Your wedding day is one of the biggest, most exciting days of your life, and if photos are a top priority for you, there are many things you need to consider when you're searching for the right photographer to document your wedding day. It's important to find a photographer that you are confident will photograph the day perfectly for you and will be helpful to work with throughout the planning process. However, there is an absolute abundance of talent in the wedding industry and it can be overwhelming trying to find someone you can trust to capture the day. Here are a few talking points to discuss with photographers when you're in the planning process...
1.) Make Sure You Love Their Style
The easiest way to start filtering out photographers is by choosing a style that you love. Do you love edits that are dark and moody, filmy, light and airy, warm color tones, vibrant, muted greens, true-to-life colors, etc...? My personal advice - choose a photographer whose editing style won't be out of style in 5-10 years. You want to love your wedding photos forever, so you want them to look timeless and not just trendy.
Be sure to notice their style of shooting too! Do you love dramatic, posed portraits or a motion-based, unposed approach? Lots of candids with real moments of love and laughter? Or a maybe fusion of it all? You'll want to make sure that the shooting style that your photographer uses will fit with your style and your partners because if you don't feel comfortable it will show in your photos. Don't pretend to be people that you aren't just for the sake of having photos to share on IG.
Lighting style is huge now too. 5 years ago, someone using direct flash would have been laughed out of the business, but now it's back on trend and in high demand. There are photographers who don't use external lighting at all and instead rely on the available light from the sun or ambient lighting that's already in the room. Some use lights on stands to help light a room in a balanced manner. And some use a mix of all 3.
2.) Be Sure Their Work Is Solid From Beginning To End
Traditional wedding days are long, complex, and on a strict timeline, so it's important that you choose a photographer with plenty of wedding experience and who proves thatthey can document the day well from beginning to end. You can find images on their websites, but sometimes the best way to get an idea of a photographer's style is to stalk their social media or ask if you can see a fully delivered gallery. This will help give you an idea of what their work looks like at each stage of the day and how they're able to work with lighting in different environments.
3.) Read the Reviews
Pictures are proof of talented work, but what about a great customer experience? There's so much that goes into being a great wedding photographer - communication, professionalism, personality, reliability, etc. Take the time to go through reviews and find out what other couples have to say about their experience with the photographer team. If there aren't any reviews to read that might be a red flag. Some people switch business names to drop bad reviews online, so find a business that has reviews that date back for years.
4.) Their Equipment
I'm not talking camera brands - Ask your photographer if they're a film or digital photographer. If you like the look of film with the safety of digital, ask the photographer if they offer film as an add-on. There are pros and cons to film vs digital, but you have to decide for yourself which you feel most comfortable with on your wedding day.
Also ask how many cameras they'll have with them, what kind of lighting they use at receptions (being a "natural light photographer" means they most likely don't have lighting for dark scenes like receptions), and if they have extra equipment, batteries, memory cards, etc. so that if something fails they can still continue their work. Speaking of memory cards - ask them if their cameras have dual card slots so if one card fails, the other is still saving photos to it.
The follow up question to that should be - "What is your process for backing up your files?"
Are they backing up your wedding photos when arrive home? And where are they backing up those files? As a rule of thumb, I always make sure the files are in 3 different places - on my main hard drive, on an additional hard drive, and on a cloud-based drive. I can't tell you how many couples have had their wedding photos lost because their photographer's computer crashed and their files weren't backed up, so make sure they're someone who is responsible in that manner.
5.) Get Things In Writing
This might be a no-brainer, but please always always always get a contract from your photographer. This helps ensure you're both legally protected should either party not follow through with their end of the bargain. Be sure that the amount of time you've agreed upon is mentioned, whether you have a single or 2 photographers, whether or not you have a print release or prints included in your package, how long of a delivery time they guarantee (is it 2 weeks, 2 months, 8 months?) and most importantly the price and payment agreements.
6.) Make Sure You Like Them!
This person is going to be working with you from hair & makeup all the way to the reception. Request a phone or video call to have a conversation with this person and make sure that they're someone that you vibe with and that will compliment the group you'll be with. If your personalities don't mesh, you might only remember how much you hated having that person around you all day.
Ask your photographer what their delivery turnaround is and if you'll get a sneak peek! There are photographers now who are delivering images next day, and there are also some who deliver in 8-12 weeks. Some will give you a sneak peek the night of or within a couple of days. Some don't offer sneak peeks at all.
Take your time and choose someone you can truly trust to document your wedding day beautifully. Having trust in your wedding vendors allows them to focus on their work and creativity, and it allows you to relax and enjoy your day without worry.
If you're still in search of someone to document your wedding day, visit the Big Weddings page to learn more about my packages & pricing, read reviews from past Wild North couples, and to view more of my work. Then fill out the contact form at the bottom of any page to schedule your one-on-one call!