You’re happily engaged and maybe not so happily planning a wedding (wedding planning is quite a big task!), so you start to consider hiring some help— and you should! A wedding planner can make this process a lot easier. Planners can do it all, from picking vendors, signing all contracts and making payments, creating timelines, etc. However, there is something that should ALWAYS be the couple’s task: booking their photographer. It might feel like a complicated task but I promise, it’s not as terrible as it seems. Referrals should always be welcome but all the rules below should still apply. I don’t want to add to the stress of planning, but you get one shot at this (pun intended!) so choose wisely. Seems like nowadays everyone is a photographer, but not everyone can be YOUR photographer.
Hire a professional wedding photographer
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is when someone tells me their “insert family member: uncle, cousin, auntie” just got a new camera and they were thinking of saving the money by having them photograph their wedding. Or that their friend is a world-renowned photographer, to which I ask: are they a guest or your dedicated photographer? (more on that later).
In my 9+ years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about photography and weddings. But it’s not only my experience what makes me able to be your photographer, but it is also how much I love what I do. Weddings are always love-filled events, beautifully styled and full of details. I’m also a sucker for a good love story. Say what you want about weddings and marriage, but having people come together to see you and your better half join your lives in a ceremony and then the party is quite the event! And I. LOVE. IT.
Now, you decided to hire a professional yay! Now, make sure they are a wedding photographer. There are fashion photographers, architecture photographers, landscape photographers, still life photographers and so many other specialties that don’t necessarily align with what you are looking for. Hiring just any photographer for your wedding is like going to an orthopedist for an ear infection. Sure, they hold a medical degree and will most likely figure it out. But wouldn’t you want to go to an ENT?
The latest gear, external lighting, and all the bells and whistles can’t guarantee quality
Don’t be fooled by the amount of photo gear a photographer carries. If you did your research and know that your style aligns with someone that uses multiple external light sources then that is exactly what you should expect— tons of equipment. But if you’re into wedding photography that feels more like reportage, all the bells and whistles won’t guarantee what Henri Cartier Bresson called “The Decisive Moment.”
What you need is a photographer that has the eye to capture moments, a photographer who is detail-oriented to ensure formal portraits run smoothly, a photographer that knows that a beautiful image is not made just by the camera, it is made by the artist. These are the memories for the rest of your life, and that is of great value to you and even generations to come, treat it as such.
You’ll be spending ALL day with your photographer, make sure you vibe with them
This is a no-brainer. If you are having full coverage on your wedding day, most likely, your photographer will arrive sometime when you’re getting ready and leave close to the very end of the reception. And while they will be around photographing people, moments, details… they are there for you. They will be directing group shots and taking some time in private with you and your new spouse to take couple’s portraits, so liking your photographer and even wanting to hang out with them is key.
If you can’t feel comfortable and relaxed around them, your photos might not turn out as natural and joyful.
Unless they are just an acquaintance, consider hiring someone else who is not your photographer friend
I get it. I’m that photographer friend and I’ve been in both situations. Hired and not hired by my friends when they get married. Now, the thought as your friend is— how amazing that I’m your friend and you love my work, and we can help and support each other out? Doesn’t seem like there’s a problem there, right? Well, but if we are close friends and you definitely want me in your wedding party… then I can’t be your photographer. Or if you want me to be present and enjoy you, my friend, who is getting married… and dance the night away together and eat and drink and share stories… then I can’t be your photographer.
See, the photographer’s job as friendly as we are and as close to people as we get… is to be observers. To lose ourselves in the moments that are happening but WITH our cameras. So our focus (hey another pun!) should be on the bride, the guests, following a timeline… not on being a half guest and half photographer. I can tell you from experience that the times I’ve been hired by friends to photograph weddings, I haven’t been a guest. Plain and simple.
On the important stuff: consistency in their portfolio and consistency in their reviews/testimonials
Lastly, consistency. We expect coherence across a photographer’s work in order to predict what the outcome of our event will look like, right? If a photographer’s portfolio is all over the place in terms of editing style and shooting style… how can we trust that our photos will fall in the perfect spot to our likeness? We can’t. Consistency is very important. Likewise, consistency in their reviews and testimonials from past clients. In my case, I get reviews all the time that mention how calm I made them feel on a usually very stressful day, I get people saying that they barely saw me after a certain point in the day but when they got their photos they couldn’t believe I took those shots, those are consistent and they show prospective clients what they can expect.
I know it is a difficult task. Choosing your photographer, and especially now, with the number of photographers out there. In the end, you will likely have many to choose from that fit your list of requirements, and when that happens… trust your instincts.
You can find this article on LinkedIn as well, let’s connect and tell me what you think!