Choosing a photographer can feel like the most overwhelming decision ever. All you have to do is google your city and photographer, and so many choices come up it seems impossible to make the right one. How do we know? Well, we’re speaking as not only one of the choices on that very long Google list, but also a regular couple who had to sort through it recently to find a photographer of our own. That’s right, a photographer for photographers. MIND BLOWN. But even though we know all about how this process works (and are probably just a bit pickier than the average client because of what we do) we started at the same place everyone does when starting a search. The internet.
We went through website after website, portfolio after portfolio, and started to realize that if we were going to be able to make any sort of decision there would need to be some sort of criteria involved. We were choosing a photographer for a portrait session in Paris later this year, and because of the distance we weren’t actually going to meet this person beforehand. DOUBLE STRESS. This made it all the more important that we find someone we felt 100% right about choosing, because the day of the shoot will be hectic enough without worrying about having made the right choice (something I am notorious for after every big decision – you should have seen my full on panic attack after buying a car last week!)
So, this list was born. And using it we found the most amazing, wonderful, absolutely perfect for us in every way gentleman to document our time in Paris. And while I am going to wait until we actually share the pictures later this year to tell you all about him, I am more than happy to share the criteria that brought us to him today : )
Do you want images that look like something straight out of a classic film? Or maybe you like the look of sun-drenched images with tons of hazy backlighting? There is something out there for everyone, and figuring out what you like is the very first step in this decision making process. Take the time to go through sites like Pinterest and just look at pictures, not with the intention of replicating them, but to find what your eye is drawn to. For us, the most important thing was that the pictures be timeless. We don’t use a lot of photoshop presets or actions in our own work because we like everything to feel natural and true to the day, and it was important that the person whose work we chose did the same. In forty years, when we are sitting around with our children’s children and sharing our stories, we want to have images that captured just what that day was like, not something with an editing style that was just the “in” thing at the time.
This is a HUGE one, even more so for those of you picking a wedding photographer because that person is going to be around you all day long. Find someone with a website that lets you get to know the person behind the lens, and see if they’re a fit for you. For any of you that know us, you know that we are not very serious, and we like to have a good time. So we made sure to not only find someone who had beautiful work, but who had fun while they did it. Again, just as with style, there is something for everyone!
There are tons of super busy photographers out there, and that is AWESOME. What is not awesome is that sometimes these photographers are so busy they don’t have time to take a personal interest in their clients, and each one is merely a number rather than a name. We are huge proponents of taking a genuine interest in each of our couples (which is why we limit ourselves to 30 weddings a year), and we wanted the same kind of interaction with the person we were choosing to document our love story. In the photographer we chose, we found that. He was one out of three actual photographers we contacted who wrote back with a personalized email, not just a generic auto-response that didn’t even have our names in it. He has also been super helpful in the planning process, suggesting locations and makeup artists and any other questions this crazy lady throws his way. Find someone who isn’t just about documenting your day or event, but is genuinely interested in making it the absolute best it can be. Someone who’s interested in YOU.
Experience goes hand in hand with budget, which is why these two are going so close together on the list. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. There are tons of photographers out there, all at different points in there career, all with prices that are directly related to the experience they have. (Believe me, we’ve been there.) Not at all to say there is anything wrong with someone with limited experience, but as with all of these criteria you have to determine how important the experience factor is to you. For something like a family portrait session you may be way more comfortable trying out a newbie, versus something like a wedding which can’t be replicated. Since we are going to be in Paris (and actually looking put together!) for one day only, it was SO important to me that we found someone who was clearly experienced with the type of session we were looking for.
Yes, budget is important, but I put it last for a reason. Obviously everyone has a budget to work inside of (because if life didn’t have a budget I would own absolutely everything on Modcloth.com), but a lot of times photography budgets can be worked around. All too often we will hear stories of people who had their heart set on a certain photographer, but that person was outside of the budget initially set, and they ended up with someone else. Flash forward and that couple has tons of regret after the wedding because they don’t love their images and are comparing them to the work of their first choice photographer. That just plain hurts our hearts. Everyone deserves pictures they love of a day that cannot be recreated, it’s a basic bridal right! But the funny thing is, 9 times out of 10 that same person who couldn’t afford the photographer they wanted, spent a CRAZY amount on centerpieces or other details of the day. Things that in the grand scheme of things weren’t really a necessity, and probably won’t be remembered. Choose the things that are important to you, and find a way to make them work. For us that will probably mean snagging free croissants from the hotel instead of going out to breakfasts, and maybe having a few less glasses of wine while we’re there. But in the grand scheme of things, none of that is what’s TRULY important. Yes, the photographer we found was outside of our initial budget, but sometimes the things that can’t be recreated are worth splurging on.
Hope this helps make a tough decision a little easier! Happy Wednesday friends!
Love + Laughs,