Everyone tells me I should write a book! I would call it “The secrets of a wedding photographer” and it would include stories about the time I accidentally set a timeline on fire (very small) and the time the police were called to break up an actual fight at a wedding. While I was thinking about all the fun events that have taken place over the years, I realized that I am now an expert at helping couples choose the best wedding photographer in Savannah, Ga. Working with photographer friends and learning what they include in their packages, almost gives me “insider knowledge” that couples aren’t privy to. Knowing the secret questions to ask and what to look for will make choosing the best photographer pretty simple. Let’s get started.
Look at their reviews. If your entire wedding day is more than 2 hours, then you really want (and need) an experienced photographer. (If less than 2 hours, then that’s an elopement and you should check this blog out) Word of mouth reviews are amazing but hopping on Google and seeing what couples from all over the nation said about your photographer can really help point you in the direction you need to go. Google actually allows for someone to leave a review anonymously so you should feel confident that the majority of the comments are legit and up to date. You will see how experienced your photographer is by the amount and quality of reviews. Some couples love to share their good (and bad) experiences and if your photographer did an amazing job, then you’ll be able to read the excitement that you will also feel after the wedding day. Even bad reviews are great! I was so upset when someone just put a 3 Star review with no explanation as a review. The name didn’t ring a bell and I responded by asking them if they had the right photographer and what could I have done to make their experience better since I had no idea who they were. They never responded (as of writing this, I have 158 reviews and a 5-star rating) but I received more positive feedback from couples from that 3 Star review! Why? I think most people are like me, they want to read bad reviews! C’mon, I can’t be the only one? So while they were looking for a bad review, they came across the 3 Star review, saw that there wasn’t any reason for it and I responded professionally so even if it was warranted, they knew that I would try my best to make it right. Don’t let one or two bad reviews keep you from hiring someone, everyone makes mistakes but read both sides and give each the benefit of the doubt.
- Ask secret questions. What are “secret questions?” These are questions only photographers would know to ask and I’m about to spill the secrets. Did you know that some photographers *do not* give you high-resolution downloads? I give the full resolution to all my clients but some photographers don’t and you may have to purchase those right separately and you don’t want to find this out after the wedding so ask “Do I get the full resolution rights to my photos?” The second question you really want to ask is “Can I see a wedding from start to finish?” This is such an important question because most of the time you only see what the photographer wants you to see and their full weddings are locked away from your view. Most of my couples do not require a password and allow me to share their full day on my website. Lighting changes so drastically throughout the day that your photographer needs to have the proper equipment to adjust to these variations. You want to see a bride in natural daylight getting ready then on to afternoon (high noon) light and on to inside or outside ceremony to the end sparkler exit. There are several types of photographers out there and you’ll see some that say “natural light photographer”. I use flash photography and natural light. I honestly do not know how to do an amazing sparkler exit without flash! I love the way flash illuminates the reception and accentuates the couple so that is why I prefer flash. These photos were taken at Red Gate Farms at night so you can see how beautiful the flash can bring out the best aspect of any background. See their full day here: Krystle and Jeff’s wedding at Red Gate Farms. After you’ve looked through your possible photographer’s full day wedding photos, the next question you wouldn’t think to ask would be “How do you make sure you take the photos we want?” This is probably the most important question before deciding on the best wedding photographer for you because even after you see all the pretty photos and read the great reviews, you need to make sure your photographer is a nice mix of confidence and kindness. He or she needs to command a crowd without making the kids cry. How will they know and remember all your family photos and make sure to get a photo of the cuff links? I do a personalized timeline with every booking and I wear a playlist on my arm with your timeline typed up neatly, copies of photos you are requesting and a list of family dynamics so all you two have to do is stand there, have a drink and look gorgeous. Here is a photo of a wedding couple and my timeline, it’s my signature for weddings and if you check out the reviews, it works rather perfectly. Make sure your wedding photographer has a great personality but can also control the photo scene or you may be left without specific photos you really wanted.
- Talk to your other vendors. This might be a little more difficult so you may have to use a bit of finesse when it comes to finding out how well your other vendors work with your photographer. When you ask the question to your wedding planner or venue director “Have you ever worked with ____photographer?” If your photographer is absolutely wonderful to work with then most of the time you will get a resounding “Oh I LOVE them!”. If they aren’t really that great to work with (move furniture and don’t put it back, take too long for photos and make dinner late, etc) then you probably won’t hear anything negative since we all have to work together long after your wedding is over.
- How good are they about following a timeline? So just to give you another little secret, your wedding photographer pretty much sets the timeline. We photographers have to make sure all the family, wedding party, decor and formal photos are complete before we get to the reception. I personally do not like to take more than 30 mins at a time after the ceremony for photos because I feel like I am taking away time with your friends and family. If I am encouraged and allowed, then I will take as much time as you’d like but there are lots of things we can do prior and with the help of a 2nd photographer to make sure things run smoothly and we get all the photos. Following a timeline is so important for many of your vendors that you may not have thought about. The caterer wants your food served hot and delicious as it impacts their reputation so sticking to the timeline is crucial. Most DJs I’ve worked with are a little more adaptable, however, they also have to fit in several firsts dances, barter, bouquet, cake cutting, the toast plus they really want to get the dance party started. If things run late, then you will have to cut something short.
- Do they offer an additional service? Some photographers offer video or planning services to include in their package. We offer a photo booth – whatever you want, you might want to find a photographer who will combine a service, album, or feature that you are really interested in because normally you can save a few dollars or receive an extra item. Dream Weaver Photos will give a free memory book with a photo booth rental if you book our photography services and we will also offer an engagement session as well. It never hurts to ask!
I actually have a lot of advice for you but I’m tired of writing and you might be tired of reading this so how about a chat? Just give me a call 912.484.7990