The question has been popped…now comes the fun stuff!
Most of us know how much weddings cost, so if you want to get your money’s worth, you’re going to have to do some work first. On average, couples hire 15 vendors for their wedding day, so you need to decide how you’re going to plan your budget.
When it comes to deciding how to pick a photographer, there are some questions you should ask yourself before beginning.
How much do you plan on spending on your photographer? What matters most to you when choosing a photographer? Do you want to have an engagement shoot?
Having the answers to some of these questions beforehand can put you one step ahead before actually getting out there and looking.
How and where should couples first start looking for a wedding photographer?
Once you and your fiancé/e have chosen a date, that’s a great time to start looking for your photographer. Lori Barberly of Lori Barberly Photography tells us, “Wedding photographers can book out a year or more in advance, so once you have your date and venue locked in, finding your photographer is a great next step!”
According to WeddingWire, in 2019, 88% of wedding planning was done online. With so many social media platforms at our fingertips, we have a lot of ways to search and review vendors.
One of the newest trends is to go into Instagram and search for your wedding venue’s location tag. You can see any picture that has been posted and tagged at that location. This is a great way to see a variety of different photographers’ work at the venue you’ll be using.
“My best advice is to start researching Google images of your venue(s) you are considering or just photographers in your area, and see if there are any styles or images that really jump out to you,” says Steven Miller of Steven Miller Photography.
“Word of mouth is something many people forget, too. Ask your friends, your co-workers,” he tells us.
What are the obvious questions to ask?
Just like there are some obvious things you may forget while planning your wedding day, you may forget questions to ask your photographer. Lori gave us some great tips on what to ask a photographer before booking them:
“Make sure the photographer is available for your date and will be the actual photographer for your wedding. Some photographers have associate photographers that shoot in a similar style that they hire out for weddings, so you want to make 100% sure you know who you’re getting for your wedding day! It’s also absolutely essential that your photographer provides you with a contract outlining what’s included in your wedding package and the total cost. And it’s even more essential that you read it before signing! If you have questions about the contract, ask your photographer.”
These may seem like obvious things, but when you’re caught up with talking about money and how many hours your wedding will be, it may slip your mind.
What questions do couples not think to ask when interviewing wedding photographers?
Just think, most of us don’t get married every other weekend! So, we may not think of everything we are supposed to ask.
We spoke with a few photographers to find out what are the biggest questions brides and grooms walk away from interviews without asking.
Brian Bazala of Sugar Pop Productions says, “One of the biggest issues we have is regarding touch-ups and edits. Most couples need to be educated on the difference between a basic image enhancement (such as color enhancements and corrections or filters) which are usually included as part of the package vs. photographic retouching, or “Photoshopping” (removing blemishes, stains or even people, or minor body shaping). These are similar but very different things. Retouching can take a lot of time and is done to each individual photo and warrants an additional fee. Clients should ask their photographer, ‘what kind of touch-ups, and adjustments do you include?’”
But a photo can last a lifetime. This is why photography is something people choose to spend their money on.
In 2019, WeddingWire research also shows over 80% of couples set a rough budget before researching any vendors. Overall, 54% increased their budget during planning, with photography ranking the highest for most popular places couples increased their spending.
Is it important for the couple to have an engagement shoot?
It’s 2020, most of us will answer that question for you. YES.
Why? Well, let’s see… pictures, pictures, and more pictures. Any excuse to have more pictures to post and share, the better!
Kellie Warren of Live Happy Studio agrees, “The engagement session is a chance for you and your person to get to take pictures at the start of your big adventure together, so I say why not? It’s a good way to work with a photographer you already like to see if their personality fits with you, too. You’re going to be hanging out with the photographer most of the day, so it’s great if you enjoy being around them, not just their personal style of photography. The engagement session is also great because you’ll have professional images to use on your save the dates or other wedding-related details.”
Most couples don’t have professional images of themselves that they can use throughout the wedding planning process. Like Kellie mentioned, these engagement photos are perfect for your save the dates. But they can also be used on your wedding website, your online registry, and at your wedding shower.
It’s about capturing that moment in time after you said “yes” but before you’ve said “I do.”
Where should couples look for reviews about photographers?
Most photographers nowadays have their own Google My Business listing, Facebook business pages, and their own personal websites. Many couples start with searching on social media to help navigate them to the reviews.
Lori says couples have many ways to explore options, “There are tons of places to look for reviews about a potential photographer. Google is a great first step and places like the photographer’s Facebook business page, Wedding Wire, and The Knot are also helpful!”
WVM TIP: Search the photographer’s company name with the word reviews to see different websites where their company has received feedback.
Are awards that the photographer has received or where they have been published important?
When it comes down to it, who do you want to photograph your wedding day? Someone who cares so deeply about awards and trophies? Or do you want someone who treats your wedding day like it’s more important than any award or trophy?
Check out their gallery. Talk to them. If you like who they are, and they don’t have any awards, does it really matter all that much? If it does, okay. That’s a decision you have to make.
But sometimes it’s not about what accomplishments surround you, instead, it’s about what you have in front of you that matters most.
How do you suggest to couples to try to compare different photographer packages?
When it comes to different photographer packages, a lot of it comes down to cost. Right now, the wedding industry is saturated with photographers and it’s a very competitive field of work.
Lori tells us, “When comparing photographers, don’t just compare dollars and cents! Yes, cost and what you get for that cost (hours of coverage, number of shooters, etc) are important, but you’ll live with these images for the rest of your life, so if you’re comparing two photographers and you like one, but love the other, it may be worth spending a little bit more to ensure wedding photos you love!”
So, if a couple approaches you with a price that you can’t beat, make sure you are challenging that couple to do their homework so they know what they are getting. And as a photographer trying to get business, spell out what each of your packages includes and why you are the better choice.
What if you want your dog to be included in your wedding photos?
What’s cuter than a pooch in a tux? Ha, not too many things come to mind. But in all seriousness, this is a growing trend and what many brides and grooms may forget is some photographers may have a fear of dogs!
“If you’ll be including your pet, it’s so important to ask your potential photographer if this is something they’re comfortable with. Many couples just assume and don’t say anything, but sadly we’ve seen photographers who are scared of dogs or not comfortable photographing them,” Ilana & Kelly of FairyTail Pet Care tells us.
“This makes it nearly impossible to get those great photos with their pup that they really want! Most photographers are open to talking to us/getting tips from us even if they haven’t worked with dogs in weddings before (which we’re happy to do!) but make sure this is a question that you’re asking when qualifying photographers if you plan on including your pet.”
The most important thing is getting the photos you want on your wedding day. Make sure you’re prepared with the right questions of what to ask a wedding photographer, know the kind of photos you want, and know how much it’s all worth to you. That way when your big day comes, you won’t have to worry, and your photographer can capture the day you always dreamed of.
Do you have any questions that you would like for us to ask our photographers for you?
Written by Daniella Hume