Often I receive calls or emails from couples who need a last minute wedding photographer because theirs has disappeared or canceled with no explanation. The following tips are based on what couples tell me they wish they would have done when they looked for a photographer.
If professional photography is a top priority for you, I want to help you find a photographer who is committed to your wedding.
1. Make sure your photographer has a website, not just social media.
Maintaining a business website that isn’t free takes commitment and work. It’s easy to create a social media presence and post a bunch of pictures. It’s also easy to have a free website that you can set up and forget about.
2. Be cautious of high volume photographers.
Exhaustion can happen to anyone doing photography. It happens most often when you book yourself as full as possible without remembering you need a break once in a while. You want a photographer who is able to give you their best on your wedding day. That means they think about their health and other obligations when taking bookings, and know their working limits. There’s nothing wrong about a photographer who also has a day job. The important thing is they are able to balance their commitments and still provide you with professional service. Most professional photographers I know usually say they are fully booked at 10-40 weddings per year, depending on if they shoot other things too or work a second job outside their business.
3. Avoid the “once in a while” photographer.
I’m going to be blunt here: Someone who rarely shoots weddings or does it for something fun to fill free time often has no problem backing out on you later. Photographers I know who have businesses (myself included) do so because we are passionate about enriching couples’ lives through wedding photography. Running a business full or part-time takes work. When you are passionate about your work you are also passionate about keeping your commitments.
4. Get your photography purchase in writing.
When you purchase wedding photography, it’s a business transaction. A contract or client agreement, and a formal invoice are both parts of this transaction. Your contract should contain details on cancelation terms for both you and your photographer. Your invoice should list all items in your wedding collection, like the album, second photographer, whether or not you get a flash drive, etc.
5. Don’t book by text or social media alone. Have a phone call or a video chat if you can’t meet in person.
Couples sometimes tell me that they hired their photographer impulsively, responding to an online special. Then, they had to pay their retainer before meeting the photographer in person. Don’t send a retainer or down payment without a personal conversation. This will help you get to know the photographer and decide if they’re someone you want to spend your wedding day with. It’s a must when booking. Use the phone call as an extra tool before you move forward with an in-person meeting. Doing this will also help you stay organized and reduce the amount of time you spend on vendor meetings while wedding planning.
6. Have your engagement shoot!
If you’re offered a chance to work with the photographer before the wedding, take it. Even if it’s just a mini shoot that lasts 30 minutes, the engagement shoot is like an extra interview to make sure you really love your photographer.
Congratulations on your engagement! I hope this blog has helped you with your wedding planning.