Congratulations! You're engaged! What an exciting time in your life when you're planning your future with the love of your life, your soul mate, your true love. Wedding planning can be exciting right?! It's such a whirlwind of emotions and fun appointments like cake tasting (lets be real, who doesn't love that!). But what about the harder stuff? Wait... there's hard stuff? Like hiring someone for the most important day of your life to deliver the one tangible thing you will have after your big day is over... your photographs! Wow, that is hard. You've never met with a photographer before, you don't even know where to start with the questions you have swirling around in your head, or the lack there of! How do you start telling photographers apart? Sure, pretty images and budget play an important part in the wedding day, but what about those unspoken details of WHO you're hiring? The person behind the camera should speak to your soul just as much as their images!
There's a lot of information out there on the internet to help but I took to my own past brides and grooms, sprinkled with my 7 years of wedding experience and a little bit of business sense to come up with this list. While style and quality are important when selecting a photographer for your big day, there are additional things that I would dare say are even more important than just a pretty photo.
1. First Impressions
First impressions don't take long. In fact, they take milliseconds and they last long beyond that. You're ready to email some photographers and get some more information. You send an email.... and you wait, and you wait, and you wait some more. How long should you have to wait? Shouldn't they be just as excited as you are? YES! Response time matters because your time is valuable! And when they do respond, is it personalized? In today's world, it's really important that you hire someone who makes you feel positive about the experience from the first second you open their email!
2. Professionalism / Personality
The two P's. These are two things I urge all brides to consider when looking for a photographer. Professionalism is important and can be held to many different standards but keep in mind that your photographer is a representation of you on your wedding day! We will be interacting with your guests, your wedding party and all of your vendors throughout part of the wedding planning process and the big day. A positive, professionally dressed, and polite photographer is part of a successful day. Personality is equally as important according to so many brides and grooms who gave me their thoughts. Photography can be a very personal thing. Is this photographer taking the time to get to know you and your fiance? Will they mesh well with you and your bridal party, keeping your best interests at the forefront of their mind and be flexible? They should be invested in who you are as a couple and be personable, too! And hopefully the energy they bring to the table excites you! Of course each couple will be looking for something specific or different in their photographers personality, but make sure you find one that you LOVE being around! It's key to comfortability and helps YOUR personality to shine through in your wedding images!
Some of my past clients wrote about the things they looked for in a photographer's personality: “A person who we clicked with. That was so important for our big day.... Someone who became our friend!”
“Looking back, there are a lot of things you did that I really appreciated having in our photographer...things that I didn’t know to look for in the beginning, like how organized you are, the questionnaire you send out, your responsiveness and willingness to give advice when asked, and your ability to take control of situations and groups of people in a professional manner. You read people well .”
“I wanted someone who had a specific type of personality: professional and assertive but never rude.”
“You took the time to meet with us, get to know us as a couple, what was important for us, what we wanted captured, how to capture it best with your expertise, and stayed fluid and flexible working with us throughout the process. “
For most people, being in front of the camera is not an every day experience and for a lot of couples, engagement sessions are their first time being in front of a professional camera. That can be intimidating. Being comfortable with your photographer is key to allowing your personality, your happiness, your love and your vision come to life through still frames. “All your couples look so comfortable and happy!” I hear this often about the people in our images. Is their happiness genuine? Absolutely! Does it feel awkward expressing that happiness between each other with a camera nearby? It can! It's my job as a wedding photographer to be intentional with my clients. I like to find out what makes my clients comfortable, makes them laugh, makes them feel GREAT and relaxed. I strive to give simple, natural directions to them during their session. I want my clients to be the BEST version of themselves in front of the camera so when they look at their images they remember how comfortable they felt and realize how beautiful they look! An enjoyable client experience is dependent on being comfortable with your photographer.
Not sure how to tell if someone is the photographer for you? Their emails sound great but what about their ability to connect with you in person? A quick way to find out is through reviews. These are testimonies directly from other brides and grooms about their experience with this photographer. Whether you use social media, a popular wedding website or both, reading reviews directly from other brides and grooms will give you some great insight into what to expect from a photographer. My guess is that you will more than likely find some common threads between reviews. What better way to find an amazing, personable, photographer than to hear from their own clients! These are written by couples, just like you, who have walked through the process with this photographer! Look closely at what they are saying and see if that matches up with what you envisioned for your wedding experience!
After 7 years and over 140 happy couples behind my camera I have grown to know that THIS is one of the most important things. As you look for a photographer it might be easy to get caught up in products, packages and the final number but I urge you to look beyond just what photographers offer in just their wedding packages. Reviews and family/friend recommendations are helpful with this! I, personally, LOVE my career as a full time wedding photographer and I don't see it merely as a paycheck. I know that what I offer my couples goes well beyond what I can put on paper. Getting to know my clients through the process of consultations, engagement sessions, bridal sessions and up to the wedding day is something I see value in doing and they start to see the value I bring to them! I see my service to them as just that... a way to serve them! In the days and months leading up to a wedding day, I get to find out what my couple values the most, what their priorities are, what they love, what they don't like at all and execute those things for them. Some couples have a lot of out of town guests and photos of those guests are the most important. Some brides love photos of all the details they spent hours and hours on, so photographing those in a beautiful way is important! Some simply want to focus on romantics photos of the two of them, or something specific, like sunset images. Regardless of what it is, at their wedding it is important for me to remember what they love and try to focus on capturing those items for them in a way they will be excited to share. You see, I'm not just a photographer. None of us are, really. I am so much more than that. I am a hair fixer, a dress fluffer, a bouquet holder, a boutonniere pinner. I am a timeline maker, a family gatherer, a silent observer, and a smiling face on the dance floor with a few silly moves of my own. All of these intangible items are what resonates with my clients just as much, if not more, than the images I produce for them!
I encourage you to look beyond just the price tag and find someone who encapsulates these 5 qualities.
Find someone who brings VALUE to your big day!
This is a guest post by the super talented, Angela Fleming, of New Seasons Photography