Hey there, dolls! Today, we are going to look at how to navigate search results to find the perfect wedding photographer for you!
So, here we go: You've sorted out the venue, you've booked a date, you've found your perfect "Save the date" cards, and now it's definitely time to book your wedding photographer. You hop online and search "Wedding photographers in *insert your city*" and a crazy number of search results come up. You flip through some photography forums and get really overwhelmed by all of the bios and blah blah blah (can you please just see their porfolio?), so you decide to try that same search tactic again using hashtags on Instagram. Maybe this time, you can just see actual photos that will help you make a decision. But again, you are bombarded by information overload. So many different types of photographers with different styles, different colour tones, and even vastly different packages and prices! How are you supposed to know which one is the *right* one for you?!
You decide to take a breather from the photog search and hop on over to Facebook to have a bit of a rant (and watch a few Buzzfeed Tasty videos) when that clever little Google bot now starts to present you with ads for wedding photographers! "Packages start at £500!" "Nearly booked out until 2020: Get me booked for your wedding now!"
Your brain freaks: Oh gosh! What?! Photogs are getting booked up two, even three years in advance? Have I missed my chance to find the right one? This guy is only charging £500-- should I go with him? Should I go with this other guy who is nearly booked up? Does being booked up mean that he must be an amazing photographer? What am I even looking for again? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
Relax, gurl. I got you covered. You shouldn't feel overwhelmed by the plethora of wedding photographers that are saturating this market because that plethora means you've got an even better chance of finding the photos-- and the person-- that are exactly right for you and your partner's unique style. All you need to do is know what to look for and you can narrow down those searches, avoid that panic, and zone in on exactly the photographer to suit your wedding. So before you go into that swirling vortex of Google doom, I'm going to give you 5 tips to keep in mind that will help you find the perfect photographer:
1 ) KNOW YOUR BUDGET
It's important to know what your initial budget is so that you can immediately rule out photographers who do not fit into that budget. I have done two blog posts about why wedding photography costs what it does, so before you determine your budget, it might be worth reading parts one and two of those posts. Once you've determined what you're willing to spend on the value of wedding photography, you can avoid wasting your own time and the time of photographers who are clearly not within your budget. Usually, photographers are willing to post what the price of their starting packages are on their "Investments" page, but even if they do request that you contact them for further info, don't assume that they are out of your price range. Get their bridal guide, have a read of it, and go from there. (Extra tip: If a photographer is out of your budget, then do not try to haggle them down. Careful thought goes into the pricing decisions that we make when placing value on our services. If the photographer you like charges £3200 and you can only afford £1500, then you either need to re-jig your budget or find another photographer).
2 ) DEFINE YOUR STYLE
It's really worth having a look at different wedding blogs and getting an idea of the vocabulary that is used to define different styles. Why? Because different wedding styles are best captured through different types of photography and editing styles. For instance, a Kate Spade-type bride might want photography that is light and airy, where an Urban Outfitters bride might want something more grainy, vintage, or moody. Rock n' Roll Bride is a great one for seeing a wide range of different wedding styles, but there are several other great blogs such as Green Wedding Shoes or Junebug Weddings. The idea is to look through their featured weddings and pay attention to the words used to describe the style that is most similar to what your style will also be. Examples might be "whimsical festival wedding," "magical castle wedding," "ethereal woodland wedding," "funky colourful wedding," "bohemian beach wedding," etc. Once you get an idea of the vocab that works for your style, you can look for photographers who use similar vocabulary on their websites and blogs and have accompanying editing styles to match!(Extra tip: If you find a featured wedding that you really love on a wedding blog, it's always worth checking out the photographer who shot that wedding because they clearly already have experience in capturing the type of style that you are trying to design for your own wedding!)
3 ) DECIDE WHAT PRODUCTS YOU WANT
It's worth thinking about what you actually want to receive back from the photographer: How many hours coverage do you need? Do you want a second shooter there to get additional shots? Do you want prints? A full album? Just the digital files? Photographers have different packages that include different amounts of coverage and different physical ways of delivering their images, so you should decide on what you want when looking at a photographer's package to ensure that you'll be able to find someone who can cater exactly to your needs.
4 ) UNDERSTAND QUALITY
Recognise the difference between tacky over quality images. It's as simple as that. How can you tell the difference, you might ask? Well, look at the consistency of the editing (meaning one image should not look super bright, saturated, and colourful while the next is supper dark and dull). Look at their ability to use light in a flattering way on their subjects. Look at the clarity of the image (no blurry shots unless you can tell that it was deliberate!). Look at the posing choices of the subjects and the coverage of details and emotion over the course of the day. (Extra tip: If you notice that a photographer is using weird editing choices like selective colouring where everything is black and white apart from that red rose in your bouquet, then RUN AWAY. We do not live in 2002 anymore and this is not the kind of "experimental" nonsense that you want happening with your wedding photos!)
5 ) LOOK AT THE BRANDING
My best friend came to me when she was shopping for a wedding photographer and showed me a couple of websites. Naturally, she wasn't sure where to start and what to look out for, but luckily, I was able to help. The first few prospects that she looked at were what I like to call "fast food" photographers, meaning that they were clearly doing photography as a way to make money and not because they loved it or knew who they were as artists. Their photo style differed from one shoot to the next, the editing was inconsistent (down to the point where some photos were over-edited while others clearly were not edited at all!), and overall, they lacked a special thing that we call "branding." Branding is much more than the logo. It is the ability to present a cohesive, emotional energy that charges the visuals of a business to connect with the right clients. Branding might consist of a logo, the colours, the fonts, the vocabulary that is used, and for photogs, the style of editing. Photographers who know their own style will brand their business to enhance that style (For example, my logo and colours make it clear that I am a whimsical, woodlandy type of photographer, and the editing style of my images compliment the logo and colours). It's truly important that you choose a photographer who knows their brand and is consistent about it. Why? Again, you do not want an experimental photographer shooting your wedding-- one who isn't sure what kind of "artist" they are and they're using your wedding to figure it out. A website is your first impression of a photog, and they should know that and use it to present a professional front. You want to hire a photographer whose style is cohesive and clear before you book them so that you can rest easy knowing what kind of product you will receive at the end. Strong, clear branding equates to a strong, clear vision, which means that a photographer with a well-branded business will be able to provide you with a clear, consistent experience. Below, I've given you two examples of wedding photographers whose website represent both the good and bad side of branding. Please, for your own sake, choose a photographer who has branded themselves well!
BAD: I have covered up this photographer's name because I am not here to bash another photog or ruin their business. But I want to point out that the layout, font usage, and presentation of this brand alongside the photos screams "inconsistent" and is the kind of thing you should try to avoid. And you might note that their sales tactic and low prices come off sounding desperate and more or less confirm that they do not provide services of high value.
GOOD: Hope Taylor is an amazing photographer and educator and her brand is consistently professional and clean throughout, which inspires trust in potential clients who know that they are going to receive a clear, consistent experience if they choose to work with her. This is the kind of professionalism that you want to see on your first online impression of a potential photog!
I hope this post has been helpful! If you like what you see and you're getting ready to book a photographer for your special day, you can schedule a call with me here to see if I'm the right one to help celebrate your wedding day (with my camera) and bless you with beautiful images to remember forever!