I’ve been putting off writing a post about choosing a photographer, because honestly, it’s been the most stressful part of wedding planning. And I considered not telling the whole truth here, because it still makes me a little sick-feeling to think about the whole process. But life is not always perfect and beautiful, and even smart people make stupid decisions. And so…allow me to begin.
After we selected our venue (and thus, our date), I thought the next logical step was to find a photographer. I didn’t really know where to begin, so I found a copy of the most recent Knot magazine from Georgia. It lists the winners of the “Best of Weddings” ranking thingy (I don’t know what to call it…) in all of the vendor categories. In particular, there’s a list of about twenty photographers.
Image from Spring Lake Events
The first thing I’d like to do is make a request to all of you future brides: Please review your photographer! I don’t even know how The Knot decided to award some of these photographers the “Best of Weddings” award, because some only had like two reviews! Argh. So frustrating…
My strategy for searching for the photographer was to just look up each one on this list. If I liked the photos, I sent them an e-mail asking about their pricing. Second rant: Can you photographers please just list some of your prices online? Thank you to all the ones that do! You made my life so much easier. I hated thinking that I found a great photographer, only to find out they cost about $2,000 more than I wanted to spend. I know it’s probably some strategy to get people to fall in love with you and then decide that they actually can spend the extra money. But seriously, it annoying. Okay, end rant. (Can you tell that this photographer thing stressed me out?)
There was one photographer that stood out to me. And she posted her starting prices online (Thank you!!). Her pictures are incredible.
Image by Liz Yeakle
She takes beautiful couples shots and great candid reception photos.
Image by Liz Yeakle
And…she was already booked for our date. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I love you, Liz Yeakle. Why did you have to be booked?
And thus began the real stress. Looking for photographers takes TIME!!! So much time…Why? Because you see great pictures on a blog, then you contact the photographer, then you ask for a few full galleries of weddings, and then you have to go through all those pictures!!! And with many of the photographers, I would open up the gallery and discover that they didn’t just pull some of the really good pictures and put them on the blog. I felt like only the good pictures went on the blog and the rest were just, kind of blah. Or, if the photographer really did take great pictures, they were all about the vintage photo trend, which is not my style at all. Why would I want my pictures to be all faded? (Remember how much I love bright colors? Faded doesn’t really go with my style.)
This is not how I want our wedding pictures to look. I think the occasional vintage photo can be very beautiful. But an entire collection of photos in this style is not something I want. But because it’s trendy, there are A LOT of photographers who edit this way in order to satisfy the tastes of the masses. And that’s great for the brides who love this look. I just want there to be photographers who edit photos the way that I want.
Anyway, so it’s really difficult right now to find a photographer who takes artistic photos without making them all trendy and vintage. I finally found someone whose editing I did like, and they are very very highly rated on The Knot. But I felt a little hesitant about them. Some of the pictures were absolutely stunning, just the best thing ever. But most of the candid pictures were just kind of blah. Blah meaning the composition of the photos wasn’t very artistic. With all these criticisms, I’m going to shock you by saying that I ended up putting a deposit down with this photographer (in hindsight, I can’t believe I did it). Even as I mailed out the check, I just wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision.
The next few weeks were AWFUL. I would wake up in the middle of the night panicking that I’d chosen the wrong photographer. My brother got married during this time, and I loved his photographer. I started realizing that it is incredibly important that you like your photographer both as an artist and as a person. You spend soooooo much time with them on your wedding day. You’d better feel comfortable around them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so sure about my photographer as either an artist OR a person. Their emails had all sorts of typos. Even the contract that I’d signed had several misspelled words. And like I said, I was hesitant about the pictures already. (I’m honestly not sure how they became soooo highly rated on The Knot. It makes me wonder whether those rankings are really worth anything…)
After a few weeks of this madness, Mr. Whale finally spoke up. He hadn’t had any input in the photographer decision, which had been fine with him. He hates photos, and so he just trusted me to pick the right one. But he saw how much I was struggling. So he said, “Why don’t you let me help you?” And it’s like a lightbulb went off in my head. Why was I trying to do all of this on my own?? I have a fiance who is half of the wedding. Sometimes it’s great when your fiance doesn’t have an opinion, so you can just do whatever you want. But I just hadn’t even thought to ask him for help! Which is ridiculous. I ask him for help when I’m struggling with anything else in my life. Why not this?
I explained my concerns and showed him the photographer I had booked alongside another one that I had liked, but for some reason I hadn’t fallen in love with at first. When I originally spoke with this particular photographer, I expressed my concern over the vintage photography trend. She had said that she did edit like that for a while, but she was moving away from it. Unfortunately, she just didn’t have a lot of recent weddings to show me, because it was the beginning of summer when we first spoke. And so, I was worried that I would get faded photos. But since it was now later in the year, she actually had a lot of 2012 weddings. I could totally see that she was editing differently. And I absolutely fell in love with her photos! Mr. Whale also thought they were much better than the photographer I had booked. Why couldn’t I have asked him his opinion in the beginning?? I could have avoided all of my stress and second-guessing!
Photo by Brenda Upton
Photo by Brenda Upton
Photo by Brenda Upton
As I’m sure you guessed, we booked her! Brenda Upton, I love you!!! Yes, it made us go a little over a our photographer budget. But are we going into debt? No. It’s coming out of savings, and we can afford it. And, if our original photographer books another wedding for our date, then we get the money back. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but if we don’t get our money back, well…that’s life!
Oh my gosh, I’m exhausted. Rehashing all of that madness was a little stressful, but I think it’s a realistic snapshot of some of the not-so-fun aspects of wedding planning. Things don’t always go your way, and sometimes you make mistakes.
Was choosing a photographer stressful for any other brides? I didn’t really have many tips to offer, so maybe there are other bees with advice for avoiding all of the madness I went through?