Decisions decisions: how do I go about picking a photographer when there are so many to choose from?
Back when I first started my photography business, I took a workshop from the great and ridiculously talented Henry Chen. He was our wedding photographer and had grown to be a great friend and mentor. During this extremely informative workshop (hey Henry, you doing any workshops anytime soon??), Henry said to me, “I know you’re going to make it because of your personality. You enjoy working with people and providing them with the best service possible…. now go buy a full frame camera!”
Well, I did end up buying a full frame (what took me so long?!) (and let’s be honest, I have 3 full frames now) but what stuck with me was his comment about personality. Back when Lysander and I were looking at wedding photographers, we had NO idea where to start. So we did what everyone does, we started with budget. And we went low.
Shorty got low low low low low low low low.
Our budget wasn’t super high and we first went with someone who we weren’t crazy about but the budget was right. We ended up having an engagement session with them and it was…. uncomfortable. Awkward. At the end of our two hour session, our photographer said he was exhausted. Not the best start to our working relationship.
We ended up letting them go and going back to our original, first choice photographer Henry with a higher budget. He was just worth it to us. His personality made us realize he wouldn’t let us down. He knew what to do and never let us see him sweat, or worry.
I try to emulate this every time I’m shooting, not just weddings but every event I photograph. As a photographer, the best asset and equipment you have in your bag is YOU. Of course you should know how to use your camera. Of course you should have great gear. But great gear doesn’t make a photographer. It helps, certainly. But people will always remember how you made them FEEL. That you didn’t rush them, or roll your eyes at their suggestion. Honestly, when a couple suggests a picture that I didn’t even think to take it more often than not ends up being one of my favorites.
This post is both for photographers and prospective brides and grooms. I think it’s important to be transparent about this business for both sides. Yes, it IS a business and it’s one that I take seriously. I’ve never loved a job more than I love being a photographer. It is a lot of work. But it is some of the best and most fun work I’ve ever done. I feel like this comes across when I’m shooting, whether it be a wedding or a university event.
You can tell when someone loves their job. You can tell that even though they are tired, been on their feet all day without a break, are ready for a snack and a sip of water… they are LOVING what they do. And this is who photographers should strive to be. This is who you should look for when hiring a photographer. Someone who will calm you down when those wedding day nerves kick in. Someone who will help you with posing when you’re unsure what to do with your hands. Someone who will dance right alongside your uncle who can’t wait until the dance floor opens.
Someone who does what it takes to get the shot. A photographer who shows up early, just so your fears are relieved. Someone who is rooting for you, making sure your big day is everything it should be. Someone who is ready for not only all the big moments, but the small ones that happen throughout the day. You shouldn’t be worried about any vendor, but the one who should give you the least amount of worry is your photographer.
Get to know your vendors before booking them. Talk to them, Skype with them, meet them in person. Your photographer is the vendor that will be with you the WHOLE DAY. You need to click. You need to be comfortable. Sometimes you just know. And know that if I’m your photographer, I’m all in. I’m there when you’re getting your hair done and there when you cut your cake.