G’day. It’s Jay here. Today, I’m going to talk to you about how to choose your wedding photographer.

You’re getting married for the first time, which is probably 99% of you. It might be a very daunting feeling to find your perfect wedding photographer. There’s so many creative approaches, there’s so many personalities out there, so how do you go about choosing the photographer to capture your special date? if you think about it, selecting your wedding photography is so important because, hey, you only get one shot at this. It’s a wedding day. It’s a finite, one day event. We want to make sure you get it right. Secondly, the photos are what remains after the wedding. Once the cake is eaten, once the flowers are dried up, the photos and the memories are what remains from your wedding day for you to look back on.

For me, when I got married to Cath back in 2011, the decision for me was easy. There was a photographer, John from Vibrant Photography. If you’re watching, g’day, mate. It was very easy for us to choose him because we’ve been following his work for a while. I’ve seen him work at weddings and I was lucky to have that little head start. So we met him and we booked him on the spot. For some of you, it may be harder than that because you may not have had friends who have been married before, so you have no one to really ask. You kind of can find out through Instagram, Pinterest, all of having these wedding magazines if anyone still reads those to find your photographer. I thought I’d make this video to try and give you a bit of insight information on how to go about narrowing down the selection and picking the right photographer for you.

So first step, if you’re like most people, you’re going to start jumping on Instagram, you’ll start following all these photographers and just watching their work and seeing what they’re posting, which is fine, which is great because you get a feel for their style and their approach. But I think you need to dig a bit deeper. I think it’s important to look at reviews. For example, Google reviews, Facebook reviews, because they’re generally a bit more reliable. I know you can fudge them, but you’re all smart people. I think you can figure out which ones are fake and which ones are real. Even on Instagram, like for me, I use the Instagram highlights feature. If somebody reviews me, I’ll take a screenshot of the email or the text and I’ll post it in a story or highlight. So that’s if you’re photographer has that available. It’s kind of a more authentic way to see actual current and recent reviews from people. That’s a really good way to kind of gauge if they’re actively working, what people thought of their work, hear it from a real couple.

Instagram, as you know, it’s very curated, it’s very fake. People are only going to post their best, most wow shots, which I do as well. So it’s important to reach out to that photographer once you found a style you like and ask them to see, not just their hero images, but a whole wedding, even just the trivial stuff, the family photos, the natural shots in the ceremony, all this kind of secondary shots, which are important. Family photos are critical. That’s important for your photographer to be able to show you this body of work. Anyone can just show some amazing images and some epic shot I took at the beach or whatever and just flick it. But to see a full wedding consistently and properly covered, that really shows it’s on for skill and experience.

Secondly, it’s important to ask them to see some more challenging photos. For example, for us to see some rainy day pictures. Show me some shots you did when it was pouring rain. Or tell me a story about when the location shoot got washed out, so we had to have a secondary option. We had to shoot at the reception venue or find some other cover. Ask to see these challenging conditions. Or middle of the day in summer is our location shoot, sunlight’s very harsh. Show me some photos you’ve taken in those conditions. Or the ceremony in red light. Show me some photos you’ve done at nighttime because these are all real situations that could happen on your wedding day. So it’s important to see your photographer is able to capture these images in any kind of conditions because if you’ve got perfect light, if you got a perfect location, perfect couple, it’s very hard to stuff that up. Let’s be honest. So you want to see some tricky shots that they’ve done.

Once you’ve ticked all these boxes, you like what you see, maybe even ask to see some photos taken from your culture. We do a lot of cultural weddings: Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, you name it, Sikh weddings or even Catholic weddings. It’s important the photographer can show you work from your culture because then you can see the certain traditions and rituals being captured. Because if a photographer mainly captures pretty weddings in big grass fields with mountains, that’s great. But then if you put them in a church situation, can they handle it? Can they handle these suddenly, these dark environments with bad lighting and crowds and guests everywhere? Can they handle these big 300 people situations or whatever your wedding is? So it’s important to see photos from your culture they’ve taken.

Once you’ve ticked all these boxes, you’re happy with what you see, obviously ask for pricing. Get a feel for what their pricing starts at. Obviously, there may be some ad-ons that you might wish to purchase an album or add a pre-wedding shoot on or prints or any of that kind of stuff, but at least get a ballpark from them. Obviously, it’s got to sit within your budget. Then it’s best now to arrange a meeting with them, whether it’s virtual, over Skype, or Zoom or whatever technology you’re using or in person in their studio. If they have a studio space, it’s good to meet with them, get a feel for them. It’s so important to have a great connection with your photographer because if you think about it, they’re going to be spending more time with you than even your family. They’re there while you’re getting ready, they’re at the ceremony, location, all the way through your reception. They’re going to be on location shoot with you, very, very personal one on one.

So you’ve got to make sure that you have a good connection and gel with them because that’s going to really impact your memory of the day. You may look back on an image that you love and say, “Oh, I remember that moment. I remember that experience of being photographed. That photographer was so friendly and made it so easy.” Wouldn’t you rather have that memory of looking at a photo? So that’s why it’s important to really have a connection with that photographer.

Then once you’re happy, I think it’s important to look at some albums. Some photographers don’t offer albums. Personally, we do. I really am a strong believer in wedding albums because in this day and age, everything’s very disposable and media and everything’s digital. My worst nightmare is people having a USB and it just gets chucked in a drawer and never looked at again with their photos. So for me, an album is something tangible, it’s physical, it’s something that will never update. USB technology might one day be out of date. Having an album to show people and share with your family and when you have kids down the line, if you’re having kids, to show them and gather around and show them the memories and explain to them, “This is mum and dad’s wedding day.” I think that’s very special. I think it’s important. The album becomes an heirloom, which then you pass on to your generations. Ask to see an album. I think it shows a photographer really cares about their work and cares about presenting their work professionally rather than, “Here’s a USB, have a nice day, have a nice life.”

I think it’s nice to have a physical album to ask to see one of those ideally from your culture as well, so you can see how the story unfolds. Then once you booked the photographer, it’s good to do a pre-wedding photo shoot, which I talked about in another video. To summarize, pre wedding shoot, it’s just good to get comfortable in front of the camera and get to know your photographer a bit more in front of the camera and they get to know you and get some nice pictures out of it as well. Now, another question that I get asked is, “Do I need a second photographer?” Now I know a lot of studios use one photographer and power to them. That’s fine. They know their systems and they work well with one person. For me, I think it’s essential to have two photographers for any size wedding.

For example, say you’re walking down the aisle of the church. Say you’ve got a balcony behind you up on top where the musicians typically play, or there’s an upper level. If you have another photographer, they can be up there. They can capture you walking down the aisle if you’ve got a beautiful train blowing behind you, that can capture that train from above and maybe dad’s on your arm, they capture that aerial shot with the guests turned around looking at you, and the other photographer can then capture the front shot of you walking up the aisle and capture your emotion on your face and capture the groom’s emotion on his face as you’re walking up the aisle. You’re going to have both angles covered, and that moment happens very quickly. With one photographer, you’re not going to be able to get both angles. Things like that, it’s good to get that second point of view with a second photographer. So I think that’s an important thing to have for your wedding.