This is a sponsored guest post.
Unlike the other vendors you bring in to work your wedding like caterers, florists, and musicians, your wedding photographer is the only one whose work will be with you for the rest of your life. Ideally, you want them to create a collection of beautiful photographs that you and your spouse will look at with fondness for the rest of your lives, and be proud to show your kids and grandkids.
Problem is, the wedding photographer is also the only one of the vendors whose work can’t be seen until after the fact. Their samples and testimonials may look great (and shame on them if they don’t), but you never really know what you’re going to get until at least a few weeks later.
To make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting the kinds of pictures you really want, let’s look at some of the most reliable tips to make sure you’re getting the best wedding photographer you can.
Decide on your style.
Before you do anything else, you need to have at least a basic idea of what you want your wedding photos to look like. A photo booth hire is less traditional and more cutting edge. Or do you want classic and timeless? Take some time to go through pictures online and get a feel for what you think would be right for you, and what fits you and your soon-to-be the best as far as personality and style.
Research the candidates.
Once you have a handle on what style you want your wedding pictures to be shot in, it’s time to start finding photographers who can do it. Browse local listings, check online, and most of all, look for reviews and testimonials to understand not only who’s out there and what they do, but how they interact with their customers, their willingness to work with people on their ideas, and their overall personality and responsiveness.
Interview the finalists.
Whoever you wind up selecting is, at the end of the day, going to be working for you for the day, and just like any other potential employee, you don’t want to hire someone based on their resume alone. Set up a time to meet with each candidate once you’ve narrowed it down to a shortlist, ask questions about things that are important to you, and get a feel for whether they stack up to the reviews once you meet them in person.
Ask to see full wedding albums.
Even once you’ve met the photographer and get the feeling like they’re the right pick, you should still request to see complete albums of their work. Online portfolios are like any other resume: they’re going to put their best foot forward, and feature the cream of the crop of their past work. What you want to see here is consistency, and assurance they can maintain that level in more than a few highlighted exceptions.
Know what you’re looking for when reviewing their work.
While you obviously want to be assured of the overall quality of their work, don’t forget to keep a special eye out for how they capture the images you’re most intent on getting right. Make a list of the most critical moments that you want perfect shots of, the kind of lighting you want, and the other small details that matter to you, and see if they generally meet the standard you have in mind on those items.
See what kind of rapport you can establish with them.
You don’t need to make a lifelong best friend out of your wedding photographer, but you do want to make sure you can have the kind of relationship that opens the door for open dialog between you. Are they willing to listen to your ideas, or do they dictate the “right” way to do things to you? Do they seem interested in delivering what you want, or are they just looking for a payday? Look for someone who is willing to give you what you want, and ready to discuss what that means to you.
Compare the offerings.
Even though you’re probably coming in with an idea of the budget you expect to work with, there’s a good chance you won’t know exactly how much you’ll be spending until you start looking at the packages each photographer offers. What are their base rates? What do they charge for extras? Are they willing to match their competition? You might like someone’s work, but an outrageous price tag may make it more worthwhile to turn them down for another option.
Understand the legalities of image ownership.
You may be surprised to learn that most contracts with wedding photographers actually give them ownership of all the pictures they take at your wedding. This means they can use them in their portfolio or in other promotional materials, and if you want to get prints from anyone other than them, you’ll have to buy the rights before they’ll let you do it. Know what you get for your money, and what they retain the rights to.
Know what happens after the wedding.
Wedding photographers aren’t the photo department at Walgreens, and they won’t get your pictures to you in an hour or less. In fact, it often takes weeks or more because the raw images they take at your wedding need to be edited for the professional look you paid for. If they’re especially in-demand, their backlog may keep them busy enough that it could take six to eight weeks to get your photos to you.
Don’t overdo the prep work.
Even though you may have a good idea of the kinds of shots you want to be captured, you’re probably better off giving them some general bullet points and letting them handle the rest rather than handing them an exhaustive list of shots you absolutely need. Remember, they’re the pro, and if you’ve done an excellent job of vetting them and their work, you should have faith in them to let them do their job without micromanaging them.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have all the information you need to select the right photographer for your wedding so you can focus on the fun stuff, like enjoying the wedding itself and picking a resort you can go to on the honeymoon!