One of the most important wedding planning decisions you'll make is finding the perfect wedding photographer. I mean that. Your wedding photos will be one of the only living memories of the most important day of your life, so they need to be good! Plus, between the engagement sessions, getting ready shots, the first look, the I Do's, and your first kiss as husband and wife, you'll be spending A LOT of up-close-and-personal time with your photographer. So choose wisely! My gal pal Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers is guest posting today with her six tips to do just that!
You're engaged! Now on to the wedding planning – where to even start when it comes to finding the perfect photographer for you? As a wedding photographer, I know that nothing really comes close to being invited into such a personal event in someone’s life and having the opportunity to photograph your lifelong memories. That's kind of a huge deal!
As a bride, having somebody you trust to capture all the moments that will become keepsakes to pass down for generations is kind of important – after all, you want a photographer dedicated to getting your best side, right? So, that’s why it’s so, so important to take your time and find the right one for you. I put together these steps to help you on your way!
1.) GET REFERRALS FROM FRIENDS & MAKE A GOOD LIST
Asking people who know you well and trust can be a great resource for finding a wedding photographer. I personally love getting my couples on referral because I know that if I had a great working relationship with a bride, there’s a pretty good chance that her friends are pretty wonderful to shoot too. If my first bride is awesome – you're probably awesome too!
On the flip side of this, you'll want to know if your friends had any bad experiences that you may not have anticipated based on the photographer's online presentation. Perhaps their photographer was actually too hands-on…Or hands-off. Or late. Or disorganized. Who knows – but ask your friends about their true experience, good and bad. If they rave, you'll know you're on the right path!
2.) CHECK THEM OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Checking out websites should be your first order of business when determining if your referral might be the one. Read the bios, the blogs, and all the other information on the website to get a sense of whether you might connect with them personally. Is this someone you could imagine having a chat with over coffee (or a glass of wine :))? Is their lifestyle something you love? Do you feel like you connect with their online presence, and are they showcasing their business in a professional manner?
You can get a really great feel for how a photographer views their business by searching through their social media a bit: What kind of photos do they focus on – couples, details, moments, wide-angle, tight-shots, color, black & white? Is this what resonates with you? What do they talk about? Are they positive or negative in the way that they speak? Are they actively posting their recent work?
3.) CHOOSE A SHORT LIST TO CONTACT
After you’ve spent some time looking over websites and images, you may start to see that you're drawn to a specific style. At this point, narrow down what you like, and reach out to the small number (maybe two or three) of photographers whose work really spoke to you. Don’t get hung up on trying to figure out pricing just yet! At this point, it’s all about discovering the photographer who makes the best impression on you and whose work inspires you.
An important thing to remember – Pittsburgh wedding photographers are people. And we're all pretty nice! So reach out to us and be personal. Tell us what you love, what you're looking for, what inspires you. Even if your first pick of photographer doesn't work out due to budget or availability, we'll likely help to point you in the right direction!
4.) COMPARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
Once you’ve contacted a few photographers, use their responses to judge how professional they are. Their responses will go a long way to giving you a feel for how they’ll work with you. You’ll know you’re on the right track if they get back to you right away, are friendly with you, and send along all the information you need to know.
When it comes to meeting with photographers, everyone has their preference. I typically find that I can answer all of my brides' questions via a phone call or Skype, since I put so much of myself on the internet. It's easy to find out what I look like… 🙂 I even think that it's harder to make a connection via a phone call sometimes, so if we can chat on the phone to each other, we'll definitely mesh well throughout the course of wedding planning!
When you chat with your potential photographer, think above and beyond the photos. How organized are they? How do they speak? What's the vision for your wedding day coverage? You'll be spending all day with this person, so make sure.
5.) GO WITH YOUR GUT FEELINGS
So, now that you’ve gotten a good feeling for a photographer, look through their full galleries from different weddings. Looking through their entire body of work is a great way to gauge how a photographer will work in different types of venues and how they shoot large and small weddings too. And then, when it’s time to book, take all these things into account and hire the one that feels best to you and your fiance.
Another point to remember: all of your wedding vendors work on a first-to-contract basis, so once you've decided, ask for that contract! I've had couples lose out on their wedding date on my calendar because they just took too long. It always makes me sad, but that's the way it is out of fairness to everyone.
6.) KEEP IN TOUCH THROUGHOUT THE PLANNING PROCESS
Take time to really get to know your photographer so that you can feel comfortable with each other and truly understand how you want the wedding day to go. I personally like to call my clients and keep in touch on the regular, but if your photographer hasn’t called you yet, reach out and make some time to chat. Engagement sessions are also a great time to get to know each other better, and as your wedding date nears your photographer will be able to answer your timeline questions.
Happy planning! 🙂
Be sure to check out more of Leeann's work in the Vendor Guide!