To my couples: Photography is probably one the most important elements of your wedding day. The wedding day goes quickly, and it will likely be one of the only ways to capture a full wedding day (some couples add video, but we’ll leave that for another blog post). Given that it’s such a huge part of your day, it’s essential that you find a photographer that works for you.
Here are a few considerations when choosing a photographer:
Budget: Please remember that your venue isn’t the only item that you will be paying for and that you need to allocate funds to the rest of the wedding vendors as well. I usually suggest that photography is the next big-ticket item because it’s such an important part of the wedding day. However, budget is budget, which means you may not be able to afford your favorite photographer. Be realistic about what you want and what’s possible. I help my full-service couples create a budget that makes sense and allocates an appropriate amount for photography.
Style: Spend time looking at the photographs on the photographer’s social media and website. Are there any images that capture your attention? You don’t have to be an expert in photography to know what you like. Just try imagining yourself in those images. Does it resonate? Be sure to ask your photographer for a full album as well (if possible) so that you can get a better sense of what a whole wedding day may look like.
Personality: You’re going to be spending a lot of time with the photographer, so it’s a good idea to ensure that you get along. Set up a meeting with the photographer before signing a contract. If possible, also set up an engagement shoot with the photographer so that you can get comfortable with how you will interact on the day of your wedding (there may be an additional fee for this, but it’s worth it).
Communication: This is going to be true for every vendor, but it’s critical for the photographer especially. Do they have a process in place so that you can get all your most desired shots? You generally don’t need to provide a detailed shot list of the entire day, but you’ll want to provide a list of portrait combinations that are important to you as well as a few specific shots that really mean something to you. Also ask what their communication policy looks like.
Schedule: Don’t underestimate the amount of time you will need for photography! If you’d like to get a full day’s worth of photos, book them for a full day’s worth of photos. Things to consider: do you want getting ready photos? Are you doing a first look (which is highly recommended by every industry photographer)? Do you have any special moment you’d like captured at the end of your reception? I create timelines in conjunction with you and your photographers, but it starts with ensuring that you have booked them for enough time. You may need to add hours to the schedule if what you have isn’t realistic for the photos you want.
A few other questions to ask: These will likely be in the contract, but it’s a good idea to get a sense of their policies. Will there be a second shooter? What’s the turnaround time look like for receiving photos? Do they store your photos after they’ve delivered them, and if so, for how long? Do they have insurance that they can provide to the venue? Will the photos and the editing be done by the photographer? What are their backup plans in case there are issues (with the camera, the photographer, etc.)? How will the photos be delivered? Do they provide albums?
You’ll want to get lots of specific information from your photographers. I help my clients navigate all of these details and more as I help them choose a photographer that’s a right fit for them.
For the photographers: working with photographers who are good partners makes the day go so smoothly, so I want to give a big thank you to the photographers who have gone the extra mile and reduced workloads for both of us. Here are some of the best ways you can work with your planner:
Please keep us in the loop on communications. If you’ve asked the client for a shot list or other specific details, I can help you ensure that you get it in a timely fashion! If I have a copy of the list, I can also help gather friends and family for portraits and ensure that we keep the day moving efficiently.
Review the timeline when we send it. I work with you to get your ideal timeline (with details) included in. I’m happy to shift things around as needed, but we may have to discuss some changes to make sure that they make sense for the couple, the venue, and other vendor partners. Those that do this well review the skeleton that I provide and fill in the photography specific details.
Be a team player. I know that you have a major role in the day but remember that there are other events and partners working around you, too. If we’ve agreed to a timeline, try to stick to it as best as possible. My team and I are not photographers, but we are here to help. Those that do this well are aware of the shots they need, are moving through the timeline to keep the day on track and are not fussed about the planner calling time when it’s necessary (I give a heads up that we’re coming close to the end of photos).
Deliver as promised. I get it, situations happen that may put you behind delivery schedule. However, if you can’t meet contract obligations, please be honest about that looks like for the client and follow up with a delivery date that you can meet. It doesn’t feel good for anyone if they don’t know when they’ll be getting their photos.
Remember that as a planner, I’m here to help! If you have questions, please post in the comments below!