Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
We’ve heard it so many times: how do I choose a photographer? Some are $900 while others are $9000 and I really don’t see a huge difference, it makes no sense!
The other day, we had a bride and her maid of honor sit down for a meeting with us. Her maid of honor started to tear up when she told us a story. A story that we’ve heard too many times. She proceeded to share with us how she’d paid $5000 for a photographer. A wedding photographer that had beautiful images on their website; photos that she fell in love with.
When the email came stating her images were ready to be viewed, instantly, there were butterflies in her stomach, the anticipation was killing her; she could not wait to relive the best day of her life. Within seconds, she was browsing through the photos; within minutes, her heart sank. She counted exactly 5 photos that looked comparable to the ones on her photographer’s website. FIVE. Her photographer had given her 700 photos (for those of you wondering, we give more, there is no limit with us but for most photographers this is a pretty standard amount to be delivered). She stated that there were dark, greyish colored images, many duplicates, awkward posing, eyes closed, people blocked, items/ people in the background when they shouldn’t have been, not many of her guests/ her talking to her guests, grainy photos, blurry, some weird facial expressions that made her cringe, unflattering angles, and the list goes on. She loved her five and yes, they looked exactly like the website advertises. She started searching further and noticed that each wedding this photographer shot had roughly a handful of photos to share with the world from every wedding she shot.
When all of us spend SO much time editing the images that we use as advertising for our business, how do you know what the other 99% of the images that are not shared with the world from your wedding day will look like? You don’t.
We have a wonderful friend getting married but sadly we’re booked on her day. This inspired us to do research and oh my goodness, did we research. We seriously looked at every photographer in the area, the $500 wedding photographer and the $12,000 wedding photographer. We requested start to finish weddings (ALL images a couple receives from their wedding day) from all the ones that we felt it made sense for us to check out from a research standpoint (then some that were mainly to help our friend select someone). We have viewed nearly 100 different start to finish weddings from over 40 photographers, widely ranging in price. When we’ve requested these we’ve had several photographers state they can’t share those without ever really giving a reason or that their clients simply don’t want them to. Funny, we’ve never had that issue. We’ve had others that are 5 times our price, I repeat, 5 times our price that have sent us weddings where there are many photos that are blurry, awkward, grainy, dark, greyish, a lot of duplicates, unflattering angles, eyes closed, and many other issue areas.
We want EVERY photo delivered to be one that you’d be proud to show off to the world. I had a bride on my Facebook page share 700 of her 1000 wedding photos on Facebook saying they’re all flawless. This made my day. Here is our promise to you, if you read through this entire article and you do what we recommend then we will stand apart from the rest. You will see the perfectionism in each and every image. We typically give over 1000 images (there is no cap) and they’re all wonderful. It’s our goal to get better and better with every single wedding we shoot… if you like our weddings now, just imagine how good yours will be! We have 2017 weddings up so you can review ALL of the images given to our couples (View Full Wedding Samples Here) and not just a few of our favorites from each wedding.
Please don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of wonderful photographers out there, we just encourage everyone to do research, select their absolute favorite photographers, and request start to finish weddings from them as this only makes sense. Here’s how we feel about taking the risk of just seeing a photographer’s favorite photos from each wedding without knowing exactly what their couples receive… it’s like buying a car without a test drive or like trusting someone because they own scissors to cut your hair. It’s not worth the risk. We do proper research before any big decision so why is this different? It shouldn’t be, especially when it’s a decision that will FOREVER preserve the best day of your life.
We hear a lot of: “I’m not a photographer… I can’t see good photography.” Trust me, when you thoroughly go through weddings after reading this article (read it all the way until the end), you will be able to separate good and bad photography.
And we really do get it, photographers blend together and their pricing is all over the place. If you feel this way then let us help you to do proper research and find a photographer who beautifully edits ALL of their photos. Follow this guide when choosing your wedding photographer.
1) Select all your favorite photographers. Again, we get that we do blur together a bit but just select all the ones you’re in love with and don’t look at price (we hope our portfolio is one of these :))
2) Look on their websites for start to finish weddings. Don’t see them? This seems to be the norm; we had a surprisingly difficult time finding photographers that had these available to view on their site. It is perfectly acceptable to shoot them an email stating, “hey, I really love your work but would like to see several weddings you’ve shot from start to finish (every single image you delivered to several couples) as I want to envision what all of my images will look like if I choose you. Since I’m only seeing a small amount from each wedding, it’s hard for me to really know what the others will look like (obviously). Thank you so much for your help with this!” You will get some photographers not wanting to share or stating that it’s their couple’s privacy at stake and flat out refusing. We have never had this issue with our wonderful couples and find it hard to believe that NONE of their couples would allow them to share. If this happens, I would move on. Any professional will send you a handful of weddings for your review.
So why do we tell you to request several weddings from your favorite photographers? Think about it. They may have had a perfect wedding: beautiful locations, gorgeous light, just all around an easy wedding that they spent extra time editing to make it their one and only sample. Seeing a few weddings gives you that added confidence that they are able to utilize their equipment to give you flawless photos regardless of locations/ lighting conditions and if all images are consistently pretty perfect in every way then there’s a very good chance you will love yours with them as well.
3) Once you have AT LEAST 3 start to finish weddings from a photographer, click through EACH image. We have timed it and slowly clicking through one wedding with 700 photos (a pretty average amount) takes approximately 45 minutes. Doing proper research will take time BUT these are the images you will have FOREVER and the only actual physical memory of the best day of your life so yes, I would say, take a handful or so of those Pinterest hours you may (dare I say :)) be wasting and devote them to this!
*Reviews are great to read but please remember that often, brides won’t know what “good photography” is so doing proper research in addition to reading reviews will truly allow you to know that the photographer you’ve chosen flawlessly edits each and every photo from your special day!
First and most important, the be all, end all question you should be asking while slowly clicking through each and every photo in a start to finish wedding… if I was the bride, would I be thrilled if these were MY photos? Does the laughter and love of their day shine through in their images? Do you feel as if you were there?
Many photographers do two things: 1) undershoot and 2) batch edit the majority of their images.
Allow me to explain: to undershoot means that when the bride is walking down the aisle (for example) the photographer takes 2 photos (we typically take 10 easy!) and during other important moments they are taking as few photos as possible with still (somewhat) getting the shot. Why? Because going through 6000+ photos can be extremely mind numbing and incredibly time consuming but overshooting is necessary to avoid getting only photos of people with their eyes closed, blurry images, awkward expressions etc. There’s actually many websites that will tell you, ask your photographer how many photos they (typically) take and then the amount they (typically) give to you. This is great advice, however, if you look through start to finish weddings, you will know very quickly based on how perfect every single photo is and just how thoroughly everything is covered whether they over or under shoot their weddings! So don’t ask, just judge for yourself. Like stated previously, we realistically shoot around 6000 images at most weddings and give you on average 1200 images (again, there is no limit on the amount of images given, we give you all the good ones and most of the time, a wedding cannot be thoroughly covered in under 800 delivered photos). We take a ton of everything to ensure that we capture each moment perfectly. You’ll see for yourself what we mean soon. 🙂
Batch editing is selecting one photo and syncing the edits made to that photo with an entire section of similar photos. Lighting will change (even if only ever so slightly), people can move etc. and so therefore, batch editing simply doesn’t work. Again, no need to ask your photographer, you will quickly see if a photographer batch edits. Basically, if a good amount of photos are slightly too bright/ dark, the coloring looks weird (maybe too grey, orangey etc. in some photos), if the image isn’t straight (look at the lines in the picture to see this) then you’ll know that they’re probably batch editing. Most of the time batch editing causes images to look pretty good but that’s not what you want… perfect photos happen only when a photographer checks over each image slowly and more than once.
Technical questions (some may have been slightly covered already) to keep in the back of your mind while going through a start to finish wedding:
Are any of the photos too bright or dark?
Are there ones that I have no clue why they’re in there? Maybe they’re blurry or really grainy. Perhaps the person has an awkward facial expression or it’s a duplicate. It could simply be an odd pose that is unflattering and you know you would not like it in the album if it was your wedding. So much of everything with photography is all in the angles and you’ll see very clearly what photographers understand this. Any eyes closed? Is anyone blocked? Are their images crisp and clear? Edited but not over edited (over editing tends to cause images to look fake). Is there hair in anyone’s face? Is the background clear? Basically, are there any photos that you’re like, why would this photo be in their start to finish wedding sample they feel is good enough to share with a potential couple they want to book? Using a critical eye, how perfect is each and every photo and what are the tiny things that should be changed, if any?
Is the coloring off? Like too red, orange, grey, brown, yellow etc.?
Do you see a highlight behind the couple in night photos and dance floor shots? This is such a beautiful thing and at this point, we utilize off camera lighting for nearly all of our indoor photos (as well as night/ sunset/ rainy days/ golden hour shots), which is why they’re all so flawless. You will know who uses this and who doesn’t based on how perfect their photos are (indoor images are typically way tougher to shoot than outdoor, so it is impressive when they look amazing).
How many awesome candid moments did they get? We have a blast with our couples and their guests, which definitely shines through in the photos.
Did their album capture smiles throughout the day or is it filled with many awkward faces?
How creatively is everything covered? Did they shoot through trees/ get cool angles etc.? Are they beautifully blurring the background for most bride/ groom photos and bride alone poses?
How uniformed is their posing during bridal party posed time? Is there a lot of poses done? We are quick, we tell all what to do (hands in pockets, on hips etc.) and we get it done so you can relax and enjoy the day! 🙂
How well do they cover everything regardless of the lighting, location, or any other circumstance? How carefully do they correct all the imperfections on their subject(s) and in the background? Basically, overall, how perfect is each and every photo?