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  • Writer's pictureKristin Bendigo

"The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Perfect Wedding Photographer"

Let's face it, wedding photographers are a dime a dozen! Anyone with a camera who has been told "you take nice photos" believes they can turn that simple complement into a profession. But if every kindergartener whose "beautiful" finger-painting's put all their eggs into that basket, we'd be living in a sea of Picassos!


In truth, like a nurse must have compassion and a teacher must have patience, it takes a person with a unique set of qualities to be a wedding photographer!

An artistic eye, organization, time management skills, adaptability to change, flexibility ... these are just a few of the traits a good event photographer should possess. As we all love to think (and dare we dream) that every wedding will go perfectly, in truth, only about half actually go off according to everyone's plan. So many components go into planning the perfect wedding and with your photographer being by your side the entire day, you want to make sure you're picking the right person who will not only capture every beautiful moment, but be a comforting balance to you.


The following guide is a list of all of the things you should be looking for when hiring the right photographer for your wedding day!


Pay very close attention to what is NOT listed as this will be discussed at the end!



#1 - Is the Photographer a Legit Business?


This is a huge one and often overlooked! Is your potential photographer a licensed and insured entity? Most venues won't work with a vendor who is not a registered entity; this doesn't just apply to photographers, but caterers, florists, bakers, etc. The last thing you want is to pay a retainer for a vendor and come to realize they will not be allowed on your venue's premises on the wedding day because they've had "insurance" issues with them before.


A Google search can bring up their LLC number, or simply ask the photographer for their certifications! If they are a legit business, they will have no problem providing these documentations and numbers to you.


#2 - Reviews!


What better way to get a feel for your potential photographer than by reading the words of other brides and grooms? Most photographers have their businesses linked to Google; just give their reviews a read to see what they are all about! Don't just look at the number of 5-star reviews they have; that is a good jumping off point of course, but make sure to actually read through the reviews and look for similarities. Did each client have a good experience because the photographer's work was consistent? Were they fun to work with? On time to each event? What were some of the things that stood out amongst all of the reviews?


"Don't hesitate .... BOOK HER NOW!"

#3 - Galleries & Consistency


Social Media is a great way to get a general idea of the photographer's work ... but remember, vendors love to post their favorite and/or best photos of the day. Make sure to ask the photographer for full galleries; that way you can see their consistency throughout the day. Are they staying fluid throughout the entire event? Does their shooting and editing style look the same from a gallery a year ago compared to now? If things have changed, does it represent growth?


Viewing full galleries doesn't just show consistency in their work, but also that the photographer has experience as a primary photographer for a wedding. Many wedding photographers begin as second shooters and will market themselves off of the work they have done as seconds; without seeing full galleries, you could be hiring someone with minimal to no experience running a wedding on their own. Photographers will also attend styled shoots and market themselves based on this work as well.


Always ask for full galleries to review!


#4 - Personality & Character


This may be the most important aspect to look for when interviewing your potential wedding photographer ... after all, this vendor will be by your side all day! Does this person seem like someone you can hang out with, yet still be professional and get the job done? Are they fun, but stern when they need to be to keep to a schedule of events? Do you have some things in common you can bond over and perhaps talk about to relieve a little stress when you may feel overwhelmed on the big day?


Set up a Zoom or phone call to chat with the photographer on a personal level to see if they're the one for you!


#5 - Knowledge & Gear: What Do They Really Know?


Now I may get some flack on this one. "A good photographer can shoot with anything!"


Right, but when it comes to a wedding, we have ONE shot to get it right, and chances cannot be taken. So when it comes to gear, only the best, professional gear will do. Which means, your photographer should have the following:

  • A full-framed, dual card camera (preferably two)

  • Multiple lenses that handle different depths of field and focal lengths

  • Many SD cards and backup batteries for both cameras and lighting equipment

  • On camera and off camera flashes


Every photographer is different and every photographer has his or her own style of shooting, but when it comes to weddings, only the best gear will do! If your photographer does not have a dual slot camera, and their SD card corrupts, you can say goodbye to your entire wedding gallery! Having a dual slot camera ensures that protection. Having two cameras will allow your photographer to have two different lenses on them at once; he or she won't need to swap out lenses each time they want to change their focal lengths.


Gear is definitely important, but does your potential photographer have the knowledge to back it up? I can't emphasize enough, your wedding photographer has only one shot to get it right! Are they well versed in how weddings work? Are they familiar with all types of ceremonies? How long have they been shooting weddings, let alone working as a professional photographer? Do they know the venue inside and out and if not, can they adapt to new surroundings? These are great questions to ask during the interview process, and don't be afraid to do so!


Experience is key, but knowledge is better!


A few more things to consider ...


  • Contracts - Make sure they have one; these protect both parties and make sure certain expectations are upheld between the client and the vendor. If you try and book a wedding photographer who does not ask you to sign one, this person is not a legitimate business and 9/10 times, will take your retainer and run.


  • Retainers - These guarantee the date is yours and will go towards your final payment. You will be asked to pay this AND sign a contract. Again, if not, this person is most likely running an illegitimate business.


  • Style - Styles change all the time; make sure the photographer is consistent and true to their style and you choose one that you will still love 10 years from now.


  • Delivery Dates & Expectations - This should be laid out in your contract, but make sure the delivery time frame of your gallery and what would be included in your package is clear and direct. How many photos are included? Are they fully edited? Do I get a photo release? These are good questions to ask in the interview process.


Now ... What Did You Notice Wasn't A Priority?


PRICE!


When it comes to your wedding day, photography & videography should be the number one thing you budget for! Your gallery is the only thing you get to take away with you that you can revisit every single day, that you can share with all of your loved ones, that you can print and copy and reminisce with over and over again. While all of your vendors are incredibly important, a photograph captures every piece of your wedding day, every moment .... and that is priceless.



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