5 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
I’m going to sound a little like Captain Obvious with this, but when you are looking for a photographer for your wedding day, you want to be sure that you choose the right person for the job.
I know what you are thinking – “Duh!”
There is obviously more that goes into choosing a wedding photographer (and we’ll get into that shortly), but photography is unlike any other service you’ll be hiring for your wedding day.
Professional photographs are an investment in your memories and give you something tangible to look back on in the years to come. That’s why it’s so important to hire a photographer who can not only capture the images you want, but, more importantly, make your whole photographic experience completely effortless – because, let’s be honest, you have better things to do on wedding day than to be preoccupied with your photos.
Okay, enough chit chat, let’s get to the tips ….
Determine your budget and what type of package you want
Before you start your search, determine your budget range. Prices for wedding photographers can range anywhere from $2,000 to over $20,000 depending on what market you are in, what type of wedding you are planning to have (large, small, destination, etc.), and what type of package you book. Having been in the local Connecticut market for over a decade, I can tell you that most experienced, skilled wedding photographers start in the $3,000 range for wedding day coverage and digital files. Most will have larger packages available as well with more hours, multiple photographers, an engagement session, a wedding album, etc. So, your final costs will largely depend on what you’re looking for.
Know what style of images you want
Every photographer has a different style. Are you looking for more candid, photojournalistic photos? Do you want more posed portraits? What type of aesthetic are you looking for in your photographs? The popular light and airy? The trendy dark and moody? Maybe you love the look of film? Or maybe you are more traditional and want more of a classic look to your photographs. Whatever you want, it’s important to know what style and type of images you’re looking for, so you can choose a photographer who can meet your specific needs.
*We tend to fall into that classic, traditional style with a mix of candid and posed photos. We like to think of our style as warm, candid, and elegant.
Can you see yourselves in the photos?
Looking at website after website, gallery after gallery, and Insta after Insta can cause some serious brain fatigue and make you feel drained, exhausted, and overwhelmed which can cloud your judgment when it comes to choosing a photographer. There’s a better way. As you are looking through a photographer’s photos, ask yourself “Can I see myself (and my fiance) in these photos?” “If I were in these photos would I look like myself?” Example – if you come across a photographer that has a lot of styled, posed, fashion-y type photographs and that’s not your style then you’ll know the answer to these questions really quickly.
Make sure you’re a good fit
Sometimes personalities mesh perfectly and you become instant friends. Sometimes you and another person are just too different to work comfortably together. If you and your photographer don’t mesh, your wedding day may be awkward or just no fun and that’s the last thing you want. You can tell a lot about a photographer in how they write. Be sure to visit their About page and read through it carefully. Visit their Instagram and browse through their posts paying special attention to their captions. Photographers share certain photographs and write about those photographs for a reason. Personally, I share a lot of ‘moment driven’ photographs of people having fun and celebrating as well as moments that tug at your heart a little. I do that because that’s what I love to shoot. Weddings are emotional and I love to capture all those rich, palpable feelings. I also love to photograph all the pretty details like the dress, the cake, etc. but moments are my jam. So pay attention to the photos a photographer posts. They will give you important insight into their personality and help you understand if they are the type of person you’d like to work with.
*I can’t emphasize enough how important fit is. Remember, you will be with your photographer ALL DAY on your wedding day and before you wedding day if you are doing an engagement session and even after your wedding day if you have an album in your package. Bottom line – you will be spending a lot of time with your photographer so make sure they are someone you have a good rapport with.
Meet with your photographer before you hire him/her
Hi, Captain Obvious again 🙂 I think this goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway – make sure you meet with your photographer in person before you hire him/her. Obviously, nowadays meeting over Zoom or over the phone are acceptable options if an in-person meeting isn’t feasible, but, whatever the medium, make sure you talk to your photographer live before you hire him/her. There is no substitute for a live conversation when you want to get to know someone. The added bonus of an in-person meeting is having the opportunity to touch and feel the physical products that they offer that you may want in your package (items like wedding albums, engagement albums, prints, frames, wall art, etc.)
Our next article in this series will be “Questions to ask your photographer in your consultations”. Included in that, will be a tip on what NOT to say when sending your initial inquiry email to your photographer. That alone will make your photographer hiring process a lot smoother. We’ll be posting that tomorrow so check back for those so you can have a meaningful interview with your photographer.
Until tomorrow, Happy Planning 🙂
You’re engaged! Now what?
It’s that time again! The start of a new year – Hello 2022! – and the beginning of a new wedding planning season. Did you know that 7 out of the 10 most popular days to propose take place in the month of December accounting for over 19% of all proposals!? That’s A LOT of bending knees!
Since a significant amount of proposals take place during the holiday season, it stands to reason that those same couples are just now coming out of the starting gates for their planning – whether a 2022 wedding OR a 2023 wedding.
So, to all the couples reading this …. Congratulations on your engagement! You’re likely feeling all kinds of emotions and maybe a little overwhelmed by the wedding planning ahead of you, as well as the huge, exciting change about to take place in your life. There’s nothing wrong with being a little nervous—in fact, it’s totally normal! It can be daunting to know where to begin once you’ve said yes (or popped the question yourself), so we put together this little guide to help you take things step by step.
Take advantage of all that excitement and start calling your peeps! Notice I said “call”. This is a monumental moment in your life and shouldn’t be relegated to a few lines of text. Call your parents, call your siblings, call your friends. Let those closest to you revel in this moment with you. You’ll likely be asked about a date or even where you are thinking of having your wedding day. To minimize the stress levels at this early juncture, we recommend responding with … “You know – we really aren’t sure yet. We’re just enjoying this moment right now. We’ll start our planning really soon and make sure you have all the details (obvi)!” This helps to ward off any potentially tense conversations about planning and any potential ‘opinions’ about the planning process as well … you know what I mean 😉
2. Take a deep breath
Before you start putting lists together or asking your friends for ideas, take a breath and enjoy this time. You will have PLENTY of time to plan, but only a short time to be engaged. Take advantage of it. Take a weekend get-away somewhere, make a reservation at your fave restaurant, or maybe just stay in with a nice dinner for two and a bottle of wine. Whatever you do, be present and enjoy this time.
3. Have your engagement ring insured
Maybe not the first ‘to do’ on people’s list, but make sure you get your engagement ring insured. It’s always a good idea to get your engagement ring insured, just in case it gets lost or stolen at any point in the future. Insurance is the only way to replace your ring without having to pay for an entirely new one, so you should definitely take the time to make sure your precious new piece of jewelry is covered. The peace of mind you will have is priceless.
4. Your wedding day vision and selecting your date
Naturally, the first question people will ask you after your engagement is When’s the big day? Since selecting your wedding date will dictate every planning decision thereafter, there’s a lot riding on it. To make choosing a wedding date a little easier, we suggest you determine what kind of wedding you want first. We call this your wedding day vision. Do you want a bright, colorful, outdoor summer wedding? A cozy, indoor fall wedding? Big guest list? Small guest list? Somewhere in between? Are you thinking of something more formal? Or maybe a little less formal? Once you have your vision set, your date will be easier to choose because you’ve narrowed it down to a setting and a season/time of year.
6. Securing your wedding venue
Okay. You have a couple of dates in mind – now comes the fun part, choosing your wedding venue! You know the saying “Location, location, location”, right? Well, it’s true for weddings as well. Your wedding venue is the cornerstone of your wedding day vision and will likely be the first decision you make in your planning process. It’s also the one vendor with the least amount of flexibility – there are only so many wedding venues available and most venues can only accommodate one wedding per day. So, choose your venue wisely, early, and quickly! Even if you decide to have a private home wedding, rental companies are in high demand (e.g. tents, tables, chairs, linens, etc.) so you’ll want to reach out to them as quickly as possible.
Once you have your wedding venue and your date reserved, THEN you can start to move down the rest of your wedding vendor list.
7. Selecting your wedding vendors
This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road”. You could be looking a hiring over 10 different vendors for your day – Venue, Getting Ready Hotel, Planner, Day of Coordinator, Cake, Photographer, Videographer, Caterer, Florist, DJ/Band, Formal Rental, Church, Officiant, Transportation, Hair Stylist, Make-Up Artist, and any other vendor that you might be interested in hiring like dance lessons or a cigar rolling station at your reception or maybe a Food Truck or Pizza Delivery for late-night munchies for your guests. The point is that there are quite a few vendors that you’ll be considering for your big day.
So, what is the most efficient way to search for, interview, and ultimately hire your vendors?
There are a few ways to go about this …
- Knot/Wedding Wire
- Referrals from other vendors
- Referrals from your friends/family
I like to call this the ‘at your fingertips’ option. Why? Well, Google is readily available to you right at your fingertips. So, in that respect, it’s a good option because you’ll get a list of vendors right away to start reaching out to. The downside to Google is that your results will largely depend on how up to date each vendor is with their SEO and, if I’m being honest, not all wedding vendor professionals are well-versed in search engine optimization nor do they have the time, as mostly sole proprietors, to keep up with the volume of content required to rank well on Google. So, bottom line, you’ll get a lot of options, but those options may not represent the whole market.
The Knot/Wedding Wire have been the market leader in online wedding vendor advertising for over a decade. The plus side of using the Knot/Wedding Wire is that you’ll have no shortage of listings to research. It’s also nice that you can tailor your search by vendor category and by your geographical location (similar to Google) and read real reviews by real customers. The downside is that there are a TON of vendors listed on Knot/Wedding Wire and sifting through the volume can be overwhelming. Plus, while the reviews can be helpful, should really rely on the opinions of someone you’ve never met?
My personal favorite … and what I recommend to all engaged couples. Why take a stranger’s word over a trusted friend’s? Or a trusted vendor that you’re already hired? Referrals (i.e. word of mouth) are hands-down the best and most efficient way to secure your wedding vendors. You don’t have to wade through a bunch of google pages or Knot listings. Instead, you get a targeted, short-list of vendors to contact that have already been vetted by someone that shares similar style and interests as you do.
Which one is better, you ask? A referral from a friend or from another wedding vendor? I like both for different reasons. A referral from a trusted friend is great b/c you get their unadulterated opinion of their first hand experience being a client of that vendor. That’s priceless. A referral from another wedding vendor that you’re already hired (your venue’s preferred vendor list or a referral from your bridal gown shop or from your planner) is also gold because as industry-insiders we have worked with a lot of different vendors across all different categories and can provide our personal recommendations based on experience.
8. The importance of priority setting
As the Rolling Stones so eloquently said “You can’t always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” As you begin your planning, it’s very important to determine what your priority areas/vendors are. Is having an amazing band at your reception a ‘must have’? Do you want the top of the line wedding gown? Do you want only the best wedding photographer to capture your wedding day? Knowing (and reminding yourselves) what is most important to you and where you want to prioritize your budget will help when it comes time to choose between competing wants or wishes in the planning process.
9. Pace yourselves and stick to your vision
Wedding planning is a marathon and not a sprint. Decision making can be stressful. If things get too much, then take a step back and do something fun to take your minds off of planning. It’s also important to stick to your vision for your wedding day. Remember, this is your wedding day. I can tell your from experience, the quickest way to wedding planning purgatory, is to try and please everybody around you and their opinions/ideas. Yes, of course, you want your friends and your family and your guests to have a good time at your wedding, but don’t let someone else push you to do something you don’t want. Stick to your guns!
10. Photography last forever
And lastly, a little shameless plug. The flowers wilt, the food gets eaten … so does the cake …, the music ends, and the dress goes into storage. All you have left of your one momentous day is your photographs. With the right photographer, you will have the power to relive your wedding day again and again. So, make sure you hire the very best photographer you can! We like to think we are pretty easy to work with and that our work isn’t half bad either. If you’d like to have a chat with us about photographing your wedding, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our Contact form.
Happy Planning 🙂
Fall is a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it’s pumpkin spice lattes, jumping into leaf piles, dusting off grandma’s apple pie recipe, lighting the season’s first fire, or snuggling under blankets to keep the chill off. For me, it’s football season! But for recently engaged couples, it’s engagement season! And who can blame them? The vibrant colors, the cool, brisk air, the fuzzy flannels and sweaters. Makes ya wanna get up close and personal. Know what I mean?
I always encourage couples to do engagement sessions because it helps to break the ice and get you comfortable in front of the camera which makes for even better photos on wedding day.
Fall is arguably THE most popular time of the year for engagement sessions. Personally, I love engagement sessions in all seasons – spring, summer, and fall. But there is something a little extra romantic when it comes to a fall session. When Courtney and John reached out to me photograph their engagement session, they had one simple request – they wanted a bona fide, New England, fall session. Like something out of Yankee magazine. Well, I think they got what they asked for!
Southford Falls in Southbury, CT was our New England fall set of choice and it did not disappoint. We had a blast exploring the trails, bridges, fields, and river banks. We were even able to coordinate a ‘leaf toss’ that would make Hollywood jealous! It was the perfect backdrop for a fall engagement session, but don’t just take my word for it – check out the photos!
Thanks Courtney! Thanks John! You guys were such a blast to work with – relaxed, down to earth, and a whole lot of fun. My kind of peeps! Best to you both next June.
Know anyone who’s recently engaged? Feeling inspired by fall? Go ahead and click SHARE ON FACEBOOK to spread the love!
I love engagement sessions. Especially, fall engagement sessions. When Liz and Jake told me their wedding would be held at the historic Avon Old Farms School in Avon, CT, I was ecstatic. When they told me their engagement session would be there too, I was like a little kid on Christmas morning! Avon Old Farms (AOF) has a special place in my heart. No, I’m not an almnus. And no, I didn’t attend any camps there as a kid. In fact, I don’t even know anybody personally who went there.
I am, however, a huge hockey fan and if you know anything about the sport of hockey then you know that Avon Old Farms is one of the premier hockey schools in the US. AOF has produced some of the best NHL talent over the years. Brian Leetch, Jonathan Quick, Cam Atkinson, Nick Bonino … to name a few. It also happens to be the place where I got to rub shoulders with one of hockey’s greatest all-time legends, Jim Craig! Yep, THAT Jim Craig! If the name doesn’t ring a bell, just google “1980 USA Men’s Hockey”. Yeah. THAT Jim Craig.
AOF is more than just sports, though. It’s a school that is steeped in tradition and academic excellence and has a long track record of molding young men into tomorrow’s leaders. It reminds me a lot of my high school alma mater, Montgomery Bell Academy.
So, why am I gushing about this place? What about Liz and Jake? Have I forgotten the reason I was there in the first place? I wanted to give a little back story on AOF because it just so happens that Liz and Jake are both Avon Old Farms royalty. See, Jake’s dad is the Athletic Director and Liz’s father is the Chairman of the Board of Directors. So, it’ll come as no surprise that Liz and Jake first met at Avon Old Farms. Heck, they practically grew up right on campus!
I always tell couples to have their engagement session at a special location. A place with meaning. Some sentimental attachment. Well, Liz and Jake took this advice to heart even before I met them. And they doubled down on that advice to boot! Not only are they a sentimental couple that appreciate their lineage, heritage, and family, they are heck of a lot of fun to be around! We had a blast from the start and didn’t stop until the sun went down (literally).
Thanks for a great session, guys! I am truly honored to be your wedding photographer and I cannot wait until June!