This is an extremely exciting time for you, your fiancé, and family. As a wife, sister, and photographer, I have firsthand experience with the planning it takes to ensure a wedding goes off without a hitch. And, though it may seem a little overwhelming as you begin your search for the perfect vendor, there are some practical steps available to help you get started. With this in mind, I’ve put together a quick, down and dirty guide on how to source the right photographer to partner with for your big day. Are you ready to get to work?
Step 1 – Set a budget. Yes, this is a boring step but it’s crucial to getting started. How much can you reasonably spend on a photographer, videographer, album, etc.? Keep in mind, the average cost for a wedding photographer in the greater Atlanta area is $2,000, which may not include prints, an album, or any type of video footage. Now is the time to breathe… That doesn’t mean your wedding photographer is going to cost $2,000! Pricing varies based on what’s needed and desired but sitting down with your fiancé and/or family to discuss how much money is in the budget for this very important expenditure is the first foundational step. So, set your budget.
Step 2 – Select a style. Now that you know how much you want to spend, it’s time to begin looking through beautiful pictures so you can determine what type of work you’re drawn to. Pinterest and social media hashtags are a great way to begin sourcing the look you want; Just type ‘wedding photography’ into the platform and begin scrolling. As you view the images, you’ll begin to see descriptors indicating what style of work is pictured. Soon you’ll figure out if you prefer a classic, formal look or something more artistically modern. And you’ll become comfortable identifying work that’s ‘clean’, ‘moody’, or ‘bright-and-airy’, great descriptors photographers will use to define their particular style. Remember, you’re keeping these images forever, so it’s totally fine to be picky.
Congrats, again! In just two steps you’ve significantly narrowed down your search and closing in on your awesome photographer match… This is getting exciting!
Step 3 – Ask questions. You have your budget and your vision, so as you begin interviewing photographers who fit both those qualifications, begin making a list of questions and ask them all. Examples for a nice start:
- What is included in the price?
- Will I need a second shooter for my event?
- Will I receive all my edited images, or do I have to select the ones I want?
- Do you have additional fees (travel, lodging, extended hours)?
- What’s the turnaround time for getting my edited images back?
- Have you done work indoors, outdoors, in low light, in bright light, in the rain, in the snow, with an in-law breathing down your neck?
Seriously… Ask. All. The. Questions. Should you come up with new questions after an interview, reach out to the photographer a second (or third) time; Email is a great way to manage this process so all parties remain on the same page.
Side note: if you don’t see images within the photographer’s portfolio that look like the event you’re planning, ask to see those too.
Step 4 – Look for reviews and request referrals. Reviews, just like someone’s portfolio, should be current and easily accessible online. Also, request a minimum of two referrals from actual bridal clients who are willing to share their honest experience working with the photographer. It’s extremely important to get feedback on such a major investment of time and money.
Step 5 – Read the contract. Yes, this part is boring too, but paramount, so take your time and read all the words. If there is anything within the contract you’re not happy with, talk it over with the photographer prior to signing and submitting a fee. Open and honest communication is highly sought after in my industry; Some items in a contract are non-negotiable, but others can be tailored to meet a client’s needs, so be encouraged to discuss the particulars.
There you have it, a quick start to finding your perfect photographer! I hope the excitement you’re feeling now fuels your quest for the most wonderful vendors, that your planning is easy, and your wedding day beautiful.