8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Wedding Photographer
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking for a wedding photographer. There are so many beautiful portraits to swoon over on Instagram and surely every friend is eager to give you their opinions. But how do you pick out the right photographer for you – not your second cousin once removed? Lucky for you I know a thing or two on the subject, so here are eight questions to consider while you’re on the search for the perfect person to capture one of the most important days of your lives.
1. What posing style do we like best?
Couple portraits are a good place to start. Scroll through #weddingphotography on Instagram and see which photos catch your eye. Are the couples more traditionally posed or do they appear to be candid moments? Are you drawn to the intimate snuggles or big laughs? Is every detail perfectly placed or is there a bit of messy realness to the photographs? Do you prefer pictures that involve the environment or do you want to get in close to the couple? Do you love vertical crops to fill your phone screen or do you like to see images horizontal the way your eyes do? Jot these things down and keep an eye out for them when you begin your search.
2. What editing style do we like best?
As you’re looking through these images, pay attention to the colours, tones, and textures used throughout. Do the photos have a warm tint or does the bride’s white dress look truly white? Is there a lot of contrast between lights and darks or do you prefer something soft and airy? Are you attracted to moody images with dull tones and less detail in the shadows, or do you like bright, vivid colours? Do you want every detail from the scar on your arm to the overcast sky retouched or do you prefer the natural look of fly-away hairs? As you are considering what you like, think also about what these images will look like 20 years from now. Will you still be in love with this style or will the trend fade? Go look through your parents or grandparents wedding photos and consider what you like about them. Is there a sentimental aging that attracts you? Do they feel classic and timeless? Write down any positive words that come to mind when looking at all of these images and see if you can pick out why they make you feel that way. Check in with these words as you narrow down your photographer search.
3. What is our budget?
You’ve got to be real with yourselves here - you’re not going to book your favourite photographer for $1000. Do some research into the average cost of photographers in your area and think about how much of your wedding budget you want to allot to photography. Remember that your photos are one of the few things you spend money on for your wedding that will continue to serve you for years to come. Consider how important these keepsakes are to you and how much you are able to spend on them. As an idea, quality wedding photography in Saskatchewan will average between two and four thousand dollars.
4. What events do we want photographed?
Think through the timeline of your day and ask yourself if you want photos of each event. If you’re only concerned about your ceremony and a session with your beau this could be a way to bring your dream-but-way-over-budget photog into your price range. If you want coverage from the moment you start make-up to your big exit from the reception however, know that it’s going to add up. Carefully consider which events are most important for you to be documented.
5. Have we seen examples from real weddings of everything we want covered?
A photographer may have a stunning insta-feed with what seems like dozens of whimsical weddings gallivanting in the most beautiful places, but we all know that Instagram doesn’t tell the whole story. Many photographers attend workshops or design stylized shoots to create these magazine ready photos. Remember that it’s a lot easier to create gorgeous photos when you have the perfect location, light, weather, and models to work with and no rush to make it to the reception on time. Make sure you are viewing real weddings and look for examples in a variety in lighting situations. Pay close attention to moments in the day that can be trickier to capture like low-lit community halls and dramatic ballrooms. Ask your prospective photographer if you can view an entire wedding gallery to make sure every item on your list is covered.
6. What kind of deliverables do we want?
Receiving a few hundred digital images is standard, but have you thought about what you’ll do with them a couple years from now? Are you a do-it-yourself type of person who wants to sort through a thousand images to pick out your favourites or would you rather have a professional do it for you? Will you leave your pictures on your computer for years or will you be quick to print thank-you’s and wall canvasses? Do you want to have fun making your own budget-friendly printed album or do you want the best of the best without having to lift a finger? Is online sharing important to you for family members that are far away? And how long do you want to wait for all these photos to arrive? There are a lot of options out there and it’s good to have an idea of what you want now, before getting hit by surprises later on.
7. Is this photographer a professional?
So you’ve figured out what style of photos you want, assessed your timeline and budget, and found your perfect photographer! You even viewed an entire gallery from a real wedding and you love it all. Great! But we’re not done quite yet. It’s important to look a little deeper into your photographer’s business. A lot of photogs are self taught, which is great, but it’s worth knowing if they’ve picked up their knowledge from internships, workshops, or have they simply learned from their own mistakes after years on the job. You want to make sure that they are prepared to troubleshoot when problems arise and formal training and lots of experience are key indicators that they will know how to handle every hiccup in stride. Whether they’re doing this full-time or on the side will also give you an idea of how invested they are in their business. In addition, important details like how to safely handle digital files and proper business practices aren’t standard knowledge for beginners. These moments are a big deal and you want to make sure you hire a photographer you can trust.
8. Do we feel comfortable interacting with this person?
Your very final thing to consider before you sign on the dotted line is your experience communicating with your prospective photographer, both online and in person. Do they get back to you in a reasonable time frame? Are they easy to understand and do they answer all of your questions? Do they have a contract laid out protecting both their and your own rights? Are they pleasant to be around? Remember, in addition to working with this person before and after your wedding, you are also spending your entire day with them. Make sure your wedding-day third wheel is at least someone you enjoy.
That was a lot, but this is a big deal! You’ll never get to take these photos again and you want to make sure you’re trusting the right person with the job. Download my free Wedding Photographer Checklist below to help you keep track of all your needs and wants.