What NEVER to do when selecting a wedding photographer
Straight off the bat, let me throw a hypothetical at you (I won’t throw too hard I swear). You are boarding a flight to Mexico, maybe you’re running from the mafia, maybe you’re going on holidays, who knows. As you board the plane, the flight attendant comes over to you and asks you to select who will pilot the plane. She puts in front of you a list of 200 pilots. All she tells you is how much they get paid on an hourly rate, for which you need to pay. Nothing about expertise, nothing about experience, and certainly nothing about training. Do you feel a little stumped? You probably want more information, right? After all, this person is being tasked with carrying a metal box thousands of kilometers through the sky, safely to your destination. Your life is literally in their hands.
So you ask for more information. Why? Because you need it in order to determine which pilot offers the most value in terms of your flight. You don’t want someone who has never flown a plane before and is super cheap, do you? I don’t! I am terrified of flying, so I would be going right to the pointy end of the top earners, looking for experience and knowledge.
So, James…what is the point of all this I hear you saying? Thank you for asking friend. This example, albeit slightly exaggerated, is not too different from the process you go through when choosing a wedding photographer. So let’s uncover why. Lets uncover what never to do when selecting a wedding photographer. Here are the two biggest points!
Never select a photographer based on price
Let me explain. So a photographer might not have your life in their hands, that’s true. But what do they have? Your memories! Forever, in their hands. When we pick up the camera at your big day, we have only one shot, like the pilot. If we stuff it up, yes you won’t plummet out of the sky, but imagine the feeling you would get if all your wedding photos were rubbish, or even lost. It would almost feel like you were dying, I know, I have spoken to brides first hand who have gone through this (not with me). Ask anyone who has had this happen, and now has no wedding photos of the biggest day of their life, and see what they say.
I’m not trying to compare what we do to pilots, what I am trying to explain, is that what we do is extremely important. As with any important decision, there should always be more components in making the decision than price alone.
What is the value? That is what needs to be understood. What does this photographer add to your day, that another photographer might not? Do you really get along with them? Do they have years and years of experience? Have they got hundreds of positive reviews which give you confidence in them? Whatever it is, these things need to be assessed. On top of this, what are they offering. Sure, I could become the cheapest photographer, but I would have to strip a lot of my services back. Does this photographer meet with you for a consult? Do they do a pre wedding meeting? Do they design you a timeline, and help you stick top it to ensure a smooth wedding day? What about wedding albums, are they providing one (these can be super expensive purchased outside of a wedding package)? Did they offer an engagement session to get to know you better?
I could go on, obviously, but you get the point. Price is one factor to consider, yes. We all have budgets, money does have its limits, and you need to set a limit. Set a budget and stick to it. What to do next, is then find photographers you like, and ask the above questions. Weight it up, and select the person who ticks the most boxes, and meets your budget.
Don’t shortlist too many photographers
This one is a short one. Why? I have a significantly more detailed article on this, which you can find here. But, let me give you the gist of it. It is what they call the paradox of choice. As humans, we are a weird bunch. We crave choice, and options, yet they actually paralyse us. How many times have you gone into a store to buy a chocolate, and when faced with 50 different bars, you get flustered and don’t know what to pick. After a few minutes you just select one, you eat it, and are left wondering if one of the other ones would have been better.
This is paradox of choice, turn buyers remorse. It is so unbelievably common in our society. I get it all the time! Usually about small things, but nonetheless. So what has that got to do with wedding photography? When you select a shortlist of all the photographers who fit into the criteria we outlined above, if you give yourself too many options, you are setting yourself up for a world of hurt. Not only will you struggle to choose one, because lets face it, they are all obviously good. But after the day, when you get your photos back, you will still be seeing all the other photographers work on socials, on your insta and pinterest (unless you immediately unfollow them…which you won’t). Now you’re starting to wonder if they would have done a better job. You love one of their recent weddings, and kind of wish your photos looked like that.
Take them out of the equation and you would probably be stoked with your images. Trust me, it happens to us all. But if possible, you want to avoid this kind of feeling. It is going to make your wedding day, and planning process, a whole lot more stressful.
TLDR – For the lazy reader
Two simple points for ensuring you pick the right wedding photographer. (1) Do not select a wedding photographer based on price. Select a wedding photographer based on a variety of criteria, price being one. Determine their value, and weigh them against one another, selecting on that. And (2), make sure not to shortlist too many photographers. People often get so excited they shortlist every photographer in the world. Then the arduous task of culling and selecting kicks in. Avoid this from the start by following the above criteria for shortlisting.
It isn’t rocket science, but I can understand how it can become daunting, and how people can make this process more difficult on themselves. Do yourself a favour, and really pay attention to the advice given above. My goal isn’t to book you all, and take all your money. My goal is to ensure that anyone reading this, gets the best wedding photographer for them, be that me or anyone else. If you have any questions, please comment below or shoot me an email and I am happy to answer them!