Disclaimer: this blog post is not for the faint of heart. It is for those who are passionately excited about their wedding day and want somerealadvice about how to choose their wedding photographers. This ain’t fluffy, but it’s good stuff. Grab a snack, get comfy, and enjoy!
Hi, friends! I’m Meli Neubek, of Neubek Photographers. My husband, Matt, and I, are wedding and portrait photographers with an obsession for offering an outstanding experience and images that make people fall in love with themselves. We live in Naples, Florida and also run the biz out of Boston, MA (GO PATRIOTS!). We have two beautiful fur babies, Blue and Luna—they are actually the best and prettiest cats in the world and you will not tell me otherwise. We love love love to travel and spend most of our time together laughing. But enough about us! Kara & Brian have asked us here today to talk to y’all about how to choose your wedding photographer, so, let’s jump right in…
In the past almost-three years, we’ve gotten to work with dozens of amazing couples , and we’ve spoken with quadruple (or more!) as many. Why am I telling you this? Isn’t that a bad thing?! Did I just admit that people choose to go with other photographers??? GASP! Yesss, and can you believe that we even sometimes encouragecouples to look at other photographers?! Sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t because the truth is:
We’re not the photographers for everyone. And every client is not ours. And there are a bunch of other talented photographers out there. And so, what this means, is that youshould never settle: the RIGHT photographers DO exist for you, my friends. (It’s us, by the way. Just kidding!) But no really, pay attention, because I have the secret.
Do your research & enjoy the process.
Yes, you must do research! & have fun while doing it! You must put effort forth and beautiful images will happen for you. Have you ever bought a computer without doing any research? If you have, and are not one of the lucky ones who just-so-happened to choose the right one for you, chances are, you chose one that wasn’t fast enough, bright enough, pretty enough, light enough, etc… And you regretted it. And maybe you’re the type who blames the computer or Best Buy, but, I have news: you should have done your research. Same with a car, mattress, appliances, a house… Because what are all those things?? Investments, friends!! And such are your wedding photographers & images.
You’re about to marry the one true love of your life and throw the biggest party you’ve maybe ever thrown with the people who matter most to you and your families are joining as one and everyone is happy and excited and it’s amazing and there’s gonna be dancing and CAKE! and you’re going to do and say a bunch of stuff that you’ll (hopefully!) never do or say again and sooooo, call me crazy, but: you want to make sure you can relive it by looking at images you lovefor the rest of your life!
I get so sad when someone tells me that they didn’t like their wedding photographers, wish they could have a do-over, the photos flat-out sucked, their photographer was disorganized and/or unprepared and/or unprofessional, they never got an album, they don’t even remember who their photographer was… I mean, guys: ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE DESERVES BETTER!!!!! And, the process to find the right photographers for you isn’t even bad; it’s FUN. So, let’s talk about how to make sure you don’t end up with any regrets in this department, shall we?!
- Find your preferred style
LISTEN UP! This is kind of a loaded thing, but I promise it is so worth it!! It will make your life so much easier. It will make you feel so much more confident in the decisions you make for your wedding day. I’m not even being dramatic, I swear. ☺
I’m going to focus on the two big things that go into style: color/toning and feeling/composition.
FIRST: I suggest you use Pinterest and Instagram. Yes! Use the social medias for research! These two are the two that appeal most to our visual senses, and you’ve gotta make sure you know what kindof images your eyeballs like.
Why, you might ask? A pretty picture is a pretty picture, right? EeeeHHHhh (that was the sound of a “you’re wrong!” buzzer, not to be confused with a noise made when one is uncertain.)
Is the style of your home the same as your friends’? How about your clothes? Obviously there may be some similarities, but your best friend also may rock dead animal heads on her log cabin family room walls, and you may not be into that sort of thing and I promise you that different images are going to look better on her walls versus yours. Moving right along…
So, how do you go about this finding your style business?! Here’s what I would suggest:
1. Go to Pinterest.
2. Create a wedding photography board.
3. Search “wedding photography”.
4. Scroll and pin your little heart out.
This is a job for your gut. That sounds weird, but what I mean is that you shouldn’t overthink this at all; use your gut instinct and just choose what feels and looks good to you. Especially feels; that’s when you get the best stuff. It doesn’t really get more fun than this!
Once you’ve got a good sampling… I’d say at least 50 images, scroll through what you’ve created. Lean forward a bit, pat yourself on the back, and smile. You’re well on your way to not only finding your wedding photographer, but you’ve just created a very useful information source for the rest of your wedding planning (you’re welcome!)
You will notice patterns or trends in what you’ve selected: maybe you had no idea you love black and whites, or apparently you’re obsessed with pink or you notice most of the images are of people laughing hysterically or dancing or whatever.
What I want you to take note of first is color tones and brightness. Are the colors bright or are they soft? Do you notice warm tones? (yellows and oranges) Green tones? Lots of shadows? Lots of white? Do the images feel moody and dramatic or light and airy?
You’ll notice more of some of these things and, while you may not be able to put words to it just yet, you’re finding your style, and I’m excited for you.
Remember back in the day there was basically color, black & white and sepia? (RIP sepia) Well, nowadays, there are roughly a quadrillion different options. And that, my friend, is a lot of options. Okay, jk, don’t freak out, there aren’t that many, but basically “color” has several sub-categories to choose from, so, it’s important to know which you’re attracted to.
Then, I want you to focus on that feelingstuff I mentioned before a bit more… one of my brides once sent me a long-ass email listing all of her favorite images of ours on our Instagram and why she liked them. For more than half of the images, she’d say something like, “I’m not really sure why I love this one, but I do.” And for the other half, she could pinpoint, “I love all the blank space on the right side and how it focuses your eye on the subject to the left,” or “I love the blurriness in the foreground.”
You don’t have to know whyyou love an image, but you should love it, not just like it. And when choosing your photographers, you should love most of their images. I had another bride once tell us, too, that she had researched a bunch of photogs and found many she liked, but she felt like she only really liked one out of every 5 or 10 images, whereas with us, she loved almost all of them.
I don’t say this to rah-rah us, because frankly, not everybody feels that way about our work, but ourcouples do! And you should feel that way about your photographers’ images, too.
NOW, I recommend you switch over to Instagram and/or Google. Here, you’ll start some location-based searching. What I mean by that is taking the name of the place you’re getting married and searching the crap out of it along with the words “wedding photographer,” “wedding photography,” etc… So, if you’re getting married in Naples, you would search “Neubek Photographers” – OMG lol, I kid, I kid. You would search: “Naples wedding photographers” on the Googles or “#naplesweddingphotography”on Instagram.
You’re now a professional judge of art after your pinning session, so you can pretty quickly pick out which photos match the images you’re attracted to and which do not. By the way, it’s OK to totally love someone’s style and have it not be your favorite. The reason I recommend having at least 50 images pinned is so that you can draw some sort of pattern; otherwise, you’ll just think a lot of pretty pictures are pretty, because they are, but they might not be what you really mostly like.
We’ve had multiple couples get in touch with us after they already booked their photographer strongly considering forfeiting their deposits to switch to a photographer with what they’ve now realized, is the style they prefer.
The story is almost always that they booked the photographer as fast as possible because they wanted to get it done or someone told them they must and then as they got further into wedding planning, they realized they were attracted to a (sometimes completely!) different style.
But is it just the style that has caused them to consider forfeiting thousands of dollars? Usually, no. They then start to shop around and realize maybe they don’t know if they jive with their photographer as much as they had originally thought, too. Which leads me to…
- You should actually really ENJOY your photographers!
Not just like them, but you should truly connect with them and think they’re fun. They should be the type of people who you would hang out with outside of your wedding day. I’m gonna tell you a fun fact right now that’s one of those obvious-if-you-think-about-it kind of things, but you rarely do.
Your photographers will spend your entire wedding day with you. The whole entire thing. That’s not true of anybodyelse. Unless you have videographers, too, but, otherwise: hair and makeup do their thing and leave, florists drop flowers off, wedding planners are making sure a bunch of other stuff is going down exactly like it’s supposed to, the DJ lives in one place; see what I’m saying???
Would you choose to spend 8-12 hours with any random human on any other random day? No. You reserve that kind of time for the people you love the most. While I suppose you could argue that this is only one day and you could deal with anyone for just one day, it’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of your lives, sooooo, yeah, don’t “just deal,” make a new good friend or two. People who make you feel great and you really enjoy.
You’ll quickly start to realize who you like based on their Instagram captions and website content (that “about me” section should make you smile, hopefully maybe even laugh!), read a few of their blog posts to see how it is they tell stories, and imagine your story being told that way. If you’re getting warm fuzzies, this is great news. Because you’re about to…
- Interview your top 3 choices
Yeah yeah yeah!! Send out those inquiry emails and set up a time to chat with these people. In your inquiry email, by the way, inject your personality. Tell us a bit about your day and why you’re reaching out to us! You’ve just done all this research and narrowed it down to us, so, please don’t start off with “Hi, we’re getting married on October 24that the beach. Can I have your prices?” This doesn’t give us much to work with and price shouldn’t be the very first thing on your mind—don’t get me wrong; I KNOW it’s important, but not very-first-and-only-question kind of important.
After that inquiry email, take note of a couple of things: how long does it take for them to respond and do they seem excited?
My steadfast rule is no more than 24 hours to reply to an email. Even if to say, “things are crazy at the moment, but I’ll reply better in a couple of days!” Now, even if this isn’t yoursteadfast rule, I would take into consideration that when it comes down to it and you have questions for your photographers throughout the wedding planning process and beyond, you’re going to want them to be dependable. First impressions mean everything!
Did they congratulate you in the reply? Did they seem genuinely interested about learning more about you and your day? If their reply seems clinical, this is a red flag in my book. And my book is basically law. Obv.
After that, set up a time for a phone call, video chat, whatever you want, and prepare some questions about what’s most important to you both in your day, and if you’re not sure what I mean, just say you’re not even sure what to say and a true professional will guide you through the conversation with ease.
I usually have a phone call with either the bride or groom first and then if they decide they’d like to know more, we invite them to our gallery in Naples, or video chat if not local. This second step always involves both me and Matt and both members of the couple.
Discuss amongst yourselves if you need to, and decide. ☺
- Think about your future selves
What I mean by this is: your future selves will want to enjoy your wedding images some way that’s not scrolling on your phone or computer. Future you will want to have (at least!) prints on your walls and an album on the coffee table/shelf.
Do the photographers you’re talking to offer these kinds of things? Do you like the style of what they offer? Remember, you’re shopping. Just like at the mall, you walk into a store and walk back out if you weren’t feelin’ the vibe, but can spend 3 hours inside of Anthropologie… You should love their product offerings.
Now, if you LOVE everything else about them but their products or if they don’t offer them, then you’ll have to do some research on where you’ll get yourself your own album. The answer is not Shutterfly, by the way. No, I’m not judging; Shutterfly has its time and place, but your wedding day is too awesome to not treat yourself to something spectacular that you’re going to love forever and that will stand the test of time to be passed on to your kids for them to love and show their kids. Capiche?! Trust me on this one.
Which brings me back… you know yourself: are you a DIYer? Are you actually going to take the time to go do that stuff after? For many people, the answer is no. And that’s okay… that’s why professionals like us exist to offer you the complete solution to meet your needs.
- Get a wedding planner
I won’t go too in-depth on this one, but the job exists for a reason and there are some really great ones out there. They’ve built relationships with multiple vendors over the years and will hold your hand as much or as little as you need throughout the process, giving you suggestions for the best photographers they know and have vetted.
Also, they’ll make your day go SO much more smoothly. Sooooo mmuuucchh.
I still strongly recommend doing #1 on this list – the finding your style thing is gonna be helpful no matter where the photographers end up coming from.
Also, when searching for a wedding planner in Naples, search “KC Weddings & Events” – Oh, dear, I’ve done it again… 😉 I swear they didn’t tell me to write this. I am my own person, thank you very much. 😉
- Don’t make it all about price
Whooooo the f am I to tell you how to manage your finances though?! Right!!? Stick with me for another minute, please.
Ultimately, this is all about what’s most important to you. I know couples who have spent more on flowers than on food, and more on the DJ than their dress and more on their shoes than their flowers… YOU DO YOU, BUT…
Whatever is most important to you, remember that if it isn’t photography, the only thing that’s going to capture it for you to enjoy and fall in love with over and over again, is the photography.
If there’s something that you may want to consider figuring out a payment plan for or asking parents to help with if need be, or whatever, it would be this, because, check it out:
If you split up what payments look like for the TIME of the investment, it might look something like this:
- Venue: $10,000 / lasts one day and night
- Flowers: $5,000 / last maaaybeee a few days after
- Dress: $???? / yeah, forever, but you’ll probs never wear it again
- DJ: $3,000 / lasts one night
- Food: $100/person / lasts like 7 seconds
- Cake: $500 / really only lasts like 7 seconds
Do you see where I’m going with this?
- Photography including time and albums and prints (& videography, of course!): $10,000 (or double + if video!) / lasts literally FOREVER
Everybody’s day is different and so this example, which I threw together somewhat arbitrarily, may not resonate with you, but very very often, the investment made in the overall wedding day is no chump change, and, I’mjust sayin’you want it captured beautifully by people whom you enjoy being around and offer you an experience you and your guests will never forget.
OKAY, I hope this was super helpful and at least mildly entertaining. I promise promise promise that if you use these recommendations, choosing your wedding photographer will be the most fun, you’ll have amazing images you love forever, and you’ll make new friends for life. ☺
Thanks for reading!!