Trying to figure out how to choose a wedding photographer, especially in a big city like Seattle, can seem like an overwhelming task. These days we have access to so much information coming from so many different places. There are social networks, ads, wedding expos/shows, friends and family, vendor directories, photographer websites, and the list goes on. Not to mention the high number of fantastic wedding photographers to choose from in the Seattle area. And while it is a great thing to have so many choices, the flip side is that it can make sorting through everything feel impossible. Often, by the time a bride is getting in touch with me, she is feeling stressed out and unsure of how to prioritize her needs. So…. start by focusing on a few important things and narrow down your list that way.
First things first. You need to set an overall wedding budget. Weddings are expensive, especially in a city like Seattle, and you need to decide which elements are most important to you. Try to prioritize your list from most important to least and see where photography fits into that lineup. If your photos are high on the list, then maybe you can cut some corners elsewhere. Perhaps the most expensive and elaborate cake isn’t a must have for you. Or a large guest list isn’t as important and so you can cut costs there. And if you don’t want to set aside a large budget for photography? That’s okay, but let’s make sure that you are able to get the most out of your money and not end up with images that disappoint. To do that, it’s important to take a look at a few things that can drive the cost of a wedding photographer:
Wedding photographers in the Seattle area, and other large cities, tend to be priced much higher than in some other areas of the country. Cost of living where you are getting married will likely play a big role in how much wedding photographers are in your area.
It’s no surprise that a photographer with a great deal of experience will charge more than one who is just starting out. Does this mean that you shouldn’t hire a photographer who has fewer weddings under their belt? Not at all. There are some really fantastic photographers out there with years of experience in other areas (families, events, seniors, couples, etc) and have been second shooters at enough weddings to know what they are doing. Just do your homework.
Photography gear is expensive. And wedding photography requires high quality equipment. You will want to hire a professional with at least 2 camera bodies, a range of lenses, on camera flash, off camera flash, extra batteries, additional memory cards, etc. A wedding photographer should also have insurance that covers themselves, any associates and second shooters, and equipment.
Weddings require an entire day out of a photographer’s time. And that’s just for the event! Don’t forget the time they spent on responding to an inquiry, consultation, timeline planning, travel, sorting through hundreds of images, and hours of editing work for your final gallery.
The quality of service that a photographer is able to provide is just as important as the images. You will want a professional who is just that: a professional. It’s important that you are able to enjoy your wedding day with the knowledge that your photographer will be able to handle their job and any challenges, work with others, communicate with you and other vendors, and deliver what they have promised.
What do you hope to see in your final wedding gallery? Before you can choose the right photographer, this is a question you will want to answer. Do you love light and airy, dark and moody, candid photos, posed images, more traditional, high fashion and editorial, etc? Take a look online at the many different looks that different wedding photographers can offer.
Now that you know your style, start looking for some photographers that match it. Stick to a budget range and begin to narrow things down a little. A few things to look for:
Send off a few inquiries and plan to speak with photographers who get back to you in a timely manner. It isn’t necessary to reach out to every photographer you like. Start with just a few and go from there. Some important things to pay attention to and things to ask:
You will want a professional who is great at communicating and won’t leave you hanging. If you need to wait a significant amount of time for a response, that is probably a sign to move on.
Do they like to make sure every shot is posed or do they just let the day unfold and capture things as they happen? Maybe a mix of both? See if what they offer lines up with your preferences.
You will want someone on your team who will help keep things running smoothly. A photographer who can blend in when they are catching candid moments is wonderful. And they will also need to feel comfortable taking charge and moving family and friends into position for formal photos in a timely manner. That takes some polite assertiveness.
You might be surprised by how often you will have questions or concerns leading up to your wedding day. It will be important to choose a photographer who is happy to chat if you need to. Not only that, they will also need to work and communicate well with other vendors on the day of your wedding.
Make sure you know exactly what is included.
Not only will you want to know how long it takes to get a gallery back, you will want to know how they go about it. Some photographers will very quickly batch edit photos. And while this will get your images back to you more quickly, you will want to make sure your photographer goes one step further. For example, I like to batch edit for some very basic adjustments throughout a gallery. I then go over every image to make sure every photo is up to my standards and is consistent with the look of the rest of your gallery.
I really love engagement sessions because they are the best way to get to know each other and sneak in some wedding day practice. You will also feel much more relaxed and confident in your choice of photographer after spending a little time together. And you and your fiance will feel more at ease about wedding pictures. Most couples express concern over not knowing what to do in front of the camera. An engagement sessions allows me to help you calm those nerves.
If you find that a photographer you speak with isn’t right for your wedding, that’s okay. We are professionals and understand that your vision may not line up with what we have to offer. Out of consideration, make sure you reach out with a quick note to let them know of your decision. Something as simple as this works well: “Thank you for your time. We have decided to move forward with another photographer for our wedding. We enjoyed speaking with you.”
When you find the photography that meets your needs, get them fully booked as soon as possible. Wedding vendors have calendars that book out very early so you won’t want to wait too long. And remember that a consultation does not mean that you have your date reserved. I always let a couple know if someone else inquires about the same date, but that isn’t the policy everywhere. It should also be noted that a wedding date is not considered booked until a deposit is paid and the contract has been signed. So be sure to do that as soon as you can.
If you made it this far, thank you! Not only is going through an organized photographer search process helpful for you, it’s also helpful for us! My hope for every couple, is that they end up with wedding photos that they love looking back on for the rest of their lives. Photographers aren’t a one size fits all vendor. By going through a selection process, you are much more likely to send inquiries to fewer photographers. But they will be better suited to your needs. And photographers are more likely to be paired with clients who are excited about what they provide. A great inquiry process leads to a perfect match for both you AND the photographer that you choose in the end.
If you are curious about what I offer, check out my wedding and events page. I like to list exactly what I offer, how I go about my work, and how clients can get in touch. I love hearing from couples in the PNW who are excited to be planning their weddings and looking for a photographer who shares their vision.
Janelle Barrow Photography serves couples, seniors, and families in Seattle and the surrounding areas. With an emphasis on bringing out the natural beauty of all her clients, Janelle is passionate about building confidence and joy in everyone who steps in front of her camera. Her light, romantic wedding images capture every moment of the wedding day from arrival to the final exit. She thrives on attention to detail and a great ability to take the stress out of wedding photos.
If you are planning your wedding in the Seattle area, please get in touch to see how Janelle Barrow Photography can serve you.
February 1, 2024
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Have fun and feel confident. You deserve it! Let's plan photos as amazing as you are. I can't wait to make some magic!!
From fun, confidence building senior sessions to gorgeous, memorable weddings; I can't wait to see how we can work together!
Nationally featured and published senior photographer.... AND families, weddings, and events. I love all things photography. Taking pictures of people and helping them feel absolutely stunning is my favorite thing! I'm a fun, adventurous, romantic at heart. Equal parts introvert and extrovert. And always excited to truly get to know the people I work with.