10 Things to look for in a Wedding Photographer


CONGRATS! You’re engaged! I'm sure that you are on cloud 9 and couldn't be happier. But, now you start thinking about planning a wedding, and here comes the stress.

What do I do first?

What is the first step in planning my wedding?

How do I ensure that my wedding fits my budget?

How do I ensure that my wedding still fits all my dreams?

If any of these questions have popped in your head, you are totally normal. It is perfectly normal and okay to feel stressed about planning your wedding. With that being said I would like to give you a couple quick tips to get you started.

First, when you’re planning your wedding, you will probably need to start by choosing a date and a venue.

If you have reached this point, you are ready for your next step, booking a photographer. At first glance this might be quite daunting. So many things are going to go into choosing a photographer, and it needs to be a process you take time with as the photos are going to be the only tangible thing left over after the wedding. Considering the importance of this process we have decided to put together a list of 10 things you need to think about and look for in a wedding photographer.

We tried to take a broad stance on this subject so you can use these tips to book ANY photographer, not just us.

1. BUDGET:

I would argue that this is probably the first thing that any couple should think about when they are looking for a photographer. If you have looked at any photographers yet, you might get a little scared when you see prices, and that is okay. Photographers are expensive and according to costofwedding you should be spending about 15-20% of the entire cost of your wedding on photo/video. One good place you can start to figure out an average price is costofwedding.com, you can put your zip in and it will tell you what the average person pays in you area. That being said, not everyone can afford the average, so make sure your not buying a photographer that is way out of your budget just because everyone else is.

A second point here is, though you may have an allotted amount you are willing to spend on a photographer, be open to spending less than that. Don’t search for a photographer that specifically reaches the max amount you can spend. Just know that you could spend that much if the photographer is that max price.

Here is what I mean.Let’s pretend you are looking at 2 photographers and 2 different price points, Let's say $1000 and $2000. The max amount you are willing to spend is $2000, you might decide you want to go with that $2000 photographer just because they meet your budget, or you may think to yourself, if they are charging more they must be better. This may be the case, but is likely that it’s not. Here is why, photographers have to spend a lot of time appropriately choosing their pricing. Because of this they may be a new photographer with little experience that is overvaluing their work, or they could be a photographer with tons of experience and some incredible imagery, but they just aren’t confident enough to charge the higher price. In the case of Colton Johnson Photography, we have chosen our pricing based on our experience, and imagery, and based on what we have found is the best price for our customers so that we can work with as many awesome couples as possible.

Basically our advice is after you have your budget set, don’t let that limit you to thinking you have to spend that much. This is why we have made the rest of the list of what to look for in a photographer so as to use your budget simply as a starting point.

2. Style:

Photography is an art form, and therefore every photographer is going to have a different shooting and editing style. It is important for every couple to take time to look through all different types of styles to find which one best matches them and their personalities.

Here is an example of some specific editing style types.

1.Light and Airy

2.Warm/dark/moody

3.Desaturated Greens

4. Photojournalistic

3. Experience/Knowledge:

Most couples have their own specific photos that they want to get with their photographer. Does your photographer know how to make some of the more technical photos work? Do they know how to handle any situation that comes their way? Do they know how to handle posing, or large groups, or even know how to handle a less than ideal lighting situation? This is why It is important to ask your photographer in the initial meeting how much experience and technical knowledge they have. As this is going to be the one thing that will ensure consistently good images. A photographer that hasn’t been shooting for very long cannot be expected to know where to be all throughout the wedding, or the ceremony to ensure that they get the best shots, or even capture the shots at all. A good rule of thumb, is be wary of a photographer who has done less than 20 weddings. If they have done less than that I would make sure they have a strong knowledge of their camera, and would make sure to discuss with them specifics of your wedding to make sure they are ready for it.

4.Venue Lighting Challenges: Each and every venue is different. Many are outdoor, some are indoor with many windows, some have high ceilings that make it hard for a photographer to light. Each venue is going to come with its specific challenges for a photographer to light and achieve great images. Always ask your photographer if they have shot your venue before. If they have not, I would ask them to go walk through the venue before your wedding to make sure they can handle its particular challenges. Ask your photographer if they have their own lighting equipment that they bring to each wedding, if they don’t and say they are a “Natural Light Photographer” find out if they are confident they can get good shots at your venue when it gets dark.

5.Reviews: This one is kind of self explanatory, and is more of a checklist point for memory. I would urge every couple to look through all of a photographer's reviews, or at least a good portion of them. If your photographer has a bad review, don’t be scared to ask them why, be sure they have a good explanation for it, and if they did anything to solve the issue.

6. Packages: Most photographers are going to have a list of different packages that you can get, each of the different packages with vary in price and contents, everything from coverage time, to number of edits, to finally prints. At Colton Johnson Photography, we have taken a different approach to make sure we don’t limit any of our brides. We don’t have a specific hourly coverage, but instead cover all day, and we allow our clients to handle their own prints and save them $$$. That being said it is still important to check what different packages your photographer may have and make sure you are getting everything that you are needing even if you might have to spend a little more, keep in mind, your wedding should only happen once!

7. Shot List: Most photographers have a shot list, of photos that no matter the situation they need to get. Ask your photographer about theirs, if they have one. It might also be beneficial to give your photographer a specific shot list for your wedding of shots that you want and need to ensure that they get.

8. Rights/Usage: This is a big one, and is often easily overlooked. Within many packages photographers may charge you for prints, and not give you any rights to print them yourself. Sometimes they may limit you from posting online on social media, or may even have a big watermark on your photos. Some photographers may seem firm on their usage rights, but I would bet that you can negotiate with them to get what you’re looking for. (side note: Colton Johnson Photography gives our couples ALL RIGHTS, this means that they can print their photos, put them online or do virtually anything they want with them, AND absolutely no watermark!)

9. Delivery: Every photographer is going to have a timeline of how long it usually takes them to get your photos edited and back to you. Keep in mind in summer months into early fall some photographers will be backed up, and may take a little longer to get your photos to you. My big piece of advice for any couple is patience. You don’t want your photographer to rush through your editing, so quickest isn’t always best, that being said you shouldn’t have to wait 6 months to get your photos. You may also want to ask your photographer if they edit each photo separately or if they batch edit. I would be nervous if they say that they batch as each photo may need it’s own specific edits. That being said, if you ask to see a full edited wedding you should be able to tell whether or not it looks good still.

10. Personality: Believe it or not, on your wedding day you will probably be spending more time with your photographer than your bridesmaids or groomsmen. It is important to find a photographer who you have fun with and who your personality meshes well with.

If you have any specific questions regarding hiring any wedding photographer, leave a comment below, we might be able to help!


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