and how far apart
7) Understand what you’re offered.
Photographers can be pretty geeky and have their own language when it comes to digital and print products and digital image format and usage. Here are seven questions to ask:
- On average, how many photos do you deliver for a booking such as mine? Not looking for a promise, just a level-set.
- What editing or adjusting do you do to the images I’ll receive?
- Can I share them on social media or with friends and family?
- Can I print them?
- Do I have to get prints through you?
- Can I edit them myself — adding filters or cropping them? (Usually, that’s a “no”)
- Do you keep backups or an archive in case I need more prints or lose my copy?
Okay, our photographer hats are back on! Hopefully, this little blog post will give you some confidence as you shop for the right pro.
Shameless commerce plug: to know whether our style is your style, check us out here: