5 Tips For Hiring The Right Wedding Photographer

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Hooray! You just got engaged, how freakin’ awesome! You have your date, and venue but what about a photographer? It’s usually around this time that you take a step back and really start to see how much having a wedding is and what your all in budget is. Let me tell you, you are not alone, and this is totally okay and normal - even I went through it myself with my own wedding! Searching for a wedding photographer isn't as difficult or daunting as it seems.

There is a reason for the saying you can’t have cheap and good, and good isn’t cheap. Wedding photography is one of those industries that the saying is 1000% true. Let’s say your scrolling through Instagram searching for photographers in your area and you find a photographer that has some beautiful photos. Awesome! You check out their bio and it says something like “natural light photographer, capturing your memories, lover of light” You read this and think awesome they want to capture my memories and love light! You send them a message because they don’t have a link on their Instagram and they send you back some pricing. They are under the prices of other photographers you found, which seems pretty awesome! Even though you’re in love another photographers work and they have examples of venues that are similar to yours, you think how can I pass this up? What a good deal, I can save some money!

This is where a lot of couples stop searching and book the cheaper photographer right away. Let’s take a moment before you book to make sure you ask the right questions and ensure you’re not making a huge mistake. Here are five things that I find important to know and look for when booking the right wedding photographer for you.

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Do they have a website?

This is hands down my number one thing to look for when booking a wedding photographer, not only as a photographer but as a consumer and past bride. It’s no secret that web hosting is affordable - a domain name is usually around $10-20, and most websites cost less than $20 a month. Facebook and Instagram are awesome social media tools, but for your wedding, you should be looking for someone who is invested in themselves so they can invest in you.

What you want to look for:

- Look for an about page that shows a photo of their face as well talking about their style, how long they’ve been a photographer and what they can do for you.

- Look for an up to date blog page or a gallery that includes full wedding galleries. You want to make sure the blog posts are up to date and the newest one being within the last month at the latest.

- Look for an FAQ page. FAQ pages are huge for wedding photographers, it really sets apart the newer photographers from the seasoned photographers.

- Look for reviews on their website. Most photographers have them scattered around their website or on a single page.

What you want to ask:

- Ask for full wedding galleries, you want to see the wedding day from start to finish. You want to know how they handle venues like yours, such as a catholic church where there are strict photo rules or dark reception venues.

- Ask for reviews from other clients if you don’t see them on their website. Reviews show you first had other client’s experiences, if you don’t see any on their website check Facebook, Google, The Knot or Weddingwire.

- If they don’t have an FAQ page, check out this list of questions I put together.

Are they setting up expectations for you?

“It’s been months since our wedding, and I haven’t received my photos. I can’t even get a hold of them…My wedding photos are blurry…My photographer lost my photos…My photographer never showed up to the wedding… My wedding is this weekend and my photographer is sick and can’t make it…I haven’t heard from my wedding photographer in months and they won’t respond to my calls/emails are you available?”

Not hiring a professional wedding photographer is one of THE BIGGEST REGRETS couples say about their wedding. Don’t believe me? I’ve had family, friends and clients tell me stories like this. An old coworker of mine didn’t receive their wedding gallery until NINE MONTHS after their wedding, and it was his wife’s best friend who took the photos. That friendship was ruined because of it. My cousin told me about her sister in law’s wedding, and how the photographer dressed very inappropriately to the wedding and would just wander off and no one could find them. She doesn’t even show her photos to anyone and is embarrassed by them. I’ve had multiple couples end up booking me because they never heard from the person they booked in the first place or the photographer accidentally double booked themselves. I’m glad I was still available for their dates, but that isn’t always the case.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying you can’t find a good photographer for a decent and reasonable price. The point is that there will always be someone willing to do it cheaper, especially in the age where DSLR cameras are affordable for the average consumer. I’m all about deals but hiring a cheap photographer on one of the biggest days of your life isn’t the time. You should be looking for a photographer within your budget, and I totally get it’s difficult to stretch your budget for one that is a bit above. The point is to not underrate importance of your wedding photos when making your overall budget.

What you want to look for:

- Look for reviews from past clients. I know I’ve already said this, but it’s one thing that I will say over and over. Reviews are the one way to see what the client experience is with them.

- Look for prompt responses with emails/phone calls. The quicker the response time the better, but if they aren’t responding within 24 hours I would move on. You should feel like a priority for them not an afterthought.

- Look for information on their website about their client experience and clear expectations of what you’re going to receive.

What you want to ask:

- Ask if they offer payment plans with their wedding packages. Most photographers have no problem splitting up the total amount into more manageable payments for you.

- If they have packages listed and they don’t quite fit what you’re looking for ask if they offer custom packages to work with your budget/needs.

- Ask: how they handle if they are sick on your wedding day, how long it takes to get photos back, how many images will be in the gallery, what they wear to the wedding day, do they backup images, and any other questions that you’ve seen turn into issues with other couples.

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Do they specialize in wedding photography?

This is something a lot of couples don’t really consider, but I want to make note of it. When I was looking for my wedding photographer, I wanted someone who knows weddings inside and out. I want to see lots of wedding photos of the whole wedding day and blog posts like this to help me out. It's the same concept as the saying “jack of all trades, master of none.” You want someone who adds to your day and capture your wedding the way you want it to be captured. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hire a photographer that does more than weddings. But just be mindful of someone who says they’ll photograph anything and doesn’t have a strong portfolio for any of the types of sessions.

Personally, wedding photography is where I shine. I’m not the greatest at photographing newborns or kids and I don’t want to take your money for those. I will gladly refer you to someone with my style of work that photographs those types of photography.

What you want to look for:

- Look for their website being mainly of wedding photos and talking about weddings.

- Look for them to be the expert on wedding photography with blog posts or PDFs with information on weddings.

- Look for less than four categories under their portfolio section. You should see weddings, engagement sessions/couples and maybe something else, but any more than four and they don’t specialize in weddings.

What you want to ask:

- Ask why they chose weddings over any other type of photography.

- Ask how long they’ve been photographing weddings and how many they’ve photographed.

Is the work on their portfolio/gallery consistent?

Looking through a photographer’s portfolio I look for two things, consistency and current work. As a wedding photographer, I always offer to show full wedding galleries and to give an idea of how many images clients receive for the number of hours they book. I don’t want to hide anything from my clients, and neither should the photographer you choose to book. Why does consistency matter? You want to make sure that photographer delivers the same quality of work every time they photograph a wedding. Consistency doesn’t mean that every photo looks the same, it’s about them delivering the same quality of work regardless of time of day, lighting situations, etc. If you are having an indoor ceremony/reception make sure the photographer you choose has work showcasing indoor work and not just natural light.

What you want to look for:

- Look for current and updated blog posts on their website.

- Look for updated social media posts and that they are posting frequently.

- Look for a variety of photos from getting ready, the ceremony, portraits and the reception. You want to see a variety in their photos, not just portraits.

What you want to ask:

- Ask for recent full wedding galleries. This is such a huge thing that it’s worth mentioning more than once, you want to see more than one full wedding gallery.

- Ask if they have photographed a wedding at your venue or similar. It’s not necessary that they have photographed at your venue but knowing they can handle the lighting situations at a venue similar is important.

- Ask if they have specific gear to handle the lighting situations at your venue or if your church doesn’t allow photographers to be close to the alter that they have the right lenses to photograph from the back.

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Are they legal?

If you really want to know why wedding photography is expensive, this is one of the big reasons. Sales tax, self-employment tax, and income tax takes about 30-40% of what you’re paying the photographer. That money goes directly to the government not into the photographer’s pocket, and that’s not including other expenses.

Why is being legal important? Because your wedding photos are important! Hiring anyone less than leaves you vulnerable to all the situations mentioned above, you don’t want to hire a photographer that can’t handle the pressures of your wedding day. Having a contract backed by a lawyer, business insurance, a sales tax license and a business license are all things to protect you and the photographer and to make sure you’re both on the same page with expectations.

What you want to look for:

- Look for an LLC after their business name or look through your state’s business directory for their business name. If you’re not sure, ask them what business structure they have.

- Look for information on backup equipment, backup photographers and how they backup your images. It might not seem like much to do with them being legal, but they are going to have backup plans on backup plans to ensure your day goes smoothly.

What you want to ask:

- Ask to see their wedding photography contract before booking. The contract should lay out clear expectations for both parties and be more than one page.

- Ask if they charge sales tax on top of their wedding packages or if it’s included with the price.

- Ask if they have liability insurance. Some venues require this from photographers, so it’s quite a big deal.

What does all this boil down to? Trust. Above all you need a photographer you can trust. You need to trust they are professional and can handle any situation the day brings. You need to trust that they are getting the best photos and know where to stand to make that happen. You are hiring them for their expertise with weddings, their style and their creativity.  

At the end of the day, all you have left is the pictures. The foods all gone, the flowers wither, and everyone goes back to their everyday normal life. Do you want to be 10-20 years down the road and see pictures from a family member that didn't know what they were doing? Finding a photographer that you vibe well with, can trust and values you as a client is so important. When you have a genuine connection with your photographer they capture your emotion and your wedding day the best.  

 
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Interested in booking Sydney Marie Photography or do you have a few questions still? No problem! The more information on the form below you give, the easier I can help make this process go and make your wedding the most memorable day of your life.