My daughter Desiree married the love of her life exactly two years ago. It was a magical time that I will forever treasure in my heart and memories. Unfortunately, we don't have great pictures to look back on. We weren't smart when it came time to hire a wedding photographer.
A few weeks ago I had a bride - Ashley Cano - contact me. She was getting married and she and her fiancé Brandon wanted to talk to me about my services. They came to my studio and I had all my contracts printed and ready to go - Engagement, Bridal, Bridal Boudoir and Wedding. I was ready to sign them up for anything they wanted. They talked with me for a while, asked me some questions, looked at my work. They were sweet and asked all the right questions. I liked them immediately.
They then told me that they wanted to book me for an engagement session. Only. They would make decisions later regarding the rest.
I have since realized that they were making a very smart decision. It was essentially a trial run. Will I be the perfect wedding photographer for them??
We met my daughter's wedding photographer at the Bridal Fair. He was very nice, very helpful. He had two very beautiful photographs on display. Desiree and I both liked him and made an appointment to meet him at his studio. Again he was very nice and showed us some albums of his work. We signed contracts right then and there. Things went downhill from there. I won't go into details but suffice it to say we had a very disappointing experience with this person. He wasn't so nice, wasn't so helpful after all. I wish we had done what Ashley & Brandon did - learn a little more about him before hiring him.
I get a lot of brides who come to me because I've photographed their friend's weddings. They have seen me in action, they have seen my work, they have talked to their friend about their experience with me. So boom - they are ready to come and hire me for the entire wedding package. But for brides like Ashley, who maybe has seen my work on Facebook and nothing more, may need to learn more about me before making a final decision.
Hiring a wedding photographer will be one of the most important decisions you make when planning your wedding. At the end of the day - what do you have left? The food has been eaten, the decorations have been taken down, the music has stopped. Besides your sweet memories of the wonderful day all you will have are your photographs. Plus - besides a wedding coordinator, you will spend more time with your wedding photographer than anyone else!
I am happy to say that after our engagement session, Brandon & Ashley have contacted me to sign a contract to photograph their wedding. They had given me a trial run and decided to trust me with one of the most important days of their lives.
So learn from my mistakes. Learn from Brandon & Ashley's smart actions. Here are some tips on hiring the perfect wedding photographer:
1. Make sure that you have someone you can speak with about the photographer. Someone who has used him/her and can tell you about their personal experience. Nothing is better than word of mouth recommendations.
2. If you don't have personal recommendations, set up an engagement session. During that session, look for these qualities:
(a) Does the photographer quickly respond to your inquiries - i.e. Email, text, phone calls?
(b) Does the photographer listen to your vision of the shoot and offer suggestions on how to achieve your vision?
(c) During the session, does the photographer make you feel comfortable? Does he/she give instructions and guidance during the shoot? Do you feel a chemistry with him/her?
(d) Does the photographer deliver as promised? On time? Does he/she give you sneak peeks? Respond to inquiries regarding same?
(e) Does his/her photographic style meet your vision?
(f) Does the photographer post every engagement, bridal and wedding he/she photographs or just a selected few? This is a sign that they are not proud of every session/wedding they shoot. It is not a good sign if your photographer appears to be very busy but only posts to their website or social media every few weeks/months.
(g) Once you receive the photos - are you satisfied? Do you love the photos?
3. Read reviews. If there are any. The photographer that we used for my daughter's wedding does not provide the option to post a review on his Facebook page. WARNING SIGN!!
4. Follow your gut. Don't ignore those warning signs. It's just too important.
Hope this helps you make a great decision!