9 tips for choosing a Wedding Photographer

The internet is a wonderful, but occasionally overwhelming place. So to make things a bit simpler; here are some tips that we've found for you. What we’d love more than anything, is that you get to book the perfect photographer for you; If that's us, then awesome! If not, that’s awesome too! --what's really important is that you have an incredible, beautiful record (and experience!) of your wedding day that you love to refer to again and again. So here they are: the top 9 questions you should ask yourself when choosing the right wedding photographer:

Do you connect with their Philosophy?

For some wedding vendors, you really don’t need to care about their philosophy. Wedding photography is not one of those places. Chances are, you’re going to spend more time with your wedding photographer than with your Maid of Honor on your wedding day, so you want to make sure they’re someone you jive with. Once you've found photographers you’re interested in, look at their ‘about’ page. Those pages are carefully constructed to give you a sense of who the photographer is, and how they work. Look for written philosophies that feel like they just click, and then see if that feeling continues when you meet with the photographer in person, or talk to them on the phone.

Does their Photography Style match your wedding?

I’m supposed to tell you to think about the photographer’s style (photojournalism, naturalism, modern traditionalism) and if you like it. But what I really want to ask you is do you like the photographer’s portfolio? Do you like the way they work? If photojournalism means they’re not going to take a posed picture of your granny; that might not work for you. Worry less about what the photographer calls their style, and more about if their photos speak to you, and if their style will work within the real-life context of your wedding.

Do you Like them?

Once you've narrowed down photographers whose work you like, and whose philosophy you seem to gel with, set up an in-person (or skype) meeting. Then, figure out if you LIKE them. If you don’t, please don’t hire them. You spend enough time with your photographer on your wedding day that you should find them generally pleasant at minimum, possible-BFF-forever at maximum (Only you know how much you care about love-loving them, but make sure you like them). Just make sure the person you talk to will be the one photographing you on the day; some companies have multiple photographers and don’t actually assign a specific photographer to you ahead of time.

Fine-art wedding photography

Can your Budget afford them?

It’s important not to ask this the other way round, (i.e. do they fit your budget) – your photos are your memories and they will only grow more valuable with time. Coming with a pre-determined expectation (e.g. 10% of our budget) might result in substandard capture of an event that can never be recreated. If they meet are a good match in philosophy, style and personality then you might re-consider your budget. And talk to them; can they tailor a package to your specific needs? Payment plans, reduced hours might all be options. And remember; albums and prints can always be ordered later when you’re not facing the burden of paying for a wedding. If you love someone’s art, but you can’t afford all the bells and whistles, go for the art.

What are their weaknesses?

Every photographer is going to have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s pretty easy to get a sense of what someone’s strengths are (let’s assume stunning photos are one of them). The trick is to get an accurate sense of what a given photographer’s weaknesses are, and then decide what you can live with. You can do this by a robust conversation with a photographer (Just ask them flat out what their weaknesses are. A professional will tell you. Run away if they say they have none.). Here are a variety of weaknesses I've observed in various photographers (most of whom are kick-ass people and artists): not super good time managers on the wedding day, slightly socially awkward, slow delivery of photos, slow or poor client communication, not cheerful and outgoing with the couple, don’t take direction well. The trick is to figure out what balance of strengths and weaknesses will work for you. I could care less about photographers being good time managers, or delivering my photos late. But I want someone who’s amazingly nice to me and does everything I ask on my wedding day, plus offers to loan me earrings if I lose mine. Lots of people feel the opposite way—they don’t care how nice their photographers are, as long as they’re organized. As you’re interviewing photographers, figure out what your needs and deal breakers are. Just remember that you’re not perfect, and your photographer won’t be either. The photographer-client relationship is personal, so just figure out how best to be imperfect together.

What are their Qualifications and Affiliations?

Ask if your photographer if they have any professional affiliations with standards bodies such as the NZIPP. The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography is the only qualifying body for professional photographers in New Zealand – think Registered Master Builder, but for photography – members present a body of work to a panel of judges in order to be qualified and advertise themselves as a member and choosing a NZIPP qualified photographer means you can be sure you are getting a qualified professional. Members also give you access to other benefits such as vast network of other high skilled photographers, so that if for some reason, they cannot cover your wedding there is always someone to call on. There are some incredibly talented photographers who are not affiliated with a professional body, but you’ll need to do a bit more work to make sure you’re covered; in this case make sure you ask to see 2-3 weddings start to finish. While some photographers produce twenty amazing images from every wedding, is it worth it if the remaining hundreds are severely lacking.

Do they act with a high level of Professionalism?

Do they have a contract? What happens in the event they are trapped and can’t make it to your wedding? How long will they hold on to your images in case you lose your copy, and how are your images backed up? There are many more things that go into being a professional photographer than simply creating great photos; make sure all the little details have been discussed and are spelled out clearly. This is to protect both you and the photographer in the event that you run into any problems. Professional affiliations such as the NZIPP can also act as, or arrange for mediators to help solve problems in the unlikely event of a dispute with your photographer.

Are their Packages easy to understand?

When looking at someone’s pricing, be careful to see what’s included in the package you’re looking at. Things like second shooters, additional hours, hi-res JPGs, albums, and engagement sessions may be included in the price quote, or might be extra money. Just make sure you’re not signing up to pay more later for things you definitely want (i.e. your wedding photos aren't worth all that much if you have to pay $3,000 extra to get the files).

What happens After the wedding?

Once your wedding has happened, you’re going to want to get your hands on your photos. Now is the time to figure out how that’s going to work (and what’s going to work for you). Get a timeline for how fast or slow a particular photographer turns around images. Delivery of the full gallery can range from a week to six months. (Important note: faster isn't always better. A lot of really talented photographers who want to keep prices low shoot a lot of weddings during the high season. Taking more time to deliver images sometimes gives them the time to deliver you flawless work.) What rights will you have? Will you get high-resolution JPGs (hint: you want those), or will you have to order prints through the photographer? What publication rights will your photographer have? If you want control of where your photos are published, ask for that in advance. Sometimes asking photographers to not publish your work means they charge you a little extra, since free advertising is what keeps their costs down. Sometimes that’s worth it, or you might not care.

Source: A Practical Wedding Guide