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Tips for Choosing a Wedding Photographer

October 15, 2018

Weddings are a big deal. The vendor team you choose is an investment in creating your day. I’ve photographed over 50 weddings and hundreds of families and couples, so I know the value of your photography investment. Here are my 10 tips for choosing a wedding photographer.

Photography is an investment.

I recently got married and went through the whole planning process in about 7 months. It was a little crazy, and it gave me a completely new perspective on what couples go through during their wedding planning process. It can be overwhelming, especially when you google wedding photographers in your area and find that there are about a million options. So I’ve broken down some things I feel are important factors to consider when hiring a wedding photographer.

 

bride in the vineyard at kings river winery in sanger ca premier bride's perfect dress hanging in the barrel room at kings river winery in sanger botanique floral artistry bouquet on stockroom picks velvet chair at kings river winery

Find a style you L-O-V-E!

You’re likely spending a couple thousand dollars on your wedding photographer, so make sure you like their work. Maybe you like the dark and moody edits with rich shadows and neutral tones. Or maybe you’re drawn to film emulation photographers with light and airy photos. Maybe you like photos that have a more natural, true to color look. Whichever style you prefer, make sure you’ve chosen a wedding photographer who emulates that style.

Don’t hire a wedding photographer SOLELY based on price. And don’t view their wedding photographer’s portfolio and then ask them to edit different from their style. You not only want to love your photos, but you want to make sure that your wedding photographer is passionate about their work. If you choose a wedding photographer whose style you love, no matter what their price range is, in the end, you’ll be much happier! And refer back to where I said, “Photography is an investment” if you need more convincing.

 

Your budget.

I consider wedding photography an investment because photos are important to me. It’s investing in documenting the beginning to your love story. I understand how expensive things get when you start adding it up from the food and flowers to the favors and invitations. Wedding photography was important to me, so I chose to spend a little more on that and hire a wedding photographer with a consistent portfolio and several years of experience with weddings.

I was a nervous wreck at the first wedding I shot…and the second…and the fifteenth! Still, I get nervous, because I’m excited and maybe just a little vulnerable capturing the day through my eyes. I love being able to tell your story and capture the day, but I didn’t always know what I was doing. If my first clients hadn’t taken a chance on me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am so grateful to the clients who believed in me from the beginning because everyone has to start somewhere.

 

How many weddings have they photographed?

This ties back a little bit into the previous point. If you’re hiring someone who is still new, it’s important that you’re comfortable with their experience level. I jumped in head first without ever second shooting – I didn’t even know that was a thing people did. So my first clients not only were well aware of my experience level, but my pricing also reflected that of a new wedding photographer.

Being a second shooter is much different than being a lead wedding photographer, and it has completely changed my perspective on lead shooting. I had clients hire me when I had 2 weddings under my belt, and my work at their wedding was on a whole new level than the level of skill I had shot when I just started. That’s because, between the time they hired me and the time their wedding rolled around, I had upgraded my equipment, honed in on my editing style, had more practice with other weddings or learned something new.  That allowed me to improve and offer a much better product as a wedding photographer. I am so grateful for those that took a chance on me from the start. That is the beauty of growth and progress.

newlyweds in a pasture in paso robles
I shot this at my third wedding I ever photographed, in October 2015

newlywed photos at sunset at wonder valley ranch resort and conference center
I shot this at a wedding in September of 2018

Meet with them and make sure you click.

If you have time, it’s a good idea to meet with your potential wedding photographer in person, or at least a quick Facetime chat or phone call. Some of my couples are out of towners, so meeting beforehand isn’t always an option. Facetime works just as good! Talk with them, chat, ask questions. It gives your wedding photographer and you a chance to meet make sure you’re personalities will be a good fit. Personally, I love meeting my couples for margaritas – I’ve done that a lot lately and I love it. I mean the couples are great, but margaritas…

megan helm at the winter open house at kings river winery in sanger
Here I am meeting some brides at a venue bridal show in January 2018. Shoutout to my mom for my camera scarf!

 

Hire a second photographer.

When your wedding package includes a second photographer, ask your main photographer who they’re using. Have they shot with them before? What is their work like?  Make sure their sister or husband isn’t their second shooter unless of course, they’re a sister-sister or husband and wife team, which would be awesome! Seconds should also be photographers with their own equipment.

When I started, I just gave my sister or a friend a spare camera at weddings. Now, I hire professionals to help me with weddings, and most of them are also successful wedding photographers themselves!

 

 

newlywed photos in auberry newlywed photos at sunset by a creek in auberry ca
This is the same moment from two different perspectives because this couple hired two photographers. Maybe you like one better than that other, and that’s ok! It’s also important for maximizing your time during the wedding day with your photographers by having two.

 

Ask to see a gallery.

A full gallery can showcase the entire range of wedding day photography. Don’t be afraid to ask and see what a full day looks like. And going back to the style, make sure you like all the images and how their style is reflected throughout the day. Receptions often require flash photography or low light photography. If these photos are important to you, check out their reception photos. Bridal portraits are ideal at sunset, but sometimes the timeline requires photos when the light might not be the best option and we have to make it work. See an entire days worth of images from start to finish and make sure it’s what you’re looking for from your wedding photographer.

 

What’s included with your package?

Let’s walk back to photography being an investment for a minute. Digitals are the big thing right now, and EVERY client wants the digitals. I love that I can provide the digital edits for my clients. But do you want that investment sitting on a hard drive or USB never to be seen again? Of course, you don’t! Your wedding photographer should have suggestions on how to create those tangible investment items.

I’m not saying I’ve never kept photos tucked away on the computer, or wasted $5 getting them printed at the local drug store, but you guys, the quality difference between a professional lab and the 1-hour photo center is Un-freaking-real! Talk to your wedding photographer – they’ll have some good ideas on where to print your photos, and they’ve probably invested their time into samples you can check out too!

sample photo albums by millers lab by megan helm photography fresno wedding photographer
A sample of albums and prints offered for my clients through my professional print lab.

Check their wedding reviews.

This is something a lot of people already do! There are tons of platforms like Wedding Wire and The Knot to check reviews specifically from couples LIKE YOU! It’s great to read feedback from couples who hired your wedding photographer for the same type of photography. Many wedding photographers also do other types of sessions like family or graduates, so check reviews geared towards weddings for the most helpful feedback!

tips-for-choosing-a-wedding-photographer

Were these tips helpful? Are you looking for a wedding photographer? Tell me what other questions you have below!

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