If you are in the throws of planning a wedding or just getting started, you've heard this come out of at least twenty people's mouth, "After the cake is cut, the flowers are wilted and the last gift card has been sent; all you have is your new spouse and the wedding portraits from your photographer. Without saying it, finding the right photographer to document every moment you've been planning since you were a little girl is a bit of pressure. Maybe more than you were ready for.
There are now over 150,000 wedding photographers in the United States alone and you are searching for the one that will document your day from start to finish in the way you've always dreamed of. And YOU thought finding your soul mate was hard!?!
Sadly some of the things you see and read that sound like amazing selling points, are really Big Giant red flags. Here are a few tips to help you wade through the sea of wedding photographers on your way to happily ever after.
1. I found a studio that shoots 500 weddings a year! Score!
Math it out Sister. With only 52 weeks in a year, this studio is churning out nine or ten weddings a week? And that's with no holidays off or vacation. Experience is a MUST but this is one very busy studio. Studios that boast BIG annual numbers are every where. Ask about turn around. Average studios with far less weddings per year have a minimum of 6-8 weeks on return delivery. Ask about turn around for proofs, digitals and albums. Everyone is going to ask you for these things starting on the day after the wedding, knowing what's ahead makes life less stressful. Studios THIS busy often hire out teams of photographers to cover over booking. You photograph all ten Saturday weddings personally. Make sure you know who will be holding the camera on your big day.
2. My venue said this is THE guy for me.
Not in all cases, but in some cases BIG gorgeous venues have a "Pay to Play" set up with their preferred vendor lists. Simply put, when you book in, that sales rep gets a bonus from your photographer or your caterer or your new florist. Do the research. Do they ONLY photograph here at this particular venue? Check the reviews and get some word of mouth answers from past clients and guests. Everyone always has references. Reach out to them along with your online research. Every now and then they send you to a real gem. So always be on the lookout.
3. Can you believe my LUCK finding this great Wedding Photography Sale?
In college, a good friend of mine planned her wedding on a shoe string budget. Most brides budget BIG for the wedding dress, but not her. She cut back here and put the money she saved onto her photography budget. She said, "A good photographer can make my bargain dress look it was made for princess, and bad photographer can make Vera Wang look like a thrift store find." It's all about perspective. Ask anyone who is butt-hurt over their wedding photography, it's not a bargain if you hate your portraits. If your favorite photographer is running a 10% off Black Friday sale or a BOOK NOW and get a free engagement session. Jump on it. That's a great deal. A half price sale should raise some eyebrows. A good photographer is using great gear, professional printers, is carrying insurance and is paying taxes. If the sale is that good, find out where they are cutting corners. The profit to stay in business has to come from somewhere. Make sure it's not coming from your big day.
4. They are little rough around the edges, but the website is AH-MAY-ZING!
A great portfolio is the best reason to book your photographer. Loving someone's work is a big first step. After you stop drooling over their Pinterest boards, contact them and set up a meeting. The next step is making sure you gel together. After all, you will probably spend more time with your wedding photographer on your BIG day than with your own MOM, so it's important to really like someone before you invite them in on the biggest day of your life.
5. She's FAMILY.
What if you have a cousin who just graduated art school? or a Uncle who just got a new amazing camera? or best friend who is also an amateur wild life photographer? And they just offered to shoot YOUR BIG DAY for FREE! This may sound like a money saving lottery win, but if it goes wrong you risk a bad blood situation. Just because your friend can take photos of hummingbirds, doesn't mean they can light a pitch black wedding venue. What if you don't LOVE the photos? What if your art school cousin takes amazing photos but has a crumby back up system and loses all your photos? What if your Uncle takes a break to have shots with his brother at the bar during the cake cutting? Big picture: When you are hiring a Wedding Photographer for your BIG day, hire a Wedding Photographer.
Don't be overwhelmed with all the details of planning your wedding. Keep your chin up and the bar high. When you meet your wedding photographer, you will just KNOW that he or she is the one. Congratulations and good luck with your planning!
To learn more about the gulf coast wedding photography services offered by Ellenburg Photography, click the link below.
Daphne Ellenburg is award-winning Newborn and Baby Photographer. She is the owner of a bustling Portrait photography business called Ellenburg Photography located in Southern Alabama. Daphne has a supportive family and a fancy-pants 2000 sq ft studio in the heart of Saraland, Alabama. She loves college football, big handbags, lip gloss and all things Apple. She also enjoys writing about her Photo-Adventures and her entertaining family. Daphne is a proud member of PPA, WPPI, and the local chamber. Catch up with her at EllenburgPhotography.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to read your comments.