If you’ve recently gotten engaged (congrats!!!), you are probably on the hunt for the right wedding artists to take part in your day. Securing the right photographer is most likely at the top of your list, so today we’re sharing some amazing + insightful tips from Lisa Raffo Ashley, owner and curator of The Wedding Artists Collective (and a member of the GWS Wedding Artist Guide), for finding your perfect photographer match!
Lisa tells us, Selecting a photographer may be one of the biggest decisions you make when planning your wedding. It may also be one of the most difficult. In a time when Instagram-worthy moments are filling our feeds every minute, it’s easier than ever to fall in love with so many things about a wedding. From the stationary and florals to the grand sweeping backdrop of a jaw-dropping venue. Its also easy to get caught in a daydream from a photo of a stunning couple in a far away land with endless natural light (when your wedding is actually going to be in a Hotel in NYC).
The good news: there are so many talented photographers in this industry, with such unique styles, that you are bound to find a match. But researching and committing to the right wedding photographer can intimidate even the most prepared newly engaged couples. So here are some tips to help you navigate the process.
So, so true! We’re already off to a pretty great start but, below, you’ll find some gorgeous captures from photographers in The Wedding Artists Collective, along with four key tips from Lisa about photography courtship and how to hire the right photog for you!
Tip #1: Be informed. Instead of starting with a hard and fast budget for photography, begin the research phase by getting a solid grasp on the range of photography styles and price points in the market. Then let that dictate what you feel most comfortable spending. While many photographers don’t post their pricing online, a photographer’s portfolio can be a great indicator of their specialty and pricing. For example, if you see many large private estate events or destination weddings with highly specialized decor, you can assume that their fees likely start at a higher price point than a photographer who showcases intimate elopements or heirloom / DIY inspired events. Keep location in mind, always. Weddings near major Metropolitan areas tend to cost more (and thus photography budgets are usually larger). Understanding these nuances will make the ‘numbers’ discussion much easier to navigate, leaving you to feel excited and confident when researching a photographer.
Tip #2: Ask the Right Questions.
• On working style: What is your working style at weddings? Do you tend to direct or shoot in the background? Do you work off of a ‘shot list’?
• On communication: How often will we speak/email before the wedding? Do you recommend an engagement session as a “warm-up”?
• On the final product: When should we expect to receive our final images? Roughly how many images will we receive? How will they be delivered? Will they be edited or retouched? How can prints be ordered?
Tip #3: Refine your taste. Overall I believe choosing a photographer is an intuitive process. Look for photographers who have a client base that share a similar style and wedding vision – that will help you quickly filter out those photographers who may not be a natural match. Are you seeing a lot of rustic barn venues or rather city hotels? Small city-hall or large tented country club affairs? Do you feel like you could be friends with the brides and grooms you see in their portfolios?
Selecting a photographer who works at venues similar to yours can be a huge help – they are already comfortable shooting in those environments. One of the biggest mistakes people can make is looking at wedding photos for inspiration from a wedding where there were big open fields and lots of natural light, when they’re actually getting married in a darker space in Manhattan with city streets as a backdrop for their portraits. Photographers should have no issue adapting to their surroundings, but having that common ground can always help ensure your photos will look how you envisioned them to.
Tip #4: Appreciate the Craft. A word to the wise: don’t hire your cousin or your friends brother “who’s a photographer” just to save a buck. Trust me, it never ends up well and the inexperience will show in the final product. Shooting weddings is a fine-tuned art that, for many, takes years to get right. The pacing of a wedding is entirely different than an editorial or commercial shoot. There are so many more people and personalities to navigate and the timing goes at a lightening pace. Wedding photographers know where to be and when and how to anticipate the unpredictable nature of the day. So, unless you are totally cool with throwing the dice and seeing what happens I’d recommend you hire someone who’s made it their main focus to master wedding photography.
BIG thanks to Lisa for sharing her insight with us today! It’s so helpful to know more about what to expect and to have a great place to start when talking to photographers about your big day!
Would you add any tips of your own after going through the wedding planning process? Do share in the comments section below!