How To Choose A Photographer

Photo by Bumble & Vine Photography. Featuring Kaitlyn of Life In Action Weddings.

Written by Kirstin

Hey, I'm Kirstin. I'm a local wedding planner out of Swift Current, SK and I'm the host of the SW Wedding Expo and SwiftCurrentWedding.com. I'm so glad you're here, and I hope to help you find all the information you need to make planning your local wedding a breeze!

March 6, 2021

Click on images to see photo credit.

They’re kind of a big deal.

You might even have picked out your photographer before you got engaged!

A good photographer is one of the most important parts of your day.  Here’s what you need to know before you choose one.

  1. What to do before you choose.
  2. How much to spend.
  3. Types of photographers.
  4. Questions to ask.
  5. How to choose.

Before we dive in, remember that there’s a (growing) list of local photographers right here!

Photo by Bumble & Vine Photography.

1. What to do before you choose a photographer.

Before you can even start eyeing up Instagram feeds, you’ll need some basic information.  To avoid wasting time looking at photographers that aren’t right for you, make sure you’ve got this list nailed down first.

Priorities

This is the very first thing you should do after getting engaged (other than celebrate of course!).  You and your fiancé need to have a chat and figure out what is most important to each of you.  Combine your answers to decide what is going to be top priority for your day.

Budget

Crunching numbers sucks.  Not having a budget sucks even more.  Using your priority list, decide on some numbers for basic budget categories.  This may involve some uncomfortable conversations if you have other people (hello parents!) contributing.  Better to have the awkwardness now, than after you’ve already spent the money!

Style

Will you be having a religious wedding?  Are you going all out on a theme?  A colour palette you’re not willing to budge on?  You need have a basic idea of your wedding style before you move forward.  This is where Pinterest becomes your best friend!

Dates

If photos are your top priority, then you should have a few dates you’re okay with to ask a potential photographer about.  Once you find ‘the one’ you don’t want scheduling to ruin your plans!

“Brides and grooms are easily booking a year, 10-18 months in advance of their wedding. If you have your heart set on a specific vendor, the earlier you book – the better chance of you getting the best selection of dates!” 

Angela of Imagine Events

Photo by Bumble & Vine Photography.

2. How much to spend.

This is where having your priority list and budget set gets really useful.  Spending on your photographer should add up to about 10-15% of your total budget.  That number will vary depending on a few things.  If photos are your number one priority then go ahead and hit the upper end of that.  If you’re just looking for that one shot that’s going to hang on the wall for decades to come, then you won’t need as much.  Let your priority list guide you.

Photographers have a lot of different packages and options.  If you’re buying prints or albums directly from your photographer, or getting all digital images, you’ll need to check on their prices to figure out what’s included and what will cost extra.

There is a huge range in costs for photographers as well.  You can go from crowd-sources or family friend for next to nothing, or five thousand getting the entire day in high quality prints.  So find where you are on that scale, and then don’t be afraid to ask for a price list!

 

A note on considering video as part of your ‘photography’ budget from Thom of Whitetail Films…

“Both photo and video have their place. Video has the added power of capturing voices and the raw emotion of the wedding day. Can you imagine being able to go back and watch your grandparents’ or great-grandparents wedding and hear the voices and see what life was like for them? With modern technology, we now have this gift to give to future generations. That is how I approach every wedding I capture, not only do you get an amazing video to share on social media, but a family heirloom.”

3. Types of photography.

Candid:  Candid photos are taken while the action is going on.  The photographer is inconspicuous and not giving direction.  This type of photo can also be crowd-sourced from your guests for free using an Instagram hashtag or shared online file.

Posed: The traditional wedding look.  Lots of posed pictures of everyone smiling on cue and looking directly into the camera.  The photographer is very hands on and giving lots of direction.

Photojournalistic: These are not highly posed, but rather highly dramatic.  Many are candid or hands off.  There is a story in each photo.  This is the general trend of wedding photography right now.

Fashion/Fine Art:  This style manipulates effects such as lighting and colour composition and is often used in publications with models.

Know what style suits you, or maybe a combination of all three, before you start looking for photographers.

 

Photo by Bumble & Vine Photography.

4. Questions to ask potential photogs.

I’ve narrowed it down to six…

I. How many weddings have you shot?

II. What is your payment policy, including cancellation and postponement policies?

III. What is included in your packages?  How many hours? How many shooters?  Digital or print images?  Etc.

IV. When will I get my images after the wedding?

V. Do you have backup equipment if it breaks down, or a backup photographer if you are unable to come?

 VI. Do you have the equipment you need for special circumstances? (low lighting, night photos, any weird or wacky amazing things you have planned for your day!

Bonus for Covid-19: What are your pandemic protocols?

5. How to choose.

Well first there’s probably a few to eliminate right away.  Your dates aren’t available, they’re way over budget, don’t offer digital images…you get the idea.

Once you’ve eliminated the obvious, here are four questions to ask yourself to help you decide.

Do you I like their full galleries?

Can I picture myself in their photos?

How do they make me feel?

Do I trust them?

Once you’ve answered those, it’s time to go with your gut.

Now go find your perfect shooter!

Want a free printable photorapher information tracker?

Keep track of all the information you need to know about each photographer in one handy place so you don’t forget to ask something, or lose the sticky note you were using!

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