By Leilani Grobschmit
1. Begin Your Research ASAP
Photographers typically book weddings a year in advance so it is important to start your research to find your photographer right away. Peak wedding season is May-October and Saturday wedding dates will be booked up fast! Don’t know your date yet? Start researching anyways- who knows, maybe you’ll find the perfect photographer and want to book a date they have available.
2. Determine Your Budget
To help you determine an appropriate budget for your wedding photography go online, Google some local wedding photographers websites, find a few that have pictures you like, and look at their pricing. This can give you a good average to help you determine how much of your wedding budget you should delegate to photography.
3. Where To Find Wedding Photographers
Google is a great place to start but sometimes their results are limited. There are multiple online wedding resources like The Knot, Wedding Wire, and My Wedding that have lists of local wedding vendors to choose from. Here in Skagit County we have www.WedInSkagit.com.
Bridal Fairs, Wedding shows, and Wedding Tours are a very valuable resource for finding your photographer and other vendors. Photographers at these events will have album, print, and other product samples for you to flip through and see their finished product. These are also great places to determine tips 4 & 5.
4. Does Your Personality Mesh
Make sure that when you talk to or meet a photographer for the first you feel comfortable around them. If you do not feel comfortable around the photographer you choose, your pictures may end up reflecting that. This is also a good time to talk about style. If your wedding has a theme or specific style you may want to see if your photographer has any portfolio work that at least somewhat matches your theme.
5. Photographers Knowledge
Ask your photographer about their technical training, I would stay away from photographers who are strictly self taught. A photographer who has had more years photographing weddings is preferable but if they are new to the business ask if they have been a second shooter for other wedding photographers and if so how long. I would trust a new wedding photographer who has been a second shooter for two or more years.
6. Picking Your Package
The first thing to look at in a package is how many hours. What do you want the photographer to capture- getting ready (hair, makeup, and putting your dress on), the ceremony, the reception, your exit from the reception to your honeymoon? If the packages states full day coverage make sure to ask specifically how many hours that includes.
Secondly, what products are included in your package? Some photographers include a product credit so ask them what products they have available- albums, gallery wraps, professional prints, framed prints, gift prints, etc. Albums are expensive but the best way to get the most photos in your home to be easily accessable and are a long lasting durable product. Ask where your photographer has their images printed, it should be at a professional print shop, not Costco. I would stay away from photographers who only offer you a disk or USB with digital images. Disks and USB drives do corrupt so there is a possibility that you will loose all of your images forever. Also I know that some computers are now being made without a disk drive. If you want all of your images given to you digitally so that you can print them for yourself cheaper, here is what I want you to think about- you paid a large amount of money to have a professional photographer photograph your wedding, why would you put those images on a product that is distinctly lower quality and not a professional product? From experience I can also tell you that you will post a few of your photos to Facebook in an album that you will eventually have a hard time finding and it will be years, if at all, before you finally get around to having any prints made. Let your professional photographer take care of that for you.
7. Photographer Accessibility
This is a big deal! Initially, if it is hard to get a photographer to call you back or to make an appointment to meet with them, this is your first sign that it will be hard working with them through this whole process. There are many things that you and your photographer should be communicating about through the process of getting to your wedding day and they should be willing, helpful, and easy to get a hold of. Extra- your photographer is a great source of knowledge about the wedding day flow, ask them for help in other areas!
8. Wedding Décor
Last but not least, your photographer may have an amazing portfolio but if you do not have a venue and decorations like the pictures in the portfolio it will be harder for your photographer to simulate that in your photos. Don’t get me wrong, you and your groom will be stunning and your photographer will do everything in their power to make you look your best but if you’re dancing in front of a closed garage door the scene won’t have the same appeal as it would if you were dancing outside under little white lights hung from a purgula with a fountain in the background. Rent decorations from a company like Skagit Valley Wedding Supply. Get more than just bridal bouquets from your florist like table and aisle bouquets, Flowers by Shamay has some great ideas to help!