In the past, I’ve read my share of wedding blogs talking about all the things to think of when booking a wedding photographer and in my experience they all talk about the same things; price, customer reviews, their offerings etc. All of these are valid points but they’re also already thoroughly documented. Instead, I wanted to write about how I would go about booking a wedding photographer if we were getting married now. But to preface this, I want to share a little story first.
My wife and I got married nearly 10 years ago while we were students living in Sydney. We were on a pretty humble budget and the expense of photography just felt daunting. But of course, then, having just started to dip my toes into the professional photography world, I had a friend who, while not having much/any experience with wedding photography, had worked in photography a little and kindly offered to take some photos at our wedding. With no offence intended, our wedding photos really weren’t great and I don’t think we’ve looked at them in the 9 years since our wedding. And honestly, it is a big regret of ours. I would love to have had properly-considered quality photographs of our day to look back on now. Suffice to say, this experience combined with me now being a wedding photographer myself gives me a good perspective on how I would go about hiring a wedding photographer now.
Of course there are discussions to have around the amount you’re happy to spend on a wedding photographer (common estimates are somewhere between 5-15% of your wedding budget but everyone is different), but here is how I would go about the process of finding a photographer for my wedding:
I’d look at their work and the people in it and see if I could picture myself in their images.
Every photographer has their own style and way of documenting a wedding. Some photograph a tonne of the styling and details and spend more time laying out things to create flat lays, others focus more on people the entire time. There’s no right or wrong answer, but I’d look through some galleries and make sure that I’d be happy with what I’d be receiving. For me, that means a lot more of people being together and enjoying the elements of the day as it happened. But if you’ve spent hours upon hours and a significant portion of your budget on styling and there wasn’t a single photograph of it, then you might end up disappointed.
Additionally, I might think the look of a certain photo is really cool but also know that I’d feel entirely awkward being the one in that photograph. It’d be really important to me that I loved their work and could imagine myself in those particular photos.
I’d read the content on their website and social media and see if they seem like the sort of person we’d be happy to spend a lot of our wedding day with.
I think a lot of people don’t realise how much of your wedding day will be spent in the company of your photographer. It’s important you like their work but it’s equally as important that you like them as a person and are happy to have them around. This can make such a big difference to how you feel on your wedding day and should be a pretty big consideration. I wouldn’t necessarily be looking to see if they have the same taste in music or spend their downtime the same way I do, but I’d want to know that we’d click.
Reading the copy of their website would definitely be the first step and might even be enough for me to think ‘yeah this person is amazing – I want to book them’, but the likelihood is that I’d then want to have a brief chat with them over coffee or Zoom to get a feel for what they’re like.
I’d have a look through a few galleries and see if their style is consistent.
While I’d definitely want a photographer that was consistent with their quality and style, I’d also want to ensure that they adapt their work to the couple they’re photographing. No two couples are the same and I reckon that should be reflected in their photographs. Sometimes a couple might be really animated and extroverted, and they would be photographed quite differently to a couple that are more subtle and introverted.
I’d be looking for a photographer that maintains their quality and style while also adapting to how my partner and I are in front of the camera. This is why I think it’s really important, as a photographer, to get to know the couple you’re photographing; it really helps ensure that not only am I photographing them in a way that makes them feel comfortable and good, but also that I’m making images that they’ll feel reflected in and that represent them well.
I’d make sure that the things I feel are important align with what they do.
Similar to the first point – but I’d have a chat with the photographer and see if their approach to a wedding day matched up with what I wanted. I personally wouldn’t want to be super posed and asked to do anything I found awkward and weird – but some people really love that style of photo. I’d have a chat and make sure that the way they worked matched how I would want to be photographed. That might mean more gentle prompts and subtle direction (after all, I’m not in front of a camera that often and don’t want to stand there aimlessly) and less of the “now jump in the air like you’re in a Toyota ad!”
We’re all different and we all have different perceptions of what our wedding photographs should look like – I’d just want to know their photography ideas aligned with my own.
I’d talk to them about how they thought the day should lay out.
For me, I would personally want a photographer who really just rolled with the day and whose biggest concern was that they were in the right place at the right time for the right moments. I know I love the look of late afternoon sun or even the last light of the day, so I’d want to save most of the couple’s photographs until then.
Often, photographers might have a structure they like to stick to and while that wouldn’t really work for me, maybe for someone else they really want that level of order. I’d spend the time making sure that my photographer’s idea of how the day should flow matched my own.