I was recently asked by a close friend to write a post about why photography is so important to your day and how you should choose said photographer.
I’ve honestly been writing this post for a year. Why? Because there are so many who write this… the topic is always very wide scaled and not normally from the view of a photographer cause let’s face it, it seems a little biased for me to tell you why you should hire a professional and what to look for, right? But in my view, I feel like we as photographers should educate clients to the fullest. We should go above and beyond for them, beyond competition, and to be a little forward. Do you really even know what to look for and why? Because that is totally ok if you don’t!! I mean this isn’t like driving a car. You probably have never been married or hired a photographer. Chances are the only professional photos you’ve taken is your senior pictures and mom and dad did everything for that. So it’s ok if you don’t know how much you should or shouldn’t spend and what type of photography you are looking for.
So some of this info I am going to share maybe off putting to other photographers and that’s ok because this is just my point of view, we are all different and we all have very very different ideas and styles. I guess that was just a little “warning some of this content maybe graphic for some audiences…” haha not really but I’m sure it might ruffle some feathers.
Numero Uno: Understanding your priority and passion for photography. If photography isn’t a top priority of yours this post is probably not for you but if you have a very strong desire to get the absolute best for the money you can spend within your budget, this is for you. If you can look at a photograph and say wow this is an amazing portrait, the lighting, the composition and point out the elements of the photo… you have a strong passion for photography and it’s probably at the top of your list. You are defiantly going to know the difference between an okay, good, great and high end photographer.
Dos: Coming to Jesus meeting about your budget. Before you even text, call, IM, PM,DM or email a potential photographer, sit down with whoever is helping you pay for your wedding and your mister to discuss where you want your budget to stay. Then as mentioned above rank your most important parts of your day. If you didn’t know I am getting married in September and mine is, my photographer was chosen first then my florist. Because a great photographer and a great florist can make your wedding day look out of this world good. A bad photographer can take the worlds most gorgeous venue look like a dump pretty easy… js. So after your rankings then come up with some ball park prices you want to stay in. If you just have no clue where to stay, average professional full time photographer in Oklahoma is $1700 for a full day coverage typically 8 hours. Pricing ranges from $1000-3400 this is from a low end photographer to the more high end photographers on our area.
What does it mean when I say low end… A low end photographer is someone who doesn’t probably do this full time, they have another job and maybe they are just starting out. Wedding photography isn’t their priority but possibly a hobby. They haven’t done very many weddings either, this could result in poor images because there are a lot of variable in a wedding day. A high end photographer is someone who produces high quality professional photographs at every single wedding they shoot. They understand a wedding day inside and out and has tons of experience. They are going to be problem solving and come up with quick solutions in a pinch. They understand there is going to be a different lighting scenario in every single venue and they can come up with a solution at each. This persons time, experience and talent is worth much more.
Tres: Your location makes a huge difference in the pricing of photographers in that area. I once had a Dallas bride book me because I am no where near the cost of a DFW photographer even with the traveling fees. If you are in the city you are going to pay city prices, same goes with venues, florist and so on… So if you live in the country and are searching for a city photographer chances are you are going to pay so much more then searching local and you probably have some pretty good choices close around. The best way to find a local photographer is asking friends who have been married recently, a word of mouth referral is usually much better then anything you will read online.
Cuatro: Now that you have gotten budget and pricing under control your next factors are pretty simple with choosing a photographer and to me their resume out weighs just about any thing I can think of. Choosing someone who can come up with quick action plans in case of emergency, like rain, forgetfulness, terrible lighting scenario and there are seriously tons of other things that can go wrong and just choosing the right experienced photographer can easily make up for that price tag… I like to think of my self as an extra coordinator with a camera…
A great portfolio should be on the top of your list too. Ask your potential photographer for full galleries of similar weddings to yours. This will really show you the difference between your prospects. If you have been following a photographer for a long time be sure to still ask for this. You may never know if they are just a one hit wonder in each wedding without seeing all the rest of their work you will be receiving.
Cinco: Style… Now this is such a hot button topic in the photo world. There are literally so so so many different photography styles and honestly each photographer has their own. But here is “my” point of view on style. If you are reading this you probably have seen my work. For years I have chased this light and airy, warm and glowy, simple and timeless look. I dabbled here and there in some other types of editing but one thing always brought me back to where I am now… authenticity.
I want for my brides to look at their images 10-20-50 years from now and say wow… Not, “hmmm I wonder what my wedding colors were, these photos do not reflect my big day.” I can’t imagine feeling like that, so I work very hard at getting skin tones perfect and have flawless finishes to them. I work towards editorial quality photographs because to me real life always wins over a trend. Don’t get me wrong there are some brides that their wedding style just works with “dark and moody” or the “boho orange”… but I just pray that those brides still love their album 20 years from now and not hating it like how we all hate our white vignetted portraits (there’s my age) or even the tilted horizon sepia tones of the early 2000s… and can we please forget about selective coloring… Yes I am guilty of those very very early in my photography career… But the past is the past right?
Sies: Your Bridal Experience. This plays a factor in the overall choosing of a photographer, you might not even have that on your radar but it should be. Do you want someone who you never get to talk to in person, on the phone or anything until the actual wedding day? You’ve sent just a few emails to them about when to pay and that’s about it? You never get to know their personality and see if they will fit in with your crew… Or do you want someone who includes engagements because she thinks it’s important to meet first, you understand each other personalities cause after all you’re photographer will be with you more then any other vendor, probably any other person on your big day. Choose a photographer who is constantly helping you get the absolute most out of your investment by educating you, guiding you and creating for you. A photographer who is serving you from beginning to end will be the best investment you make… in my opinion anyways. 😀
So hopefully some of this helps you choose, wether it’s me, my competitor or even someone across the globe. My goal is for you to make the best choice, that you fell confident about 100 precent. Remember there are no redos… maybe a make-up session but who wants that and the #1 passed on advice to other brides is hire a great photographer. This is because when the cake is gone, the drinks are chased and the last dance is called, your photographs are the legacy you get to leave behind.
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