Choosing your wedding photographer is – is definitely the most critical wedding decision you need to make (other than choosing your spouse!). NOTHING is more important than your wedding photography. Why’s that? Well, just think about it – what happens when your wedding is over? The flowers are dead, the dress gets freeze-dried (or whatever it is the cleaners do) and put in a box, the cake is eaten, and a year after your wedding you won’t even remember what you ate. All you’ll have left from this day are your memories – and your photos are the gateway to those memories.
In order of importance, here are the critical things you should look for:
Why is the photographer’s personality number one? Here’s why it’s so important. You will probably spend more time with your wedding photographer than you will with ANY other person on your wedding day – including your new spouse. If the photographer’s personality clashes with yours, you could be in for a miserable day – or at least an uncomfortable one. Why risk being miserable on the most important day of your life? That’s why reading the photographer’s personality is, in my opinion, more important than analyzing their portfolio. Will they be bossy? Rude? Cold? Do they have an annoying laugh that will get under your skin? When you talk with a potential photographer, get a feel for them and see if they are someone you’d want to be friends with. If the answer is “yes”, then put them high on your list! There are lots of talented photographers, so you might as well choose one that you’d like to hang out with all day.
Does the photographer’s style match what you’re looking for? Do you like a lot of formal, posed portraits or mostly candid, behind-the-scenes type of shots? Do the images in their portfolio seem to capture the true emotions of the day? Does the photographer “see” a wedding like you would? At the end of the day, style is totally subjective and only you know what looks good to you.
This one is pretty difficult to judge, given that you have to make an assessment of a photographer’s professionalism from just a few exchanged emails, a phone conversation or two, and maybe a single meeting. But professionalism is critical – not only to how the wedding will run, but dealing with the person afterwards. Is the photographer punctual? Well groomed? Does he/she have a haphazard or very organized presentation? Do they return calls and emails promptly? Do they have an appropriate degree of flexibility? By looking for signals here, you could avoid some big potential downfalls down the road – like a photographer who takes 6 months to show you the proofs….
(4) Technical ability
Most competent photographers should have good technical skills, but keep an eye out for it just to be sure. What do I mean by technical ability? Do the images have the correct level of brightness? Are they sharp? Do they look “flat”? Do they display a wide variety of shots, from different angles and compositions? Do the colors look correct or do the people in the photos look yellow, green, red, etc. While I wouldn’t choose a photographer based on their technical ability, a quick analysis of their technique is a fast way to weed out the bottom half of the professional photography pool.
Why isn’t the price number one? Well, to a certain degree it is. There are some celebrity wedding photographers that charge $50,000 and I’m not kidding. If you are on a very tight budget, you’re obviously going to exclude the ultra-high end wedding photographers. I realize that everyone has a budget and everyone has a limit. But given the importance of your wedding photographs, I wouldn’t look at your photography budget the same way I would look at the budget for, say, your wedding cake. You might get lucky and find an ultra-cheap but talented and professional photographer for under $1,000, but like most things in life you get what you pay for. If you can find the budget to move out of the bottom range and into the next level (say, $1,000 to $3,000) you will expand your choices of truly talented and professional photographers greatly. If you move to the next level (say, $3,000 – $5,000) your choices expand exponentially, because now you’re not limited to the photographers in your local market, you can begin to source from photographers that are willing to travel nationwide.
Okay, so what’s the bottom line? With hundreds if not thousands of photographers to choose from, there is no excuse for not having it all. Once you’ve determined your price limit, choose the best, most fun, most professional photographer you can afford. Does it really make sense to spend so much on the Catering, Cars, etc when as previously mentioned, most of these things will be forgotten about in 12 months? Your Wedding Photos are your lifetime memories and quite rightly deserve to be considered with this in mind.