I blinked, and sure enough, it’s here! Engagement season is upon us in full force, and if you’re one of the lovestruck couples diving into all the frilly details of wedding planning, I’m sure you know first hand that it can all feel overwhelming. While I couldn’t tell you eggshell from ivory, I am an expert on wedding photography. So, now that you’ve said ‘yes!’ to the human of your dreams, I hope you’ll let me help you find the wedding photographer of your dreams!
Below, I’ve compiled a list of 5 simple guidelines to help you find the right west coast wedding photographer to document your unique and extraordinary wedding day.
Photographers are not a one-size-fits-all, so it’s important to ask yourself this: “Do I love their work?” Yes, it really is that simple. If you book a photographer that specializes in sunny California beach weddings, don’t expect them to be the ideal choice for a dark and moody Portland wedding (unless their portfolio shows this level of variety). When you request a style that is totally outside your photographer’s preferred style, you won’t get their best. Find a photographer with a portfolio full of images that you love and that match the vision you have for your wedding day.
Tip: Photographers often only show their favorite images in their galleries, so explore their blog page to see what a full wedding looks like. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on their blog, ask them for a full wedding preview. Chances are they have one or two client galleries they’ll be happy to show you.
Ask yourself this: “If I was stuck on a boat with this person, would I want to jump ship?” Having let’s-stay-for-dessert chemistry with your wedding photographer is extremely important. Your photographer is the person you’ll see the most on your wedding day, possibly even more than you’ll see your fiancé! Your photographer will be there for the totality of your day. They’ll be photographing your intimate moments, your what-am-I-forgetting jitters, your private displays of affection, the flush of pride on your brother’s face, your friend’s uninhibited dance moves after a few too many cocktails, and all the moments in between; this is why it is so important to meet your photographer in person before you book them. Hang out, drink some coffee, chat about life and hobbies. Photographers are people too ☺. Make sure your photographer is a good match for you, and that you leave your meeting excited to see them again on your wedding day.
(Bonus points if it’s truly a match made in heaven and you want to hang out with your photographer after your wedding day! New friends are the best!)
Tip: If you’re hiring someone who doesn’t live nearby, schedule a phone call or a Google Hangout session. Virtual meetings can be just as good as a one- on- one meeting.
You wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that gave all your friends food poisoning, neither should you hire a photographer with a roster of unsatisfied customers. Do your research and ask around. What do other people say about their experience with the photographer? Does the photographer have 5-gold-star glowing reviews, or are their reviews peppered with complaints or mentions of late images or poor communication? Keep in mind that one less-than-stellar review shouldn’t count them out, but be mindful if you see a pattern.
Your wedding day is not the best day to let your 16-year-old niece play wedding photographer. Even if you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to prioritize finding a photographer who has experience shooting weddings. Weddings are complicated events that require proficiency in many different types of photography. Your photographer must be able to adapt to different types lighting, use special equipment, take glowing portraits, sneaky candids, and tight detail shots. Consider which photographs are most important to you; whether it’s documentary-style images from the reception, epic bridal portraits after the ceremony, or wild candids on the dance floor, and make sure your photographer has been in the industry long enough to understand the process and deliver the images you’ll cherish the most.
Wedding days can be stressful, and the last thing you need is for your photographer to add negative or anxious energy to the emotional cocktail. Find someone who can go with the flow and keep you informed of the timeline without holding you to it at the cost of your sanity. Hire a photographer who can guide you through the day, without making his or her agenda the primary focal point of the wedding. As wedding photographers, our job is to observe, document, accentuate the beautiful moments, and to create beauty out of (potential) chaos; the best photographers can do this without losing their cool.
Now, Find Your West Coast Wedding Photographer!
When the last sparkler from your reception exit has burned out, and your friends and family have all gone home, your love, memories, and photos will remain as a reminder of your special day. Planning a wedding can be stressful, but finding someone who will put your mind at ease and capture the essence of your day through beautiful photos, shouldn’t be.
If you are planning your wedding in Portland, California, Washington, or in any other lovely location and you think we would be a good fit, reach out to me!