We are officially four months away from the big day!
I shared earlier that we are have hired Tara McMullen and her partner Barb Simkova as our wedding photographers and we truly couldn’t be happier. Choosing the right photographer is one of the most important aspects of wedding planning . . . I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to splurge on a photographer if you can and save a bit in other areas like decor and favours. You could have the best venue and the best flowers but if you don’t have a great photographer to capture it properly (not to mention, in the style that suits you), you won’t have that to look back on.
With that said, it’s not always easy to know who to choose . . . there seem to be so many photographers out there and new ones popping up all the time. I’ve put together my top tips for finding the right person/team to hire for this very big, very important job.
TIP #1: Know your aesthetic
As with hiring any creative person, you’ll want to select a photographer whose work fits within the style you and your fiance/fiancee are looking to achieve. Andrew and I love the candid, light & bright, natural look so that’s why we hired Tara and Barb. Is your style more moody and romantic? Modern and artistic? Knowing how to describe your aesthetic will ensure you end up with the right talent. Be weary of photographers who are quick to bend to the style you want, especially when their portfolio tells a different story. If you aren’t great with words (and don’t want those words misinterpreted), a great way to communicate your visual style is with a Pinterest board with examples of work you and your partner enjoy.
TIP #2: Research, research, research
The best place to start is within your own circle of friends. My friend Kelly Lynn and Andrew‘s photos were absolutely perfect to us and so Andrew and I made a mental note to call on Tara and Barb for our own wedding. Even if the style of your friend’s wedding photography doesn’t match your own, there’s a good chance they did a lot of leg work in reaching out to a bunch of contacts . . . and they will be happy to share this with you.*
*This goes for all vendors (florists, caterers, venues, etc.), not just the photographer.
TIP #3: Look at packages and offerings
Most wedding photographers work within a set of packages, which are quite helpful to know exactly what you’re getting. Review the different packages and decide what is important to you both as a couple. Do you have pre-wedding events like a rehearsal dinner you want captured? How many hours of coverage do you need? (hot tip on coverage: it always takes longer than you think it will, especially when you need to wrangle family and the wedding party!) Will you need a second shooter? (maybe, if it’s a larger wedding) Are you expecting a wedding album? The levels of packages will determine your budget, but make sure those “must-haves” are ticked off so you don’t end up with any surprises.
For us, it’s really important that our full weekend in Cape Cod is captured. From the clambake rehearsal dinner to the seaside vows to dancing in the wee hours of the morning, we want it all documented. We chose Tara and Barb’s “Dream Team Package” which is really the top of the line . . . it sounds like a lot but we really wanted everything taken care of.
In addition to the wedding events we’re also getting in an engagement session. I wasn’t initially sold on this and I tend to associate engagement photos with those cheesy shots you see all over Facebook (I don’t even have Facebook!), but a good friend turned me onto the idea by looking at it more as an opportunity to have beautiful, proper photos of you as a couple to look back on when you’re old and grey (hehe).
TIP #4: Ask lots of questions
When you’re setting meetings, be sure to go in with a list of questions. Be sure to include everything from their background and photography style to specifics around logistics and deliverables. There’s a good of example questions here. This is less about interrogation and more about getting to know their process and working style . . . you’ll want to ensure their way gels with yours.
TIP #5: Trust your instincts
This is a big one. After meeting with your potential photographer, how do you feel? Are you excited and trusting or nervous and more stressed? One of the reasons we chose Tara and Barb is because we felt like they actually cared about us and our story . . . they answered all our questions with ease and grace but they also had their own questions. They wanted to know how we met, how our relationship evolved over the years, and what our family is like. They wanted to spend time with me as a bride and get to know us as a couple, they’ve become our friends.
This may sound like a “nice-to-have” but I think that closeness really comes through in the images. It’s the difference between having stiff, posed photos and natural, documentary style shots. And if you’re anything like me, you’re quite nervous in front of the camera. If you’re comfortable around your team, the results will speak for themselves and you won’t need to worry about a thing!
Best of luck, fellow bride(s)-to-be,