The love of your life has popped the question. Family and friends have been let in on the excitement. Your Pinterest board, which you've been secretly adding to for the last 2 years, can finally be made public. And the wedding planning is in full force. This day needs to be perfect - down to the very last detail. And in order for the incredible memories that you'll make to live on forever, photography is a big part of the equation.
Photography captures those priceless, intimate moments that will stay with you forever. With so much importance placed on this one "to-do" on your checklist, how do you know you're making the right decision when it comes to selecting the photographer who will be entrusted with documenting the biggest day of your life?
It Starts With a Connection
Selecting a photographer for your engagement or wedding isn't a simple transaction. It's a relationship. It's about comfort, trust and finding someone you can have fun with. You want to be certain that they'll bring the best out in you, be in the right place at the right time, and will treat you like the only client they'll ever have.
Don't just chat over the phone. Set up a time to meet for coffee or drinks. Think of it as a first date. Ask them questions about who they are as a person, not just a photographer. Learn about what inspires them. Getting to who they are as a person will let you quickly determine if there is the connection.
If there is. The hardest part is over. Comfort, trust and openness guarantees that you'll have less to worry about and more confidence in the day being perfect.
Now for the Details
Once you've narrowed down your selection based on comfort and connection, it's time to get into the details. Here are some important questions to ask so can make the best decision possible.
1. How far in advance do we need to book you and are you available? You want to make sure this photographer is a viable option.
2. Have you shot a wedding like ours before? Each wedding is unique. But if you're having an intimate celebration of 30 or a massive 600-person gala, you want to make sure this isn't her first time in that environment.
3. Will you be the photographer and will you bring an assistant? You want to make sure this is the person who will be there on your day, not their "number two". Also, a second pair of hands to help with lighting or additional shot angles can make a big difference in terms of the final product.
4. Do you scout the locations ahead of time? There's nothing worse than going into a photoshoot blind. But this requires time and effort on the photographer's part and not all are willing to include that service. Make sure they're planning to get a lay of the land ahead of time. That way they'll have the best spots mapped out and planned for.
5. How long will you be shooting for? Transparency is a big thing. Be sure to get this down in writing so you can plan your day accordingly. You don't want your photographer packing up and leaving before you cut the cake.
6. How many pictures will we receive in total? A great question that is usually included in the contract (yes, get a contract!). You want to know how many you can expect when it's all said and done.
7. Can you describe your photography style and approach? You don't want a photographer who defines themselves as "abstract" if you're looking for a traditional feel. While finding a photographer with a certain "style" is an okay approach, I recommend finding one who has a full range of skill and is willing to work around what you want, not simply what they can deliver.
8. Can we provide an inspiration shot list? You're photographer shouldn't dictate what you'll get in terms of shots. Crack out that Pinterest page and start building an inspiration list that they can follow.
9. How many retouched photos will we receive and what post-production options do we have? This is where a lot of time goes. I've spent 36 hours retouching a handful of photos. But these are the photos that will make it on the wall. Just be sure you'll be getting enough and the right post-production technique to be happy. Ask to see samples to get a visual.
10. How many times can we meet before the big day? You don't want to have one planning session five months before the wedding. Make sure whoever you choose is flexible and willing to touch base more often as the clock winds down. This will help build confidence, reduce stress and iron out any last minute kinks.
Selecting a wedding photographer is a big undertaking. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time. There's a lot of fish in the sea, but only one that's perfect for you.
If you want some additional advice on what to look for, shoot me an email: email@example.com or connect on Twitter: @bekkidraper or Facebook: facebook.com/draperphoto. I'm always happy to help out!