Wedding Tip Tuesday- How to choose a photographer

February 7, 2017

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After your wedding, the dress that you were so excited to buy will sit in a box, the cake you spent so many afternoons designing will have been eaten, and all that will be left to remember your day by will be the photos.

The photos that tell the story of the start of your adventure together. The photos that you’ll pass down to your kids and to tell the story of your relationship.

Finding a photographer you trust with your one and only wedding can be challenging. A photographer might seem great and show you a good portfolio, but how can you know what you’ll actually get back from your wedding?

What if you feel awkward in front of the camera and don’t get flattering photos? What if it takes months and months to see any of your photos in the first place?

On the other hand, you could find multiple photographers you’re really excited about and not know how to choose between them.

I’ll help walk you through the basic process of how to go about choosing the most awesome photographer for your day.


Determine the style you want

Style- There’s a crazy number of great photographers in the Twin Cities and while you’ll find similarities between many of them, everyone takes a different approach on the wedding day. Some photographers emphasize the detail shots of rings and shoes and take gorgeous formal portraits but don’t touch their camera during an emotional speech.

Other photographers take a more “fly on the wall” approach and focus on capturing the candid moments that tell the story of the day. Neither is better than the other. It just depends on what is important to you.

Personally, I fall into the second category. I still get some traditional portraits and detail shots, but I do all of the detail shots the night before the wedding at the rehearsal so I am ready to capture the action and emotion on the wedding day.

It’s important to pay attention to the feel of the photos and how they are edited. Do you prefer light, airy photos with vibrant pops of color or are you more drawn to darker, dramatic images with lots of black and whites sprinkled in? Or maybe you like very natural looking images that aren’t strongly edited. Most photographers have a distinct style of editing so look around and see what you are drawn to and catches your eye.

Look for consistency in photographer’s blog posts rather than just their portfolio. A portfolio contains the best 10-30 images a photographer has ever taken. The blog posts on the other hand will give you a better idea of what you’ll get back from your wedding and how the photographer goes about covering the wedding day from start to finish.


Figure out your budget

Budget- Determine your wedding day budget and set an approximate amount for photography, but keep your mind open and be prepared to be flexible. If you fall in love with someone’s work and really connect with them, but they are a bit out of reach, see if you can save a bit in another area to make up for it. You probably won’t remember the chair covers or personalized napkins, but you will be glad you have amazing photos afterwards to remember the day by.

There is a huge range of photography prices so it’s impossible to say, “x” is average. As a general guide though, a beginning photographer might charge around $1,000, and well-rounded and experienced photographer might charge around $3,000, and the most elite, in-demand photographers can charge anywhere between $5,000-$10,000 or more.

Make sure you are taking into consideration everything that is included with each photographer and don’t just look at the bottom line. You might find a photographer that is less expensive than the rest but all that is included is hours of coverage and you have to pay extra for an engagement session, the rights to print the photos, a second shooter and an album. Another photographer could be more money upfront but they include those things in the collection.


Start the search

There are a lot of ways to go about looking for a photographer. You can search on google for photographers in your area, but since the photographer is such a big part of your wedding day, you need to feel good about the choice and it can be tough to gauge people from web presence alone. Start with asking your friends, family and venue for recommendations on people they have worked with and had success with.

Compile a big list of all of the photographers whose work resonates with you. For example, my list for potential wedding photographers contained about 20 options whose work I really loved. Email the photographers you like for info and see what they include in their collections and estimated price for services.

After you get the info, decide which 3-5 photographers you are most excited about working with and meet with them. Meeting in person is crucial to the process! You want to find someone you really connect with. If you feel uncomfortable, awkward or intimidated by your photographer, even if their work is amazing, you’ll be able to tell in the photos that you’re uncomfortable. You want a photographer who feels like a friend and can bring out the best of your relationship in front of the camera.


Meeting face-to-face

When you meet with the potential candidates, make sure both you and your groom go so you can both make sure you feel good about the person. Make sure to see samples of their work and samples of anything included in their collections. This will give you a good idea of what you’ll actually be receiving from your wedding.

Ask for references- a good photographer should have some brides you are able to talk to regarding their photography experience. It’s always nice to talk to someone who has gotten married and can offer advice.

Some questions to ask potential photographers- 

  1. Are you the person who will actually be shooting our wedding? Some bigger companies have multiple shooters and you want to make sure you know who will actually be working for you.
  2. What is included in the collection and what can I do with the photos afterwards? Some photographers give you a print release but retain the copyright. This means you are able to do what you want with them like printing them and posting them online but the photographer can still use them for marketing purposes.
  3. What is required to book? Your photographer should have a sample of their contract for you to look at to see their policies. Many photographers ask for a deposit to be made in order to reserve your date.
  4. What do you specialize in and what kind of weddings are your favorite to shoot? Some photographers shoot a little of everything like families, seniors, real estate and sports and might only do a handful of weddings each year. Someone who directly specializes in weddings will have more experience in knowing how to run the day efficiently. They’ll also be able to anticipate the best moments to capture so all of the little glances, tears and laughter are documented.
  5. How involved are you in the rest of the wedding planning process? Some photographers help develop the timeline and are very involved throughout your engagement. Others only focus on the photography on your wedding day.
  6. How long after the wedding will the photos be delivered and in what format? Flash drive or an online album?
  7. Do you have recommendations for other vendors to use? Photographers have been involved with countless weddings and have seen the good, bad and in between of florists, DJs, and caterers. Use photographers as a resource!
  8. Consider videography. This blog post is what convinced me to hire videographers for our wedding. They make some great points! For example, I have a list of videographers I trust and have worked with that I can recommend for brides who hire me and also want videography.

I still have a few dates open in 2018 (they’re going fast!) and am booking 2019 Lumos Couples if you are looking for a photographer who will make sure your day runs as smoothly as possible and who will tell your story authentically and beautifully.  I’ll help you through the whole planning process, help you come up with a solid timeline and make sure everyone sticks to it on the wedding day.

If you have any questions about your search for a photographer or want to get together over drinks (my treat!) to talk through your wedding day and see if we’re a good fit, let me know. I would love to have you join the Lumos party! Just fill out the contact form below to get the conversation started.

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"The day went by so fast and we now understand how valuable wedding photos are. The photos managed to perfectly capture the fun energy of our big day." 

Asher & Mel

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