Choosing the best photographer for the day can be a huge feat. For a lot of couples this is one of the top priorities. As you search for the best person or team for your day, here are a few things to keep in mind:
I. Always ask to see three or more full weddings rather than the few of their favorite, edited down images shown online. Everyone can get a handful of pretty shots, but looking at a full wedding will allow you to see if they can consistently create beautiful images throughout the day shooting in a variety of elements, lighting, etc. While not every image in a real wedding has to be perfect, you should resonate with more than 5 to 10 of the hundreds images you’re likely to receive. Pay attention to how they capture portraits, intimate moments/candid shots, details and any other priorities you might have. Some photographers are amazing at posed portraits, but aren’t as intuitive when it comes to capturing those little hidden moments. Some can capture amazing magazine worthy details, but aren’t the best at shooting those heirloom family portraits everyone needs. Some are perfect at shooting in natural light, but not great with nighttime shots. Identify what’s most important to you and that will help you find the best fit overall.
II. Find weddings that are similar to yours in their portfolio to ensure you like the final images. For instance, if you’re having a wedding brunch where the entire celebration is happening in sunlight, ask the photographer to show you images that reflect similar elements. Or, more likely, if everything is happening after the sun sets, make sure you resonate with the photographer’s night time shots. While you will likely have a mix of both, make sure you’re paying attention to the type of wedding you’re having to compare images accordingly. We see so many couples who are having night time events fall in love with photographers who specialize in natural light and vice versa. Not that a natural light photographer can’t shoot at night, because they absolutely should be able to, but many have different specialities. You want to work with someone who knows how to approach your vision and day.
III. Ask how many photographers will be on site. And when doing so, make sure to differentiate between photographers and assistants as they are not the same. Most photographers bring an assistant which keeps the photographer moving by changing out film, grabbing lens and so on, but don’t confuse this with having a second photographer. While not every couple needs two shooters at their wedding, if resources allow, I definitely recommend at least two to our clients. And if you have more than 150 to 200 guests or have a wedding with a lot of details and fun moments, I even recommend considering a third. No matter what, make sure to have this conversation in advance with your photographer to get their recommendation and to set your expectations properly. You’d hate to miss all the candid moments happening at cocktail hour because you only have one shooter who just so happens to be with you and your new spouse during couple’s portraits.
IV. Make sure you like your photographer but don’t confuse this with them having to be your best friend. You spend a lot of time with your photography team and enjoying their company is important. We look for photographers whose energy and presence makes the day calmer overall. While you want to like the photographer, remember they don’t have to be someone you hang out with for years to come. They simply need to capture your day in the most intimate way possible without adding stress or tension to the experience.
V. Talk to them about their philosophy for the images and wedding day to make sure it aligns with yours. There are photographers who make the wedding more about the photos than the celebration. This approach is perfect for some couples. Other couples want to spend as much time with their guests as possible. In doing so, they need to find a photographer who can shoot quick and understands this priority. Some photographers boast about making couples look thinner, blemish free and so on. And others keep their images as natural as possible. Know what you’re going for with wedding images and find a photographer who aligns with that vision.
VI. Hire a photographer who shoots weddings. I know it can be tempting to hire your favorite fashion photographer or editorial artist, but the elements and timing involved in a wedding require experience and a specific skillset. Remember a lot of editorial photographers are in studios with perfect lighting and all the time in the world to get THE shot. A wedding photographer knows how to do their job in rain, extreme heat and more and realizes there is only one chance to capture the kiss at the ceremony. Save yourself a lot of stress and disappointment by staying with photographers who specialize in weddings.
The above image was capture by one of our beloved photographers, Ryan Ray from Leanne and Steven’s recent wedding in Utah.