Growing up, many of us anticipate our wedding day to be the perfect day. We picture standing next to our soul mate surrounded by family and friends with every detail planned to a tee. Yet, these daydreams often exclude the stress factor. Ask any engaged or married couple. Decisions about invitations, music and everything in between can cause panic. Selecting the ideal photographer is perhaps one of the most arduous tasks of all. Couples want to remember their day forever, and they want the perfect photographer.
Social media and the Internet have directly influenced the way people hire a wedding photographer today. Couples can now vet portfolios, find great ideas for locations and even ways to pose on Pinterest and Instagram. Yet, the sheer amount of information available can be overwhelming. A search for #weddingphotography on Instagram alone brings up 1,055,745 posts while #weddingphotographer reveals 823,248 posts. How do you wade through the posts, pins, blogs and reviews to connect with the best photographer for you and your partner?
Here are a few key steps to find the right photographer for you and your big day:
How much are willing to spend and what do you want to capture?
Whether you're planning an extravagant wedding or taking the DIY approach, discuss your ideal wedding photo package and determine how much you are willing to spend – before you start the photographer search. If you have a tight budget, you may need to alter your idea of the best photo package. Along with cost, it's crucial to consider what type of photos you want and how much activity will be occurring. Does the bride have 3 wardrobe changes? Is it a priority for the groom take a group shot with all of his college buddies? The size of the venue and guest attendance also impacts what the photographer can capture and when. Once you have a clear vision of what you want, finding the perfect photographer or photographers becomes a little less overwhelming.
Meet and interview your prospects
Weddings are intimate. The best wedding photos happen when the photographer genuinely understands a couple's and hopes for the day, as well as their "vibe." Don't choose a photographer based on emails and phone calls alone. Meet your top three prospects in person. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions and gauge your comfort level with the photographer. This is also a great time to discuss how the photo shoot will be executed the day of your wedding and what happens during post-production.
Never settle for unprofessional
Social media has spawned a mass of "photographers". Some people assume that an Instagram account and filters bank are legitimate credentials of a talented photographer. You'll need to keep an eye out for more than a strong social media presence and website. In addition to appropriately utilizing social media with customers and colleagues, the right photographer will proudly display their portfolio of work. It's important to get a sense of a photographer's style.
You can also search for reviews from previous customers to see what their experience was like. Do a thorough online search and take note of the little things, too. Do they respond to your calls and emails in a timely fashion? Knowing that your photographer is a hardworking professional you can trust will help you rest easy on your wedding day and make it much less chaotic.
Think outside the box
The tip I recommend most is to broaden your search. Never be afraid to try something new or different – oftentimes, that's when you get the best results. As long as you dig deep into the origin of a great photography pin or Instagram photo, social media platforms can serve as a unique search engine. In addition, there are plenty of online sites that have databases of wedding photographers ready to be matched up with couples awaiting their big day. As a photographer, I use a service called GigMasters. GigMasters helps me promote my photography business while making it simple for couples to search through a pool of photographers and find a good match.
While the search for the right photographer can be stressful, research and creativity go a long way. Lay out your ideas, review portfolios, follow your intuition, and enjoy your wedding day, knowing you've hired someone that will help capture moments of a lifetime.
About Phillip Blume
Phillip Blume is one-half of Blume Photography. The other half is his wife, Eileen. Phillip and Eileen met in Tokyo, Japan, only to later discover that they were practically neighbors back home in Georgia. Phillip and Eileen combine their artistic visions and formal training/experience to bring a marriage of creativity and simple elegance to their unique brand of wedding photojournalism. Their philosophy? Create unforgettable stories through images that speak volumes. Their work spans the globe from Central America, through Europe, and onto Asia, and is published internationally.