What to Look for in a Wedding Photographer

Hey there! This is the first article in the series "What to look for in a..." I've been talking to several industry professionals and each week, I will publish another article in the series.

Wedding planning can be hard and annoying. I know, I'm going through it as well! So, hopefully I can take some of the stress off of you by giving you valuable information.

This series will help you know what to look for when hiring different vendors. I had each vendor answer a few questions that will give you insight into how his or her business is run and what you should keep in mind when looking to hire that particular vendor.

First up is me! Hi, my name is Elizabeth. If you're on my site, you can see all about me on the right side of the screen.

Three fun facts:

  1. I like cats. A lot. If I could be a cat when I grow up, I probably would.
  2. I'm probably the most sarcastic person you will ever meet.
  3. I've been to 49 states, soon to be 50!




How far in advance do you usually book up?

This varies based on every photographer. I personally book 9-12 months in advance. Since so much goes into wedding photography, it’s always helpful when we have plenty of time to build a timeline together and get engagement pictures done in time to send out save the dates. That being said, I’m more than happy to book a wedding with only a couple months’ notice. If I have the date open and you’re looking for a photographer, I’d be happy to talk even if you’re getting married next month. However, if you are getting married on a Saturday in the fall, you will want to have that date secured at least a year in advance!

How many months before the wedding do you recommend couples book you? Why?

I always recommend booking a photographer as soon as you have a date and venue in place. Since photography is a huge decision, it’s better to start early so you have plenty of time to decide on a photographer who is the perfect fit for you.

How many weddings do you do per day/per weekend?

I only shoot one wedding per day because I’m only one person. For how many weddings I do per weekend, it depends on how much I want to torture myself. I thrive on adrenaline and weddings give me that rush, so I’ve done three weddings (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) in a weekend before. Typically, I max out with two and the majority of weekends will only have one.

What do you want couples to keep in mind when researching your service/others offering the same service?

Not all photographers are created equal. What is their style? There’s three primary styles in wedding photography: dark and moody, light and airy, and real and vibrant. I consider myself real and vibrant, so make sure the photographer’s style matches your vision for the day.

Not all pricing is created equal either. Pricing is a very annoying subject and it’s been beaten dead by so many photographers. Just keep in mind, you get what you pay for. The average photographer in Kansas City will charge between $2000--$4000 for all day coverage.

Finally keep in mind, what type of images you are wanting on your wedding day? Are you wanting night pictures? Are you wanting to capture the beautiful sunset? Are you wanting bright and colorful images with soft, golden light? Make sure your photographer has the gear and skill level necessary to achieve those type of shots.

What are some of the most common/most important questions to ask about your service?

Are there any additional fees in your pricing? It is always important to ask your photographer in your consultation if there are any additional fees or if everything is included in the package price. Ask if tax is included.

How long will it take to get my pictures? Always a great question and make sure it says delivery times in the photographer’s contract. I can guarantee you will get your pictures 4-6 weeks after your wedding, but I have never delivered a wedding later than three weeks post wedding.

Are all the pictures edited? Do you give all the pictures? As I said above, every photographer edits in different ways. Some add a batch preset to every photo and move on. Others take hours to smooth skin and remove every blemish. Some people want a photographer who smooths out everything. If you do, make sure to ask about that! No professional photographer will ever give you unedited photos.

What do you wish every couple knew about your service/wedding planning in general?

Book everything as soon as you possibly can. You may think a year is too far in advance. It’s not. The most coveted vendors will book extremely quickly. I can’t count the number of times when someone inquired early and decided to follow up a few months later. By that time, I was already booked. If you like someone, book them before it’s too late.

Make sure you like who your photographer is as a person! You will be spending a huge chunk of your engaged time with this person, so make sure you get along and enjoy spending time with him/her. Your photographer will be with you through your entire wedding day, you’ll exchange countless emails before your day, you’ll meet for a consultation, and you’ll meet for an engagement session. Their work might be the most beautiful thing you have ever seen, but if you don’t like who they are, you won’t enjoy the experience as much as you should.

How many hours overall would you say you spend on each wedding?

Besides wedding planners, photographers have the most detailed jobs before, during, and after the wedding day. Before the wedding, I meet with each client to determine if we’re a good fit. After we decide to work together, I’ll send the couple an engagement questionnaire. This allows me to get to know them best. I don’t like simply showing up and taking pictures. I want to get to know my clients. A few weeks later, we’ll typically have the engagement session. This is 1-2 hours where I really get to know what works for you. Leading up to the wedding day, I’ll send you another wedding questionnaire to get every detail of your wedding day straight. Using this information, I’ll put together a custom photography timeline. This will help everything run on schedule the day of and keep track of all your must have shots. In the two weeks before your wedding, we are constantly communicating.

During the wedding day, I’ll spend more time with you than anyone else. I’ll arrive shortly after you do and leave right before you do. I’ll keep you on schedule, fluff your dress when necessary, carry your drink, and do whatever you need me to do. That is, of course, on top of taking thousands of photos to best document your day.

The real fun begins after the wedding day. I’ll narrow down all your photos to the best of the best and carefully edit each one. I’ll write a blog post about your day. I’ll create your online gallery. And finally, I’ll send you all your pictures and nervously wait for you to tell me if you like them. I probably spend about 40 hours on each wedding.

What’s your favorite part of the wedding planning process?

I guess my favorite part of the planning would be helping you with your timeline. Most brides have no clue what they’re doing. I’ve done this a few times, so I love seeing the sense of relief when I help figure out all the important scheduling details.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning their weddings?

Don’t stress the small details too much. Let’s be honest. After the wedding day, everything is going to be a blur. You’re going to remember your day through pictures. If one centerpiece is messed up, don’t worry about it. If your dress gets dirty or ripped, your photographer will work around it and you won’t even remember that happened by the time you get your pictures. Leave it to your photographer to capture all the details you want to remember.

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Elizabeth is a Kansas City wedding photographer who specializes in bright and airy images.

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