Wedding Planning 101: Hiring a wedding photographer – Tips from a pro

Hey, you are engaged! Congratulations! Ah, the wedding photography. Hiring a wedding photographer is usually a stressful ‘to-do’ list item to be checked off in the whirlwind that is wedding planning. There is also a race to lock someone good in before they book your date. Choosing the best photographer for you is a daunting task, so let me give you some little known tips on hiring YOUR ideal wedding photographer.

So, what to do?? There is a perfect wedding photographer for each couple and I implore you to be critical when perusing websites. Find someone who you will let see you naked on your wedding day (it will happen). A great photographer can make a low-budget wedding look high-end, however the reverse is not true. Do their images have a white dress and a blue sky or is it more pink or yellow? Is there detail in the white dress and in the black suit? You pay a lot for that dress, why not find a wedding photographer who can actually capture that lace detail?? Are there photos of people other than just the Bride and Groom (or Bride/Bride, Groom/Groom)?
When Jodi (owner of Revival Vintage Rentals) met with me in 2007 for her wedding inside a vintage neighborhood Cinema, I literally started clapping and squealing like a little kid! Every single thing they had planned, I loved. Other photographers in the area were trashing the wedding venue choice and didn’t see the appeal. In the end, their wedding earned me a prestigious wedding photography award from the acclaimed international Wedding Photo Journalist Association!
hiring a wedding photographer
Pretty detail photos of rings and shoes and flowers are great, but that’s not what you will remember in 30 years…. You will remember your crazy drunk college roommate dominating the dance floor. You will remember how beautiful your Grandma looked.
Take this image below… These are the Bride’s parents, waiting on us so they can go walk down the isle for an Oregon beach wedding. As you can see, Greg is full of life and humor. The juxtaposition of the painting behind them was perfect. Unfortunately, Greg lost his fight with cancer less than six months after his only daughter’s wedding. He was the most generous man and made every room he was in more fun to be in. This image ended up my favorite from the day because it captures his lust for life and relaxed persona. His wife has a large print of this hanging in her home now and remembers him and their 40+ years of marriage each and every day. What a gift it is for me to be the one to create these priceless family heirlooms!
Wedding Planning 101: Hiring a wedding photographer: Tips from a Pro

Wedding Planning 101: Hiring a wedding photographer

How do you sort through the thousands of websites and know who is actually the best photographer for you? One way people go about hiring a wedding photographer is to look to your own social network.
Do you just put a call out on Facebook for recommendations and hope your Facebook friends know you well enough to recommend someone that actually fits your style? They won’t. Every so often I’m tagged into one of those posts and I look at the plethora of people that are recommended, and the quality and experience is all-over-the-place. Then, you are still stuck sorting through 20+ referrals, with no information as to why they were recommended other than “they were awesome!!”.

 I know, I know, your friend/uncle/cousin takes whimsical Instagram photos or cool band photos and you think it just might be a good idea to let them be your photographer in lieu of a gift. Do not do this. What happens if you aren’t happy?  What will motivate them to edit and deliver the images in a timely manner? Will they even edit the images for color and quality or do you just get a USB drive full of blurry and unflattering photos to go through? Will they be pissed that you didn’t bother to feed them when they were actually giving you a very expensive gift? Do they have two cameras and know how to use a flash? Why spend $25,000 or more on a wedding only to have lackluster pictures and a disc of images you’ll only put on Facebook?!
Weddings are SO MUCH MORE than pushing a shutter button and different types of photography do not translate to weddings.
A true wedding photographer can make a low-end wedding look high-end, however the reverse is not true. ~ Heather
Little known tips on hiring a wedding photographer
Wedding photography is HARD. It’s actually the most difficult type of photography. Wedding photographers are commercial, landscape, portrait, fashion, fine-art and photojournalists all in one lightning fast environment with no do overs. Each day has new and different lighting dynamics, the families and guests need herding like cats and someone has to bustle your dress (it won’t be the person who learned how to do it at the store).
Additionally, only about 10% of my job is actual photography. The rest is as a therapist, boutonnière attacher, timeline creator, brainstormer/argument settler, dress bustler, occasional hairstylist, limo driver (my couples call me the Limographer), marketing department for the wedding industry and more.
the reality of being a professional photographer

Tips for hiring a wedding photographer:

  • “How comfortable are you with difficult lighting situations?”  (they should have and know how to use flash and be able to show examples of a church wedding, which is the worst lighting)
  • “What happens if my Aunt is getting in the way while you are taking our photos?” (hopefully they will give you an example of how they talk to & treat your guests)
  • “Will you create our wedding album for us and how many of your couples get an album within two years?” (hire someone who actively creates albums for their couples and doesn’t pass that hard work onto you!)
  • “What is your process for backing up our wedding images?” (cloud storage, multiple hard drives and using many media cards is key)
Take your time and follow your heart. Hopefully you and your photographer will click and be friends by the time the wedding day comes. I spend so much time with my couples before the wedding that they can literally ignore me on the wedding day. We are both totally in tune with each other’s needs and desires for how the event will be documented that we can just let each other go and enjoy the day.
When I have couples that completely trust me, and vice versa, the images are so much more than either of us could have dreamt. The photographs really enhance your memory of the wedding day if you find the perfect person to document your love.
tattoo bride and offbeat weddings in Western NY
If you want to find someone who’s work will stand the test of time, AVOID Pinterest, the Knot and Style Me Pretty! They will only show you super trendy work that will be dated in 5 years. Do you remember the brandy glass with a face in it from the ’70’s???? Yeah, that’s what these sites will get you.
Find your perfect wedding photographer using one of these three resources:
  1. Fearless Photographers
  2. Wedding Photo Journalist Association
  3. Hire me to help plan your perfect wedding. I would love to consult you on what to look for when hiring a wedding photographer and other vendors and venues.

Now get out there and find the one! Hiring a wedding photographer can be fun and easy if you know what to ask and what you are looking for from your wedding photos.

Little known tips on hiring a wedding photographer

Did you find an amazing wedding photographer for your wedding? Do you regret a choice you made? Was there something you wish other people knew about wedding photographers while they are planning their weddings? Leave a comment here and share your thoughts!

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