Besides the dress, the photographer is the thing I knew I would be most particular about when it came to wedding planning. I love photography myself and take alottttt more pictures than the average person for my blog. I am particular about backgrounds, lighting, positioning, editing, etc. Therefore, when it came to choosing a photographer, I knew the vibe I wanted. We narrowed it down about three who had gorgeous photos and styles. We ultimately made our decision based off a few main factors: style, experience, price, and personality. I’ll talk about each below, as long as some questions you should consider asking your photographer before signing on the dotted line and sealing the deal.
These days, its rather easier to stalk your potential photographer on social media and on their website or blog to get a good idea of their style. Personally, I like images that are bright, full of natural light, and crisp. I love editorial images and am obsessed with good candid shots. I like classic, modern, and nothing cheesy. I had a good idea of photographers I was interested in just based off of images I had seen in the past, so I at least had a starting point on to whom I would reach out.
After narrowing it down to a few options based on the style you like, the next things to consider are experience, versatility, price, and availability. For us, willingness to travel was also important.
I definitely want to feel at ease on my wedding day. I don’t want to worry if my photographer has a back up battery (and the correct adapter to charge it with in Italy) or if they had all the memory cards in order. We just wanted to know it would be all good in the end and feel relief. A destination wedding, especially one in Italy, is unique and will require someone who is willing to go a little bit further to help us capture these once in a lifetime images.
A lot of factors went into this for us. It’s ultimately personal, but be sure that you’re getting the best deal possible, but also that you consider what you’re paying for. More experience tends to cost more, as does a second shooter, longer shooting times, and quicker turn around. If someone is way outside of your price range, don’t over extend yourself. Also, if someone is way under what you expected to pay, consider why.
This is the biggest for me. I learned this early on, but blogging has only reminded me of the importance of this. Chemistry between you and your photographer is really important. I need someone care free who I can have fun with to get the best images. I need someone I can trust. I also need someone to tell me when I look awkward, or to hold my shoulders back, or to hold my arm out a little more, or that my eyes are squinty. My feelings can be set aside, as when I’m in shooting mode, I want the best images possible. When I’ve shot with someone who I felt like was in a bad mood or was kinda ‘meh’ about something, my photos just don’t look the same. I can tell when it was an ‘off’ day for me and someone based on how the images come out. If someone makes me feel bad for asking them to take another photo or double checking that my arm didn’t look bigger than it is or that my hands weren’t awkward, then I’ll go into my shell and not want to communicate what I really want. It will also show in the pictures. Plus, that’s just not fun!
Anddd now, to share the amazing person who checked every box for us: Stephanie Parsley (seen above in her element with her amazing red hair). I love that fun twist that she will bring to our images from her experience not only with weddings, but with fashion. I also love that she’ll be able to use that experience to help us achieve gorgeous, unique, editorial style photos with it. She was absolutely willing to work with us to make what we hoped for work. SO many things came into play, but truthfully, what photographer doesn’t want to shoot a wedding in Italy? I mean hellloo portfolio images. This with Stephanie leads me into the personality aspect. I’ve actually not even met her yet, but I feel like I have. From our first e-mail, she radiating eagerness and excitement over our wedding plans that I couldn’t help but get more excited myself. Our interactions over social media and when communicating just makes me feel comfortable. She has made me so excited for our time working together! We’ll be meeting (Finally!) in just a few weeks to take some engagement photos. We really don’t feel like we have to have any since we’ve already sent out save the dates (and invitations), but think it will be fun to shoot with her prior to arriving in Italy. From the time I first saw her work, I knew I loved her style and I feel so confident that we made the best decision for us and our unique wedding! I meann just look at these amazing photos?! I LOVE them.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
What inspires you?
This helps take the ‘style’ question one step further. Sure, someone’s style is romantic. But, if they are inspired by greenery or by the small details, it gives you a better idea of what sort of photos you can expect from your wedding day.
How many weddings have you shot?
I can only speak for myself, but I wouldn’t want to be someone’s first few weddings unless I was getting a BIG, BIG price cut. If they have a battery that dies or lose a USB card what would happen? Sure, you can do a pretend exit again or pretend to toss your bouquet, but your FIRST kiss, a sweet moment between your husband and his mother, or cutting the cake can’t be recreated in a genuine way. You want to be sure that someone has good experience so that you are getting your monies worth and can rest assured that all the little things that could be overlooked, aren’t.
Have you ever shot at my venue before?
It can be helpful if your photographer has shot at your venue before simply for logistics purposes. They’ll know the lighting, where the best photos are, and how to navigate the space. If not, it’s not biggie. BUT, be sure they are willing to do their research. In my case with a destination wedding, we’ll be spending time at my venue in the days leading up so my photographer can scope it out. There are a few spots around Florence we want to take photos at the day before our wedding and right after, so scouting those spots out at the exact time (due to high tourist numbers) will be important to ensure we can actually get the shots we envision. Working closely with your photographer in any situation will help ensure it all runs smoothly and you can utilize your space (or location) as you hoped.
What is NOT included in my desired package?
I’ve had a few friends get to the part of ordering pictures to realize their contract did not include the little detail of getting images printed. Whether they wanted all of their images on a drive to print themselves or wanted to order them through the photographer, make sure you ask about this! This can add up fast. Some of my friends who did not understand this fully felt really cheated. I’m sure from a photographer’s viewpoint it’s frustrating if someone does not read the contract fully to understand this prior, too. Be sure to also ask if you have to order prints through them, how much they are, and whether or not you’ll receive an album.
How many hours does my package include? How much is an extra hour?
If the party is awesome and someone pays the DJ to stay on longer or whatever.. and you decide you want your photographer longer. You want to know ahead of time how much this will cost.
What if it rains?
Your wedding photographer should assure you that even in the event of inclement weather (I went to college with a girl who had snow on her wedding day in Arkansas in the month of MAY) that they will beautifully capture the day.
Is there anything you won’t do or something that costs extra?
Sure, you booked them for 10 hours on the day of and in your mind that includes the exit, but I know of photographers who won’t do exits with sparklers. If they do, they will charge extra because they have been burned one too many times. Be sure you clarify ahead of time!
Do you work from a shot list?
If the answer is yes, be sure that you can add to that list as you want. For example, you may have a unique friend or family situation that might not be typical and you want to ensure you get that shot, so communicating that ahead of time is important for planning purposes. If you say you don’t want pictures with all extended family, but then change your mind the day of, that could really affect timing. Try to think of the images you want ahead of time and communicate that with your photographer. If they do work from a shot list, ask to see it so that you can think about it and add to it (or take away) as you wish! Also, be sure that they will accommodate your need for specific photos. I witnessed a photographer snap at a bride once and say ‘I don’t do that shot. I’ve shot weddings before, I know what to take.’ I was kinda floored. I get that this is their area, but I also can’t imagine being accommodating and ensuring the bride and groom get the shots they want.
How many images can I expect to receive from my wedding?
If someone shoots for 8 hours but they only take 100 photos, is that really going to capture it all? I’ve read that photographers for an 8 hour time frame should take between 1200 and 1500 images and that you might see anywhere from 200 to 500 of those images.
Do you have a limit on the number of images you will edit?
This answer should be no in my opinion. If you want additional photos, I would hope they would get those to you. Be sure to ask if this results in an additional cost outside of how many they tell you to expect to receive.
Do you use a second shooter?
If you’re not seeing your groom until you walk down the aisle, how will you decide if you want you walking down the aisle or his face when you do? A second shooter can ensure that you get both of these images! Your package will likely specify this, but ask if not.
How long will it take for me to see my images?
Ummm you’re clearly going to be dying to see them. You don’t wanna wait 10 months. Get a time frame and find out if you’ll see a preview. To me, they should be so darn excited about what they’ve created and to share that with you that they can’t helppp but give you a preview. In the age of social media, who doesn’t want a teaser image to share shortly after their wedding anyways?!
What happens in the event of an emergency?
Obviously no one wants to even think about this, but stuff happens. If your photographer ends up in a sticky situation they can’t control, what will the backup plan be?
What is your cancellation policy?
Again, because stuff happens.
Other questions that might be important to consider depending on your specific wedding: Do you have insurance? What will you wear? How will you deliver the photos? Do you bring your own lighting?
Side note: Almost every one of these questions were included in the package and general information provided by my photographer when I reached out to her. Others I talked to had similar information, but some did not. To me, this may show experience or willingness to disclose and be upfront. I was glad to not have to ask so many questions and have the answers to many provided and be able to ultimately decide on what package and details would be best for us with the help of our photographer.
Stephanie, you are already a dream and I can’t wait for you to shoot our wedding!! If you’re not following her on Instagram, add her ASAP for some serious inspiration (not just with weddings, but with the most amazing fashion and editorial photos) here.
All photos from this post are from Stephanie Parsley‘s site, blog, or social media. Thanks for letting me stalk you!