By Erica Zlatovich
With engagement season recently over, there are so many new couples planning their dream wedding. Picking a date, venue, color scheme, attire, decorations, caterer, florist… As many of you know, the list goes on and on. You may start to feel like you’re drowning in options, but take a deep breath in and pour yourself a glass of wine. Once you pick a date and sign a contract with a venue, the next thing you should do is start thinking about photography. It may seem too soon to be thinking about that, but the sooner you book your photographer, the better! We tend to book over a year in advance, so waiting will only decrease your chances of your date being open with your preferred photographer. Just like venues, DJs, and color combinations, there is no shortage of photographers. The market is saturated by talented (and not so talented) photographers and picking the right one can become a daunting task. You will most likely see your photographer(s) more on your wedding day than you will see any of your friends or family, which is why it’s imperative to make your decision carefully.
First, let’s discuss what traits make a good photographer. Keep these in mind while doing your research and while meeting with your potential photographer.
- Experience. They have plenty of weddings under their belt and are obviously comfortable in all situations.
- Communication. Do they respond to your emails or phone calls in a timely manner? When reaching your photographer, you shouldn’t have to wait a week for a response. Also, do they effectively answer your questions and address your concerns?
- Passion. Are they constantly trying to learn new techniques and improve their images? Are they motivated to keep growing and providing their clients with their best work? Do they love learning about their clients and keeping in touch?
- Adaptability. A good photographer will adjust to your needs, and concerns. They will also be able to adapt well to new trends and venues. Not all photographers are experienced in shooting in every wedding venue in your area. But being fast and efficient, knowing their gear and adapting to their surrounding areas is very crucial to photography.
Now, of course this doesn’t even touch the surface of every single quality a good photographer should have. But they are the most important.
So what steps should you take before signing a photography contract?
1. STYLE and RESEARCH- First you must figure out what style you prefer. There are so many different techniques used in the photography industry which helps photographers set each other away from the rest. Do you like bright, colorful and fun? Or you do prefer a more matte, film look? Do you want more posed or candid portraits? Or a mixture of both? Once you figure out what you like, do some research. Ask your CLOSEST friends about their wedding photographer (if their style matches your preferences). Try to stray from asking just anybody for a recommendation. You’ll get hundreds of responses, and most won’t fit your requirements. Stick with people you trust and can talk directly to about their experience. Also, look online for photographers in your area. Create a list with several potential photographers that fit your style.
2. LOOK AT WEBSITES- Photographers put lots of goodies on their website for you to view. The information they provide should help you get to know them and their work better, which will ultimately help you determine if they’re a good fit. Look at both their inside AND outside portraits. Do they seem connected to their clients? Do they provide you with a lot of good work to view? Do they have the same interests as you? Briefly look over their investment section. This will help you get an idea of what the price is, but it’s more important to discuss this topic with the photographer face to face.
3. DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS- Each couple has different photography needs. Sit down and think about what yours are. Do you have a large family that will require lots and lots of prints? Do you want a wedding album to display your portraits beautifully on your coffee table? How important are the digital files/print release to you? How long of coverage will you need for your day? Once you determine this, you’re ready to start talking to the photographers that you listed.
4. SEND EMAILS- Go through the list you created and send emails to those photographers. It’s important to see if they’re available for your date, and if they are, set up a consultation with them. It’s probably more convenient for you to discuss things through email, but it’s more beneficial for you to actually meet them. Could you marry someone you have only met online? How do you know they are who they say they are? Would you buy a wedding dress without trying it on? It may look perfect on the hanger, but will it flatter your body? It’s the same thing with hiring a photographer. We cannot stress enough how important consultations are. At a consultation, you will be able to really get to know them and ask them questions. You will get to discuss their process/prices, look over more of their work that wasn’t on their website, and view their products. You will get to see if you’re compatible personality wise. You will be working with your photographer throughout the planning process, and months after the wedding is over. It’s important to feel comfortable around them, and to truly like them as a person. (consultations with E&J Photographers are free and no obligation to book!)
5. SIGN- You should have all the information you need now to make a decision. It should be pretty easy by this step to pick the right photographer for you. You love their work, you feel comfortable around them and about them, and they can take care of all of your photography needs. But most importantly, you feel like you can really TRUST them. You can trust them to listen to your wishes, get your desired shots, and to handle your day with poise, no matter what it thrown at them. They can take nothing and turn it into art.
Wishing you the best of luck planning your perfect wedding!