There are dozens and dozens of wedding photographers in Pittsburgh. Let's not even get into all of the ones around the world. With that many to choose from, how do you go about finding the best one for you? I went straight to the source and sought some advice from an expert in the industry! Lauren Renee Designs is one of the best fine art wedding photographers in the city and her images are gorgeous and romantic. More than that, she's super knowledgable and loves helping not just her clients but all couples plan the perfect wedding day. That's why she's so excited to share her fives best tips for finding your perfect wedding photographer!
With engagement season at its peak, many couples are searching for all of the amazing vendors that will come together to bring their wedding day vision to life. To make that process a little easier, I'd love to share some of my own tips on how to search for and choose the photographer that will best capture your special day. In my humble opinion, I feel that photography is one of the biggest decisions you will make when planning your wedding, and it can also be a confusing and overwhelming process! After the dancing is over, the cake is cut, and the guests are gone, all you are left with are the photos from your beautiful day! Investing in photography is really something that you won't regret, and that is why my first tip is….⠀
1.) Think about the future and sharing your legacy when it comes to your wedding photos. ⠀
I describe my photography as timeless and classic with a romantic feel. Of course, every couple has their own style and taste, but I truly try to create images that won't look dated 10, 20, or even 30 years from now. I want you to look back at your wedding photos with your grandchildren and love them as much as you did the day you said “I do.”
Now that you are thinking about your wedding photos as timeless memories, my next tip on your search for finding your wedding photographer is…
2.) Decide what style of photography you want.
In your endless searches on Instagram, Facebook, Google, and even Burgh Brides, you might be overwhelmed with all of the different options that are available to you. There is no right or wrong answer, but it helps to narrow down your selections. If you are following along with my work, you will notice that my photos are light, bright, and rich with color. I am a fine art wedding photographer, using both film and digital mediums to tell your love story. If this is something you fancy, then great; let's chat! If that's not your jam, it's totally ok and I know you will find an awesome photographer with a look that may be “dark and moody,” “modern,” or “photojournalistic.” These are all great styles as well! You just need to decide what will be the best fit for you! Do yourself a favor and focus on style first, before price points.
Now that you have hopefully narrowed down your photography style, you can figure out what to budget for a good photographer, which brings me to tip number three…
3.) Photography should be a priority, but understand our prices are non-negotiable.
Statistically, the average wedding costs around $35,000, and 10 – 20% should be budgeted for photography, meaning you should expect to pay between $3,500 and 7,000. To give you an idea of price points, my collections start at $3,800. To reiterate what I said above – and I know I may sound biased – but at the end of the day, your wedding photographs are all you are left with. Don't skimp out on what will be family heirlooms for generations to come!
Also, please realize that this is my livelihood, passion, and full-time job. To keep everything running smoothly, I have both business and living expenses (including taxes…UGHH) that are all calculated into my packages. I also only take on a certain number of weddings per year, as I can serve my clients best when I am able to focus more attention on them and the details of their day. Most photographers are happy to chat with you about creating a custom package that may fit your budget by removing items or hours of coverage. But please don't ask us to discount our prices right off the bat!
Once you have decided on your photography style and budget and have narrowed it down to a few photographers, my next tip is…
4.) Contact the photographer to set up a phone consultation and ask to see a few full wedding gallery.
I always want to book couples who are as excited to work with me as I am to work with them! It is really important that you connect with your photographer, as they are spending THE MOST amount of time with you, before, during, and after your wedding. From the planning stages and engagement session up to the wedding, I put in a lot of time with my couples, getting to know them and making sure their special day runs as smoothly as possible. After the wedding, our job is not done! We edit all your photos, design albums, and help you with print orders. If you don't like the person behind the camera, you are not going to have a good time, which is the opposite of what you want on such an important day!
Also, keep in mind that photographers only want to share their best work, which are the curated images you see on social media and in their portfolio. Whether they are from real weddings or styled shoots, those images were chosen to show to you for a reason. When looking at galleries, take note of how they shoot the ceremony and reception as well. A good wedding photographer is flexible and able to capture any part of your wedding day, handle any lighting situation, and is also consistent in their editing across the board.
Now that you have gotten to know your photographer, seen their galleries, and have made a decision, the next tip (or more of a request) is…
5.) Get that contract signed and deposit in ASAP!
Most photographers will not hold your date and instead work on a first come, first serve basis. If you know you love a photographer and have connected with them and their work, don't hesitate to book them for your wedding! On the other side of the coin, please let us know if you have decided to move on with another photographer. When you inquire with us and take the time to set up a phone consult, we invest time with you and are already envisioning how your wedding day will unfold. If you fall off the face of the earth and don't get back to us, it is more disappointing than getting a nice email saying you have chosen someone else. We get these emails all the time, and we move on! Just do the right thing and take the time to write a quick note to let them know what you have decided to do – whether it's a photographer, videographer, DJ, or florist. We can then move on with no hard feelings and won't feel bad about giving away your date to other inquiries.
I hope this has been helpful and insightful! I was recently a bride and know what you are going through! Finding your wedding vendors can be a daunting task and whether you choose to book me or another photographer, we all have one thing in common…we want what is best for our clients! With that being said, do your research, choose your style, educate yourself on the costs of hiring good wedding vendors, and make an informed decision. The saying “you get what you pay for” still rings true! Just remember to enjoy the planning process and know that your search began because two wonderful people decided to spend the rest of their lives together, which is a beautiful thing <3