Along with our own experience and research, we consulted with one of our favorite photographers, Cara Nava of Carasco Photography to get the inside scoop on tips for selecting your event / wedding photographer. Cara started off with stating that “Wedding Photography is a big investment for couples. It is the last representation of your day that you cannot do over. So it’s wise to do your homework, get started early and dedicate a specified period to researching, selecting and booking your photographer.” We could not agree more. We have put together everything you need to know to make your event / wedding photographer decision easy.
1. Don’t Put It Off!
As soon as you book your venue and solidify your date, search for your photographer. Depending on the type of photography company you choose, there might just be one person available. Booking as soon as possible will help improve your chances of working with who you want and when you want.
2. Tips On Choosing a Photographer
Think about what type of photographer you want to hire. What is your style? Do you like candid shots vs “formal” poses? Or are you the edgy/unconventional type? Here are a few suggestions to help you find the best photographer for your style
Popular Engagement Styles
Illustrative Style: Photographers with this storytelling style create photographs with a blend of traditional and photojournalistic. This style focuses on composition, background, and lighting. The clients are encouraged to relax and interact together in an interesting and unique environment. This style captures candid moments while interjecting posed shots.
Natural Light: Photographers who practice this art use the natural light found in a setting rather than using their camera flash. Be sure to ask if your photographer is skilled in this style if you plan to take outdoor photos as they must be able to handle shadows and other lighting challenges.
We consulted with Elizabeth Wight of E. Wight Photo to better understand photography styles. She mentioned that natural light photography has a ‘fine art’ aspect to it. Elizabeth continued: “I consider myself a natural light photographer and working with natural light is literally making art of the light in any given situation, It can be abstract, but really stark and beautiful.”
Popular Ceremony / Reception Styles
Traditional/Portrait Style: If you prefer classic portraits (picture your parents’ wedding photos), find a traditional photographer who specializes in portraiture. These are posed shots of the two of you, friends and family in front of various backdrops such as the altar or a park.
Photojournalism / Documentary Style: Photographers specializing in this style are likely to shoot candid or spontaneous pictures of people, decor, etc. instead of a series of posed photos. This style will render photos that capture the moments exactly as they happened and together the photos tell a story. You will often find guests not looking at the camera or interacting in conversation with each other.
Contemporary or Edgy / Bold Style: This style generally results in photos with tilted angles and unique and unconventional framing. The photographer’s approach is outside-the-box where objects like a flower or candle is in the foreground rather than people, or shot’s are taken from above or below rather than head on. They tend to blend in with the guests and catch fast paced moments. Their post production style uses high contrast images with pops of color. Our friend Elizabeth adds that “[she] thinks the key thing with ‘contemporary’ photography is understanding that it could have a ‘modern’ appeal or it could have a ‘minimal’ appeal but the bottom line is it will basically have an ‘artsy’ feel to it.”
Fine Art Style: This style gives the shooter the artistic license needed to capture their unique point of view. Fine Art Photography uses artistic angles, unique composition, and creative lighting to create a dramatic feel. With advanced post production techniques, photos usually look like they were shot on film that renders a muted image that might look antique or dream-like.
Many wedding photographers can do a blend of styles as well as a mix of black-and-white and color images, but if there’s a special style you love, make sure to focus on photographers who specialize in it.
3. Do Your Research
Once you have established what style of imagery is appealing to you, Cara suggests that you “spend time researching photographers and websites BEFORE you meet with them. Check out their social media, blog and galleries. Every wedding is different so it’s important to see their range.” In addition to social media, blogs, and galleries, we suggest that when searching for your photographer you ask the venue manager, talk to friends who have hosted weddings or events, and read yelp reviews. Get an idea of who they are before you set up a meeting.
4. Meet The Photographer
Carasco Photography shared their inside tips on meeting your photographer:
“Select Your top Favorites and Act Quickly. From your research, select your top five photographers. Confirm their availability the day of your event and narrow your search from there. You don’t want to base your search completely on price but you do want to make sure that they are in budget. We [Carasco Photography] recommend meeting with your top three photographers/companies [face-to-face] and be prepared to make a decision within a week to 2 weeks as most photographers will not hold dates without a signed contract and deposit. You don’t want to wait too long as they could book up while you are still making your decision or reviewing other photographers.”
We also believe it is important to:
- Approach your meeting as a two way interview. Make sure your personalities work well together. A picture might be worth 1000 words but at the end of the day, if you require direction and they are the “quiet artist” type, you will likely struggle to get a shot you want.
- When interviewing make sure to ask questions about their liability insurance, sales tax, and precautionary questions such as do they have a back up camera/gear?
5. Packages and Timelines
Cara suggests these tips for establishing your photography budget:
“Wedding photography is a significant investment and makes up between 10-15% of the overall wedding budget on average.
- Make sure you understand what is included in the wedding package.
- Ask about digital negatives/high resolution files and if they are included in your package.
- Make sure you know when you can have access to those images.
- Is it 1 year after the wedding? Or upon completion of the edit?
- And decide if you want to pre-purchase your wedding album or wait until after the wedding day. Every studio is different but if you want an album, it’s good to review their options.”
In addition, we suggest that you ask:
- How many hours are included in the service package and how much does each additional hour cost?
- Is there a limit to the number of photos taken and/or corrected or will you receive all of the proofs taken?
- Does the photographer develop prints or digital copies on a DVD or both?
6. Once You’ve Booked Your Photographer
Bring the photographer to the venue so you can make a plan of all of the photos you want to take. If you plan to take some or all of your photos in the middle of your event, this will allow for the session to move quickly so that you are able to get back to your event sooner.
Check in with the photographer a few days before your event so they are clear on when and where to be the day of your event.
Reconnect with your photographer the day of your event. Photographers work a lot of events and speak to many clients with different requests. Speaking with them at the start of the day assures that you are clear about your expectations from the start. In addition, if you hired a larger company, they may have sent someone you have not met yet. Meeting them the day of your event puts you both on the same page so they are clear with what you are looking for and the style you had discussed in your initial interview with your photographer.
Cara Nava notes that “You will be spending the entire day with your photographer. Make sure you understand how they operate and vice versa. You should feel comfortable with your photographer and have a rapport on [your] wedding day. Engagement sessions are a great opportunity for the photographer to consider your angles and to “break bread” with your photographer.”
Learn more about Carasco Photography at www.carascophoto.com
Learn more about E. Wight Photo at www.ewightphoto.com