Let’s have a real talk for a moment, no-one is perfect right? What I mean is, I am writing this post to help educate you in exactly HOW to find the photographer that is as close to the PERFECT fit for you as possible.
On average, couples spend about 12-15% of their wedding budget on photography. Your wedding photographer will also be with you more than anyone else on your wedding day, so it makes sense to have a new bff instead of a stranger who makes you feel awkward. I have broken down the top things to look for and research when deciding on your wedding photographer.
First things first, you need to know a general idea of your budget for Photography and Videography services. Photography is the only professional service that captures your day from start to finish and provides high resolution images you can look back on at any time in your life, you can print them, put them in an album and keep them FOREVER. I highly recommend doing research in your area or the area you are hosting your wedding to see average costs for how ever many hours of service you would like. (Thumbtack does NOT count!). In general, the average cost of a professional photographer in Chicagoland is between $5500 – $8000 for 8-10 hours.
Now that you have narrowed down your budget, it’s time to think about style. Style refers to a photographer’s approach to photographing and editing. This is very important, do not expect a moody photographer to edit in a light and airy style for you or vice versa. That isn’t how this works, there is a reason that moody photographer’s images look the way do. They have spent countless hours educating themselves and working hard to create that exact look. The same goes for a light and airy photographer, true to color, fine art, etc etc. I I thought about breaking down the most popular style trends of editing but I think that is better meant for a different post. Browse Pinterest (don’t get too crazy! hahah), look at websites, ask friends you trust for referrals and look at which style lights up your eyes and makes your heart flutter the most. The style you love so much you won’t look at your photos 10 years from now and think “Why did we pick this?”.
You should know this, IT IS KEY! During the time you are inquiring to your potential wedding photographers, communication should be stellar! This shouldn’t stop the second you book though. Your photographer wears many hats on your wedding day (inadvertently) and being able to ask them questions about certain things shouldn’t be an issue. This also goes with contract verbiage and communication about the booking process.
I said this earlier but I will say it again. Your photographer will be with you more than anyone else on your wedding day. The biggest gift you can give yourselves is choosing someone who makes you laugh, makes sure you are comfortable and actually having the best time of your lives. You should not be worrying about what is happening behind the scenes on your big day, choose vendors you feel you can TRUST just like your future spouse or your best friend.
Other important things I am picky about…
You might not think this really matters but I promise you it does. Your photographers website should be clear, concise and to the point in regards to services. Sure maybe a fluff word here and there but you need to easily be able to contact them, view their work, and see their social media channels. Typically, potential clients aren’t spending a ton of time on vendor websites in general so in that short amount of time there should be enough information about that photographers services and a little bit about them.
These are normal and a MUST! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT hire a wedding photographer that does not have a contract! Please don’t do it. This is not a professional photographer and they are also probably not insured (we’ll talk about that below). Contracts aren’t there to be scary, they are meant to protect both parties and that’s why you should read the whole thing or ask your attorney to look it over for you. The contract should be clear and relatively easy to understand in terms of when your wedding is, how much you are paying for services etc. BE CAREFUL of hidden costs and fees. This is more common when hiring a company that contracts photographers instead of someone running their own business. Read read read that contract!
We all have it right? Car insurance, home owners, renters, it is a basic life necessity as an adult. It’s no different for business especially in the event or service industry. Some venue’s require proof of insurance from your other vendors, some do not. Either way, it is a simple question to ask your photographer and their answer should be “ Yes! I am insured and that is a great question!”
If you made it this far, I hope you have been enlightened and feel more organized in what to look for in your photographer. These tips can be applied to other vendors as well and don’t be afraid to ask ALL the questions. You are spending a lot of money and we are here to help you be confident in your decisions and fulfill those wedding day dreams.