When searching for a wedding photographer (or any wedding vendor for that matter), you will be faced with a million different options. The wedding industry is highly oversaturated with vendors. It’s an easy field to get into, and these days, anyone with a camera is a photographer. Wedding photography is probably one of the biggest value vs cost decisions you will make. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “You get what you pay for”.I can’t tell you how true this is when it comes to wedding vendors.
THE FIRST and most importantly is the personality of the individual who you will hire and invite as a guest to your wedding. These characteristics may not be the first thing you think about when hiring a photographer, however, it will definitely be the most important factor in the decision-making process.
The first thing you need to determine is whether or not you like the images that this particular photographer has to show you. You will probably see 20-30 photographers’ work online and narrow it down to 3-5 individuals who you will interview. It is definitely important to be intrigued or excited by the images a photographer shows you but this is not always the deciding factor. What is? Personality. Now that you are meeting with the photographer face to face, the question you have to ask your inner self is: Do I like this person? Do I feel comfortable with this person? Will my friends and family like him or her? Would I invite him or her to my wedding? Personality and character may not be the first thing you judge when interviewing a potential photographer but it is always a common thread that influences the final decision. You have to really like AND trust the person who will be capturing your wedding images. You could find the Ansel Adams of wedding photographers, but if he or she bugged you in anyway and you are not totally honest with yourself, the only person who is going to suffer is you.
The bottom line is, if you don’t like your photographer for any reason, your wedding images and your memories are going to be reflected upon as if looking into a tarnished mirror.
THE SECOND factor is extremely important and must not be ignored: REVIEWS REVIEWS REVIEWS! Nothing will tell you how a photographer performs and delivers better than a past (recent) bride. There are a couple of sources for this, WeddingWire.com is the most visited and trusted website for reviews and comments on wedding vendors.One of its greatest features is that you can contact the posting bride directly with specific questions or advice. Here’s the link to access MY PERSONAL REVIEWS PAGE.
According to a survey ran by TheWeddingChannel.com, the number one regret married couples had is that they wished they would have invested more money on their wedding photography.
THE THIRD element and almost as equally important as personality is the photographers eye; the way he or she sees and captures the wedding day. This unique trait separates one photographer from the next. It is “the photographer’s fingerprint” no two are the same. A photographer can copy another photographer’s style, but the fact is no two photographers see the same way. When looking at different photographer’s work, take notice of how and what they see. Do the images move you? Are they unique and different? Or do they look like every other photographer’s work you have looked at? Are they emotional? Do they tell a complete story? Are they artistic and creative? Are they real? Do the people look comfortable? Finally, out of all the photographers you met with, whose images did you gravitate towards the most and why? Usually, the answer to these questions will tell you who the right photographer is for you.
FINALLY, the last deciding factor is usually cost vs. value. You spend hours if not days of your time interviewing photographer after photographer and now you have found the perfect one for you. Their images are amazing and he/she is the greatest person ever! However, your inner voice picked someone who is more than you budgeted for. What do you do? Ask yourself a few important questions. After the wedding is over, what am I going to have left? Answer: Your pictures. Everything else is going to be forgotten and only remembered through your photographs.
When I say value, I don’t mean cheap. I mean what you are getting for your money. A wedding photographer that costs $3000, is well established, does amazing work, and has nothing but great client reviews is a better value than a wedding photographer that costs $1000, is newer to weddings, does mediocre work, and doesn’t have great client reviews. I wrote this post specifically pertaining to wedding photographers, but the theory applied to all wedding vendors.
Think about this, when the music is over, the food is gone, and flowers are dead, your wedding pictures are the only thing left to bring back those memories and the irony is that most people spend more on flowers or food than their wedding photography. Your wedding album will last long past your wedding day and then passed down to your children and grandchildren.
Don’t make the mistake of weeding out photographers because you called or emailed and asked for prices and then crossed them off your list because they exceed a certain dollar amount that you determined photography “should cost”. Finding the right photographer is much like discovering a great restaurant. Let’s say you were to call around to ten different eateries and ask, “How much are your meals?” If you never take the opportunity to meet the owner, taste the food or experience the service, the ambiance and charm of the restaurant you cannot make an educated decision. All of these things make dining a great experience. Calling on the telephone and price shopping won’t give you the same information as actually meeting the photographer in person or having a face to face conversation via Skype or Facetime if you’re not in the same town.