by Lorene Nardell
Congratulations! You are engaged! There is a lot to consider for your wedding day and when looking for a wedding photographer, but it is one of the most important decisions you will make. Your wedding will go by in a flash, so you want to have photos that will last a lifetime and capture the beauty of your big day. With so many wedding photographers, how on earth do you choose?
The first item you will want to consider is your budget and overall plan for the day. Are you looking at a more traditional approach or an elopement? Elopements have become more popular during COVID, with couples choosing to have destination weddings and few, if any, guests. The beautiful destinations in Colorado are numerous! An elopement can be an all-day and even a multi-day event for a photographer, though it may be as short as an hour of photography as well. On the other hand, a more traditional approach often has getting ready pics, the ceremony, family and couple photos, and photos during the reception. One of the things I help my clients answer right away is, “How long do I need a photographer?” Once you have determined this, you are ready to search through all the pricing options available from the photographers who interest you.
When searching through wedding portfolios, you will probably be overwhelmed by all the choices, so narrowing down a few things first will help you a lot. You have an idea of the number of hours you need, now what about a budget? There are wedding photographers in all the general price ranges: $0-1000, $1000-2000, $2000-3000, and so on. There are packages and hourly pricing as well. A package will clearly lay out what is offered by the photographer. Here is a list of things you will likely see:
Number of hours
One or two photographers
Online albums and/or physical albums
Number of edited photos and high-quality downloads
Ownership of photos
Extras like save-the-date cards
High-resolution digital downloads (best quality downloads)
Many couples are opting for digital albums where they can download and print photos on their own. Most packages offer this now. Hourly photographers will likely provide this, too, and other options. Engagement photos may or may not be included in a package but can always be purchased separately. Don’t forget to find out the amount of the deposit will be and the cancellation policy.
Other things to consider when on your search:
What style of photography are you expecting?
Does the photographer offer to speak with you about your hopes and plans?
Are they open to listening to your ideas?
Are they willing to look at sample photos you provide?
Do they seem easy to talk to?
Do they have a contract, invoicing, and a professional website?
What is the cancellation policy?
Do they have a backup plan if they are sick?
How many fully edited photos do they offer?
Can you link family and friends to your digital album?
How long until you receive your photos?
I recommend narrowing it down to three or four photographers to contact by phone. Generally, the phone call will just be the icing on the cake and make the decision final. If you are working with a wedding planner, definitely take a look at their photographer but don’t commit. Find the photographer that’s right for you! Places to look: The Knot, Wedding Wire, Thumbtack, Google.
Here’s the most important piece: the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer. A good photographer checks off all the boxes for your needs, but a great photographer does that, listens to you, and has amazing artwork. Are they passionate about photography and about making clients happy? Can you tell from looking at the photos and the website? A great photographer can be brand new or well established and may have a handful of 5-star reviews or a bundle. The person behind the camera must care about you and blend your desires with his or her artistic eye. For that to happen, they have to listen to your needs. Ask them for an example of a time they felt really successful as an artist. Does the answer include any mention of a client request and how they achieved success for that client?
Good luck on your wedding journey! As you are probably well aware, it’s full of excitement, decision making, details, beauty, and love. I wish you the very best!
Lorene lives in Longmont with her husband, two kids, and many pets. She is the proud owner of Lorene Nardell Photography. She has clients throughout Colorado and is focused on making your wedding photography dreams a reality. Find out more at NardellPhotoJourneys.com