Choosing the right wedding photographer that you vibe with isn’t easy. You might have a crystal clear vision for your day with every location and pose planned out. Or you might just want someone to simply understand that you don’t want to take a million cheesy photos while missing your cocktail hour. It’s really important that you pick someone who gets you. While you need to click with every single one of your vendors, your photographer is with you the entire day, from start to finish. It’s a really intimate experience! From the moment you get dressed for that last dance, you need to feel comfortable. Everyone should leave the day feeling at ease that everything was documented properly and without stress. The right person for the job should feel like just another guest at the party by the end.
Here are five ways to know you’re choosing the right photographer:
- They listen to your vision. Whether you have a vision for your day or not, all of the great wedding photographers will discuss a plan with you ahead of time that focuses on what YOU want. From this discussion, they’ll make sure that they understand how best to capture all of the special little moments that will happen throughout the course of your wedding day. Beware of the novice photographer! A complete vision is much more involved than just creating a shot list and checking off the boxes as the day moves along. The photographer you hire needs to know what makes an image compositionally successful and should be able to show you examples of their work. It’s their understanding of how to capture a subject in a limited frame that tells a story, is visually appealing, and doesn’t feel staged. Maybe their skills and understanding were developed in art school (ask them!) or maybe they have a great eye and their talent has been cultivated over years and years of taking thousands of photos. Regardless of their training, they will take direction from your vision, document it in their unique style and put their personal touch on everything so that the end product is the best possible representation of you, your partner, and the epic day that you’re sure to have!
- They understand if you’re camera-shy. Experienced professional photographers know that it’s not uncommon for a couple to be camera shy, but they’ll also know how to work around this by keeping things “light” and fun, with just the right amount of distraction to keep things natural as they shoot. They might even encourage you to do an engagement shoot with them so you have more time to connect with the photographer, build rapport and get to know their shooting style. They’ll know not to be invasive or make you do anything that you’re uncomfortable with. They’ll want to keep the time for photos quiet, romantic and private. They know the importance of keeping the first look completely secluded from anyone else so you can have your moment alone without feeling self-conscious. They know there’s no way you’re going to want to still be taking photos with guests arriving and gawking at you, so they will be sure to find a private setting and stay on time. Which leads us to:
- They know the importance of the timeline! Your photographer should have a hand in developing an agreed upon timeline that works for you, your venue, and any other vendors involved in the big day. They should be a master of time management! You’ll want them to work quickly, but without feeling as if you’re being rushed. Efficiency is paramount! Weddings generally run on strict timelines due to a multitude of factors and there is seldom room for error. And you certainly don’t want to miss this incredible reception that you’ve spent upwards of a year planning – right?! The professional photographer you hire will have a close approximation of how much time they need to get the shots you want that align with the vision you’ve discussed. Phew! If you’ve developed a timeline on your own or with a planner, always, always, ALWAYS make sure you’ve shared it with your photographer so that they can plan accordingly.
- You feel like old friends as soon as you meet them. The right photographers should make you feel at ease. This doesn’t mean you need to have everything under the sun in common! It’s an amazing, undeniable feeling when you meet with your photographers for your consultation and suddenly feel like you’re catching up with old friends. Your photographer should make themselves available for consultations if for no other reason than to get to know you. Sure, business is business, but building rapport and a comfort level with your photographer has a direct positive relationship on how you’ll feel once they’ve got a camera pointed at you when it all counts! Ask yourself if you felt at ease right away after talking to them. What about after meeting them? If you did, go with them!
- They understand the importance of a candid. Some couples feel as if they have don’t have a clue what to do when it comes to being in front of a camera. It’s understandable considering that most of us don’t have regular professional photoshoots for practice! It results in an unnatural situation with the primary goal of capturing “natural” looking photos. Quite the dilemma! You inexplicably put a lot of pressure on yourself to not “mess it up” and you wind up doing exactly that. What does a professional photographer do in these instances? They keep you laughing. They keep the mood fun! They provide just the slightest amount of distraction. They interact with you in a manner that allows you to let your guard down so they can capture the coveted “candid” in-between moments that are more magical than any posed photo could ever be. Candid moments can be ruined by too much posing or poor direction. You need to find someone who can balance this because nine times out of ten the candids photos are everyone’s favorite!
There are a TON of photographers out there and if we’re being honest with ourselves, the research process can be daunting and downright intimidating. Chances are, you’re also undergoing this same process for all of the vendors that you’re considering for your wedding. Stay true to the course! Use this guide as a way to vet and evaluate photographers that you’re considering. Reach out to them and make absolutely sure that you have a connection and that you feel comfortable. In fact, do this for all of your vendors! If you “click” with your wedding photographer right from the beginning, you’re putting yourself and your partner in a position to succeed in capturing the special moments that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life.
Jen & Steve are fine art wedding photographers, co-owners of The Fox & The Hare Photography and above all, a loving couple. When we aren’t shooting together, we love hiking, cooking together and just staying at home watching The Office on repeat.