I’ve been seeing so many sparkly rings pop into my feed and that could only mean one thing: ENGAGEMENT SEASON! I know there are SO many couples out there who are just wondering where to even start with this whole planning process. The first things couples do to set the tone for the rest of the wedding day: you pick a season (and a date), you book a venue and then you hire a photographer! And if you have never hired a professional photographer (which is common, for obvious reasons ;-)), it can be a confusing process and its hard to know what questions to ask your wedding photographer.
You may be searching Pinterest and Instagram and see that there are SO many different types of wedding photography. You have photographers that are more modern, moodier, classic, completely candid, documentary-style fine art, timeless, bright – you name it. You may not have thought through exactly why you like what you like, but when you do, you will identify characteristics to search for amongst your local wedding photographers.
BUT, beyond what the photos LOOK like, also think about your personalities and who you would like to spend the most time with on your wedding day? Are you looking for a more laid back photographer? Outgoing and excited? A fun photographer to make you feel comfortable and look great while doing it? (hint, hint – you may have found your girl!) Your photographer’s personality is just as important as their work.
For me personally, I’m a mix of documentary and fine art – which means plenty of candid captures AND plenty of direction/posing to make you look and feel your best. My photography style uses film, meaning plenty of vibrant high-end colors and emotive feelings are captured for generations to come.
What is trendy now may get old in just a few years. It is a goal of mine to make my images timeless – I try not do anything that will date the images and make my clients regret hiring me in 10 years. I want you to be happy with your wedding photos, now, tomorrow, and forever — so I avoid the dark and moody edits with orange/grey skin, exaggerated shadows/saturation. 🙂 I’m also always thinking about your final wedding gallery and wedding album, which means creating photos that truly tell your story from start to finish.
This may sound intimidating, but we are “interviewing” you just as much as you are interviewing us. It is not like when you buy a car and you want to appear unimpressed and see what the best deal is the seller can give you. You want someone who is going to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera and who you can trust to make you feel your best. Sound like someone you know? *ahem* 😉
Also, a little secret – we are usually on the lookout for what we call “red flags.” An example of a red flag would be asking us to lower our prices without a cause, wanting to change large portions of the contract, ignoring our advice on best practices, or if you just don’t seem very excited about working with us/transactional. We always want to work with someone who is excited to work with us personally, because then, we are excited to work with you too!!
Your photos are part of your legacy. Most sources today will encourage couples to make photography 10-20% of their budget. The average wedding in America is somewhere around $35,000. So 10-20% of that is $3,500-7,000, which is generally the average cost of a quality wedding photographer – we personally offer pricing from ~$3000 for our associates and ~$4500 for weddings with Paige. This may seem steep, but when you’re working with a legit business, there are so many costs you may not think of that lend to an exceptional experience – gifts, planning materials, website hosting, gallery hosting, insurance, taxes, equipment maintenance/repair, etc. Wedding photographers only keep about 30-50% of the total cost as actual income. That, combined with only taking on 15-25 weddings a year (to give clients the best experience possible!), are major factors in the price.
PRO TIP: Want to find extra money in your budget to put towards photography? Consider a Friday or Sunday wedding and you’ll save instantly on most wedding venues!
As you begin finding photographers you resonate with online, don’t be afraid to share your love story. It can be tough with emailing so many vendors, but your photographer is a storyteller (or at least I am!) – I can only tell your story well if I know it to begin with! Give your photographer all the details, tell them how you envision your day – get to know them too! I like to think of myself as an honorary bridesmaid (with all the time I spend with my brides for over a year, and on the day too!). Sharing about you will provide a foundation for years to come, even past your wedding!
If the only images you see on social media are perfect, golden hour wedding days, ask to see a few full galleries so you can see what their reception photos are like as well. Being a wedding photographer means having to be extremely flexible and versatile (especially because things can change at the drop of a hat!) and it is important that you trust that your photographer can handle any lighting situation. These qualities usually come about through experience so don’t be afraid to ask how long the photographer has been shooting weddings as well.
How are they backing up your images between the wedding and the day they deliver your wedding gallery? This may sounds silly but I have heard of countless horror stories of photographers losing wedding photos. Just asking the photographer what their backup method is will give you a better understanding and peace of mind. My photos are shot on dual cards for automatic backup and when I get home I back them up to cloud storage AND external drives just to be certain! You can ever be too careful when you are talking about someone’s wedding photos! Bonus: Don’t forget to ask how long your images are backed up AFTER delivery, too! Usually one year is the standard.
While your photographer’s primary duty is to provide you amazing wedding photos what capture your day, how you felt and the magical moments that occur when you bring your favorite people in the universe together – don’t forget, it’s also their job to provide you an incredible experience.
Client experience is such a buzzword in the photography world, but here is what CX can consist of:
When you inquire with a photographer, there is a real human who does a little happy dance and starts dreaming of your big day! If you have shared a little about yourself, we are already envisioning who you are and what your wedding will be like. If you never emailing us back, then it disappoints us far more than if you send us a polite email letting us know you chose another photographer. We get these emails all the time. Please do the courteous thing and let us know if you hired someone else, or if you just are not interested, so we can move on as well with no hard feelings, and we won’t feel bad giving away your date to someone else.
Photography is an investment. Much like the other purchases in your life that will stand the test of time, what you invest in your wedding photographer is what you get out of it. Educate yourself, make an informed decision, and then no matter what your decision is, have appropriately correlating expectations. If wedding photography is a priority, please make it a priority in the budget. Because the old saying is so true, and in a world when anyone can pick up a camera and be a photographer, it has never been truer.
As an inclusive photography studio, not only do we want to feel everyone represented through our work, but we also want to be an active contributor to empowering BIPOC, LGBTQ+, woman, and any other person that has been systemically disenfranchised by our society. We actively donate a portion of every wedding package booked to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, the Trevor Project, Girls Who Code, the Anti-Defamation League, and other revolving causes that could use our support.
Now that you know what questions to ask your wedding photographer, check out more wedding advice here!
If you’ve had your fill with what questions to ask your wedding photographer, see if we’d be a good fit! Send me a note HERE!
Paige Vaughn Photo is an Austin and San Francisco Wedding Photographer specializing in fun, romantic and vibrant wedding, engagement, couple and boudoir photography. Within the Bay Area, we serve San Francisco, the South Bay, Peninsula, and East Bay: San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Carlos, Burlingame, Los Altos, Milpitas, Union City, Fremont, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz and surrounding areas. Within the Central Texas area, we serve: downtown Austin, Dripping Springs, Georgetown, East Austin, Wimberley, New Braunfels, San Antonio, and Houston. She is available for destination weddings and engagement sessions! Contact her for more detailed pricing.