As I approach my one-year anniversary and watch as fresh engagements continue to blow up my Facebook feed, I vividly remember the days I spent planning my own wedding. I loved having an excuse to be creative... to put together my own personal "dream team" of vendors to achieve a wedding that, in my mind, was as close to my ideal of perfect as possible! My husband, Zach, helped with budgeting decisions... but the aesthetic was all me. (Sorry, Zach. You knew the truth would come out eventually.)
After researching vendors in our area, it became clear that my "dream team" might (no, almost definitely) was going to consume our budget, and I had to do some prioritizing, quick! We knew from the start that photographs were incredibly important to us, so investing in the right wedding photographer was justified in our minds. Given that many people feel the same, and having the unique perspective of both photographer and newlywed, I'm here to offer some suggestions to take into consideration when choosing your own wedding photographer.
1. Determine what style you like (colors).
When I talk about style, I'm referring to the colors/tones of the photos. When you look at any wedding inspiration website, you're going to come across a lot of different vendors with a lot of different styles. With regards to photography, you might see photos that are really "light and airy" (a term that I use to describe my own work), "dark and moody" (maybe the photographs look underexposed with higher contrast), or perhaps they fall somewhere in between. Whichever aesthetic you're drawn to, you want to be sure that the photographer is consistent in their work (so you know for sure what you're getting), and that the style you choose now is something that you really believe will resonate with your personal taste for years to come. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people invest in professional photographs... just to slap an Instagram filter on them when they share! Believe it or not, most of the money you pay your photographer is going to cover the hours worth of time and energy they will spend editing your photographs to cohesively match their brand (remember, the brand you're paying big $$$ to have) and trying to achieve a level of quality that they deem fit. Be clear from the start on which style best aligns with your vision and then leave the editing to them. If you select a photographer whose work you truly love from the start... you shouldn't feel any need to modify the final product.
2. Determine what style you like (poses).
Another aspect of "style" is the way that a photographer poses his/her subjects. Do you like the more formally posed images, with the subject interacting with (or smiling/looking at) the camera? Or do you prefer a more journalistic, candid approach... with the moments captured being moments that come across as natural, where you're interacting with someone else? If you look through a photographer's portfolio or social media accounts, you will have a better idea of their style, and from there can make a decision on whether that style is right for you. It sounds like common sense, but I don't recommend hiring a photographer who showcases a more lifestyle approach in their work and then sending them super posed image preferences (and vice versa). Photographers showcase the kinds of clients/work they want to attract, so if their work doesn't instantly resonate with your taste... it's highly likely that they're not the photographer for you.
3. Determine your priorities... and your budget. (Ugh, I know.)
If you've had professional photographs taken within the past couple of years, it should be no surprise that it can be an expensive investment. Wedding photography is no exception - in fact, your photographer could potentially be one of the most expensive vendors you have that day! And, unfortunately... there's just no way around that. Wedding photography is time, and depending on what equipment the photographer uses, money, and really stressful, long days carrying heavy equipment and managing schedules. My advice to you is this: determine your wedding day priorities! Meaning... what's most important to you? An incredible venue? Gorgeous florals? High quality images that you will treasure forever? Most people don't approach their wedding day with an unlimited budget, so it's important to determine what matters most to you... and then budget for those vendors accordingly.
4. Make sure you like your photographer.
I cannot emphasize this enough. I absolutely adored my wedding photographer and now that my own wedding has come and gone, I still consider her a good friend. You are going to be working closely with your chosen wedding photographer throughout the entire planning process - from the engagement session to your wedding day timeline, and occasionally if you just need a second opinion on decor! I cannot stress how important it is that you enjoy the company of your photographer. This person lives and breathes the wedding industry and can be a great resource to you - just make sure that working with this person causes you less stress (not more).
5. Book your photographer well in advance.
Now that we've established the important considerations to take into account before officially hiring someone... it's important that you do all of this research and be proactive early on in your wedding planning process, as photographers often book up to a year in advance. If you have someone in mind that you love, reach out now! It's never too early, but it could definitely be too late.