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How to Vet your Wedding Photographer | My Answers

How to VET your Wedding Photographer

My hubby and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this May! But I will tell you about the one thing I regret. Not vetting my wedding photographer better. Being college kids, we didn’t have a ton of money to spend and at the the time we didn’t place too high a value on the photography. We did have an engagement session with this photographer and things went just fine. He was used to shooting sports and was trying to “break into” weddings. I also had a Bridal Shoot with him and once again, he did just fine. This shot was taken as we were leaving the reception. We received no direction the entire time. He more or less just shot candids. He did get families together for Formals, but I was the one coordinating it because he wasn’t experienced enough to ask about that ahead of time. This shot is actually the only shot we have together…that’s just us. So this is the iconic Wedding Portrait that I have. The Photographer gave me a book of 4×6 proofs to get album orders with. I went back to his shop 6 months after the wedding to order Albums and he was gone! No email, no forwarding address,  nothing! Why did I tell you all of this? Well it’s because I have learned how NOT to treat couples on their wedding day through personal experience. And I have 3 things to help you not go through this same experience.
Wedding Couple leaving reception in classic car.

#1 Experience Level

Check into your photographer. How long have they been shooting professionally? How many wedding have they shot? Have they worked a wedding at your venue?
MyAnswer – I’ve shot professionally since 2012.  I began shooting Weddings in 2015 as a second shooter.  In 2016 I took on my first solo wedding.  I’ve shot about 40 weddings at a variety of venues.  Barns, Vineyards, Farms, Rooftops, and several smaller weddings at boutique venues.
Flower girl walking down the aisle, then the bride and her father walk down the aisle.

#2 Don’t choose the cheapest photographer.

You will get what you pay for! I don’t mean to say ‘blow your whole budget’ on photography. But I will say that this is the only tangible thing you will have in 20 years. There are plenty of other things that you can skimp on.
My Answer – I’ve been the cheapest photographer and I understand just wanting to get experience.  But I also understand that this Wedding is someone’s special and memorable day.  I would never take on a wedding that I couldn’t meet the expectations of.  Which is why I ask a lot of questions!  You deserve to have beautiful photos of your Wedding Day.  The cheapest photographer might not have all the techniques mastered to create a beautiful photo in every situation.  Wedding Photography is challenging because the lighting and variables are always changing.  And there’s always something new to learn to get to that next level.  Your wedding photographer shouldn’t shoot on Auto mode or not use flash when it’s necessary.  My wedding packages start at $3100 for 8 hours.
Ring bearer dog sniffing bouquet.

#3 Apples to Apples

Ask your Photographer to show you work that’s going to be a similar time of day and/or situation that your wedding will be in. If they only shoot in natural light and your wedding is after sunset…you might have a problem here.  Every lighting situation whether naturally created or artificial, requires skill.  Skills build over time, but your wedding day shouldn’t be the day your photographer practices that new skill.  Imagine hiring a photographer that has no idea how to use flashes and your wedding ends up being 100% indoors.  Would they be able to make that work?
My answer – Since I’ve been shooting weddings for 5-6 years now, I understand that things don’t always go according to plan.  When inclement weather changes the wedding location I have to be flexible and efficient.  Shooting an indoor ceremony with varying light quality and color can be pretty intimidating.  I have invested in my education over the years to equip myself with the knowledge necessary to tackle any lighting situation.  But even shooting in natural light can pose difficulties if you aren’t sure where to put that light.   Harsh midday light has a different solution than early morning or late afternoon light.  It’s important to understand what your photographer is capable of.  IF you know that you want to certain photo, it’s super important to talk about it prior to booking your photographer.  If they can’t do it, you’ll be so disappointed.
Bride dancing
I hope that you found these tips helpful!  There are lots of things to consider when you’re hiring vendors for your wedding.  Some of these will apply to hiring those as well.  If you have specific questions, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer it for you!  Lydia@Lydiateague.com