Three Steps to Successfully Selecting Your Wedding Photographer
You are now into full wedding planning mode. Where do you start in your search to find your wedding photographer? You know that you need to get your photographer nailed down soon because everyone is telling you that they book up fast. But there are literally dozens of us photographers to choose from just within your own local community. Not to mention many more choices within close proximity. Then to help you out, your loving friends have given you a list of questions to ask each photographer that you interview. You add these to the list of questions that you have already compiled from dozens of wedding blogs and your list of questions is longer than your arm. By now you are probably going a little stir crazy pouring over all the wedding photography websites and reading the endless wedding photographer reviews. But now you think you are ready to meet with photographers, take notes, compare, maybe you have even set up a spread sheet to compare all the data! But in the back of your mind you hear the little voice: There’s got to be an easier way!
And there is. Let me explain.
Obviously I’m a wedding photographer but I come with many years of experience, with literally hundreds upon hundreds of weddings under my belt. Additionally, I have many wedding photographer friends who have also spent many years in this industry. We all share info back and forth and between each other. So I’ve compiled some thoughts on this topic as to what I consider to be the top three things to consider when looking for your wedding photographer.
If you follow the steps below, you’re going to have an easier time finding the photographer who fits you best and it will take much less legwork.
1. Top Priority: It Has to be the Photographer’s Portfolio.
Unfortunately many couples place this at a lower priority and that can cost you in the end. So many couples often compromise their photos by getting someone who’s “good enough.” They settle, as it were. But as is so often said, “good enough, isn’t good enough.” You don’t want your choice to be “merely adequate,” you want great photos!
You must love, Love, LOVE their work. Think of it along these lines, if the portfolio that you are looking at were your own wedding photos how would it make you feel? Would you be ecstatic?
Through the years when talking with couples about their wedding photos (not necessarily my clients), every happy couple that I have ever asked about their wedding photos have always said it was about their photos. Those who expressed indifference, or worse, unhappiness over their photos after their wedding, were those who compromised on this one point. Sadly that can be the consequence of compromising on wedding photography. It’s the one area which shouldn’t be negotiable for you.
The compromise may have been for any number of reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is budget. But not necessarily. Maybe they loved the photographer’s personality so much so that it made them look past the flaws in the photographer’s work. Or it may have been that the photographer was chosen because he or she was recommended by someone, a friend, relative or perhaps another wedding professional. Or hey, maybe because they gave a “good deal”.
Remember, as is so often said, the photographs are going to be the one thing you end up with after the wedding has concluded. Therefore, make ‘loving the portfolio’ the one nonnegotiable priority.
Think about this, after the wedding you won’t care what you paid for the photography expect to view it either as money wasted if you weren’t happy or money well spent if you loved your photographs. Remember, you are going to be looking at your photos for a very long time. So, they had better be more than ‘ok’ or ‘good enough’. Don’t you want to be thrilled, if not why bother?
Am I encouraging you to disregard your budget? Not at all. Naturally if someone’s pricing is way beyond what you can afford then you shouldn’t book that photographer. But if you start your search by only looking at or comparing budget numbers, then you could potentially be excluding yourselves from seeing better photographers. Ones that may turn out to be only a few dollars more. Look at it from this angle. Could those extra dollars that are needed to book the photographer you love come another part of the overall budget by simply reassigning monies? Maybe from something that does not have the same priority. Thus your total budget wouldn’t change, only the parts of it allocated to photography. So I encourage you to keep an open mind to photographers whose work excites you but may not initially seem within your budget.
There is a nice benefit to doing this, you get a better real world sense of the kind of budget that you realistically need for the caliber of photographer you truly want. This is so much wiser than of trying to find a photographer that fits a predetermined budget number.
Once you have your list of photographers then comes the next step.
2. Making a Connection. Meet and see if you feel a good connection. When it comes to buying photography, especially wedding photography there needs to be a good connection. Because your wedding photographer, more than any other vendor on the day of the wedding will be spending lots of time with you.
Unfortunately this is another area that couples mis-prioritize. Ever hear experiences of someone who has been the victim of an obnoxious, unprofessional wedding photographer? It happens. Thereafter it becomes difficult to separate the experience of the photographer who took the photos from the photos themselves. It’s like the photos become tainted. So even though you may have found a photographer that fits your budget, and you love their photos, make sure you can connect in a good way with them before you book them.
Once you have found a portfolio you love and a photographer that you can connect with, then you can take the next step. But get these first two in place before proceeding. Then narrow your list down to where you are comfortable with the budget numbers.
3. Save Price for the Last Priority. Why? There is nothing you can do to change the photographer, their skills, talent or personality, they are who they are. Nor can you change ‘how’ your photos look. ‘Ok’ photos won’t simply become ‘wow’ photos because you want them to. But you can change the budget and how the monies are allocated. Additionally, some photographers may be willing to customize something to better fit a price that you can afford. Not by reducing the price that they charge but by removing items or reducing the amount of coverage. Ask them if they will be willing to customize something for you.
Think about this angle, let’s say you get the first two priorities right but don’t exactly get the price you were hoping for. Don’t you think you will still be better off and happier with the results than those who got the price right but missed on the other two priorities?
Maybe you have heard this quote before, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after low pricing is forgotten.” I came across this quote a few years ago on the Grace Ormonde website
So there you have it, the Three Steps to Successfully Selecting Your Wedding Photographer. All in all it’s pretty simple. Find a portfolio that you love, make sure the photographer is compatible with your personalities and then nail the pricing. If you follow these steps you should be really happy with your wedding photos.