If you’ve been around any Social Media in the last 5 years (Facebook and Instagram especially) you’ve noticed the explosion of wedding photographers onto the scene. This is the result, mainly, of the advancement and relative accessibility of digital photography. There are so many in my area in particular (Charlotte, NC) and I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for soon-to-be brides and grooms to navigate the extensive terrain of wedding photographers!
You post on Social Media, you have 200+ people clamoring to be your photographer, at a crazy variety of price points, from as little as $200 (yes, I’ve seen it!) to $10K. So how are you to know who is legit and which one is the right wedding photographer for you? Here are some simple and easy ways to find the best person for the job, while maintaining your sanity!
Step 1: Review Their Wedding Portfolio – FIRST!
So many times couples look at the bottom line first, which is understandable considering you could be spending upwards of 5K on your wedding photographer/videographers. But that is never a great place to start. And here is why:
Price is rarely an indicator of professional photography. Rather, you should start by looking through a portfolio and asking three simple questions:
- Are their photographs well-lit (exposed well) and in-focus? Trust me, digital images viewed on a computer or iPhone are deceivingly sharp so many times even photos that are out of focus will appear to be in-focus.
- Do they have a consistent editing style? What are the skin tones like in their pictures? Are people orange, green, or grey?
- Are they creative with their depth of field/reception lighting? Do they seem to have a grasp of those dark receptions and even darker churches?
2. What Type of Gear Do They Carry? Do They Have Back-Up Photographers?
This is BIG for me. In general, I carry around 6-8K of equipment the day of a wedding. Two cameras (in case one up and decides to die!) and about 8 lenses, lighting equipment, triggers, ect. ect.
It’s so important that wedding photographers carry back-up cameras and lenses, because, clearly these things break ALL THE TIME. Shutters give out mid-shoot, flashes burn out. It’s a once in a lifetime event and it cannot be re-done. So make sure they have your back!
Which brings me to another point: Make sure your wedding photographer has a back-up in case they cannot be there because of an emergency. Twice now (and I’ve been doing this for 7 years) I’ve had something happen that was beyond my control and each time I replaced myself with a professional photographer, someone trusted and tried that I knew would KILL IT for my couple. We professionals take this so seriously. I want my couples to have amazing peace of mind so they can be fully-present on their wedding day.
3. Review Full Wedding Galleries
It’s so important to ask whomever you’re considering for either wedding photography or wedding videography to see complete weddings from the LAST TWO WEDDINGS – not styled shoots or their favorites. Ask to see current work. So many times photographers present just their favorites and/or best and not their latest work, which is what you could end up with.
Also, it’s a good idea to read reviews to get a sense of how they are on your wedding day. Are they cool under pressure? Ready for any weather or mother-in-law challenge? Are they upbeat and happy? Are they in the shadows when they need to be?
Again, so much of this is critical on a wedding day. No one wants a photographer or videographer standing beside the groom during the ceremony to get that ring shot (I’ve seen it happen – Not my team!) there are moments where we as professionals need to be in the background. The whole day isn’t a photoshoot. It’s a marriage. A covenant. A union. And there needs to be respect for the sacredness of the moment.
Noticed how that needs to be the last thing you look at? It really does. You need to find someone who evokes the style and sentiment you want from your wedding day.
Do you want really styled images? Do you love candid/photo-journalism? Do you want to see real tears and hugs? Do you love dramatic lighting or bright and airy images?
So many portfolios and styles to consider! But looking at a photographers/videographers style, professionalism, portfolio first rather than price will be a better indicator of what to expect from your wedding day photos.
You will be happier in the long-run with the investment of photography and videography choices you make. It will help you to avoid a catastrophic loss of images, or even something as little as trendy photography that will fade with time.
Invest in art you love and you will never be disappointed with your wedding day photographs!
Amanda and Matt McQuade are professional wedding photographers and videographers in the Charlotte, NC area and throughout the Carolinas. Theirs style is journalistic, moment-driven, and full of light.
Reach out at Mandy@amandamcquadephotography.com for more info and availability in your area.