Updated: May 20, 2019
There have been some horror stories coming out recently of absolutely terrible photographer experiences. Photographers not showing up, canceling last minute, taking the money and running, delivering their product weeks or months late, and some even worse. Here are some tips I've put together on what you should look for before hiring a photographer. After you have set a budget and found a photographer in your budget, here are some things to take time and go through.
1. Look At Their Portfolio
Nearly all photographers will have some type of portfolio. Even if they have just started, they should be able to show you something for you to get an idea of their style and ability. Often times the more they can show you the better. You'll be able to get a good sense of what the photographer is able to do with a portfolio of 50-100 photos.
Pro Tip: For wedding photographers, ask to see an entirely delivered wedding album. Nearly any photographer can capture 3-5 great photos from a wedding day, but only great wedding photographers can capture all those small moments that are special on a wedding day. An entire wedding album will show you if your photographer is skilled at capturing all the little details of a wedding day.
2. Look at Reviews
Reviews go a very long way. Especially with wedding clients, brides will often leave reviews about their photographer. Take time to look at those reviews. Pay attention to negative reviews and ask your photographer about negative reviews. There may be more to a negative review than meets the eye, but you'll at least have that addressed.
Places to look for reviews:
Facebook Page of the Photographer
The Knot: www.theknot.com
3. Meet In Person
This is incredibly important when finalizing your photographer. This is especially important when it comes to your wedding photographer. You're going to be spending a lot of time with this person on a very special and emotional day of your life. Your wedding photographer will be incredibly involved on your wedding day; wedding coordinator, photographer, chauffeur, and occasionally therapist. You want to know that you can be comfortable with your wedding photographer and meeting in person lets you know you're going to click on your wedding day.
Pro Tip: Write down ANY questions you have. There is no dumb question to ask your photographer. If your friend had a nightmare photographer situation, ask your potential photographer about it and how they would handle it. Ask about having a first look or not. Ask about questions you have about your wedding schedule. ETC. You don't get married everyday, but us wedding photographers have seen a thing or two. Let us help you.
4. Ask if they Are Insured or LLCed
While this definitely isn't a requirement, it can help put your mind at ease if your photographer is insured and has their business as an LLC. There are more and more venues that are actually requiring their photographers to have insurance to photographer there. An insured photographer has spent the time and money to know that their business is set up to best protect their clients and themselves.
5. Trust Your Instincts
This seems so simple, but it's true. If anywhere in the process of hiring your wedding photographer you don't feel comfortable, it's okay to go on to the next one. Even if the photographer is a well known, big photographer be sure to trust your instincts if something doesn't seem right.
Example: I've had a couple clients this year who greatly valued their privacy and didn't want me to share any photos online and wanted photos delivered in a way that would be kept private. One of those clients stated they didn't use another photographer because they wouldn't to update their contract and just would verbally promise to not share anything. To that client, their instinct said to not trust them.
If there is ever anything that doesn't make you feel comfortable, it is okay to walk away and go to another photographer. There are so many amazing wedding photographers that will go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable and valued. I hope these short tips help you in your initial wedding photographer hunt! There are so many great options out there and I hope this helps narrow down your field.
Jason Strohbehn is a wedding photographer based in Lincoln Nebraska. JLS Photo is Insured to photograph in all wedding venues in the state of Nebraska. If you have any questions about