Ok, let’s be real. There’s like, 3,485,288 wedding photographers out there. Ok, maybe not that many, but it feels like it. When you first get engaged and you start researching photographers (or anything really…venues, planners, florists, etc), it can feel a little bit like this:
So how on earth do you choose one? How do you scroll all 3429387429 pages of the Knot and pick just one person to hire? I know how overwhelming this process can feel and my heart is to give you some concrete how-to’s to make it easier.
#1. Start on Pinterest.
Start on Pinterest and just start pinning wedding photos you like. Do this for like a week or two, and then go back and start looking for common threads. Are you naturally attracted to clean, bright, colorful images? Or maybe you’re into a more moody, processed style. Or maybe you like a really true to life, almost unedited style. Do you gravitate towards more posed, flawless looking images or do the wide angle, documentary, candid photos grab your eye? Do you like a more timeless style of shooting or one that’s more current? These are the questions you should ask yourself before even looking at who is in your area. It is so important to book someone whose style of lighting, posing, and editing you 100% love. Do NOT book a photographer when they only meet 3/4 of your preferences and then ask them to adjust their style for you. Keep looking until you find the perfect match.
2. Next, come up with a budget.
It can be tempting to reach out to a bunch of vendors to get quotes and then use those quotes to determine a budget, but sometimes that process can leave you more confused than before. Everyone has a different cost of doing business, client experience, and artistic process and sometimes two photographers who appear to have very similar work may have very different pricing and you may be left wondering why. (Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to gently/kindly ask a photographer why their pricing is the way that it is! I can’t speak for everyone, but I would much rather be given the chance to have an honest conversation with a couple about my prices instead of just being ghosted because I gave a higher quote). Even if you don’t have an exact number, figure out a range that you’re comfortable spending in. In the Austin market, I would say there’s four different price brackets:
3. Then, start looking at people in your area.
The Knot is a great place to start. Instagram and Pinterest can also be excellent resources. Look at reviews and publications to get an idea of how much experience and rapport a vendor has. Do in depth research on their portfolio and view multiple weddings and sessions on their site (Pro Tip: If they don’t have several weddings blogged, or if the majority of their images appear to be from styled shoots, that’s a red flag.) Most vendors won’t have exact pricing information on their site, but most should at least have a starting price that gives you an idea of what to expect. Be honest about your budget and what you’re hoping to get for it (how much day of coverage, additional sessions, prints and albums, second shooter, etc) when you inquire. I know it probably feels like you’re showing all your cards, but I promise, this will save you time! When a couple is straightforward about their needs and their budget, I’m able to quote them right away and give them a few different options according to their needs, instead of going back and forth a few times before laying the numbers out there. Let me do the work of figuring out how we could work together instead of just asking for a PDF with packages and doing that yourself!
4. Set up meetings.
Schedule interviews with a few different people who have checked off the style and the budget boxes. Now, you’re looking for personality. You’re looking for someone who you bond with. Your photographer is the vendor you will spend the most amount of time with on your wedding day, so choose someone you like and wholeheartedly trust. Do you want someone whose more chill and can keep the peace on your day? Or someone whose more outgoing who will shoot your dancing photos from the middle of the dance floor? Do you want someone who’s more of a fly on the wall and doesn’t intervene too much, or someone who will be more involved in posing you and putting you in the best light?
5. Finally, make your decision!
You now have a photographer whose style you love, who falls in your budget, and who you genuinely like as a human being. Give yourself a pat on the back, that’s a big ol’ check mark off the wedding planning list! Don’t forget to follow up with the vendors who you didn’t choose to kindly let them know about your decision (ghosting is very frowned upon around here) and if they ask for a reason, feel free to be honest! Make sure to keep your hired photographer in the loop as you plan your timeline and other parts of the day that pertain to photos. They most likely have lots of experience and insight!
Speaking of timeline, need tips for how to make one? I got you covered here.