Free New York Wedding Planning Advice: How to Choose Your New York City Wedding Photographer

Choosing a wedding photographer in NYC feels a lot like buying a house: it’s a decision that may impact your feelings about life for the foreseeable future. Both decisions require lots of research and comparison-shopping as well as a significant investment with the hope that your investment will pay off in the future. But just like home buying, there are never any guarantees. We’ve put together this free guide to help you along in your decision making process as you start to make the next big steps planning your wedding. Keep reading below for some helpful tips.

EXPERIENCE

The first thing to consider when selecting your wedding photographer is experience. Evaluating this is the most labor intensive part of the decision making process. During this phase, you’ll have to ask yourself if you want a larger company with a more hands off approach or an individual business owner with a hands on approach to every detail of your day. You’ll want to know if the photographer you’re considering photographed hundreds of weddings or only a handful. Does the photographer have a range of images available to view in his or her portfolio? Does he or she have experience with the kind of wedding your planning? These are all important factors to consider as you begin your search. Start to develop a list of the photographers whose work you like and begin to keep a running list of the answers to these questions. Some brides find creating a spreadsheet the easiest way to keep track of the mountain of information you’re about to uncover.

Realize that every photographer has a personal vision or style in the way he or she photographs weddings, and, like fingerprints, no two are identical. Make sure the style of the photographer is a good match for your day. Do you want dark and moody photographs? Don’t choose someone whose portfolio is full of light and airy images. While many photographers can switch styles depending on the demands of the job, we all tend to have a style of photographing weddings that is most comfortable and familiar.

It’s also important to understand the editing process. Be sure to ask about the estimated timeline for the final images to be delivered to you. Are there any preview images or sneak peaks that you can request to hold you over until the final images are done? Is the photographer editing each image one by one or simply applying a filter on all of them and then sending them to you? Is the photographer even the one doing the editing? If not, how much experience does the editing team have? Are they in house or overseas? All of these factors can significantly impact the quality you receive with respect to your images. Since this is such a significant investment, make sure you do your research. Never make any assumptions!

Also, don’t forget to ask questions about the final deliverables. Does the package include an engagement shoot? A second shooter*? Are you interested in booking a video team? If so, ask if the photographer includes that as a part of his or her packages as well as what kind of videos are included (e.g. a 2-3 minute highlight video, a full video of the ceremony and/or reception formalities, any other details you may want, etc.). Are you only looking for digital copies of the photos? If so, you may need to request printing usage rights from the photographer. Are you interested in purchasing prints or an album directly from the photographer? Ask about which vendor the photographer prefers and research the trade-offs of size versus price versus quality.

There’s lots to consider when evaluating experience, but make sure you do your due diligence so you can have the inner peace of knowing the photographer you choose is equipped to handle the job of getting you great images from your wedding day.

Pro Tip: Understanding the experience level of the photographer you book is essential if you want a seamless process. Remember that experience extends far beyond the ability to just take good photos. If you want to see a more comprehensive view of what to expect from the final product, ask the photographer to send you a sample of a full wedding instead of just portfolio images so you can see the range of images that could be expected throughout a day similar to yours.

PERSONALITY

The next most important aspect to consider is the photographer’s personality. A lot of couples don’t realize it, but you’re going to be spending anywhere from 8 to 10 hours with this person on the day of your wedding with multiple emails and phone calls before and after your big day as well. Make sure that this person isn’t going to drive you crazy. You don’t have to be best friends, but you probably want to be friendly enough to co-exist without any negative feelings. Always trust your gut. The more comfortable you are with your photographer, the better pictures he or she will be able to capture.

Pro Tip: If you have a positive interaction with your photographer on your initial phone call, make sure to set up an in person meeting to see if the two of you click. Spend as much time as you need with your photographer before the wedding to make sure it’s a good fit. 10 hours is a long time to spend with a photographer you first meet on your wedding day only to find out you don’t much like being in the same room as him or her. Many experienced photographers include engagement shoots as a part of their packages not only to have images for the save the dates that you send to your guests, but, more importantly, so that the two of you can get a better idea of how you’re going to work together and what to expect from the photography process on the day of the wedding. Take advantage of this opportunity if you want to minimize photography stress levels on your wedding day.

PRICE

While it may sound counter intuitive, the final piece to consider is price. Many couples prioritize this as the most important aspect of their day, often times to their disappointment. The most expensive option is not always the best photographer for your wedding, just as the least expensive may not be the best value. Photography is a very personal choice that depends on such factors as style, personality and availability. Choose the best option for your wedding given all of the circumstances and begin to price things from there. While photographers are certainly in business to make money, there are many who understand the importance of fit and who want to work with couples who match their style of shooting and personality as this kind of arrangement significantly increases the likelihood of everyone involved having a positive experience.

What many couples may not know is that shopping for a photographer is often like shopping for a car. While there are advertised prices, there is sometimes a little bit of wiggle room depending on the specifics. Just like with cars, if there’s a very popular model that everyone wants, there aren’t going to be any discounts available. However, if you’re interested in a model that’s been sitting on the lot for months, there’s an incentive to make a deal. With photographers, make sure to get a quote but also do some research ahead of time to see if your date is during busy season or slow season and understand that pricing will reflect those factors.

Pro Tip: If you like a photographer who’s more expensive, see if your preferred photographer will match someone else’s quote. See if he or she will throw any extras in. During busy times the photographer won’t likely budge, but during slow season you may get lucky and get a little bit better of a deal. It never hurts to try as long as the offer you’re suggesting isn’t so low that it’s insulting to the photographer.

Like all choices, who you decide to book as your wedding photographer will be a compromise. It is incredibly unlikely that you are going to check off every wish list item for your photographer. Take some time to think about which items you can give on and which are non negotiable for you. Find someone whose style matches yours, who has photographed similar weddings as yours, who is easy to work with and whose pricing you can live with. And understand that even if you find the perfect photographer for your wedding, he or she may already be booked for that date. Make sure you have a backup choice should that happen.

Choosing your wedding photographer is one of the biggest choices you’re going to make about your wedding. We hope this guide has been helpful in providing you with important information to consider as you’re researching your photography options. As a photographer who shoots weddings, we would also love to be considered for your big day. Feel free to check out our portfolio to see if we could be a good match for what you’re looking for at divzimedia.com.

Now that you have a better idea on how to select your photographer, check out our next posts which include some important tips on how to plan your wedding day schedule.

*as a general rule, any wedding over 75 guests deserves to have at least two photographers in order to ensure multiple angles and perspectives of what’s taking place at any given moment are captured