Since becoming engaged, I've joined a few online groups where brides to be can ask questions and get feedback about aspects of wedding planning.
I've noticed that about HALF of the questions asked on these forums are about engagement/wedding photography. Lots of people did not grow up having regular portrait sessions, and their engagement photos might be the first time they've thought about hiring someone else to take photos. So, they don't know what's "normal," or what to even look for when finding the perfect photographer. I thought it would be fun to take some of the real questions I have seen in these forums and discuss them here. I hope couples (regardless of whether I am photographing their wedding or not) find this helpful!
1. "Did your photos come with watermarks? We received the photos back and they all have the photographer's watermark on them despite the fact that we've paid in full. I mentioned this to my fMIL and she was like I don't understand the issue. What's the problem, our wedding photos (from the 70s) have watermarks?...Did your final photos have watermarks?" --Ivey H.
Lots of photographers use watermarks or signatures when posting their photos online, because unfortunately many people will try to steal them (that has happened to me, sadly!). Watermarks can be useful for this reason, and to promote your brand.
BUT, the industry standard for DELIVERING photos to clients is to give the client full printing rights (check your contract and makes sure it says this!) in exchange for payment. Clients should be able to print any photos they want without annoying/ugly watermarks in the frame, if they paid for the images. If you are working with a professional and you have paid in full, you should always get your final album delivered sans watermarks.
2.) "Help all! I need opinions! My fiancé and I took photos for our Save the Dates over the weekend. The card I chose has three photo spots, so we can choose 3 photos. Which ones do we choose?" --Rebecca D.
If you have room for more than one photo, choose your absolute favorites and then place one photo that is more cropped in next to one that is cropped out farther, like below. This creates dimension (Bonus points if one is black and white. That looks classy as heck.)
3.) "Do I need two shooters?" --Neels K.
Your primary wedding photographer may bring a second shooter. If you:
-have over 60-ish guests and want photos of most of them
-have a wedding party with over 8 people
-have large families and want family photos with all of them
-know you'll want extensive getting ready coverage of both partners
-want someone taking cocktail photos while someone else takes you for newlywed portraits
Then I strongly recommend having two photographers. You'll get more images, and most photographers have the option to add a second shooter for reasonable rates.
4.) "Should I book a videographer/photographer package, or book them separately?" --Grace A.
I'll voice an unpopular opinion. I have found that having one person who specializes in one thing makes their product more reliably high end, versus hiring someone who claims to "do it all." (It's like when Mariah Carey started acting.)
5.) "I've seen posts about photography being super expensive. But I found a photographer who will be shooting my wedding at a really affordable price (to me) he's great. He has a 5 business day turnaround policy or your money back."
Okay, so: here is where I dive into pricing. It's a LOT of info, so let me lay it down for you:
Wedding photographers can be intimidating to research because there is such a vast difference in pricing. In Vermont specifically, I've seen anywhere from $1500--$6500 for full day coverage. How the heck do you know what is "reasonable," and what you should expect to pay?
Steps to vetting your potential photog:
1. How much can you reasonably afford to pay a professional, tip included? If your overall budget is "low," can you prioritize photography and skimp somewhere else?
2. Pick a style. If you are someone who likes darker photos that are more serious/epic, make sure you find someone who fits that mold. If you like a brighter, more editorial style in images, then seek out photographers with that style. Pinterest is great for this! (You can Pinterest "newlywed portraits" and see what you are drawn to. Try to describe the style of the photos you love and want, and look for photographers in your area who have a similar style. But beware-- most weddings on Pinterest are not real! Most are modeled style shoots, so keep in mind that these photos are often staged with models.)
Photographers will not change their editing style after you book with them. Editing is a huge part of our craft, so if someone asked me to edit all of my photos to be "dark and moody," I wouldn't be able to accommodate that. I gotta stay true to my art!
3. Look at their blog and social media extensively. Look at their website. Do they post regularly? Are their photos consistent?
Here is where you can start to see how much they might charge. Is it obvious that they hire someone to design their website? Does it say anywhere how long they've been in business? Do they look high end?
4. Read their testimonials. Google them and read their google reviews. Look them up on WeddingWire/Yelp/Facebook and make sure nothing sticks out to you as fake or weird.
5. Ask for their pricing info, and then schedule a phone call with them if the pricing is within your budget (or even slightly higher). If you vibe with them, you might have found your photographer.
A typically turnaround time is between 5-10 weeks. Your photographer is carefully processing each image and making sure each one is perfect in that time.
If you are on a tight budget but value photography, you could consider finding someone who has smaller package options. Not all photographers can offer smaller packages on high-ticket dates (think: fall Saturdays in New England, for example) because they know they can book a longer, and thus more profitable, wedding. You might be surprised that you can get extremely high end photography for your wedding day if you don't mind having less coverage.
The world of wedding photography can be intimidating and confusing. What questions would you ask?