I remember the stress of wedding planning. The dress. The bridesmaids. The catering. The venue. The music. The invites. It's a TON of work. Here's something I didn't stress over: our photographer. The Quad Cities area is filled with really talented photographers who serve all price ranges & styles, which is a HUGE blessing for a bride on a budget trying to find her best fit. That being said, there's more to choosing a photographer than just the price point. So, let's chat a bit about some of the key questions to answer before choosing the person in charge of documenting your big day.
1. Budget: You gotta start where it matters. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is over 25k, in some areas much closer to 30k. If that's your budget, congrats! You've got considerably more wiggle room than someone trying to stay under 10k or even lower. If you're a bride on a budget, know your limits. I firmly believe that if you're gunna splurge somewhere your photographer is a great place to do it, but still know what your budget can take on. While your photographer is extremely important, you also have to feed people & you know, dress yourself.
However, think really, really hard before you decide to move forward with the cheapest photographer in your area. You're only going to celebrate this day once, so it's important you choose someone who's style & quality make you feel comfortable enough to look at their work for the rest of your lives. Going with the cheapest photographer leaves you at risk to work with someone who's still growing & not producing consistent work. They might excel shooting in natural light during prime daytime hours, but have they ever shot a big event indoors? Church lighting is rarely easy to work with as a photographer & venues are often just as difficult as it's customary to dimly light the reception hall to create the ambiance the party needs. Dim lighting is romantic, but tricky to shoot in if you aren't familiar with your equipment. It hurts my heart to see brides lament over blurry reception photos from a photog who is still learning & growing in their craft.
2. Style: When you're scrolling instagram and pinterest for your favorite bridal inspo, which images speak the most to your heart? Do you love light & bright? Maybe you're into the moody, boho look? Or you love creative, artistic shots that pack a whole lotta drama? Whatever your style, know it before moving forward with a photographer. Photography is an art form. My style is different from any other photog in the area. I like crisp & clean with natural coloring. It's my thing. If it isn't yours, then we probably aren't the right fit for each other. Think about picking your photographer like choosing your wedding gown. There's tons of styles, but only one that works the best for your big day.
3. Personality: Do you like your photographer? Now, you don't necessarily need to become best friends (though some of my brides have become my favorite coffee date buddies), but you need to know your photographer will handle your big day the way YOU need. If you know your passive, then a photographer who's more assertive might coordinate your crazy moments a bit better. Have a larger than life personality? Make sure your photographer compliments you. You're stuck with them ALL day long, so pick someone who at minimum makes you smile and at maximum you wanna put in your pocket & keep forever.
4. Reviews & Reccomendations: See what past couples have to say about your potential photographer & be on the lookout for any red flags before signing your contract. A photographer with a stunning portfolio might be difficult to work with or have slow turn around. My brother & sister-in-law worked with a photog who produced great work....but took over 4 months to get any images back to them. Knowing how past brides & grooms feel about a photographer will help you see the bigger picture of working with them long-term.
5. Delivery: Once everything is said & done how are you getting your images? Make sure to ask your photographer what rights you have & if they're maintaining any rights as well. For my business, I share rights with my brides & grooms. This means they can post, print, etc & I can still share their beautiful faces for promotion purposes or on my site. They're also able to share their digital album with anyone they like, so moms, dads & grandparents can download & print as well. I additionally only share edited images. Some photographers will share the entirety of the day, but for me I would rather carefully select the best images to create a timeline, rather than sending thousands with 1/.2 being sub-par. Everyone works a bit differently, so make sure you clarify how your final images are handled.
At the end of the day, if you have a question: ASK!
Don't feel guilty bombarding a photographer with any question that pops into your head. As a wedding photographer, my sole job is to make my couples feel appreciated, heard & prepared for their big day. Your photographer is there to support you in whatever way they can.