So you're engaged, and among the many items on your to-do list: find a photographer. Easy peasy right?
Okay, maybe not. As you start Googling, and scrolling through your insta feed, you realize there are dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of photographers with beautiful photos that have you dreamily envisioning your own wedding day. So how do you hone in on the right photographer? The one who will check all your boxes and will capture all those beautiful memories of your big day?
Below I've outlined a few things that can help make the process a little easier!
One of the first choices to make is whether you want a local photographer (a photographer who lives in the location where the wedding will take place), or a destination photographer (a photographer who will have to travel to the location where the wedding will take place). There are pros and cons to each choice, so asking yourself a few key questions will help make the decision easier.
Do you have your heart set on doing an engagement photoshoot?
If so, consider where you live and where the wedding will take place. If you live in the same location where your wedding will occur, you may want to consider hiring a local photographer who offers engagement shoots as a part of a wedding photography package. On the other hand, if your wedding will take place somewhere else, you may want to hire a photographer who lives where you live (so that she or he can do the engagement shoot where you both live), and who is willing to travel for the wedding.
Working with the same photographer for both the engagement session and the wedding can be a wonderful way to develop a relationship with that photographer before the wedding day. It is helpful to the photographer so that she or he can get to know you as a couple before the big day -- Are one or both of you nervous in front of the camera? Do you have a silly sense of humor? Is there a side of your face you prefer to be photographed? These are all things that the photographer can learn during an engagement session. It can also be really helpful to you as the couple. You can get to know your photographer and learn some basic poses, both of which will make you feel more confident and relaxed on your wedding day.
Are you familiar with the location and/or venue where your wedding will take place?
If you feel good about knowing the ins and outs of your location, hiring a destination photographer might be the way to go. Destination photographers are used to constantly working in new locations and have the advantage of seeing things with fresh eyes, which may lead to a more artistic outcome.
However, if you're not familiar with the location or the venue, hiring a local photographer can be helpful; there's a good chance the photographer may have shot the venue before, and will know all the beautiful little secrets of the place, or if the photographer has not actually shot a wedding in that specific venue, she or he can at least visit ahead of time to scout it out. In fact, if you get the chance, inviting the photographer along to any walk throughs of the venue is a great opportunity to communicate about photography ideas and create a shared understanding of the artistic vision for the day.
Is there a photographer whose work you absolutely love, and who you are dying to work with?
Forget everything above, and hire them! (Okay, maybe check your budget, but otherwise, go for it!)
There are a number of different approaches to photographing a wedding, and the approach your photographer takes can make a big difference in the images they deliver to you. Keep in mind that almost no photographer shoots exclusively in one style - for instance, all the photos below in varying styles are mine. However, if you see that a photographer refers to her or himself using one of these styles, that should indicate to you that the majority of images you receive will reflect that style. Below are a few examples of the most popular wedding photography styles:
Think formal looking posed portraits. These are the images you'll see in many wedding albums and on many a mantle. The bride and groom, and their bridal party or families, will be standing in a posed way that makes them look their best, and will usually be looking with eyes to the camera.
Think candid shots that convey the story of the day. These are often taken from unconventional angles, and typically are unposed and unprompted.
This style is usually mixed in with another style, and will result in creative images that showcase specific details, a creative composition, or some other artistic reflection of the wedding day.
This style will focus on the outfits of the bride and groom, and will include intricate poses with a lot of thought to the scenery and lighting. Think of the images you see in wedding magazines.
This means the photographer works with available light, and will not use flash or other artificial light sources. This style typically takes place in outdoor settings or indoor rooms with large windows.
This word typically indicates the use of off-camera flash to enhance some aspect of the photos, resulting in a more dramatic effect than would be possible using only available light.
Last but certainly not least...Budget
The amount of wedding photographers out there can be overwhelming, and it can be tempting to simply search for the photographer whose price matches your price-point and be done with it. But don't forget to think about the details of what you will be receiving for that price. For instance, do you want an engagement session? A photo album? Do you prefer prints or digital files? How long after the wedding do you expect to receive your photos? Do you expect a second photographer to be present? What about a videographer?
Once you've pinned down the details of the services you expect to receive, you can then research photographers to see whose work speaks to you (social media and search engines are two great ways to find photographers). When you find a photographer with work that makes your heart sing, whose packages include all of the services you expect to receive, and whose prices fall in your budget range, then you can narrow field. Don't stop there, though-- reach out and start seeing whether you connect on a personal level (and yes, this is very important!). You want someone who can not only make beautiful images, but who can also make you feel beautiful and comfortable on your big day.