Blissfully Engaged: The Photographer

Happy Wednesday Brides to Be!  

Last week I shared a little bit about my process when working with a bride to find her venue.  The venue is a huge chunk of your budget and usually is one of the first things you need to book.  Once you've signed on the dotted line and have your date set in stone, it's time to start sourcing other vendors.  I work with my brides based off of what they determined was most important to their big day during our first meeting.  But in terms of costs, your photographer is usually the next vendor that is booked.  

A lot of my brides rank photography very high on their wedding vendors ranking list and I agree.  You want to make sure you get the perfect images to remember ever detail from your wedding day.  Most likely it's the only time in your life that all the same people--people who are very important to you--are together at the same time. You're also going to want pictures to preserve your memories.  

The photography market is very saturated, ask just about any photographer and they will agree.  It can be tough to find a photographer that is perfect for a couple, but since it's so important to most of my brides, I spend a lot of time sourcing this vendor.  I work with my couple to determine the style of photography that they admire.  Do they like high contrast and a little more editorial?  Do they like the light, bright, and airy look? Do they like the documentary style with less formal posing?  I like to have them pin a few images of weddings that appeal to them to give me a starting point.  

Once we've determined their style, I start reaching out to photographers to inquire about their availability and their packages.  I send 4-5 different photographer options to the couple and share all the photographer's details with them.  I also share some suggested questions for the couple to ask the photographer when they're meeting during the consultation.  Here's a few that I think are important to consider.  

How many images are include in a typical wedding package?
You'll want an idea of how many images your photographer delivers in their typical wedding package.  Ask if you'll receive just the best edited images or if you'll receive most photos from your big day.  There are pros and cons to both options and you want to find a photographer who offers what is important to you.  On one hand, you probably won't ever need 2000+ images of your wedding.  On the other hand, one of your favorites may be one that the photographer didn't like and would have culled if they were going through images.  Make sure you trust your photographer because they have an eye for the best photos.

How are the files delivered?
There are a lot of options for delivering files.  You could get a digital gallery that allows you to scroll through and look at all the images and pick your favorites.  You could receive a disk or flash drive in the mail with all of your images.  Or, you could get a mini presentation with your photographer of all the final images.  All are great options, but you'll want to know what to expect.  

What are the options for printing images? 
This is probably one of the most important questions to ask. Once you receive your images, legally what can you do with them?  Do you receive a print release with your package so you can print the images whenever and wherever you like? Or, do you have to purchase all prints through your photographer? Some photographers require you to purchase any images you want to print yourself separately from your package fee.  

How long does the photographer keep the files?
No matter what, you're going to want to back up your images. But, if you can only purchase prints through your photographer and 10 years down the line a photo is damaged, what are your options?  Can you still contact your photographer and ask for a replacement print?  What if they are no longer in business? 

How long does a typical wedding take to edit and deliver?
After your wedding, you're going to get excited about receiving your images back, but what most people don't think about is the most time consuming part for a photographer is editing the images. When you have so many images to go through and perfect, it can take a good amount of time.  Typically, I see turn around time from 6 weeks to 3 months, but during a busy season, that can definitely increase.   

Is an engagement session included in my package?
I think it is so important to do an engagement session with your photographer, no matter if it is included in your package or it is an extra fee.  The engagement session allows you to see your photographer's work with YOU!  It also gives you a chance to interact with your photographer and start to feel a little more comfortable around them before your big day.  

Is a second shooter included in my package? If not, what is the cost to add one?
You may want to have a second shooter with your photographer on your wedding day.  If you aren't doing a first look, one photographer can be with the groom and groomsmen and one photographer can be with the bride and bridesmaids.  One can be working with the wedding party and one can focus on details.  They're also great for the ceremony-one can get the groom as the bride is walking in and one can get the bride walking in.  It's absolutely up to you if you think the added cost is worth it, but I recommend that any couple not doing a first look at least considers it as it may help with the timeline.  

Can we see a complete wedding? 
This is SO important.  A photographer is going to show you albums of their best work, but any good photographer is also going to be happy to show you a complete wedding.  You want to make sure their work is consistent throughout all the images.  If a photographer doesn't have or won't show you a complete wedding, this can be a red flag.  There was a photographer recently who was stealing other photographer's images and using them as her own on her website and Facebook page.  Of course the images she pulled were gorgeous, but then the quality that she was delivering to her clients was not even close to the same as her "portfolio".  Make sure you are able to see a full wedding of 200+ images, not just the images they have on their online portfolio.

There is a lot that goes into choosing your photographer and this is just a starting point.  Make sure you pick someone who's style you LOVE and who you trust and feel comfortable around.  If you love someone's image but don't click with them, that's going to show in your images.  

If you're reading my blog every week, I'm going to start to sound like a broken record, but make sure whatever photographer you pick has a solid contract.  You're going to be far less likely to run into issues later in the process if they do!