Finding your Perfect Wedding Photographer - Part 2
Searching for a Wedding Photographer
Welcome back! This week we'll talk about how to begin searching for your perfect wedding photographer.
To begin, these are a collection of helpful questions that you can ask yourself before you start your search!
- What kind of photos do you like? Make a collage of photos that make you fall in love at first sight. Look in wedding magazines, the internet, or past weddings of your friends and family that are all over your Facebook feed. If you have Pinterest, dedicate a specific board to wedding photos that you love. However, be careful of Pinterest trends! Don't spend too much time worrying about getting that specific shot that will outdate itself ten years from now...
- What styles of photography do you like? Google these words and add "wedding photography" to your search, right now. Classic. Artistic. Dramatic. Documentary. High Fashion. Photojournalism. These are all examples of styles that photographers specialize in. Which one appeals the most to you and your partner? Would you like a mixture of some?
- What do you want in the print package? There are several different options that photographers generally offer as part of their services. Are you looking for proofs? Prints? A wedding album? A CD? A USB stick? Do you want to be able to order prints? Do you want your friends and family to have access to them? Do you want to have an engagement shoot as well? Make a list of the things that are important that you have, and cross check that with the photographers you find.
- How large is your wedding? Size is a factor that the photographer will want to know so that they can know there will be enough coverage on the day. If you are shooting a wedding upwards of 300 people, the photographer might need a second shooter in order to make sure that all the moments that are happening are captured.
- What is your venue? Knowing your venue will be great help to you in your selection process. It's important to know whether it's an outdoor/indoor wedding, destination/easy to travel to by car, etc.
- What is your budget? Ah, tricky question. Wedding photography packages can be vastly different in prices and ranging in the thousands of dollars, so make sure that you discuss your budget with your partner before you even start looking. In a way it's like wedding dress shopping. You don't try on the dress that is thousands of dollars out of your price range, because guaranteed, you will love it and not be able to let it go!
Some other questions to ask yourself: How private are you as a couple? Are you okay with photographers using their work as part of their promotion? Or do you prefer that your photos remain intimate and special only to you? Are there any boundaries of where your photographer should be? (Some brides like to do a little boudoir shot before putting the gown on, but other times there are brides who are married in a sacred space where photography isn't allowed.) Are you looking for a photographer who can roll with the punches and make quick decisions? Or are you looking for someone who will stay with the plan?
Tip: Try to find a healthy compromise, a photographer who fits in your budget, and then the most pleasing aesthetically, not just the cheapest one!
The Necessary Evil: Budget
Now let's talk quickly about budgets. Classic cliche? You get what you pay for! Our recommendation is that you pay as much as you are able to for photography. There will be a lot of overwhelming options because photography is an unregulated profession and saturated with many amateurs. However, professional photographers know what they are worth, so try and pay as much as your budget will allow.
Here is a scale of what you can expect different photographers charging:
If a photographer charges $2000 or less: This photographer is very likely a student or a newbie to the business. We don't real recommend going with anyone who charges under $2000 because it simply won't amount to good work. There likely won't be the sense of professionalism or direction that a photographer needs. To be honest, you would probably be better off getting that cousin or friend from college doing it for free as your wedding present.
If a photographer charges between $2000 to $3000: This photographer is probably okay and has decent experience. If you are a budget bride and photography is not high on your list of priorities, go with someone in this category!
If a photographer charges between $3000 and $5000: This photographer probably produces really great work and runs a full time business doing photography. They have experience with weddings, the challenges that presents, and will want to deliver when the day comes.
If a photographer charges $5000 or more: This is for the best of the best in your area! If photography is a high priority for you and you have room in the budget, go nuts! Also a note: Most if not all of these photographers include in their packages things like prints, books, and albums.
Okay! So after you have asked yourself those questions and have had time to talk with your partner about your budget, time to head to the computer to begin your search!
Where to look first
- Referral from a family member or a friend - Think about who you know that has gotten married in the last 5 years. They probably have photos on their own social media profiles, and if you like what you see, get in touch with them and ask them what their experience was like.
- Referral from other vendors - The wedding business is a very collaborative group, so if you already have contacts in the wedding world (such as a wedding planner, caterer or venue) try asking them for their opinion. The venue is sometimes a really helpful one; if a photographer is already experienced the space and has coordinated with the venue before, that is a huge bonus!
- Social Media - Businesses big and small are on social media, and it's a great way to find out what photographers are in your area. if you go to your Facebook search bar and type in "Vancouver wedding photography" (or insert other city) you'll see headings like "posts from friends and groups" "popular articles" "places" and "public posts". With it's own algorithm it will generate articles and posts pulled from your recent search history and preferences on your profile! Facebook is by far the best platform to do this with (Instagram and Pinterest are a little less helpful).
- Google- Oh what a wonderful tool! It seems like the obvious choice of where to begin, but at the same time, there's nothing like word of mouth and online reviews to get perspective on what photography companies are like to work with. Anyone can make a website and fill it with their work, but remember that you are looking for someone to connect with and who will have a big role on your special day. If you search "(Your area) Wedding Photographer," the first two pages of hits are going to be a good bet for getting reputable companies. Google rewards companies that have high traffic, have been around for a long time and frequently update their site, so the first two pages of hits that you get will be your best bet. Also feel free to add in your parameters of what genre of photography that you prefer!
With this search you should make a list of somewhere between 10 and 20 photographers. You goal is to narrow it down to 5.
Narrowing it down
a) Now here is where that research into what styles of photography appeal to you in our previous section will help. Look at the photographers style and see if that's what you're looking for.
b) There should be an "About" or "Bio" section of their website. Read about them, do they come across as professional? Could you see yourself connecting with them? Do they have videos of themselves on YouTube talking or working? If they present themselves well and you think you could see yourself connecting with them, carry on!
c) Examine their work with a more detailed eye. Look at photos within the same wedding as opposed to different weddings in different places and see how they handled their subjects in every photo. Lots of photographers can get they money shot once, but you want someone who gets a good shot every time!
Other things to look out for
- Have they been in any media? Business owners get recognition in their community for news-worthy things that counts towards their credibility and reputation.
- Have they won any awards or any accomplishments for their photography?
- Do they blog regularly? This is a good indication of whether they are working a lot, keeping on top of their business and putting their skills in practice.
- How many followers do they have? Not that this is the most important thing, but if they have a good amount of likes and followers, chances are that people like them!
- Try to look at testimonials from people who have hired them. They may have some of these testimonials on their website, but also look at the ones the photographer did not choose. Look them up on Yelp or check out what their Facebook rating is.
Narrowed it down to 5? Maybe even less?
One of the things in the business world that is a tell tale sign about how someone works is their communication with you. Same principle goes for photographers. You want someone who will respond quickly, professionally, and seem accommodating. They should also show their passion with you through your communication and care about you as a potential client. With that, you are ready to set up these meetings!
This ends our second installment of Finding a Perfect Wedding Photographer. Tune in next week to where we talk about meeting with potential photographers, what to ask and look for, and how to make your final decision!
Thanks again from all of us at Nirvana Photography Studios. Until next time!