7 Tips for Finding Your Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photography Tips for Brides & Grooms

After a few years experience and numerous weddings, here’s a list of tips for brides and grooms to help you in your wedding planning process.

1. Invest in Style

Make sure when you book your photographer you are happy with their style. Personality, professionalism, contracts are all very important and highly recommended (see No. 3), but you should invest in a photographer whose style you are familiar with beforehand. Good photographers are artists with a signature style.

Michael and Carina Photography | Williamsburg Wedding Photographers | Jeremy + Megan

Wedding photography styles vary; find a style that you LOVE! 

The wedding photography industry is a big one and there a lot of photographers out there. Some photographers shoot with a lot of strobes and studio lights for a clean, crisp, traditional look. Others edit their photos to resemble classic film styles; a lot of photographers are even returning to film altogether. Others shoot only mainly with natural and ambient light, but make sure they are prepared to handle low light receptions.

To shamelessly plug ourselves: our style is classic and elegant meets fun. We try to imagine how you will feel when you look at your images in 10, 20, 30 years. We don’t only want you to say, “Oh, remember when…” We want you to fall in love all over again! K, plug over.

Your wedding photos will last a LONG time. They will most likely outlast you and us together! It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring a professional, your cousin, or your cousin’s cousin, your photos shouldn’t just be “acceptable.” You should be happy with how your wedding photos look.

Virginia | Wedding Photography | Michael and Carina Photography

 

2. Have a plan

Your wedding day should be the most perfect day for both of you. Unfortunately, a lot of the stress associated with weddings could easily be avoided with a well-organized schedule as well as a few Plan A’s, B’s and C’s. If you don’t have a wedding planner, perhaps organize a point of contact such as your maid of honor who can organize things on the day of. Make sure that your photographer(s) are in touch with your wedding planner or person in charge so that if they/we have questions, we don’t need to bother you. Also, make sure to sit down with your wedding photographers beforehand and discuss a schedule to allow for time for your wedding day portraits.

3. Benefits of a Professional

Hiring a professional photographer means the added security of not only a contract, but also of having someone there who knows what they are doing. Photographing a wedding is a high-pressure job. Lighting environments are constantly changing and there are moments which can’t be missed or repeated. Photographers need to be discreet but still get all the shots they need while competing with a crowd full of cell phones and flashing point-and-shoots. We might know the bride and groom, but it’s also up to us to capture touching portraits and candids of guests – people we barely know.

Virginia Wedding Photography | Tips

We not only need to have the equipment to photograph your day but we need to know the ins and outs of how to use it. Plus, a machine is a machine and sometimes equipment malfunctions. Professionals have backups and are prepared for any situation. For example, we come to a wedding with 3+ camera bodies and multiple lenses, enough batteries to get us through a week for our cameras and flashes, and 3-5 flash units. We also come equipped with 150GB of memory to store your photos on professional memory cards, and on top of it, all of our bodies are insured.

Hiring a professional might mean that you are paying premium prices, but like anything in life, and this is certainly true of photography, “you get what you pay for.” When we hear of someone offering a full day wedding with all images included for $1000, we kind of have to scratch our heads and wonder how they can make a living. A professional photographer’s pricing accounts for not only his or her experience and creativity, but tens of thousands of dollars worth of professional equipment, insurance, printing costs, professional associations, advertising, not to mention things like health insurance, taxes, “self employment tax,” groceries and maybe even a little left over to save.

A serious professional takes all of this into account with pricing, and naturally prices are a bit higher. But with the higher price, whether with us or someone else, the payoff is even having to worry about your photos. IE, this situation is avoided. When hiring a serious professional, you don’t need to “worry” about how your wedding pictures will look. Also, there’s no pressure on your cousin or risk of awkward family get-togethers should something go wrong. The most important benefit of hiring a professional is just to enjoy your wedding day and trusting, knowing your images will be wonderful. And you know what? They’ll still be wonderful even when you’ve forgotten who took them and how much money you spent on them.

 4. Make It Your Own

One thing that helps your wedding images stand out is to make your wedding “your own.” Your wedding day should be all about you (plural). The style you invest in should reflect what you love, the way you planned out your day should make you feel excited, and the vendors you hired should help bring together your vision. In love with vintage? Let your love of old things influence the decorations. Your favorite color is purple? Show everyone! Be creative. From personalized invites and one-of-a-kind reception decorations to “your style of wedding photos”, there is a lot you can customize.

Virginia Wedding Photography | Tips

 This German couple began their rural Bavarian reception by symbolically sawing a log together. 

While hiring the right vendors can certainly help, a lot of couples also opt for a more DIY approach. Recently we photographed a wedding where the groom had put together the rustic table baskets himself and the mother-of-the-bride had emptied the cupboards of mason jars for table decoration. Simple, easy, and beautiful. The little things really stand out and make for outstanding photos. You don’t want your wedding to be like a thousand others, you want it to be unique and represent you.

Virginia Wedding Photography | Tips

This DIY wedding featured mason jars and homemade baskets, a red and white Christmas theme, and a whole lot of line-dancing and country music!

It is easy to get lost in all the organization and decisions of a wedding, but in the end you should remember that this is your day. The more you make it your own, the more it will mean to you. It will also help your wedding album stand out not only as a book of memories but as something artistic. When you look back at your wedding, looking at all the photographs, you will remember all the little things that were so important to you. It will mean the world.

5. Be Informed

Interviewing a photographer means you already know something of their style and reputation.  But still, being informed is always a good thing. Most reputable photographers will be informative and upfront with you, but if you have any questions, ask, ask, ask.

For example, ask about experience. Liking the style of your photographer is important, but the natural-light-only photographer you like so much might not be as comfortable or experienced shooting candle-lit receptions at night. That doesn’t mean that you have to find a different photographer, you might just have to rearrange your reception plans!

Virginia Wedding Photography | Tips

This reception was a blast, but would have been very difficult to capture without flash. Off camera lighting was a must!

Ask if the photographer shoots alone or with a second shooter – with us, it’s kind of a given! J Not only do you get two perspectives, but you get two people who can be in different places at the same time. If you don’t hire a team (like us!), just ask who the second shooter will be.

Virginia Wedding Photography | Tips

Being a team allowed us to be in two places at once at this wedding. While one of us photographed the rings, the other covered the action on the dance floor.

Also, and this is very important – make sure you know about your churches opinion on wedding photography. Some churches allow little to no photography during the ceremony and it’s happened that the bride only found out about it day-of. Not an ideal situation, to say the least! Just make sure you know and your wedding photographer knows too.

6. Book Early!

As soon as your venue is booked, find a wedding photographer. If your wedding photography is super-important to you, you might consider booking your venue around the wedding photographer’s availability. We tend to get most of our inquiries 8 months in advance; May and June are booked the fastest. The earlier the better!

Also, photographers usually have a lot of “connections” in the wedding industry. We work on a regular basis with makeup artists, hair stylists, cake designers, boutiques, venues, caterers, event planners, florists, videographers, etc. We even know several – okay, A LOT of -great photographers we can recommend to you if we are unable to shoot on your wedding date. We can usually help your planning process by recommending trusted vendors to fit your needs.

7. Engagement Shoot

Williamsburg | Hampton | Virginia Beach | Engagement Photography
Ask about an engagement shoot. After doing this for a couple of years, we find engagement shoots are important to our wedding photography process. Not only do you get nice images for your invitations, announcements, wedding websites/blogs, etc., but we get to “break the ice.” We include engagement shoots in all of our collections as a free bonus (travel excluded) so that we can get to know you and you can get to know us. By the time your wedding rolls around, we’d like for you to personally be familiar with our style of shooting. An engagement shoot means a shoot which is completely about you and with an open schedule; no rushing to get to the reception on time. They’re loads of fun, and feel free to be creative with yours!