In most cases, finding your wedding vendors is a crazy and overwhelming experience. We got married in my small hometown (read: a long way from anything) and were were some of the first of our friends to get married. We were so often overwhelmed by the number of choices. And, I think we had it fairly easy, because there were only so many photographers, caterers, bakers, etc. who were willing to travel to small-town Washington. Which could be why I shoot a lot of weddings in small towns. I sympathize with the stress of finding a photographer who will travel.
Finding a photographer (and videographer — this could apply to them just as easily) is one of the harder tasks. Our jobs are unique, because each photographer has their own style — in shooting and in editing — so you want to find someone whose work resonates with you. How? I know, it’s not easy. Even now, when I look for photographers to take photos for my website, or for updated family photos, I struggle.
The first thing you should do is collect some images. You can use Pinterest, you can save them to a file on your computer, or you can tear them out of magazines, for all I care. They don’t have to all be wedding photos either. Once you have a decent collection — between 10 and 50 images — look at them all. Is there a common theme? Look at all the aspects of the images. A few common themes will pop out for you. Without using too much “photo-speak”, look at the style. Do they look posed or casual? If they’re posed, you might want a photographer whose work is more traditional. Candid, casual photos? You’re probably looking for someone with a more journalistic approach. Look at the colors. Are they soft? strong? A lot of that depends on the lighting, but that’s something to look for in a photographer. Is there a consistency to the photographer’s work? All the photos in this post have different lighting. They’re inside and outside. On cloudy and sunny days. But they’re all mine. They’re all similar in style. A lot of photographers, myself included, have a Pinterest board of their work. Mine is an assortment of images from different shoots, ones that I feel like define my style.
Now that you’ve looked through your collected images, and you’ve picked up on a few themes, it’s time to start looking at photographers. If you’ve used Pinterest to collect your ideas, you can follow the links to some of the photographers you’ve pinned, and see if they’re in your area and budget. You did make a budget, right? If not, keep searching for local photographers who fit your criteria. By doing this, you’re going to find photographers who will produce photos you love. You don’t want to pick a photographer who doesn’t take the kind of photos you love, because you won’t be happy with them in the end. Email a few photographers, but not too many, to find out more about them.
Not only should you contact the photographers, you should also start a conversation with them. You’re going to spend a lot of time with your photographer, so you need to know that they’re someone who you’ll feel comfortable with on your wedding day. Go grab coffee or drinks with them. Call them on the phone or email them. I’m not saying you need to be best friends with your photographer, but you should feel comfortable with them. You should feel like you can trust them to do the job.
I’ve got a couple more posts in mind for the series, but if you’ve got a question you want answered, let me know in a comment or via email!
I can only speak on my experience as a photographer, but I feel like you could apply the same theory to all other wedding vendors.