Tips for Brides
So according to The Knot's Wedding Channel, brides should expect to spend 10-15% of their wedding budget on their photography. Aside from the reception costs, this is likely the highest amount of money you'll spend from your wedding budget. I know this can be a touchy subject. A lot of people don't agree with the high costs of wedding photography, but there are so many articles from defensive photographers that I don't feel the need to be one of them. Though I would like to point out that I and every other photographer I have talked to about it have found it difficult to raise our prices because we're made to feel so guilty about running profitable businesses. The bottom line is we're working hard for you for a lot longer than the 8-12 hours you see us on your wedding day :)
My point in all of this is that when you do devote that much money to a wedding day service, you need to make sure you're getting what you want. Hopefully the following tips will help you choose your wedding photographer.
1. Set Your Budget
That should be the first thing you do in any vendor search! Know how much money you have to spend on photography. Let 10-15% be your guide and if you fall in love with a photographer above your budget, know that you'll have to cut back somewhere else. If photography is your priority, then that's fine! But if you're going to be sad that you have to buy a cheaper wedding dress, then that might not be the right choice for you.
2. Determine Your Style
Photography is incredibly subjective! What I love could be different from what you love. My work is colorful, bright, full of laughter, and never lacking in sunlight! That's not everyone's taste. If someone told me they wanted more moody, film-style photography I'd probably refer them to my friend Meagan because she is AMAZING at that. Just please don't ask a photographer to do something stylistically that you're not seeing in their portfolio. They probably aren't as good at it and there is someone out there who is.
3. Ask for Referrals
Suppose you find images you LOVE. But that photographer is triple your budget and no amount of rearranging and penny pinching is going to make it happen. Email that photographer for recommendations. Chances are if you love their work, you have similar taste and they'll refer you to the photographers THEY love.
4. Decide What Products You Want
Digital photography has changed the photography industry. A client asked me recently where I kept my darkroom and I had to explain that I didn't need a darkroom to develop my digital images. It's very different from when our parents were getting married! Now, some photographers still shoot film, so if that's what you want, it can certainly be found! But you have to decide what you want. Albums, canvases, prints, framed prints, digital images? For me, I prioritize digital images and albums. Digital images come with all my wedding collections and albums are in all but one collection. Some photographers have a lower base rate, but it's because they expect you to buy the prints and digital images after the wedding. That makes more sense for some people because then you're just paying for the images you love and want to keep. You just have to decide what makes sense for you.
5. Make a Connection
I would have been really uncomfortable on my wedding day if I hadn't liked my photographers. I tell my brides that they had better like me because they'll be spending more time on their wedding day with me than their groom ;). It's true! If you like a photographer's work and they fit in your budget, but you feel uncomfortable for some reason, you should take a step back. I can't think of a wedding vendor you'll be interacting with more than your photographer, who is supposed to be helping you feel comfortable in front of a camera, so personality MATTERS. This is a good reason to meet with a photographer before signing a contract. You could also read their blog (if they have one) or website (they better have one!) to get to know them better.
6. Communicate Clearly
Be explicit with what you want. Hopefully, if you say you prioritize posed portraits and that photographer specializes in candid photography, they're going to let you know that this may not be the best fit for either of you. But they'll never know that's what you want if you don't tell them. Also, pay attention to how that photographer is communicating with you. I always respond to wedding inquiries within 24 hours to show prospective clients that I'm diligent about checking my email and communicating with them quickly.
Those are my most important tips! Photography is art and people's opinions should differ, so just remember there are no hard and fast rules. Go with your gut... or the photographer who makes you hot tea and cupcakes ;-)