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How To Choose A Wedding Photographer

You’re engaged! CONGRATULATIONS! How exciting!
You’ve set a date, booked the venue, bought your dress and now you must find a wedding photographer.

But there’s SO. MANY. CHOICES. ALL different prices! How do you decide?!

I’m here to guide you through the in’s and out’s of all the choices out there!

Pricing

I hate to say it, but you get what you pay for.

Pricing for wedding photographers can range from $500-$10,000+.

WHY?!

Pricing is mostly based off of experience. Photographers with a lot of experience will be priced higher and photographers with little to no experience will be priced much lower.
What’s the average price? It really depends on your area. If you are in a big city, the pricing will (probably) be higher than a small town.

I’ve had couples tell me that they are young, paying for the wedding by themselves and just cannot afford to spend a few thousand dollars on a photographer, let a lone a videographer.
This makes me sad. Why? Not because I’ll get a smaller paycheck if I take on their wedding, but rather because after your wedding is over, the ONLY thing you will have left is the photos & videos from your day. Yes, you’ll have memories, but after time memories fade. Don’t believe me? Do you remember your 1st or 2nd birthday?! Most likely not. What about your 5th birthday party? After 20-30 years, memories do fade. Why not have beautiful photographs or a video to look at that bring back the good memories from your wedding day?
This may be one of the last times all of your family is in one spot, and having these moments with your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, & your cousins etc captured on film should be priceless.

If you fall in love with a wedding photographer’s work & personality, but it seems to be too much out of your budget, try to move some other things around. Hire them. Hire the photographer who takes the stress of worrying about your big day away. Hire the photographer who helps you write a day of timeline with time for everything important to you. Hire the photographer who allows you to relax and enjoy your day, not pressed for always taking tons of photos of you and your partner. Hire the expert.

The other thing to consider when looking at photographers, is how many weddings do they take on in a year? Photographers who charge $5k+ per wedding may only take on a handful of weddings a year. This means they have more time to answer your questions and time to spend with their own families and enjoy life a bit. Photographers who charge $500-$2000 per wedding may take on 50-100 weddings a year and may not respond to emails in a timely manner or have any sort of life at all beyond shooting and editing. There’s no right way or wrong way, and exceptions to everything. But if you want to feel appreciated and important as a client, a high volume photography studio may not be the best option for you.

Curious what we charge for photography & videography? Click here.

Style

There’s two types of photography style. Shooting style & editing style.

With shooting style, the most popular are Photojournalism, Traditional, Candid and Fine Art. Some photographers do a combination of those four, but sometimes they are strictly one or the other.

Photojournalism captures the day as it happens. There’s little to no posing at all, or not taking photos when something “bad” is happening. They capture it all in real time.

Candid is somewhat like Photojournalism, it’s capturing real moments, real laughter, real things. It’s also very little to no posing, and just capturing the moments.

Traditional is well, traditional. It can be cheesy, very posey, and often the photographer has you stop what you’re doing to smile for the camera.

Fine art is about an idea, a message, or an emotion. The artist has something that they want to have conveyed in their work.

Discuss this with the photographers you reach out to. Make sure you understand what their primary shooting style is. In the beginning as a photographer, I had a few disappointed clients because I didn’t take posed smiling at the camera photos of the couple. It wasn’t my style to do so, but sometimes people assume that’s just what photographers do.

Now, I have developed a strong photojournalism & candid style. I do some traditional posing for the family & wedding party formal photos, and I make sure I take at least one photo of the couple smiling at the camera. But other than that, I won’t stop you during the day and ask you to pose and smile for the camera.

Editing Style.

There’s a couple of really common styles of edits out there. To be honest, if we all photographed the same and edited the same, the world would be a very boring place.

The first one; Dark & Moody. I’m not exactly sure where this one came about, some other photographers tell me that it looks like film. I used to photograph with film and none of my film photos ever looked like this. I do have to say though, dark & moody has a place, and it’s based off of the light & shadows in the photo. It can be done really, really well, but in most cases, it’s not. For some types of portraits, like boudoir it can be amazing, but I wouldn’t recommend it for weddings.
Usually it’s a filter that the photographer slaps onto the image. When done poorly, the colors in the photos are desaturated, especially the green, and the skin tones almost have a brown-ish/orange/rough appearance. I KNOW you picked out colors for your wedding and if you’re getting married in the summer I’m SURE you actually want GREEN grass, not brown grass. If you spent 100’s of dollars on flowers, I’m SURE you don’t want them to appear dead. If you spent money on professional makeup, you don’t want your face to appear brown/orange & rough.

Madison WI Wedding Photographer

Dark & Moody Edit


Madison WI Wedding Photographer

Dark & Moody Edit


Madison WI Wedding Photographer

A GOOD example of Dark & Moody edit


Madison WI Wedding Photographer

Another GOOD example of dark & moody edit

In the good examples, the desaturation takes away the colors that could be a distraction to the image, and only show the moment of the bride looking out the window before leaving the room or the bride getting ready.

If you absolutely LOVE this style of photography, feel free to reach out here and I can point you in the direction of some photographers who do this editing well.

The second one; Light & Airy. I have seen this style done extremely well and extremely poorly. Basically it’s an over exposed photo. I guess some think of it as dreamy. However, when it’s done poorly, you lose the details in the photo, the details and color in the sky, and the details in your dress.

If you absolutely LOVE this style of photography, feel free to reach out here and I can point you in the direction of some photographers who do this editing well.

No editing or very little at all; This may be something that newer photographers do, or photographers who then have you choose the photos that they edit. It sounds like unfinished business to me.

Not edited; aka straight off the camera.

Bright & Bold; I think my photography may fall into this category, although I can be borderline light & airy, and I also have dark & moody black & white images. I want my blues and greens to be authentically blue & green. I want skin tones to be natural skin tones, and no roughness at all. I want the definition in the sky, and the exposure to be accurate.

Bright & Bold ?


Bright & Bold ?

Finding the Perfect Photographer

Now that you’ve decided on a budget for photography & picked out a style you like, you can reach out to photographers! You could try asking in a facebook wedding group for recommendations. An ideal helpful post would be something like, “Looking for wedding photographers who are available on 6/6/20 for a wedding in ________/at _________ venue, with a photojournalism shooting style & light and airy editing style. My budget for photography is $3000-$4000.”
Be aware that you will probably receive over 50 recommendations and not everyone will be in your ideal budget or carry the style you are looking for. Google can be helpful, and so can sites like Zola, the knot, wedding planner & guide etc. Wedding shows can be extremely helpful & overwhelming, but you do get the opportunity to meet many vendors in one day. Make a list of your favorites.

Asking the Right Questions

With the list of favorites, start reaching out and inquiring to your favorite photographers. Ask if they are available on your date and tell them exactly what you are looking for in terms of style and budget. Perhaps you want to set up meetings to meet them face to face or over Skype.

Ask to see full wedding galleries of a real wedding. Why? Anyone can get a few great images and showcase them on their website, but not everyone takes great photos for the entire day. A photographer should be willing to share full galleries with you. If they are not, this could be a red flag. Want to see our full wedding galleries? Check them out here.

Ask what happens if they are ill/accident/die and cannot make it to your wedding. Most photographers have back up plans, but not all do. I would not hire a photographer who did not have a back up plan. We have a network of local wedding photographers and someone is always available to step in when needed.

Ask how many weddings they have photographed and how long they have been doing photography. It goes back to experience here, if the photographer is newer to weddings, they may not be able to help guide you and your partner and guests thru the wedding day like a seasoned experienced photographer can.

Ask about a second photographer, if it’s included and if not, how much to add on. I personally don’t often shoot with a second photographer, it mostly depends on guest count, getting ready locations and hours needed. After photographing almost 150 weddings and most of them being solo, I know what I can handle and how to get all of the angles and points of view!

Ask how long it takes to receive your photos back from them. The average time should be 8 weeks or less. Whatever timeline they give you, make sure this is in the contract.

Ask if they offer an engagement session. We offer a complimentary engagement session in our collections. It’s a GREAT way to get to know the photographer, make sure you actually like how they photograph you, and that you like their style of shooting and editing. If you don’t, this can be a huge red flag as you probably won’t like your wedding photos either. I would prefer clients to be honest with me and if we cannot come to an agreement, I am probably not the perfect photographer for them.

Ask if there are travel fees or additional hidden fees. We don’t charge travel fees for weddings in Wisconsin, Chicago area and parts of Iowa & Minnesota!

Pay attention to how you and the potential photographer get a long. Do you feel good vibes? The better relationship you have with them, the better the photos will be! Likewise, if you don’t really love your photographer, and don’t really have a great or strong relationship, your photos will probably be meh. You DO have to hang out with them all day on your special day! ;)

Ask them to go over everything included in their package. Hopefully they have samples! Ask specific questions and ask to clarify how you will be receiving digital images. Don’t assume that everyone gives out a flash drive.

Ask if they give both the color & black & white version of a photo, or just the black & white image. Also ask if you can request black & white images – if you like black & white images.
We do give both color & black & white images for a handful of images. We can do a few additional images in black & white as well for no additional cost.

Ask any other questions that have come up and anything else that concerns you.

If you get good vibes, LOVE their images/style and they are in your budget, then what are you waiting for?! BOOK THEM! :-D

Madison WI Wedding Photographer

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