I bet there is at least 10456 wedding photographers in Arizona, probably more, so how do you choose?! This person is going to be with you all day long! They will be capturing the most important day of your life so you better have the same taste in photographs. Cameras nowadays are absolutely incredible, most amateurs can create okay images with these babies, which gives you more options! But with so many options, how do you choose the right wedding photographer for your big day?
Here are the top 3 things to consider when choosing your wedding photographer in order of importance: Photography Style (their photos make you happy when you see them), Personality (you get along with them/they are quick to respond to you), and Cost (they are within your budget).
1. Photography Style-You love the way their images turn out!
There are a few approaches, which I would define “approach” as how the photographer sets up the shot and poses you. This is the composition and posing of the photographs
- Documentary Wedding Photographer– These photographers are a fly on the wall, just capturing your wedding as it happens. All the good and the bad. They don’t really pose. They have a sense for knowing when things will happen before they do so they can get the shot.
- Traditional Wedding Photographer-These photographers are totally prepped on posing. They have a specific shot list they are going to get and know ahead of time how to pose your wedding party. Think big soft boxes, people on chairs, smile and “say cheese”
- Lifestyle Wedding Photographer-They are a mix between documentary and traditional, they will find the best way to shoot a moment as it is happening. But also can setup poses and give action prompts to make the photos look candid. This is me 🙂
- Artistic Wedding Photographer-These photographers pride themselves on creating something totally unique and original. They usually employ dramatic lighting and different angles to achieve beautiful and interesting compositions.
I took all of these photos, but mainly identify with lifestyle photography so that is a majority of what my clients get back in their galleries.
The style is how the image is captured (camera settings) and edited; what the image actually looks like in the end.
- Dark and Moody-These images are darker, more serious which can be more romantic and more dramatic. They like earth tones.
- Light and Airy-These images are highlighted (usually blown out skies) and warm (yellow). They like light, pastels tones with desaturated greens. This is my favorite style 🙂
- Saturated and Contrasty-These images really pop, the colors are vibrant!
- Other: Off the wall-Color splashes, sepia tones, all B&W, different colored skies, composite images (the couple is photoshopped in a different scene), collages, anything else artistic
- Are the subjects tack sharp? (if it is blurry, was it artistic or lack of technical skill?) Would you be able to order a large print to hang on your wall with their quality?
- Bokeh is life! Bokeh is the blurred background with the subject in focus. Pros know how to use this to make the subject stand out, usually requires more expensive lenses. Some people would rather have everything in focus, there are photographers that can do that! Your photographer would probably be happy to get some shots like that for you if you ask.
- Do they flatter their subjects? Do the subjects look bigger than they actually are? Do the poses look off to you?Are the whites blown out where you can’t see the detail in the wedding dress?
- Beware of Natural Light Photographer.s Natural Light photography means working with the available light, not a flash from their camera or one they setup. While I prefer natural light, I also know how to use a flash and off camera lighting when indoors when it is necessary. Otherwise you will end up with underexposed or super grainy/noisy images indoors or after dark.
Here is a photo from PPA-Professional Photographer’s Association that I am a member of. The difference is slight, but you know it when you see it side by side. A photographer does a lot more than just clicking a button, we pose, we move furniture, we create interesting composition and find the best light.
2. Personality-They get you!
Believe it or not, your photographer will be with you more than any other person and probably is more involved in your planning than any other vendor unless you have hired a wedding planner. Mind. Blown. Huh.
- Read the photographer’s reviews! Most photographers include reviews on their site, but of course they are going to showcase the best ones. Look for reviews on their facebook page, google listing, wedding wire, the knot, or local listing sites. This will give you a feel from a client’s perspective what it is like to work with them.
- Read their About Me and Blog-Are they super serious or all fun or a good mixture of both? Not saying any personality is bad, just make sure it will mesh with your personality and how you envision them on your wedding day.
- Meet the photographer! Most photographers will have a photographer client meeting before you even book them to make sure you are a good fit. If they don’t, try asking for or at least a phone call. I mainly get to know you right before we start shooting at the engagement session in person. Then, after spending 1-2 hours together during the engagement session, I am confident you will know what I am like :D. I would never let someone shoot my wedding that I have not met in person before. An engagement session is not as big of deal, it can be redone and rescheduled, your wedding is once in a lifetime. You need someone that is confident, professional, and especially that can direct people.
I have this last because in the end, your photographers style and personality is way more important than their cost. Yes, you should have a budget, but if they are slightly above budget you could work out a payment plan or find a way to lower a budget on something else for wedding or earn some extra cash to afford them.
I wondered for a long time why photographers would call their pricing page “Investment” since you are not getting a monetary return on what you pay. But now I understand, because the rest of your purchases from your wedding will fade or get thrown out, but your photos will show your love everyday in your home. They are your first family heirloom to pass down thus they grow in value overtime.
Beware of expensive photographers
As you research you will get a feel for what a good range is. You can look on a local site, for Utah ksl.com is great or another review site like weddingwire.com or theknot.com. More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Decent photographers range from $2000-$4000 in the SouthWest, experienced and high end photographers are usually $5000-$15,000+.
Photographers are independent business owners, they are not required to get any certifications or set their prices a certain way. We have the flexibility to determine our own worth. That being said, the quality of some photographers for what they charge is not worth it. Maybe they have a couple great photos, but they don’t understand basic exposure and lighting. Ask to see a full wedding gallery to see what quality you will actually be getting back. You can see mine at http://photos.kacilouphotography.com (just email me for the password)
Beware of cheap photographers
- They are shoot and burn, they can only charge cheaply to take on 60-150 weddings per year. Their business strategy is to charge less and shoot more. Would you want to spend less and have someone that is talking to 50 other clients at the same time so they don’t take care of you? Or hire someone that only works with 10-40 brides so that you get the attention you need?
- This is just a hobby to them. Maybe their pictures are alright, but they probably have not started a legitimate business with a license and insurance and work full time doing something else so they may not be able to give you the same attention as a full time photographer. I am a registered LLC and have liability insurance. Most wedding venues require proof of liability insurance from their vendors.
- They just give you the digital images with no high quality prints, canvases, or albums or maybe not even edited. This saves them time on preparing an image for print, but also costs you time to figure out the best lab/design/formatting for print.
There are a few different ways photographers can price their services and products. Just be aware upfront of the total costs, is their collection all inclusive or will you be charged for addons or overtime? Will you be charged for travel? Is there taxes, shipping, or any other fees? Here are some common methods:
1. Wedding Coverage + Digital Downloads and Print Release
They show up, take your pictures then send you a USB or link to download your images so you can print them whenever and wherever you want. While this seems like a great option since you have control, I take it you probably don’t have a professional printing lab or know the right color correction, resolution, dpi, different finishes or everything about designing your gallery or album. Wedding photographers deal with all that everyday, they should be helping you get the right products for your home. Usually new photographers price this way.
2. Wedding Coverage + Ordering Session for Prints
You can choose your coverage, then after the wedding they will meet with you to order prints. Ask for a print pricing sheet in advance so you are not surprised, some photographers price the prints for their time and the wedding coverage payment just covers their cost. Usually they do not include digital files unless you pay a premium price for it.
3. Wedding Coverage + Downloads with Products or Print Credit
This is where a photographer will present 3-5 collections that include a variety of coverage and products. For example their first collection could include 4 hours of coverage with an 11×14 canvas. While their last collection includes 12 hours of coverage, 2nd photographer, engagement session, an album, canvas, and prints.
Last tip to keep in mind-Post Production
When will you receive your images or products?
Do they charge for retouching?
Do they have a in person meeting with you to look at all the images?
How many images will you be getting?
I hope this was helpful! There are already so many choices you have to make for your wedding, a great wedding photographer should be a top priority besides the venue but I’m a little biased since I am a wedding photographer ha. But I’ve been a bride too! Our wedding photographer choice is a big regret…don’t let that be you!