So you’ve found your venue, now what?  Well it’s time for you to find your perfect photographer!  I know this sounds stressful, well I guess it is kind of a stressful thing, but no worries!  I am here to help!  

After your big day has come and gone, you will have your new amazing husband, the top of the cake in your freezer, your dress in a box that you will eventually get tired of moving from closet to closet, and your wedding photos. Now let’s take that a step further... think about what you want your grandchildren to see, even your great grandchildren.  Photography should last more than one life time, and will eventually be someone’s most treasured possession. This is also why it’s important in this digital age to print your photos, not just keep them on a usb or disk somewhere, buttttt I wont get tooo carried away on that.... that’s another blog for another day!

Ok, so now that I’ve probably made you a little more anxious about your wedding photography let’s move on to something that will actually help make this process a little smoother!  As a wedding tog, a past event planner, a former bride, and a lover of all of my great grandmothers old photos, I’ve come up with a few tips and things to think about when hiring a wedding photographer!

  1. Personality - I don’t care how gorgeous or trendy someone’s photos are, if you don’t like them/mesh well with the photographer.  DON’T hire them!  You will spend the biggest/happiest/most stressful day with this person by your side.  Look for someone you genuinely enjoy laughing with and working with.  Make sure they are organized.  Now I’m not talking like color coded and alphabetized gear or anything, I mean we are artist and can be a little scatter brained/messy sometimes, but if your tog shows up to meet you for coffee and has papers and random stuff flying everywhere when they open their bag, you might want to take that into consideration. 

  1. Contracts - Yes... I said the big scary word.  Just remember the contract protects you and the photographer and should set all expectations up front on what you are paying for and what you are getting.  Also make sure that it is very clear in your contract when you receive your photos back, and that you go over it in detail with the photographer before signing it.

  1. Style - Find a photographer that fits your style.  Think about how the photos will look in your house and how they will look 5, 10, 25, 100 years from now.  Will this photographers work still bring you joy at your 50th wedding anniversary or will you regret choosing someone who is shooting in the latest instagram filter stylings?

  1. Do Your Homework! - Read reviews, stalk their Instagram and facebook pages.  Check places like The Knot and Wedding Wire even the BBB Website for reviews.  Also while looking at The Knot and Wedding Wire, remember that it is a very expensive paid advertising website... Those places on the front page are paying lots of cash to be on the front page, and it doesn’t matter if they’ve had a camera for 2 weeks or 20 years... anyone can pay to be a “featured” member. 

  1. Meet them! - Grab some coffee and get to know your tog!  Trust us... most of us live on caffeine so we will have no objection!  Make sure they are a real person, and go back to the personality section to make sure you will be a good fit!

  1. Packages - Most photographers will have packages already setup ranging from around 6-12 hours.  If you a planning a smaller event like a backyard wedding, elopement, or a sweet and easy courthouse affair let us know!  Most photographers can customize something just for you.  Also a lot of photographers will offer discounts during their off season, so just remember it never hurts to ask!  Since this falls into the money category, make sure to ask about retainers and when your final payment will be due.  It’s standard to have to pay a percentage or set amount to book and hold your date and to pay before the day of the wedding.  My personal standard is 25% down to hold the date with the remaining balance due 30 days before your wedding.

  1. Timeline/Lighting/Wedding Planning - It’s good to have an idea of how you want your day to flow when you start talking with photographers.  I’ve had brides want outdoor photos of the wedding party at 7pm in December and it’s already dark.  Your photographer should be able to tell you based off of your date what times will be best for outdoor shots.  Also, if you are getting married indoors or in a dark location, be sure to share that with your photographer and ask to see photos of their work in similar lighting situations or venues. 

  1. RAWS/JPEGS/Printing/Photo Rights - Lord have mercy... someone somewhere wrote that brides should ask their photographer for ALL of the raw photos.... Dont do that.  I’m pretty sure most people do not even know what a RAW file is and if you do not have the appropriate software you cant even open the file, much less print it.  Photographers that deliver digital files, will deliver them in JPEG format, and they will pick the best of the best images from your day to edit and deliver.  Trust me.... you do not want EVERY photo.  We spend hours and hours looking through and picking out the best of the best for you.  We delete the ones with blinks, blurs, unflattering shots, and we promise you don’t want them.  On this same note... don’t ask for the unedited photos... would you call your baker and ask for an unfinished cake?  I didn’t think so... same goes for photographers.  Let us do what you are paying us to do.  Photographers also aren’t in the business to not give you good shots.  We want you to have every usable shot that we take!  Also...  let’s break down copyright vs print release.  Whoever takes the photo.... Ipad, iphone, point and shoot, or my baby the Sony a7iii owns the copyright.  That’s the law.  We don’t give our copyrights away, but we do give you permission to print them!  There’s a difference, it doesn’t really mean much to the random consumer, but to photographers there’s a difference.  

  1. Other Randoms:  Insurance, most professional photographers will carry liability insurance and many venues will require them to have it.  Prints, Albums, Ect. - We love to print your work.  Yes you have a print release and can go to Walmart, but whyyyyyy.  The quality is horrible, and we totally understand that you might need to save a little cash after spending so much on a wedding, but even if you don’t print with us, we can probably point you in a much better direction than your local Walmart or drug store.  Engagements and Bridals, do them!  You will love them, plus it gives you a chance to work with your photographer before your big day!

Whew... I think I’ve covered everything!  If you are still here, thank you and I hope this helps you navigate this part of your wedding planning!


Ashley Saed

Owner/Lead Photographer

Living Tree Designs