Here is some advice on hiring a wedding photographer for your special day with an emphasis on a Las Vegas wedding. of course i am a little biased and would love for you to hire me, but I also strongly believe that a bride and groom should love their wedding photographs. To love your photographs you should love the style of the photographer you choose and you should also feel comfortable with that photographer so that you can feel free to be yourselves in front of the camera.
So many times a photographer is chosen on price alone. I do understand that many couples are working with a tight budget, but please keep in mind that the photography is one of the most important investments that you can make on your wedding day. You will probably look at these photos over a hundred times in your lifetime. You can pass down these photos to your kids and their kids. Which brings me to a little side note on how important albums are. It makes little sense to spend all this money on these important photos just to have them sit on a disc that rarely gets put into a computer. Having the disc is nice, but nothing takes the place of the album that you can hold in your hands and have on display in your home and share with loved ones. The beautiful albums that are on the market right now are truly works of art themselves, add your photographs to them and they become masterpieces.
I do believe that one of the absolute best ways to find a photographer is through referrals from your friends and family. I would ask lots of people for recommendations and then make a list of those photographers. Once you have this list I would visit each of their websites. Now I know once you get to their site you will probably want to hurry up and check the price. Some photographers do not list any price information online, some will list just their starting price, and some will list everything. If the price is a bit higher then your budget, don’t be afraid to contact the photographer and see if they may have some kind of package that will work for you. But, I would not focus so much time just on the pricing. I would take a look at their photos on their website. Usually they will have their best on the website. They will not always have a full wedding shown so I do recommend checking out their blog. Most photographers have a link to their blog from their website. Their blog is probably updated pretty frequently and will have a good number of images from each session and/or wedding that they post. This will give you a better idea of what all of your images are going to look like on that day. When looking at these images, if you are thinking that you would change certain stuff and ask the photographer to do things a little differently for you, I would probably move on to the next photographer and not go with this one. You should feel a connection to the photos that you see. They should be the same style and look that you want for your wedding day photographs. Most photographers shoot in a certain style and produce photographs that will generally look the same as what they have shown on their website and/or blog. Of course you can give the photographer lists of what you want, but there is little chance you will be able to change their style of photography and why would you want to.
Sometimes as a photographer is starting out, they don’t have a particular style. They are still figuring out what they like and how they want to shoot. So you may notice on a new photographers site, that their pictures don’t really follow any particular look. This is something to keep in mind. Typically their prices are lower. So it is a toss up on exactly how your photographs will look. But, you may get a great deal. I am still pretty new and I know those first few weddings I booked, my clients probably didn’t have a clear idea how their images would look. I spent a lot of time learning and practicing so I got better pretty quick and those clients definitely got their moneys worth. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Most brides that are travelling to Las Vegas to get married don’t know anybody from here to ask. For one, you can still see if your friends or family can refer somebody to you because alot of photographers will travel. So if there is a photographer you love, but they don’t live where your wedding will take place, do not hesitate to see if they do destination weddings. There is usually an additional fee for the travel but it sometimes is not outrageous.
In case you do not have any referrals, the internet is probably your best friend for finding a wedding photographer. You can check several of the big sites out there such as weddingwire.com, the knot.com etc. One thing to keep in mind though with these sites, almost always, the photographers that are listed pay to be on the list. Some sites must approve the photographer, but there is still a fee. I hope nobody gets mad at me for telling that secret. But, I think it is important to know. Alot of times those lists are for people who paid to be on them, not necessarily who is best. So, they can save you a lot of time by giving you a list of photographers that you can check out. They are just not always unbiased. I know some sites handpick their vendors, but that is not the norm. Wedding inspiration blogs are always a great place to learn of photographers and other vendors as well. When a wedding is featured, they will typically list all the vendors that participated on that wedding. These websites are great places to find inspiration for your own wedding and find good photographers. You can do a search for your location and see what shows up. Some of my favorites are StyleMePretty, JuneBugWeddings, RockNRollBride, and many more. Just do a search for wedding inspiration website or blog and you will get many many choices.
Once you have narrowed down your list to those photographers that you would really like to work with, you should set up a meeting. If you can meet face to face that is the best. With face to face meetings you can also see sample albums and other products in person. However, I know many of my brides do not live in Las Vegas and they are flying out here for the wedding, so a face to face meet is kind of out of the question. In this situation, you can email, call, or even do skype or facetime. I love emails, because even if I am busy and can’t really talk on the phone, I can usually respond to a quick email or it will be there when I do have time. For the busy bride, emails are probably the easiest. However you decide to communicate with your photographer is great, whatever works best for you.
So for your phone call, email, whatever, you may feel comfortable if you write down a list of questions beforehand. There are lists all over the internet on what you should ask. These are great starting points to get your brain working. Make sure though, to ask questions that are important to you. This is your day and what is important to you may differ from all the other brides out there, so figure out what you care about from your photographer and ask them that.
One thing you will probably want to ask them first is if they are available on your date. You probably already have your date set in stone if you are at the planning stage and if they are not available, you will have to either move around the rest of your plans, or find another photographer.
A few questions I recommend that I think are pretty important are:
What is your booking/deposit policy?
How many weddings have you photographed? (A super high number is not always important, but if they haven’t done any, or really a small amount, you should be aware of this)
Do you have liability insurance?
Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? (Sometimes studios have multiple photographers)
Do you have backup equipment?
During this process, if you find a particular photographer that you feel you just click with and it feels right, don’t be afraid to book right then and there. Most photographers will not hold a date for you until they have received a signed contract and deposit/retainer. If you find a photographer you love, you should secure them as soon as possible. During busy times of the year, dates fill up really fast. Some people book their photographer 1 year or even 3 years ahead of time.
Something else that you should be aware of when planning a wedding in Las Vegas. Almost every single chapel will not allow outside photographers to take pictures during the ceremony. Some of them will allow this for an additional charge and some will not. If you are planning to get married in a chapel even the ones in the hotels, please make sure that you ask about this and are clear on it beforehand. It is always so sad when a couple is taken by surprise and are forced to have their ceremony photographed by somebody that they did not choose. If you really want your ceremony photographed by the photographer you pick, you can always choose to have your wedding at a separate location. All you usually need is to hire an officiant to come and perform the ceremony. You might be able to have your ceremony at the same location of your reception. The possibilities are really limitless.
I hope this information helps at least one person out there. I spend alot of time looking at photographers work, learning about the industry, researching different marketing choices, etc. If I was to get married today, this is the route I would take in picking a photographer. Knowing what I know now, I would have done alot of things differently on my wedding day. Number one thing I would change is that I would have allowed for time for our portraits while the sun was still out. I wasn’t thinking about the sun when I planned my day and it was dark after our ceremony so all our photos were taken in the dark with flash. Besides that, I would have spent more time finding the perfect photographer.
I hope you find your perfect photographer and if you need help with anything, just ask.