This week I had the chance to meet with some wonderful brides. One of the brides that I’m helping with her wedding planning is starting from scratch. My task this week for her was to find a photographer (among other things). This was a wonderful learning experience for me since I’ve always used the same photographer in my personal life (my wonderful cousin) and therefore didn’t know the best way to articulate what I was looking for in a package. I knew the basics of what to look for but there were definitely questions that I found myself asking all the photographers I talked to, so I decided to compile a list of things to look at when you’re looking for a photographer.
- Their editing style. This is something that not a lot of people take into account but how the pictures are edited are huge. I personally like the bright, sunny, cheery editing style for photos; but other may prefer the darker, moodier style. There isn’t one style that’s better than the other, but it is important that you pick a style that you’ll want to continue to look at 10-30 years down the road.
- How long will you need them. Photographers packages vary based on how long you want them there with you. Obviously if you want them there from getting ready all the way through the end of the night their packages are going to be more expensive, so you’ll need to narrow down what you really are looking for. Personally I feel that 6-8 hours is pretty typical and is a good amount of time. With the 6-8 hour frame that will give you time to have getting ready photos taken, first look, ceremony, family/bridal party, toasts, and first dance pictures. Knowing how long you will have the photographer booked for is also very helpful for the Day of Coordinator so they can schedule the day more effectively.
- Fees. Obviously overall package pricing is important, but just important is any additional fees. Depending on location there may be a travel fee and even a lodging fee. If you are expecting a photographer to travel over 30 miles it is sometimes required for you to pay for lodging for the photographer so they aren’t traveling a long way when they’re exhausted from putting in a full day of shooting. Some photographers don’t charge travel fees, or include it in their package price already, but it’s something you should definitely ask right at the beginning.
- Will they have assistance. Depending on the size of the wedding and how long you want the photographer for they may have a “second shooter” to ensure all the shots that you want are taken. Make sure that the photographer is comfortable with the size of the wedding so that way they aren’t biting off more than they can chew. If you’re having a big wedding and the photographer isn’t going to have a 2nd shooter ask to see photos of a wedding that they shot that is similar size to yours that they didn’t have assistance at.
- Turn around time. This question is important so that way you know what wait time to expect your pictures back within. I found that typically 4-6 weeks is what is quoted. Many photographers will give you some “teaser” photos to give you a sample of what it looks like so far; but patience is a virtue.
- Contract/Deposit. Any good wedding photographer will have a contract for you to sign to protect themselves and you throughout the process. Make sure that you read the contract thoroughly before signing to make sure that it accounts for everything you’re looking for. The contract should have a date they promise to get the pictures to you by. Also, the contract should have the amount, non-refundable deposit/retainer, and due date listed out for you.
These questions are a good start to get a feel for a photographer that you want to work with. After asking these questions you may find that you have many more for the photographer but these are definitely a good start. If there are other questions that you’ve asked and found helpful feel free to share them in the comments.