A thought occurred to me the other day as I was reading some articles about brides who were unhappy with their wedding photography. As I read through these articles and various Facebook comments on wedding vendor pages, I was struck by some of these complaints: Brides complaining about how the photographer didn’t take the pictures she wanted. Or other complaints that her wedding photographs weren’t what she imagined them being. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “People don’t know how to find the right wedding photographer.”
So, I was inspired to write this article. I wanted to try to help educate wedding couples on how to find the right wedding photographer. A wedding photographer who will capture their special day in a meaningful way, in a style that the bride and groom expect and appreciate.
Finding the Right Wedding Photographer
Reading through various wedding vendor Facebook groups and Reddit wedding subreddits, most brides are booking photographers based on price… and not much else. Brides assume that a photographer should take the pictures they envision, even if they have chosen the wrong photographer. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t go to a pizza restaurant to order sushi, right?
You would be able to eat at the restaurant, but it wouldn’t be what you expected. You’ll get dinner, but not the dinner you really wanted. Not the dinner that you could have gotten if you went to the right restaurant.
Wedding photographers are just as specialized. If a wedding couple books a photographer whose style and vision are not aligned with theirs, the result is various unhappy brides and grooms. The reality is that there is not enough information on how to find the right wedding photographer when it comes to style. There’s just too much conflicting information on the internet. Let’s ignore budget for a moment and go beyond that.
Learning a Wedding Photographer’s Style
The biggest source of disappointment for clients is working with photographers who don’t meet their expectations. Unfortunately, when photographers are just starting out, they are a little bit desperate to get clients. They don’t have the maturity and experience to know when to say “no,” even if the wedding couple is not a good fit. This sets the photographer up for failure and sets the client up for disappointment.
Established wedding photographers don’t typically work this way. They mostly present themselves with lots of transparency. There are full galleries of their work—not just a few selected portfolio images.
Every photographer has a style. But that style doesn’t form overnight. It takes years even for the most talented photographers to create a level of consistency that defines them. A good way to explain this is to think of famous painters. From Dali to Michelangelo to Monet, Vincent Van Gogh to Degas—they all captured reality in their own unique way. A Dali will never create a Michelangelo and vice versa.
Now, if you’re looking for a painter that can reproduce masterpieces, I’m sure you can find them. But they will not create something unique… it will be just a copy. In the photography world, pictures can be reproduced but don’t come naturally to the creator. An artist will see and interpret moments with his or her own artistic flair. Rather than handing over a list of Pinterest wants and Instagram inspirations, for best results, find a photographer who already has gallery images and portfolio images that evoke emotional responses in you.
When you do find the right wedding photographer, their creativity and your wedding photography dreams will be in line. You will feel confident that you can let the photographer be who they are and know that the outcome will be nothing short of magnificent!
Look at the wedding photographer’s gallery. Imagine being a part of the weddings. Look at the images that the photographer shares. A gallery is a photographer’s business card. The images that are shared in the portfolio and gallery are the ones that the photographer loves most. If those images don’t resonate with you, that might not be the right photographer for you. How do the images make you feel? Are they “just okay?” That might not be the right photographer for you. Don’t settle for “just okay” wedding photography. Trust your instincts.
Established Wedding Photographers Aren’t Afraid to Say “No”
Established wedding photographers are not afraid of saying “no” to potential clients. The idea of specializing applies to almost any niche business type. Well-established wedding photographers know what they want. They have a certain niche market defined through style, personality, and client profiles.
We call it an “ideal client profile,” and you may or may not be part of it. It’s like any other service or product on the market. Some wedding photographers specialize to a very narrow scope, and that’s fine. They have years of experience and a comprehensive understanding of their client’s needs. Many times, this explains why some photographers charge in the range of $1500-$2500 while others in the range of $4000-$7000 and even some photographers with packages over $10000. They’ve taken the time and the care to fine-tune their skill, their equipment, and their style to support that niche.
Expectations are set early in the process and they are referred to often. When you find the right wedding photographer, setting expectations will be one of the most important initial discussions to have. And don’t be afraid to ask tough questions!
The biggest mistake is to put all photographers in the same bucket. There are literally hundreds of styles to investigate and they come at many, many price points. Experienced photographers create consistent work in a less than ideal environment. When you fit into their ideal client profile, their style and their personality align with your needs. That makes it easy to rely on them, and they will mostly not disappoint. Don’t be afraid to invest in a professional wedding photographer to ensure you aren’t disappointed in the images you receive.
Do your Homework
If you are simply looking for any photographer, then you will price shop and find something that is closest to your budget and style. If you want to book a photographer that matches your vision, it’s important to understand that you will not find it in studios or freelancers that appeal to masses. You will get generic results—it’s a fact! Just like a banquet hall that does the same thing with the same meal wedding after wedding after wedding, hiring a mass-market wedding photographer will get you the same thing.
Don’t expect custom-fit results from photographers or studios that do high volume photography. You simply set yourself up for disappointment if you don’t understand the difference between these two types of photographers.
Do your homework and avoid disappointment. It’s very much avoidable. Look at their style, browse through their galleries, and find a connection. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to the wrong wedding photographer so you can make sure you find the right wedding photographer.
Weddings are so different from one to another. As a professional wedding photographer in Los Angeles, I approach each wedding as unique. I pledge my full technical and creative skills to obtain the highest quality results that my clients love. If you are looking for more information, please reach out. I would love the opportunity to learn more about you, your wedding and your story.