When choosing a photographer – especially for your once in a lifetime moments – there are a lot of things to consider. Does their shooting & editing style match your style? Are they within your price range? Does their personality mesh with yours?
I may be a little biased, but I truly believe that choosing a photographer for your elopement is a very important and sensitive decision. After all, once the day(s) is said and done, all you have to look back on are the photos. It’s super important that those photos are in a style that resonates with you and can remind you the feelings you felt in those moments.
I’m going to go over 10 different things to look for in an elopement photographer. I’ll be going over what kinds of things to look for, but I’m not going to tell you what you should do. Because let’s be real, we all have different styles, budgets. and preferences. Instead I’ll guide you through the things that makes each photographer different and how to tell if their vibes matches yours.
When you’re looking through a photographer’s portfolio, it is important that a majority of their photos, if not all, fit your style and vision. Not only how they edit the photos, but how they compose the photos and what style of posing do they use (stiff poses, movement poses, or documentary style). Your photographer can’t bend their style to fit your vision. If you ask them to do so and they take your project on, then most likely both of you will be unhappy with the photos.
I’ve outlined a bit of each shooting style to help you better understand what they each mean and how they will move throughout your day. You can message or email the photographer and ask what their style is it you aren’t able to tell.
Documentary/Storytelling – This is when the photographer does no posing or prompts. Instead they capture the moments how they are happening in front of them. This results in photos that show how you and your partner interact with each other. This is the style that I shoot in. I love shooting this way because it is true to you and your partner and the moments you were in.
For example, (this is what I tell my couples) “Instead of posing or prompting you, I want you to be yourselves, as if I wasn’t here. My goal is to capture both of your personalities and both of you interacting with each other. Feel free to explore the area, dance, tell stories, whatever is natural for you! Occasionally I may ask you to move to a different area of the location so I can compose the photos differently and provide a variety in background. But ultimately, I want you to feel comfortable and be yourselves!”
When needed, I may give you a few movement prompts in the beginning to get to you started and feeling comfortable. If you saw an epic pose or two online that you want to recreate, we can DEFINITLEY do that. But I keep most of our photo-shooting time together free & natural.
Movement Prompts – In this case, the photographer will give you a prompt and have you execute it. These generally create more movement in the photos, and give you some freedom to play around with the prompt they gave you.
For example, “Okay so I’m going to have you guys start over there and I will be over here, and I want you to hold hands and drunk walk towards me while looking at each other.” or “I want you to run around the area, occasionally coming together to hug, kiss, or pick each other up, then keep running around.”
Still Posing – These photos are when the photographer will direct you to stand or sit in a very specific pose. They will most likely have you put your hands in specific places, have you look in a specific direction, and they will have you hold this still in this pose until they have captured it. Throughout your day, you’ll be moving between spots and each time your photographer will direct you.
For example, “Okay Mary will you wrap your arms around Joe’s left arm, while turning your body in towards him. Have your hands overlay each other like this *photographer shows with their hands*. Joe will you turn the left side of your body slightly in towards Mary. Okay Mary, rest your head on Joe’s shoulder and look at me. Joe go ahead and look down at Mary. Perfect! Hold it for a minute.”
Each photographer has a unique editing style, some are darker & moody, other are light & airy, some are full & rich in color, others prefer muting the color tones. For most people, this can make or break the final images for them! This is part of the creative process a photographer goes through to provide amazing images to you.
When looking through a photographers portfolio, make sure to look far & wide! You may like a few images they have edited, but not all. Keep in mind that their editing style may look different when the photos was taken on a sand dune or in a lush forest. Try and find photos within their portfolio that are at a similar location and the subjects are wearing outfits in colors similar to what you plan on wearing.
For example, If you are looking for a photographer to capture your engagement, and you want your photos near pine trees and the grooms suit is navy blue and the brides flowers are pink & coral, I would try and find photos they’ve taken a location with lots of greenery and situations where the suit was navy and photos with pink & coral tones. It may not be in the same photo. but try and find as many examples of their work as you can that fit your vision. If you can’t find photos that somewhat fit your vision, ask them if they have any examples that could reflect that.
I want to show just how different the same photo can look with a different editing style. Here are 2 photos, edited 7 different ways.
If you were looking for a photographer for your wedding or elopement, you’re probably best off hiring a elopement/wedding photographer, rather than a newborn photographer or food photographer. A photographer who specializes in elopements (or whatever kind of photos you were looking for) will better know how to make you and your partner feel comfortable! I’ve known people who have not hired within the specialty they are looking for, and most of them have been disappointed.
Shooting, editing, and composition styles vary widely between specialties. If you are considering hiring someone outside of their specialty, ask if they have any work they can show you from the type of photoshoot your looking into.
Location & Travel
This is a big one, that doesn’t pertain directly to a photographers work. There are a few things to consider such as: Where does the photographer live? If they don’t live near you, will there be additional travel fees? Will they travel? (Some photographers don’t) For me as a photographer, I love to travel! I have different base packages (that include travel) for the various locations and regions I will travel to.
If you have found a photographer that you love that isn’t nearby, I think it’s worth it to have your photographer travel, if they’re willing. After all, especially if it’s a big moment in your life, you only get to live that moment once, so you should be 100% happy with and trust your photographer!
This is what plays the biggest part for most people. Each photographer’s prices will be different, but just know that a lot goes in to determining prices. Prices are generally based off the photographer’s experience, equipment, business expenses (insurance, website fees, marketing, etc.), supply & demand, etc.
If a photographer isn’t in your price range, it is probably best to look for someone else. It can be SO hard when someone reaches out to me asking for a discount, I want to help and serve everyone I can, but I, and most photographers, put an exuberant amount of thought into our prices. Most of the time I have to explain that I am not able to offer a discount at that time and give them referrals instead.
Turn Around Time
If they don’t clearly state on their website how soon after you’re session you will get photos back, that’s a good question to ask your photographer! Most photographers range from 2 to 3 weeks for basic sessions, and 6 to 8 weeks for weddings and elopements. If you need the photos for a specific purpose soon after your photoshoot, you may be able to pay a rush fee or work with your photographer to get your photos back in time.
If you have a specific date in mind, and they aren’t available, you’ll have to find someone else! Just know, that some photographers are booked out for months. If your elopement or photoshoot needs to be on a specific date and time, start reaching out to photographers as soon as possible. If you’re flexible, but have a time range, reach out to photographer and compare yours and their availability.
Some photographers may not have an elopement or photoshoot for the date you are inquiring for, but instead put limits on how many elopement they’ll take on a year, or how much time needs to be between each one. For myself I only take on 30 elopements a year, max. This way I can devote the time needed to each individual couple to give the attention they deserve for their elopement. For each elopement, I block out at least 3 days, the day of, the day before and after. That way if anything happens (weather emergency, couple travel delays, etc.) we can move things around when possible. I also ensure that there is enough time between elopements so I can edit photos and do other back-end work for my couples.
Number of Photos You’ll Receive
Some photographers have a set number of photos you will receive, and some have a minimum guarantee (but will commonly deliver more than their guarantee). Which are you more comfortable with?
Personally, I guarantee a minimum number of photos, but always deliver more than that! I am friends with several photographers who will deliver a set number of photos. Sometimes they choose which ones you’ll receive and sometimes you will, with the option to purchase the others. The number of photos you’ll receive varies by photographer.
If they have a Google business profile, Facebook page, or pages on wedding vendor sites, what have their past clients said about them? Be aware that one bad review, does not mean they’re bad photographer. While reading reviews, take each one, good & bad, with a grain of salt.
One of my friends, who is a fellow photographer, who I have worked with as she hasbphotographed me, had a client who was extremely dissatisfied with their final images. It primarily came down to her shooting and editing style. This friend reached out and asked me to help her appropriately approach this situation. Based on what I read & heard from the client’s communications, it seems they didn’t do much research into my friend. They loved a few key images in her website (and referenced those images in their communications), but based on the clients location, time of day and color choices, they were not similar enough to those key images. Environmental & subject situations can greatly vary the images within a single photographers portfolio. That client went on to leave bad reviews on every platform for my friend. Based on my experience with this photographer, the client’s review did not accurately depict my friend or her business (and the other reviews reflected her true nature).
Like I said, take each review with a grain of salt.
Also be aware that some photographers reviews platforms may have changed some-what recently, so all their reviews may not be on the new platform. Or occasionally there will be platform tech issues that delete all the past reviews left (this is more common than you may think).
This is the BIGGEST one! The ways your personalities interact, can determine how comfortable you’ll feel around your photographer. You can get a good read on their personality through their social media profiles and websites.
Most photographers are comfortable with hopping on a zoom call with potential clients before they book. This is a perfect way to see if your personalities connect or clash. Clashing personalities can hinder the final outcome.
Some questions to ask yourself while chatting with a photographer …
– Do I feel like I could be their friend?
– Do they accept my vision for the photo shoot?
– What kind of vibe are they giving you?
– Are they excited to be talking with me?
– Is there anything that they’ve said that makes me feel uncomfortable?
If possible, try and find a photographer in which you can be comfortable with, in every aspect, price, personality, style, etc.
I hope you are able to find a photographer that is perfect for you and your project!
If you have questions that I can help with, feel free to comment below or contact me through my inquiry page!
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