We recently released a survey asking some Southwest Louisiana wives to share their own wedding experience for our readers. (We couldn’t be more thankful for the ladies who took the time to share their experience and advice with you all! ) One of the big questions we asked was “If you could recommend that couples focus their wedding budget on just two things what would it be, and why?” The number one answer we got to this question was photography. The reason? This was what they still have to look back on…these were the memories of their wedding day.
One of the questions I see most often when couples are searching for a wedding photographer is: Why are wedding photographers so expensive? One might even assume that they charge a lot just “because they can.” In reality, photographing a wedding is A LOT of work. The actual act of photographing the event (and engagement + bridal portraits before) are the fun part! For 10 hours of actual photographing work, there are 3 times the amount of hours in post-production, meetings, designing, and setup. Just like you commit hours planning your wedding over a long period of time, your wedding photographer is committing a significant amount of time to your wedding as well. This, and the fact that photographs of your wedding will be what you have for memories of your day after the wedding, are something to keep in mind when you are planning your budget for photography.
In a previous post, we shared a tip for budgeting that we absolutely swear by. When my husband and I were planning our own wedding we chose to pick two things that meant the most to us to focus majority of our budget on. For my husband it was planning a great honeymoon so we could relax after a busy few months of planning our wedding, and enjoy the our first few days together as man and wife. For me, number one was the photography. Five years later, we have no regrets. Our wedding was a wonderful day that was so special to us, and the photographs we have to look back on remind us of how great it was each and every year. In fact, now we get to share those memories with our children!
“While your wedding is “the big day,” in the end, it does draw to a close. But your memories live on for the rest of your lives, strengthened through your wedding photos. Years after minor details are forgotten, your photos will be there to remind you, vividly bringing back the joy and importance of your wedding, and ready and waiting for you to show to your children and grandchildren. That’s why choosing the right person for the job is so important.”
– Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, 6E
Since we all agree that this is a very important decision, we wanted to take some time and share 6 tips to help you book the perfect wedding photographer for your wedding.
Tip 1 – Make sure their work matches your preferred style.
This is a biggy. Chances are you have looked at a few different photographers websites or you have pinned a few favorite shots on Pinterest. A photographer selects images to show online that they feel best represents their work (these are usually the type of images that they enjoy photographing the most). As you were looking through your options, chances are you were drawn to at least one photographers work more than the others. If you enjoy the photographers work, it is probably a great idea to schedule some time to meet up with them and learn more about what they have to offer. Remember, you can’t expect another photographer to photograph like the “photographer you wish you had”. Each photographer has their own style!
Tip 2 – Make sure your photographer is experienced in photographing weddings.
I would love to say that price can help you differentiate between an experienced photographer and someone just starting out, but that is not always the case. It is an excellent idea to ask the photographer how many years they have been specifically photographing weddings, and maybe even how many weddings they have photographed themselves. Unlike a normal photography session, weddings have a lot of variables – a lot of which happen very quickly and can’t be easily replicated. The more experience a photographer has photographing weddings, the easier it is for them to know what to expect next (which helps you out a lot of times, because chances are this is your first time participating in the back end of a wedding), and know what to do in situations when fast decisions need to be made. You may be thinking, well everyone has to learn right? Yes, but most serious photographers will spend years second shooting weddings with more experienced photographers to learn and get the experience needed to start taking on weddings by themselves. On such an important day, lots of previous practice is the best way to get learning experience. When they start taking on weddings themselves they will still have a few things to learn, but at that point they will have a strong and secure foundation to build on.
Tip 3 – Ask what the turn around time is for getting your photographs after the wedding.
It is so helpful to ask this upfront. Once the wedding is over, you will be anxiously waiting to see professional photos from your wedding day. It is a great idea to find out the expected turn around time (and write it down somewhere so you can look back at it later) so you aren’t tempted to anxiously reach out to your photographer very week to see if they are finished. Sometimes photographers will post previews, which are super fun to look at while you wait for them to wrap up everything on the backend. The turn around time for wedding photos vary for photographers. It is important to realize is that actually photographing the wedding day, or even engagements or bridal sessions, are only a very small part of the photographers job. The real work comes in the hours of editing, selecting, and preparation after a session – in addition to other business tasks. But every photographer has a process, and should be able to let you know when you can expect the images to be all finished up and ready for you to view.
Tip 4 – Make sure they are licensed, insured, and have a back up plan.
While a degree in photography is not necessary to run a photography business, a business license is. A committed photographer will have taken the steps necessary to run their business according to the legal requirements (getting a business license, collecting and filing taxes, etc.). Along the same lines, it shows good business practice if your photographer is properly insured. Digital photography is very forgiving since we now have the opportunity to instantly view the images and tweak details as we see fit, but we all know that technology can give us trouble from time to time. It is important to make sure that your photographer has a back up plan for such situations – such as a backup camera and proper insurance to fix gear in case issues arise.
Tip 5 – Make sure that you and your fiancé are a good match with your photographer.
It is so important for you to schedule time to meet with your photographer. Your photographer will spend a very large chunk of your wedding day right alongside you – so make sure that you enjoy being around them. Get to know them and what they stand for. Taking time to visit with them before you book, will help you SO MUCH in the long run.
“No one else has such VIP access to the couple throughout the wedding day, and the right photographer isn’t just one who knows his or her craft; you’ll also need someone with whom you have good chemistry and who you can trust to do a good job.”
– Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, Edition 6
Tip 6 – Make sure you trust your photographer.
This may seem like common knowledge…of course you wouldn’t ask some shady person to take your wedding photos. But in our search for a photographer for our own wedding, my husband and I ended up booking a photographer whose work was inconsistent and whom we didn’t feel as comfortable with, just because they were cheaper. We didn’t get very far along in the relationship before we realized – this was a big mistake. To make a long story short, we thankful ended up realizing that having someone there that we trusted and had the experience needed to capture our wedding day, was the most important part of the entire process. We booked the more expensive and experienced photographer we trusted and we decided that we could make the money work for the peace of mind and beautiful memories we would have after our wedding was over. Along the same lines, you want will want to work with someone who honestly enjoys what they do, loves weddings, and is excited to celebrate this day with you.
BONUS TIP – If you are having a larger wedding, look into hiring a photography team with multiple shooters.
One experienced photographer will get all of the important details of your day, but two experienced photographers will get the details from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. This is not to be confused with hiring two separate photographers – that is NOT something that tends to work out very well for anyone involved. But there are a few local photographers who work in pairs (usually a husband and wife team). These pairs work well together and their styles compliment one another making one beautiful finished body of work. Similarly, many individual photographers will also hire second shooters to shoot with them on wedding days (hopefully the same person that they have experience working with and trust). While this is an extra expense, it is nice to have someone there to help throughout the day – making it possible to be in two places at once.
Visit our Photography Vendor page to view some local photographers we recommend looking into!
Do you have any other tips for booking your wedding photographer – or – a favorite Lake Charles, LA wedding photographer you would like to rave about?