Choosing a Photographer: What Should You Focus On?
One of the most common questions I am asked by clients is “How do I start looking for a Photographer?” followed by “What should I consider when hiring a photographer for my big day?”. These can be very tricky questions to answer given the abundance of potentially talented photographers out there. However, we are lucky in todays media world to generally have access to a public portfolio that can be easily found on Instagram, Facebook or many other social media platforms, that represent a beautiful spread of their work.
Beyond doing your initial research on local photographers via wedding websites such as Wedding Wire, Event Source, Instagram, Facebook Groups, Referrals, etc., there are certain criteria that can help narrow down your search. I reached out to a few photographers whose work I admire to get their input on what they feel are important factors to consider before hiring a (wedding) photographer.
First and foremost, you need to know what style of photography speaks to you. Each photographer has a style that their work expresses, and you may find that one resonates more with you than another. For instance, Megan from Megan Tracy Photo describes her work as classic portraiture. It’s modern but timeless. She explained that although you will always see trends in photography, classic will always remain. Karyn’s style, from Karyn Louise Photography is also classic and timeless, describing her work as soft and airy photography, utilizing natural light and creating images that are both candid but effortlessly posed. Jessica from JLP Studio says others describe her work as fresh, clean and bright, which likely comes from her love for the beauty of natural light throughout the day. If you visit these photographers’ portfolios on Instagram, you will see these moods/vibes in their work and how their styles are eminent. You may prefer cooler tones, romantic or more traditional vs modern artistic, there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to style, but Karyn noted to pay attention to things like editing, capturing moments and of course posing/creating images that you may want to recreate yourself.
Another factor to consider is experience. While some may argue that experience is necessary and very important, others will factor budget into their decision, and be ok going with a less experienced photographer to have a more affordable price. However, Jessica explained that experience brings the ability to capture details through macro lenses, or the use of filters with low light techniques and/or flash for certain moments. The difficult part about experience, is that its not necessarily portrayed in a photo posted on a profile or website. All three photographers highlighted the fact that you want to make sure whoever you are hiring is confident in their ability to capture your day and help it run smoothly. As Megan explained, learning how to work a room full of people at a wedding-directing people, creating a comfort zone with your clients, and then at some points staying invisible- tend to improve greatly with practice. This is not to say that someone who is new to the industry has not spent time alongside other photographers, gaining experience and confidence to shoot weddings as the sole shooter. But Jessica says that an experienced photographer will be able to carry you throughout the day, especially if there are any adjustments or hurdles that may come up as the event progresses. Having a photographer that has experience will provide you with the confidence that you can trust their work.
Which brings us to the next vital step, a sit-down meeting with a potential photographer. Karyn feels that connecting with your photographer is one of the things that matters most when choosing a photographer. It is very important how you feel when you are around them. She noted that most people are not comfortable in front of the camera, so it's vital that your photographer makes you feel at ease (maybe makes you laugh a bit) and that you genuinely feel like you connect well with them. Megan highlighted that a wedding is a long day to be spending with a photographer, there needs to be some chemistry to get the best photos of your special day. She further explains that a good photographer will use a sit-down meeting as an opportunity to get to know the couple and learn a little about their history. For instance; asking questions like: How did the couple meet? What is their story? What is the theme of their wedding? They all agree that as a photographer, learning these intricate details provide a deeper connection with clients, and sometimes help in forming an idea of what images might be most important to them.
When meeting with a photographer try to have certain details and information available, such as the event date, venue location, mood, theme etc. A rough idea of how many hours can be helpful but not necessary. Karyn outlined that these details will help the photographer gain an idea of your overall style and vibe for your wedding day so they can help you to allot a certain amount of time for each aspect. For instance, if you want to have time with your guests, a photographer could suggest a first-look and portraits earlier in the day to allow you time to attend the cocktail hour with your guests. Jessica said she likes to know what elements of her work brought the client to her, this way she knows what they are looking for and what intrigued them, and has a better idea of what to incorporate into their photos.
Hopefully the above helps you to find and connect with one of the most important vendors for capturing and documenting your special day. Especially since these photos will likely hang on the walls of your home for generations to come.
A special thank you to Jessica from JLP Studio, Megan from Megan Tracy Photo, and Karyn from Karyn Louise Photography for their valuable input and advice. Please take a moment to check out their beautiful work on their sites listed below.
Megan Tracy Photo
Karyn Louise Photography