How To Choose A Wedding Photographer
5 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer | Lynchburg Wedding Photographer
There are so many photographers in this world of weddings. How on earth are you expected to know who to book for your wedding day? There are different price points, experiences, packages, and more to consider when choosing a photographer. I also know that you want only the best for your day (as you should!) but the best comes at price…
Every photography business has to start somewhere and gain experience in the first few years (I am so grateful for my trusting couples in our first few years of business). James and I started out with 4 different packages with different add on’s and prices. Everything we did was because “other photographers did it” so we felt like we had to as well.
So in my second year of working with James, we invested in education to create the unique Wedding Experience we have today! After this amazing education through Katelyn James Photography, we changed so many things about our brand, pricing, and experience as a whole.
We learned so much in these young years of business, and were not always perfect. Our mistakes helped us get to where we are today! In fact, we were just given the Bronze Award in Lynchburg Living’s Best Wedding Photography category! I am so incredibly humbled and honored to win this award and can’t wait for our wedding season to kick off!!
So today I am sharing some tips for you as you choose your wedding photographer! These 5 categories are just a few things I think you should consider when making your decision!
1.Reviews & Referrals
So I put this as number one because honestly this is what matters most. You want honest and real life opinions from the ones you love and trust! For me, I know that if I hear about an experience from a friend or family member, I would trust that over some random google reviewer. If you know anyone that recently got married ask them who they hired for their day and find out what made it special?
I have worked with so many bridal parties and photographed multiple bridesmaid’s weddings because of this! I love getting referred to bridal parties because its like a mini reunion with my EHP Brides!! Reading reviews on photographer’s websites (and social media) and referrals from friends are going to be your best source of information. So check in with couples who recently got married! Ask them specific questions about their photography experience.
I would ask things like:
Did they have an engagement session?
How many hours of coverage did they purchase for their wedding day?
How many photographers were included in their experience?
Did the photographer teach them posing or did they have to come up with poses?
How long did it take to receive their full gallery of images?
How was the planning process for photography on the wedding day? (did the photographer create a timeline)
Did they buy an album or prints? How were the photos delivered?
What was something special that the photographers did that stood out to them?
There are really no right or wrong answers to these questions, you just need to decide what answers you are looking for! If 6 hours and one photographer is all you need for your day, then choosing a husband and wife team for 8-10 hours isn’t ideal for you.
We offer things for a specific type of wedding, so I unfortunately, do not book 6 hour wedding days at this time. I feel that to get the full story of your day, both James and I should be there 8-10 hours! The EHP Wedding Experience isn’t for everyone but for my sweet couples it is exactly what they want! Asking these questions can help get you pointed in the right direction!
I know I sound like a broken record from last weeks post (5 Things You Need To Do After You Get Engaged) but seriously you need to find out what price is right for you. There are going to be photographers that charge as low as $500 all the way up to $15,000+!! The experience and services you receive are definitely at risk for both ends of the price range. Wedding photography is so important on the wedding day, but of course you need to consider your overall budget and wedding needs! There are so many package options out there but once you figure out what is important to you you can go from there. James and I started out with 4 different packages with tiered pricing.
After 4 years, we found that our EHP couples wanted the following things:
An engagement session
8-10 hours of wedding day coverage
Photography focused timeline
Online viewing gallery of their images
A personal and unique experience
So with this in mind, we created a unique package for our couples. If you know the photographer you want is a little higher in price keep that in mind when finalizing your wedding budget. I would also encourage you to figure out what is important to you when it comes to the list above. Some photographers can make a package cheaper if you do not want an engagement session? For my couples, an engagement session is a MUST, so it is included in our wedding experience (More on why we include that in our experience in a future blog post!!).
This topic of discussion is definitely one that we hear quite a bit. Many bridal magazines and blogs say that you should book a photographer that has years of experience and has photographed at your venue. This implies that if a photographer has not been to the venue or had enough experience that they would be less prepared for your day. I can definitely see where that mindset comes from but I wanted to share my thoughts on this.
I know that some people cannot afford spending 1,000’s of dollars on wedding photography. So when we first started we were very upfront with our first few couples. They understood that this was our first wedding season and to take the pressure off of our couple we both photographed it! This made sure that they got the images they wanted and we got the experience. The first few years were a learning curve and our pricing definitely reflected that. So don’t feel bad if you are booking with a new photographer! I still have a special bond with our first year of couples, so you never know what will happen! You may gain a friend for life!
There is certainly an advantage if your photographer has photographed a wedding at your venue previously, but I would not count them out if they haven’t! For me, exploring a new wedding venue is so much fun and exciting! It offers the perfect opportunity for me to get creative and not fall into a routine of the same shots at the same venue. When we book a wedding at a new venue, James and I do a few things to prepare. We check out their Instagram page, website, and arrive on the wedding day early to get a feel for the venue. We get there early so that we can pick a few portrait spots out for the day as well as choose back up spots that are good in case weather decides to be unpredictable.
So I am just encouraging you to keep an open mind when it comes to experience in years and location. There are so many talented photographers with different visions and styles. New places can spark creative ideas for photos giving you beautiful and unique images!
I had to include this shot of Matt and Katie’s bridal party above. I love including personality in our photos because everyone isn’t always perfectly smiling and happy all the time. It’s just not real life! So of course, I had to make personality an important factor in choosing your photographer. There was a time where couples hired a photographer for just pictures of their wedding day but that is not today! James and I are much more involved in our couples’ lives before and after the wedding day!
I have been a planner, shoulder to cry on, a listening non-judgmental ear, a bag carrier, sweat rag holder, bobby pin savior, and day of coordinator! So what I am saying is we are not your typical wedding photographers. We love our couples so much and value their friendship! On their wedding day, we feel like we are so much more than just a “hired hand”. We have seen that this bond has a HUGE impact on the wedding day! I cannot tell you how many times the weather has changed our timeline and our sweet couple trusts us completely to get their portraits done.
This trust and responsibility is a result of how we work with our couples and is something we do not take lightly. The entire day has such an ease to it, even the most chaotic parts of the day. Family formals are known to be difficult and time consuming but James and I found a way to make it easy, fun, quick, and no one gets forgotten! We feel like family by the time family formals comes around and everyone is usually ready to go so we stay on schedule.
I definitely encourage you to find a photography team that fits not only your wedding day needs but offers you more than just photography. I know that that may seem like an odd thing to think about but this is a huge part of our unique wedding experience! Our images are typically posed to be naturally beautiful but we also look for those candid “real life” moments (like the photo above), which leads into my 5th and final tip for you.
5. Editing and Posing Style
Guys there are so many styles out there on social media and the internet. Every photographer is different and has different vision for their photos. The best advice I can give you is to decide what you like and want for your wedding day. For example, James and I focus more on the natural beauty and emotion of our images. We include some black and white but for the most part we LOVE colorful and bright edited images.
To achieve this look we use natural light outside with a small light set up for receptions. We feel that this type of edit is a timeless look that will stand the test of time. We have several friends in our industry that have a more moody and dark feel and we absolutely love their work! So there is no right or wrong answer here. It really just depends on what look you love for your day!
Another part to your images is the posing. There are some photographers that do not pose you at all and some that pose every single shot. James and I are a happy medium I think. We pose things on the wedding day that will help keep everyone organized and on schedule which would include family formals and bridal party portraits. During engagement sessions we teach our couples posing so that on the wedding day we can roll right through portrait time. This has been so helpful on wedding days when the weather jumbled our timeline up a bit.
So just to summarize in case you skipped to the end (no judging I do it too haha):
Ask your friends who recently got married about their experience. If you don’t any newly weds, search on social media for a local photographer with great reviews!
Make your realistic budget for wedding photography. Decide what you specifically need for your day and look for a photographer who offers this within your budget.
Check out their experience level and don’t worry too much on if they have photographed at your venue before.
Make sure they match what you are looking for personality wise. Do you want someone who genuinely is invested in you and your fiancé? If this doesn’t matter to you that is totally fine, either way it will help narrow down your list of options!
How do they handle your wedding day posing and what kind of edited photos will you receive? Do you want a timeless look or the latest trendy style? Are you a modeling pro or scared to death to come up with your own poses?
This is such a special day in your life and choosing your wedding photographer should be simple! I know there are so many opinions on this out there but my hope is that this helps narrow down your search. What are some other things that are important to you for your wedding photography? Comment below with some ideas and things for newly engaged couples to consider when choosing a wedding photographer!
If my EHP couples sound like you and your fiancé, contact me here to learn more about your wedding experience!
I can’t wait to chat with you about your wedding day!
Until next time,