Cue the excitement! You’re engaged! You’ve finally found The One and you’re ready to put down roots and commit to eachother. It’s a beautiful thing, but the next few months to year(s) can be quite confusing as far as planning goes. Thankfully, you’ve landed here and I can at least help you out with the photography aspect of things!
First things first: pick a general style that you like.
There are TONS of photographers out there to photograph your wedding. In my area of Washington D.C., we’re talking 10,000+ options. So it’s important to start narrowing them down by their style. As you look around you’ll see a few major differences. I’ve summarized them in three categories, however, there are many subsets and nuances. Here’s what I view as the biggest differentiating factors:
- The “dramatic photographers”. They use lots of artificial light. They have deep shadows, bright brights, colors are exciting and vibrant. Posing is dramatic and often obvious.
- The “natural light”/”film look” photographers. Often these photographer have work that is bright and soft with muted highlights and shadows. The photos don’t typically have a ton of contrast and they usually have slightly desaturated colors.
- The “photojournalistic” photographer. Often these photographers run a middle ground between the “dramatic” and the “natural light”. Their colors and contrats remain fairly unexaggerated (in either direction), and their posing and positioning of subjects is also fairly middle ground. While they do pose their clients, they tend to pose them in more natural poses (those that you might end up in with your spouse if no one were looking). They also tend to use a mix of nautural light and artificial light depending on the situation they’re photographing in.
Here at Lovesome Photography, I would categorize myself under the “photojournalistic” photographer however, I prefer to say “photojournalist inspired” photographer. True photojournalism requires a 100% hands off approach to documenting the day, which is pretty limiting. That means to be a true photojournalist, I can’t reach in and fix your veil or dress train to look more visually pleasing. It means I can’t move your wedding table details around to get the best shot and it certainly means I can’t direct the posing between you and your partner. To me, strict photojournalism is unrealistic. However, I enjoy using it as inspiration to remain as authentic to the spirit of the event and your personalities as possible.
Next: Pick several you like & check into their reviews.
With so many photographers out there, once you have a feel of the style you like and have seen many that fall into that style, I recommend you pick around 10 to look at more closely. Make a document on your computer that contains the names & website links. Some wedding planning sites offer tools to help store potential vendor picks, just keep in mind that not every vendor advertises on every site (you have no idea how expensive it is to even have a listing on some sites!) so it might make sense to have this document on your computer first. At least during the narrowing down stage.
When you have a narrowed down list, go ahead and search for reviews on your photographer. Planning sites like WeddingWire.com specialize in review gathering. Vendors can’t alter or discard reviews so you can trust that the feedback you’re seeing is as straight from the horse’s mouth as you can get. Currently, Lovesome has over 50 reviews on WeddingWire and more on TheKnot. Remember to look beyond the star ratings and read the text. Sometimes clients will do weird things like give a vendor 4 out of 5 stars for the value category but then gush about how that vendor went “above and beyond the call of duty” in their review (which makes absolutely no sense if you ask me)!
Next: Reach out.
Once you’ve gotten a better sense of a photographer whose style you like and has gotten the kind of feedback you’re looking for in a vendor, it’s time to reach out and check availability and pricing basics. I say pricing basics because many photographers offer a range of options with or without customization. Just because their base package may be over your budget doesn’t mean that they don’t offer a customized option that could fit. It never hurts to ask. The worst someone can say is no.
I suggest starting with no more than 5, or it can get overwhelming. Here’s a tip: photographers love details in inquiries! Our jobs encompass a LOT during the course of a wedding day, so the more we know about your event, the more accurately we can give you an idea on pricing. Here at Lovesome, I have some basic sets of pricing, however, no two weddings are the same! What works perfectly for some is absolutely nothing like what another may want or need. Therefore, I am always more than happy to suggest we schedule a meeting so we can talk about how we can tailor coverage to your needs.
Next: Breathe through the sticker shock.
Probably the most common criticism I hear about wedding photography is the pricing. One of the biggest reasons photography is a large ticket item is because of the amount of work it requires not just on the day of the wedding, but the weeks and months before and after. I average around 70 hours of work per wedding all said and done. This includes my time responding to your emails, doing your consultation, shooting your engagement session, planning logistics for your wedding day, meeting with you and your other vendors about timelines, coordinating with your other vendors for logistics on the day of, shooting your wedding, editing your photos, archiving your photos, submitting your photos for publication, making your albums, uploading and maintaining your private website of photos, handling orders, distributing photos to all your other vendors who want a piece of the action. Not to mention we still have to run a business, pay our taxes & payroll, do marketing & advertising, and pay a pretty penny for even the least expensive piece of photographic equipment. Simply put, the cost of mainting and running a successful photography business stretches far beyond what couples typically think of.
Here at Lovesome Photography I try to take an approach to pricing that encompasses a wide range of budgets. We believe everyone deserves spectacular photography on their wedding day. It makes me cry to hear horror stories of people hiring a budget photographer, or a college student who is just learning, and then they get horrible photos back (or sometimes, no photos at all)! It’s just heartbreaking. To try and combat this, we have a 3 hour minimum on our hourly package rate which comes to $1,500. This ensures that even on a tight budget, someone can have us out for 3 hours which could easily cover a ceremony, a portrait session, and a few imporant reception events like the first dance or cake cutting if the client is willing to arrange their timeline to accomodate it. It’s a bare bones approach, but it’s better than paying $500 to someone who is not invested into a business with their name on it or to pay for someone who is learning on your dime.
On the splurge end of the priceline, we offer a Luxury Collection for $5,200 that covers everything from an engagment session with an album to 8 hours on wedding day, multiple photographers, a USB of all the photos, an album of the wedding, and a print credit. It’s a great option for people who are diehard photography lovers and want to ensure everything about this unique and remarkable time in your lives is capture and preserved for generations to come.
Generally, a typical Lovesome client ends up inbetween the two extremes, but it’s a great example of illustrating how we’re able to accomodate a wide range of budgets based on what your most important needs and wants are. If you’re interested in our full price list, please email me!
Almost Done: Get face to face if you can.
After you’ve picked a style, narrowed down price and availablity, and breathed through the sticker shock, it’s time to set a face to face meeting. Guys, I truly feel this is exceptionally important!!! Your wedding photographer will be with you FAR longer than ANY other vendor of the wedding. Even if you have a wedding planner, a planner is done after the wedding and the photographer’s job is only half done with wedding day. It’s crucial that you actually LIKE your photographer. If you can’t feel comfortable around your photographer, how are you supposed to look happy and comfortable in your photos?! You can’t. If your photographer can’t get to know you, how are they supposed to be able to weave your personality into your photos?! They can’t. There must be a baseline of trust and comfort in the photographer/client and client/photographer relationship in order to produce something harmonious and beautiful.
I recommend starting with no more than 2 or 3 face to face meetings. You don’t want to oversaturate yourself with information. You’ll know pretty quickly if the photographer you meet with will be a good match for you. Conversation will come easily. You’ll be excited by the photos and products you see at their studio. You’ll get a sense for if the photographer “gets” you by how well they are willing to listen and collaborate.
In your meetings don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Don’t be afraid to be open about budget concerns if you have them. Let the photographer know if you have any challenging situations (or people) on your wedding day and see what they say about how they’ll handle it. Talk contracts. A good and reputable photographer should be able to provide adequate answers to all those reasonable concerns without an issue. At Lovesome, I LOVE when clients “information dump” on me. The more I have to work with the more I can give back to them. As someone myself, who refuses to make a decision without every teeny question answered, I appreciate that!
Last Step: HIRE THEM!
When you’ve gone through everything, had a great meeting, and they’ve answered all of your questions, do not wait! Hire them! There’s nothing worse than finding someone you really like and for whatever reason, waiting to book them, only to find out you missed your opportunity and someon else has snuck in there and taken your date. Wedding photography is a finite thing. All of them happening on one of the 52 Saturdays in a year, and MOST of them happening in the 25 Saturdays between May and October. Trust me, if I could clone myself, I would, but I can’t be in more than one wedding at once and I refuse to book more than one in a day. When you find the one you like, move on it.
If you’d like more information on Lovesome Photography, or to schedule a consultation in my Leesburg studio, please contact me. I would love to work with you!