One of the biggest decisions you make when planning your wedding is who to hire as your photographer. This is the person who will capture the biggest day of your life. The process of choosing the right photographer can be incredibly daunting, but, as a professional photographer I want to offer some basic tips to help. These are suggestions of the Do's and Dont' s of working with a professional photographer based on both my own experience and that of my fellow photog friends.
Let's start with the Don't s:
DON'T let your guests run the photography show.
There is something about weddings that brings out the photographer in people. Everybody's got a camera phone and wants to try to capture every moment. Sometimes it's nice to have some fun candid shots from a different angle or a funny picture of your cousin twerking, but for the most part, leave the wedding photography to the pro's.
DON'T wait to book!
Most top- tier wedding photographers are booked about 12-18 months out. So do not assume you can hire the photographer you want last minute. If your favorite photographer is already booked for your wedding date, ask him/her for a reccomendation of a photographer with a similar style. Many times photographers have associates who work with them.
DON'T skip the engagement session!
The engagement session is SO important. Not only is it a fun excuse to get dressed up and snuggle with your sweetie, it's the best opportunity to “ warm up” in front of the camera before your big day, while also giving you a chance to bond with your photographer. The more comfortable you are with your photographer, the more comfortable you'll be in front of the camera. And don't you want to be as comfortable and confident as possible on your wedding day?
DON'T fall prey to the trendy.
We all spend hours upon hours combing through Pinterest for the perfect hairstyle or side dish recipe. Pinterest is amazing. But, a huge mistake brides-to-be make is using Pinterest as their own personal vision board for their wedding day. These brides pin every possible combination of shots they want and then share the –sometimes hundreds!--of pins with their wedding photographer. This is a major DON'T and here's why: You hired a wedding photographer to do a job, and you need to just let them do it. By all means, jot down some ideas or “ must- have” shots you want of your big day. After all, it is YOUR special day. But, full disclosure: professional photographers find the Pinterest push a major turnoff. The reason is simple: photographers are creatives at heart and being asked to imitate the work of another creative person just doesn't sit right. And besides, don't you want pictures that are completely unique and special to you and your new hubby?
And now, the Do's:
DO hire a pro.
Yes, it's tempting to hire your friend's cousin's boyfriend who takes amazing selfies and charges 100 bucks and a 6-pack, but remember it's your wedding day! Professional photographers are more than folks with a cool hobby, their job is to make sure the lighting is right, the timing is right, everyone gets included in important photos, and so on. Even photographers will admit that professionals can be pricey, but you really do get what you pay for in this case. You don't want to look back on your wedding day and feel let down by your pictures.
DO set a schedule ahead of time.
Giving your photographer your wedding day timeline a few weeks before the big day is so important because it gives him or her the opportunity to prioritize photos based on available lighting/time. Rushing through your couple's portraits or skipping Grandma's requested generation photo is not something you want for your special day.
DO your research.
There are a lot of wedding photographers out there. Many are really good. So how can you choose? Definitely have a budget range in mind but be prepared for some wiggle room. You may think you can hire an awesome photographer for $X but quickly realize the caliber of photographer you want costs $Y. In addition to cost, also consider style and personality of the photographer. If you are a traditional person who likes posed portraits, don't hire the photographer who labels themselves a “ photojournalist” or “ lifestyle” photographer and has a portfolio that mostly consists of candid shots. Likewise, if you are more modern in your photography preferences, don't hire the photographer with a portfolio of posed shots. And lastly, consider personality. It is SO important you mesh well with the person who will be with you all day on the biggest day of your life. You need to like them. You need to feel comfortable with them. Don't add worrying about how to tolerate your wedding photographer to your already long list of wedding day worries.
DO trust your photographer!
Once you choose your photographer, trust them to do the job you hired them to do. So many brides hire a photographer and then worry their whole wedding day about whether she/he is capturing everything. Try to take a deep breath and trust your gut that you hired the most qualified and experienced photographer and that they have it covered.
The most important " DO" is to be completely yourself all day on your wedding day. It's about you and your new spouse. Wear what you love, marry who you love, and hire the person who will best capture the love all around you.