You've decided your budget, you picked your date, and you booked your venue. Now, it's time to find a photographer. And you might be overwhelmed with the amount of photographers in your area. Or just not know exactly what to look for. I write this as a photographer & former bride to hopefully help you choose a photographer you're going to absolutely love.
The first two steps are
What is your photography budget?
What style of photography are you looking for? (E.g. dark and moody, cinematic-style, bright and airy, etc)
Those two questions must be answered first before the tips to follow can be applicable.
If you haven't decided on those things yet, then you should do those first to narrow down your search and then use these tips to really help you determine what photographer is right for you.
If they are the style you're looking for and they're in your budget, then it's time to look into these qualities.
Consistency in their work:
When you go to a Starbucks, a TGI Friday’s, or any chain restaurant, you pretty much know what to expect every time you go; because for the most part (gotta leave some room for human error), they have a consistent approach to their food and service. When it comes to photography, you should also be able to pretty much know what your photos will look like. Now, there’s a small disclaimer here. It’s impossible to make photos look exactly the same every single time. There’s several factors that affect what a photo will look like: weather, sunlight, time of day, location, etc. So although you might go to the exact same spot another bride went to at the same time of day, it doesn’t mean your photos will be 100% identical. BUT your photographer should be overall consistent in his/her style, meaning their work should look cohesive together even if they’re from different sessions.
Here's some visual examples:
To the Right: I'm using my own personal feed. I am a bright & airy photographer and so all my work is shot and edited to match that style, with overall similar tones and brightness.
To the Left: Is a random assortment of photos under the hashtag wedding photography. If this were a photographer's portfolio, this would be majorly inconsistent work.
Things to look for in consistency:
Overall tones and warmth of photos
The brightness of the photos
How saturated the colors are
Some photos are very cool (blueish) while others are very warm (orange-toned)
Inconsistency of brightness (some dark, others very bright)
Pro Tip: Remember that indoor photos that require flash won’t really “match” what natural light images look like. Analyze the two types of images separately in a photographer’s portfolio.
They are friendly & responsive:
A photographer’s life can be very busy and hectic, however, that’s not an excuse to leave you hanging in an email for a week. Now, of course, let’s be fair. If a photographer is out of town or on vacation, they’re not being negligent if they don’t answer your email during that time. Everybody needs time off. But usually they’ll set up automatic emails or post to social media to let you know they’re away. Don't count that against them. If the photographer seems to be taking a bit, consider also if you sent an email on the weekend. Many photographers will only answer emails during the weekday, as weekends are often dedicated to weddings and our own families. As a general rule, a photographer shouldn’t take more than 48 hours to get back to you. If they do take longer but offer an apology or explanation, don't cross them off your list just yet.
When they do write back to you, they should offer a warm greeting followed by a "congratulations!" While tones over text can certainly be deceiving or misinterpreted, overall they should sound friendly and welcoming. If all they write is,
"Thanks for reaching out, the price guides are attached to the email,"
I would be wary.
Things to ask yourself:
Did they answer in a timely manner?
Did they sound friendly and inviting?
No emotion or interest demonstrated in their email.
You have to send them two emails before they answer.
You connect with them:
Weddings are stressful as is. It is so important to be surrounded by people who support you and make you feel at ease. A photographer is going to be with you nearly ALL day. Depending how much coverage you want, they’ll at least be there for the most major moments. If you don’t vibe well with someone, you definitely don’t want them following you around on such an important day! When you find a photographer you connect with, you’ll feel so much more comfortable. You should feel like you matter to them. A good photographer will not treat you like you’re just another bride, or as if they have better things to do.
Things to ask yourself:
Are they nice?
Do they have a good attitude?
Do they show interest in your wedding day?
They’re being rude or short
They treat you like you’re just a transaction.
Lack of interest, they don’t seem to care to know anything about your wedding or you.
If they pass all of these, and then they are IT. Don't look any further. If you have more than one photographer meeting these criteria. Consider this:
Is there one you feel more confident in? Or more comfortable with?
Is there one you'd feel would better enhance your wedding experience?
If they are both fabulous, and you'd equally love to have either, then go with whichever is offering you a better deal.
I hope this article helps you. I'd love to hear back :)