Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Wedding Wednesday! Each week we discuss a new topic related to wedding planning, wedding photography and more. Whether you are a bride planning your big day or just a girl who likes to plan ahead :), we are glad you stopped by!
This week we are talking about how to choose a wedding photographer. I was recently involved in a bridal show and met with several very newly engaged ladies. Some had been engaged for 2 weeks and some for 2 months but they all had one sentiment in common….they ALL felt overwhelmed. There is no shortage of photographers in the Charlotte area. There are literally hundreds of websites for “wedding photographers” and I could sense that many of the brides weren’t even sure what questions to ask me at the show…..much less, how to choose “the one” photographer to capture her big day.
So, here are a few questions you might want to consider when shopping for a wedding photographer.
- When you look through the images on their website, do you FEEL anything? If the images move you to feel the same joy the bride in the photograph felt at that moment or you tear up seeing a groom’s reaction to his bride down the aisle, make note of that website. If you flip through a dozen or more photos on any website and have little reaction, move along. You are looking for a storyteller, someone to tell YOUR story. You need to find someone who sees (and captures) life the way you do. Is their style bright and happy or moody and contrasty? That photographer shoots the way they see life as a person and you need to find a photographer who sees life the same way you do. Don’t just choose the photographer your bestie used (with a light/bright style) then show the photographer dozens of images you’ve pinned that are dark/moody. If you don’t feel an initial emotional pull towards their style of photography, they are not the right person to capture your big day.
- Read reviews. When you google that photographer’s website, do you see 4 or 5 star ratings and/or Google plus reviews? Did you find positive reviews on Wedding Wire or The Knot about the company? How about reviews on their Facebook business page? These are unsolicited, honest reviews by past brides and you should definitely spend time reading these. Good, bad or ugly, do not skip this important step when researching your photographer. Also, ask your venue, wedding planner, florist, etc. about photographers you are considering. These vendors have seen photographers on actual wedding days and will be able to provide a better perspective on their professionalism.
- Does the photographer have a retail location? There is nothing wrong with meeting with a photographer in a coffee shop (I met with clients in a coffee shop or my home studio when I was just getting started), BUT, signing a commercial lease for a retail space is a very big step professionally. It’s a sign that the person you are meeting with is fully committed to capturing weddings as a career and not just a hobby or part-time job. They have kept up with their business taxes and maintained their business’ finances for years and therefore, have presented documentation and qualified for a lease at a retail location. I always joke that having a freestanding studio is like the difference between eggs and ham for breakfast. The chicken is involved in breakfast but the pig is committed. (ha!) Brides who book with us know that we are a very organized, multi-photographer studio and can reach someone at our studio 5 days/week. There is great assurance for our brides knowing this is our full-time job and we are just a phone call away. A retail lease is also a sign of a long term commitment your photographer has made. We have made financial guarantees to remain an operational business for years to come and our brides find comfort in that.
- How speedy is the photographer’s response time (e-mail/phone calls)? When you first inquired via e-mail, how long did it take the photographer to respond to you? Response time is the marker for business organization. We have spent years perfecting the systems behind our business . If a bride inquires through the Old South website during business hours, she will typically get a phone call as well as an e-mail within the hour. After hours/weekend inquires are handled promptly the next business day. It is a red flag when a photographer takes a week to respond to an inquiring bride. Be sure to note the responsiveness of your photographer. These same business systems (whether organized or unorganized) will apply to their post-wedding editing time too. Remember your best friend who was LIVID that she had to wait 4-5 months to receive her wedding images? Chances are, that photographer was slow to respond to her from day one.
- Can you imagine being with that person from the time you zip up your gown until you run through those sparklers? Aside from your wedding planner, you will spend more time on your wedding day with your photographer than any other vendor you hire. You need to connect personally to them. You are inviting that person into your personal/emotional space on one of the most stressful (and joyful) days of your life. The photographer should be a welcomed presence and someone you enjoy being with. If you don’t connect with a photographer at your in-person meeting, he/she is probably not the right choice to spend 8-10 hours with you on one of the most important days of your life.
- Ask to see their photographs taken at night and in the rain. Let’s be honest, on a bright sunny day, even a newbie with an iPhone can take a nice picture or two. However, it’s easy to spot amateurs when shooting conditions are less than ideal. Your reception will be at night and that lighting can be tricky. Make sure you see lots of the photographer’s images taken in low light conditions (during a church ceremony, inside the reception venue) as well as in the rain. A professional photographer will be fully capable of creating gorgeous images in ANY light and not just in natural, daylight. Seeing any full wedding from start to finish will showcase that photographer’s work in all light so be sure to request access to this.
The bottom line is that choosing a wedding photographer is an extremely personal choice. Take your time. Do your research and be sure to meet with your photographer in person (if possible). This person will create the images you will hold close to your heart 20, 30, and 40 years after your wedding day. Choose your storyteller wisely!
Click HERE to read past Wedding Wednesday topics and be sure to check back each week. We LOVE happily ever afters! Thanks for stopping by, y’all!