How to Choose the Right Wedding Photographer for You | Maine and Florida Wedding Photography
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Hey there, I'm Emily of Elusive Photography, a luxury wedding photography boutique in Southern Maine and Southern Florida. This blog is all about how to choose the best wedding photographer for you including tips to consider, questions to ask, and tasks to complete before starting the search. While you're here, enjoy some of my favorite wedding portraits!
Tips for Finding the Right Wedding Photographer
Are you reading this because you just got engaged and are overwhelmed with all the planning that needs to be done? If so, congratulations are in order for you and your partner! After all the excitement has settled, it's time to get down to figuring out who is going to have the honor of joining in your wedding day with you in the form of both guests and professionals. I'm sure you've guessed it, but I can help with one of the most important things to consider for your wedding: the photographer. How do you find the one that is perfect for YOU? Keep reading, and I will explain all the things to consider to make sure one of the biggest days of your life will be perfectly commemorated for you to look back on.
1) PICK A VENUE FIRST, THEN FIND THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Once you have a date for the wedding and have found the venue, you can start searching photographers and have a better sense of their actual availability. You’ll want to make sure that the photographer you choose is comfortable with and able to work proficiently in your venue. For example, if you choose an indoor ballroom, you’ll want to make sure your photographer owns and is proficient with a flash system for both the ceremony - which should look more like daylight, and during the reception, which requires totally different lighting. If you're looking for outdoor portraits or have a portion of the day outside, you'll want to be sure that your photographer is proficient in all types of outdoor lighting - like harsh sunlight (not fun), weird color casts, and of course bad weather. Your photographer will also need to be familiar with the venue itself. Don't take this to mean that your photographer needs to have a portfolio at that very venue, most photographers visit places for the first time the day of the wedding and do amazing work. However, you'll want to make sure that they're at least be comfortable with the types of space they will be in. Most venues have a representative your photographer can speak to if they have any questions about setting up lighting or what equipment is allowed. Many of us are also premier Google Earth location scouters and can get lots of information from satellites, Instagram, Google Images, and other forms of location scouting.
Sometimes, your photographer may be willing to visit the venue with you for a walk through. Usually, this isn't so much for their benefit, but to help you ease your mind. Don't be afraid to ask and to express any concerns you may have with their familiarity with the venue. If it seems difficult or particularly small or dark, it may very well be worth a walk-through together.
At Elusive Photography, I offer a boutique service which means that I take on no more than two weddings a month and I have the time to spend with couples going through all of the details. While I may not need to do walk throughs with clients, I often find that they're beneficial because we get to work through problems with a third point of view (couple/venue/myself) and it helps remove a lot of anxiety from the couple.
2) NARROW DOWN THE STYLE YOU LIKE
There are so, so many different photography styles to choose from. Find what speaks to YOU. Dark and moody, light and airy, true to color, film, vibrant, warm, cool – you see what I'm getting at. You need to find what you love now, and also what you will love to look back at in 50 years. As you look through photographers and begin to figure out what you do and don’t like, take notes about what you DO like. Cool or warm color? Dramatic mood or a whisper feel? The composition of the portraits, or the feeling they evoke?
There are lots of trends out there right now, recently it has been a vintage film look, very "dark and moody" with lots of earth tones, browns and oranges. One of my favorite (because it's so bad) trends of years past was in the 90's/2000's when photographers did this weird tilt thing, so it looked like the photographer was falling over and happened to snap a cool image on their way down. They're often from a low point of view making the couple look giant and "powerful".
My style is very timeless, and bright and vibrant with a watercolor palette. Beyond the colors, my images are created to evoke emotion. I’m not just taking snapshots, and I'm not after the "perfect" poses, but rather the images that convey the feeling and mood of the day in a timeless and tangible way. Whether you look through them a month after the wedding, five years later, or in 50 years at your anniversary, I want you to feel those raw emotions just the same.
3) CONSIDER YOUR PRIORITIES AND BUDGET ACCORDINGLY
Understand that photography tends to be expensive since it is one of the few things that will last far beyond your wedding day. Even if you think your budget is strict, if photography is really important to you, approach it with a range in mind, and other things you are comfortable compromising on. Some people prioritize the venue, so they sacrifice the costs of gowns, décor, and other extras. Other people prioritize live music (that would be top of my list) and then sacrifice guest count, time, and maybe even "pampering". Find all of your photography options, but if you find a photographer you really want to work with and they are out of your budget, see if there are other things you can cut to make it happen.
One thing that I hear often from the families I work with in my Newborn brand is that they chose a photographer with a very low budget and ended up regretting it because they "got what they paid for". Now, there are some amazing photographers out there that cost a lot less than expensive photographers who may not be very good - it is basically the Wild West when it comes to photographer pricing. However, generally, you are going to get what you pay for just like a car or a home. My photography tends to be in the $4,000-$6,000 range for 8 hours, one photographer, and an heirloom album. This includes not only my style and expertise, but also my consultation over your timeline and scheduling, you'll get my assertiveness to enforce your no-cell phone rules or to keep the formal family portrait time quick, you'll get my equipment, backups, insurance, my quick turnaround, attention to detail, file backup (many cheap photographers don't even back up your images, so if a card gets corrupted, you're wedding is gone for good), and of course my expertise in providing top notch, heirloom art. I'm also here for in-person consultations, an engagement session, and of course personal ordering and design services to make sure that your artwork fits your home and lifestyle perfectly. I even install your frames!
4) MEET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER IN PERSON
This is such an important step that a lot of people tend to skip. I always tell potential clients that the most important thing when choosing a photographer is how you vibe with them. Remember, this person will be with you during all of your most intimate moments – more than any other person at your wedding, including your future spouse! So, it is incredibly important that you are comfortable around them, that you can trust them to keep things on time, and that you know they are prepared for whatever the day throws at them. You can’t tell if you get a good vibe from them until you meet them in person, and even if you are having a destination wedding, you can FaceTime. I make sure to FaceTime my destination wedding couples at least once before booking, and then again as needed. If you’re out of town and will visit for venue tours, hair and makeup trials and other planning needs, try to schedule with your photographer during that time too. If you are local, try to make the time to meet with your top choices. I know this is a busy time in your life, but trust me – it’s worth it!
5) WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
When you meet with your photographer/s you will have had time to think about the style you want, and what direction you are headed. You'll want to make sure your photographer is on the same page, and that all their answers are clear and direct. Some great questions to ask are:
What is your experience with: Sparkler exits? Sunset images? Dark churches?
Be sure to also ask about products and timelines, such as:
What is their editing timeline?
How many images can you expect?
Do they offer products, and if so, do they have any you can see/touch?
Do they have opinions about a first look?
Will they look over your timeline?
What is their policy about using your wedding images – will they share and publish them (and is that something you want?)?
All of these are very important questions and will help establish a great relationship between you and your photographer.
6) PLAN AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION
For me, the engagement session is like a trial run for the wedding as well as getting to know the couple so I know the best ways to get you comfortable in front of the camera and get those great portraits. In each of my wedding collections, I include a complimentary engagement session so we can get used to each other, and you can see my method of instruction and direction. When the images are finished, you can also see how my editing will look on you. If you want to make sure the editing matches up with your vision of what your wedding will look like, be sure to schedule the engagement session during the same season and a similar location.
If you're a destination couple, still consider this option even if that means scheduling the engagement session during one of your or their travel times. We photographers travel too, so maybe we're headed to your area before the wedding!
I truly hope this helps you narrow down what YOU want for your wedding, and what vision you want to come to life. Do you have any more suggestions? Did you do something similar, or completely different for your wedding? Let me know in the comments below!