How to Find the Perfect Photographer For Your Wedding
With engagement season upon us, that also means that booking season for wedding photographers is just around the corner. Not too long ago, a friend reached out to us about a situation she found herself in and we thought it would be a good idea to share her story with our readers so that you guys could avoid the mistakes that she made.
Our friend told us that they had booked their wedding photographer a few months ago, and after submitting the contract and entire payment for her services in full – they never heard back from the photographer. Their pre-scheduled engagement session was coming up, and they didn’t even know where the session was supposed to be! Their photographer had sent them no prep tips, no details on timing or location and basically totally had dropped the ball on communication. No emails were responded to, no texts were replied to, no phone calls have been returned for over 2 months. She asked us if that was normal, and we immediately were very concerned that her photographer wasn’t serving her well. It had gotten to the point where my friend actually believed that this photographer wouldn’t even show up to the wedding!
So we did some digging, and found out that her photographer had a website, but it was very … bland, for lack of a better term. There was no personality to it, the images were all over the place in terms of style and cohesiveness and editing, there were absolutely no photos about the photographer, no mention of her real name, and the website didn’t really even say where the photographer was based from! We dug some more, and found that the photographer had absolutely no social media, no reviews on reputable websites like the Knot or Google, and the only place the business was listed on was Thumbtack. That’s it.
These are all kinds of huge red flags to us. And now our friend is in the midst of trying to cancel her contract to find a new photographer and it’s added a lot of unnecessary stress to their wedding planning process. And costs, too – because they’re probably going to lose all of the money they had paid to this other photographer, who totally has let them down.
So, let’s chat about how to find the perfect photographer for your wedding so that THIS doesn’t happen to YOU!
Photographers, you should pay attention to this part, because these are things you should be doing!
Ask for referrals from your family and friends – ask about their experience before, during and after the wedding. Ask how their photographers made them feel, and made their wedding party, friends and family feel. Ask to see their photos and albums. Ask how long it took to get photos, ask how long it took to get albums, etc.
Photographers: serve your clients well. It’s as easy as that – take care of them. Treat them kindly, treat their wedding party well, and do everything you can within your power to make their wedding as magical as possible. Don’t make them wait and wait for photos and albums, either!
Their website should be full of information – names and location, for starters! There should be photos of the photographer on there, there should be some personality to the website – you should be able to get a real feel for who their target couples are and you should feel like you fit in with them. If you’re having a high end wedding at a fancy hotel, you shouldn’t bother with adventure outdoor elopement photographers. If you love black and white photography, your photographer should prominently display black and white on their websites (and social media, but more on that in a second). If you like bright and airy edits, don’t reach out to a dark and moody film photographer. Know what you want in terms of style and personality, and search for it.
Photographers: maintain your website! Personalize it, include photos of yourself, and make your website be a welcoming hug to potential couples. Blog, consistently update your portfolio galleries, make your website an extension of who you are and what you’re passionate about. Your potential clients should know exactly who you are, what style you have, what your vision is – all just by looking at your website!
Once you find a few photographers that have piqued your interest, look them up on places like The Knot, Wedding Wire and Google. Shoot, you can even look them up on Yelp! Read real reviews from past couples – see if they’ve had any issues and if so, how they’ve been resolved. See what past couples have to say!
Photographers: ask your couples for reviews. Provide them a link to wherever you’d like to have potential couples look you up!
Go take a look at their Instagram and Facebook, or whatever social media you’re most active on, and check out their posts. How active are they? Are they cohesive with their shares? Do they share stories? Do they engage with their audience? Check out their tagged photos, too – see what their clients are sharing and tagging them in!
Photographers: get active on social media! Create a marketing plan that utilizes social media, introduce your followers to yourself, share behind the scenes photos, etc. Social media is a free way to actively engage with potential couples – use it!
We totally respect budgets and we get it – sometimes you just can’t afford to spend multiple-thousand dollars on a wedding photographer. And we’d also be remiss to say that a cheaper photographer can’t blow your mind. But don’t make your decision based solely on pricing – you should feel entirely comfortable with your photographer, you should be able to feel confident in their abilities and professionalism, and you should respect the amount your photographer is charging. Pricing is typically a reflection on a combination of a bunch of things – experience, education, equipment, location and quite honestly, demand.
Photographers: price yourselves accordingly. Don’t undercut just to take on a bunch of weddings just because you think you can make a quick buck (news flash: that’s not a good business plan!).
Want to read more wedding planning advice? See more on the blog!
Randy and Ashley Durham are Colorado-based intimate wedding photographers and mentors for small creative businesses.