When it comes to choosing a wedding photographer, there are a lot of things to consider. When it comes to personality, I believe chemistry, values, and a sense of humor are just as important as “has a nice camera, can take photos”. However, there are also other things to consider: style, quality, experience, products, and overall value.
The photography of your day is one of the most important things to consider. Its memories that will be with not only with you both for the rest of your lives but also your family or children as well. Throughout my 10 years of being a wedding photographer, I’ve had a handful of people come back to me to asking for help printing one of their favorite photos I took at their wedding of their loved one. One of the most tragic instances was a bride who’s dad suddenly passed away just a few months after their wedding. The last photos the bride had of her father was from their wedding.
Situations like this aren’t a fun thing to think about, but I bring this up because it’s an important thing to remember when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer for your wedding. You should have 100% faith in your photographer. As a full-time San Antonio-based wedding photographer since 2012, these are what I consider the key things to consider when choosing a photographer.
1. ARE THEY FULL-TIME, PART-TIME, OR A HOBBYIST?
These days, it seems as if almost everyone is a photographer. There’s an infinite amount of great photography online. Cameras are becoming increasingly better in quality and learning how to use a camera is just a Google search away. However, when it comes to finding a wedding photographer, you want to be aware of the level of experience and value they will be giving you.
A hobbyist might enjoy taking photos and be decent at it, but when it comes to a wedding day, a photographer needs to be able to adapt quickly to changes in light and environment. Most hobbyists also photograph many different things and don’t specialize in weddings specifically. You want someone who knows the ins and outs of a wedding day. It’s your photographer’s job to know where to be, what’s happening, and even know your family dynamic. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck having to tell them what to do and ultimately not fully enjoy or taking in your wedding day that you spent a ton of hours and long nights planning for. Another consideration is if a friend or family member does the photos. Not only will that person not be able to enjoy the wedding as a guest, but you’ll also risk missing moments if or when they’re being a guest. It could be easy for them to get sidetracked if they’re surrounded by friends and family.
Someone who is part-time might be good at what they do, but they may not be able to dedicate as much time throughout the planning process or even after the wedding to help with designing an album for you, etc. However, don’t think that people who are part-time aren’t good for you. They might be striving to become full-time and will put as much as they can into serving you. You might even get to book a great photographer before they need to charge prices that a full-time photographer must charge to stay in business. Go with your gut on this. There’s no need to bother asking how long they’ve been part-time. The most important thing to find out is how much wedding experience they have.
Full-Time Wedding Photographers
If risk isn’t your thing, a full-time wedding photographer with at least 2 years experience will have the experience of everything I just mentioned and more. They will have the time to get to know you, help you plan out a photo timeline for the day to optimize great light, get you helpful resources, have contacts to amazing wedding vendors, and be responsive when it comes to communication throughout your entire wedding planning process and beyond.
2. HOW WILL THEY GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS?
Speaking of guiding you through the entire process, it’s helpful to know how your photographer does things from start to finish. It’s important to know how their booking process works, when payments are due, if they require a group photo list, how their album design process works, etc. You don’t want to just be stuck wondering what to expect next. There should be a clear and laid out process.
Every photographer is different with how they run things. Some photographers will literally just show up to your wedding and deliver digital files afterward. And some photographers, like me for instance, have a hands-on approach to help guide you along the way, keep you informed, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks or gets forgotten.
3. DO THEY HAVE BACKUP SYSTEMS IN PLACE?
This is a major thing that most couples don’t even think to ask. Make sure your photographer has backup systems in place. You can’t re-do the wedding, so make sure you ask how they’ll ensure your memories are photographed and your images are safe.
Make sure they have backup cameras they bring with them to your wedding. You don’t want to find out that their only camera broke at your wedding. Ask if their camera has dual memory card slots. Find out if they back up the files immediately after the wedding and what precautions they make to ensure your files are safe until they’re delivered to you. Keep in mind that most photographers, including myself, do not guarantee that they will hold onto the files after they’ve been delivered to you and after your online gallery has expired. Find out how many years of backup they offer for your online gallery in cause you lose your files. At the bare minimum, all my couples receive 1 year of cloud backup for free with the option to subscribe for a yearly cloud backup of just $60 per year. There is also the option to book a 5 year or 10 year backup upon booking.
4. DO THEY OFFER ALBUMS AND PRINTS?
In a world of social media and instant gratification, it might be tempting to go home with just digital files. However, It’s my belief that if you’re going to hire a professional photographer, getting beautiful prints or an album is totally worth it. Printing memories is something that I deeply value in my personal life because they serve as physical reminders of the people you love.
We all know how busy life can get. Having a photographer that offers albums and prints will make sure you don’t forget to print out your most important memories. Or most importantly, in my opinion, you don’t wind up with crappy prints from places like Walgreens. Photographers have access to some of the most amazing photo labs, so your prints and albums will be of the highest quality when going through them. All my couples get access to discounts on prints for up to 2 weeks after they’ve received their gallery.
I hope these questions will help you out when it comes to choosing a photographer. The answers to theses 4 questions are crucial things to consider when choosing a photographer.
If you’ve found these tips useful, I’d love to know! And if you’re considering me as your wedding photographer, send me a message! I’d love to connect.