He pops the question, you say “YES” and it’s like life slows down to highlight this very moment. Until you realize you have SO MUCH planning to get to! The first things you need to book for your big day are your venue and your photographer. Both are very daunting tasks, because there are so many things to consider! How do you even know what questions to ask your wedding photographer before you book (or other vendors for that matter)?
I am not married or engaged. Like many hopeless romantics, I have been “planning” a Pinterest wedding since high school. But Pinterest planning is not the same thing as actual planning! So I did a little experiment… I planned a pretend wedding!
I did it all… create half a guest list, assuming it will be doubled by my “fiancé,” research venues and pricing packages in my area, search for photographer portfolios, add up the cost of rentals, apparel, decor, everything from linen napkins to DJ rates. And let me tell you, it was INTIMIDATING!! I want my clients and potential clients to feel comfortable and confident in their decision, not intimidated. Now I realize, with all the other things to do, photography is just another thing on the list. But it’s also very important, because it’s one of the only things that lasts past the wedding day.
Instead of brainstorming what you think you need to know before hiring a wedding photographer, let me help.
There are four areas that can really impact your overall photography experience. I call them the Four E’s. Under each “E” is a list of questions that will help you determine if that wedding photographer is the perfect fit!
You want to know that your wedding photographer knows what they’re doing. Wedding days are long and sometimes stressful. A great photographer needs to be even-tempered no matter what is thrown their way, and able to pivot as needed.
Additionally, there are a number of factors that are different from wedding to wedding, such as light, weather, backgrounds, terrain, timelines, etc. Does your wedding photographer have experience or education to handle as many variables as possible?
When I launched Emily Nicole Photography, I did not want to learn by trial and error. So right off the bat, before even booking a single wedding, I invested in hundreds of dollars worth of quality wedding photography education. After I invested time and funds into my education, I put those things to practice through smaller sessions, like family, newborn, and legacy sessions — testing all kinds of weather, light, settings, and techniques.
I realized it was time to put my feet to the fire, so I began second shooting alongside talented, experienced photographers to be able to experience a real wedding day. After each wedding, I make sure to debrief with the lead photographers to get feedback and ask tons of questions so I was better prepared each time I picked up my camera again.
To date, I’ve photographed 8 weddings with more already on my calendar, both as a lead and a second shooter. I am so excited to continue learning, growing, and showing off all of my earned expertise.
This part usually trips people up, especially if they have no photography experience. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating! A great photographer will have quality equipment and know everything about their gear. You don’t have to allow the “techy talk” scare you, I’m here to let you know what you should be listening for when you ask the “Equipment” questions. So I’ll break these down more specifically:
You want to know that your photographer is providing you with a variety of images, not just all far-away shots, and not just all close-ups. Different lens sizes (to keep it simple) provide different aesthetics.
I bring at least 3 different lenses to a wedding day — a wide lens, a telephoto (or close-up), and a zoom lens (multiple options for this one). The typical lens package many wedding photographers swear by are a wide (like a 35mm or 24-70mm), a medium (like a 50mm), a great telephoto or high compression lens (like an 85mm or 100mm), and a zoom lens (like the 70-200mm).
I don’t mean are they a Canon or a Nikon shooter… there are lots of great systems out there. But there are some features on a DSLR camera that you want to be sure your photographer is using, such as a full-frame sensor, a dual-card slot (SUPER important — dual-card slots allow your photographer to shoot your wedding on two cards at once, meaning they have a backup in case one card corrupts), and back-button focus. Even if you don’t know what all that means, ask your photographer about them. They’ll know and will be able to answer confidently!
I use a Canon 5D Mark IV to shoot weddings, and it includes all of the above features and LOTS more!! I have loved using my Mark IV; it has such razor sharp focus and beautiful color!
Again, you want to be sure your photographer is providing variety, as well as protecting your images. Things to listen for are a flash set-up (those reception photos can be “make or break” without some kind of flash), a second camera body (for those emergency moments if their main camera fails or falls), and “extras.”
Some of those “extras” that can really save the day that I bring with me to my clients’ wedding are clear umbrellas (rain can’t stop us), Advil, bobby pins, a Tide pen, an ink pen, a small comb, and some floss picks.
This one is simple. You want to be sure you LOVE your photographer’s work. Most photographers do not adjust their editing style for clients, because their editing is part of their brand. So if you love the dark and moody style, find a dark and moody photographer. If you love light and airy, hire a light and airy photographer. When you look at their portfolio, ask yourself, “Would I be absolutely overjoyed to open this wedding gallery if I were the bride?” If yes, then you may have just found your “tog”!!
But on top of beautiful images, you want to be sure you’re a great fit in other ways. Do the photographer’s clients love her? Do the guests love her? What does their contract say? Make sure you read thoroughly and are in agreemement with everything. And if you have questions, ASK!! There are no awkward or dumb questions.
This day is all about you and your groom. Your photographer will always put you first and provide incredible value from the time you first contact them to the final gallery delivery. After asking this question, you should feel excited!
I created wedding packages that represent the value I give my clients. My four packages are built with every kind of bride in mind, from the elopement-style to the luxury wedding client. Inquire about my pricing here!
I hope this makes wedding planning just that much simpler for you!! Your wedding day is meant to be a day of joyful celebration, so I hope your planning and engagement is no less so. If you are like me and need an organized list of to-dos and task management, I highly recommend hiring a wedding coordinator or checking out Zola!
And if you’re a bride looking for your perfect wedding photographer, I’d love to be able to answer all of these questions in detail for you! I can’t wait to talk all about your dream wedding and see how I can make it even dreamier for you.
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