As a wedding planner, your responsibilities may include selecting, interviewing, and choosing the wedding photographer, especially if your clients opt for a full-stack wedding package.
There are many considerations in this process, beyond whether the photographer can take lovely photos or if they are within the soon-to-be wedded couple’s budget.
Prepare your checklist, and let’s get clicking.
Your Guide to Working With Wedding Photographers
The Yellow Pages won’t be the best place for finding a wedding photographer. Similarly, social media may not help either, as many professional wedding photographers may not always publish their work online.
As with any business relationship, it is easy for things to get lost in translation. In fact, more than 80 percent of employees say that miscommunication occurs frequently. This may be the same with you and a vendor.
Therefore, your communication needs to be clear. Keep notes and a contract to keep all parties involved to adhere to the agreements.
Finding a Wedding Photographer
The happy couple may already have a wedding photographer in mind. Most people choose their photographer based on recommendations from friends and family. If they don’t have a photographer in mind, search online or browse wedding vendors for suggestions.
Getting a few sample photos from each candidate is an excellent way to discuss photographer options with the couple. Next, create a shortlist of likely candidates that you will narrow down with the following criteria.
The Vetting Process
Some wedding photographers take stunning photos, only to have terrible wedding manners that may be off-putting to the couple. Other photographers have built a reputation for dumping couples a few weeks before the wedding or double booking.
The vetting process involves scrutinizing the photographer’s portfolio, perhaps phoning some of their previous clients and asking for some background information on the photographer.
Choosing a photographer with post-secondary education is not necessarily the best solution. Still, a photographer with qualifications is also more likely to be professional and more experienced.
Meet the Photographer
The wedding photographer will be quite an intimate part of the wedding day. They will be hands-on while the bride and groom change, during the ceremony, and at the reception.
It is much better if the couple and the photographer (and their team) get along well and efficiently work together.
When meeting your prospective photographer, notice the following:
- Does your photographer exchange ideas during the meeting?
- Do they listen while you and the couple explain the wedding ideas?
- Are they open about their portfolio and their experience level?
- Do they get evasive when you discuss the photo budget?
At the meeting, you also want to ask a few straight-up questions covering topics such as these:
You may ask the photographer whether they will personally be shooting the photos, have assistants, and require accommodation at the wedding venue.
Ask how often they take wedding shoots, if they are familiar with the wedding venue, and if they would like to visit the venue beforehand.
Also, ask whether the photographer has previously shot a similar wedding in terms of size, scope, colors, and venue.
The photographer may choose to play a background role, choosing to take photos as opportunities present. Or they may like to play a more prominent role in orchestrating wedding shots and being involved in the venue styling.
Pricing and Packages
At the end of the day, your wedding photographer needs to fit into your budget. Asking them what their different wedding packages cost and entail is a great way to find out what is offered.
Ask what’s included and whether there’s some flexibility to tailor the package to the couple’s needs.
Prints and Albums
The wedding photographer’s role is to take photos on the big day, and it’s up to you to enquire about the printing of photos and albums. There may also be videos to consider.
It’s important to ask what the copyright of the images will be and whether the photographer reserves the right to share some photos on social media as publicity for their studio. Also, enquire about the process for future prints.
This is where you check the payment plan, insurance, booking fees, the shooting process, and cancellation fees. Covering all aspects of the before, during, and after-wedding process with the photographer will ensure no nasty surprises.
Logistics questions to ask include where the photographer will be staying for the wedding duration, if their equipment is insured, and if they have a backup camera. Other questions are how their team will be dressed and if there’s a travel fee.
Signing the Contract
Setting down the actual terms of what you have discussed with the wedding photographer in a contract is the best way to ensure everybody involved in the wedding is on the same page.
Some wedding photographers have a standard contract based on the wedding package you have selected. Be sure to read carefully before the bride and groom sign. The contract may include any of the following details:
- Work hours
- Travel arrangements
- Number in the photographer’s party (for away weddings)
- Details of the selected package
- Failure to perform services clause
- Cancellation clause
Have a Pre-Wedding Planning Meeting
As the wedding day draws closer, be sure to set some time aside to meet with the bride and groom (and possibly the in-laws too), as well as the photographer and their team.
This meeting is vital as this is where you will be ironing out all the finer details such as:
- Time of arrival at the venue
- Time to spend on each section of the wedding
- Guestlist in order of importance for photos
- Who is responsible for which aspect of the photo process
- Where photos will be taken
- What will happen if the weather is inclement
- Who may ask the photographers to take specific photos (if this is an option)
- Parking for the photographers’ vehicles
- Accommodation and/or meal arrangements for the photographer and their assistants
- Dress code
- Other considerations such as the bride and groom’s ethnicity, religion, and cultural rituals that may feature at the wedding
Set up an Engagement Session with Your Wedding Photographer
Few people are comfortable in front of the camera. So setting up a pre-wedding photoshoot is a good way to break the ice and create a good exchange between the bride and groom and the photographer. This will ensure the actual wedding day photos will be more natural and pleasing.
Some people use the rehearsal dinner as an informal photo shoot with their photographer to better get to know each other.
Create a Wedding Day Timeline
The wedding day is busy. It’s really busy. And knowing beforehand what should happen where and at what time ensures nothing gets left undone.
Drawing up a timeline before the wedding day will help the photographer know where they need to be for each particular event on the day.
The bride’s dressing room with the bridesmaids may be on the timeline for an informal set of photos of the bride getting ready. You may also include a section on the groom waiting for the bride to arrive.
Ideally, the photographer will have a second photographer working with them to take shots for both parties to the wedding.
Create a Shot List
Most brides (and some grooms) browse Pinterest for ideas of photos they may like. Some of these may be possible with their wedding theme; others may be illogical and not suitable.
Discuss potential shots for the wedding with the photographer and the couple. Include a list of photos such as the formal photos with the family before and after the ceremony.
A list of which wedding guests need to be in photos is also a good way to ensure nobody gets offended afterward.
Confirming the Booking
Confirm the booking three months before the wedding via email. Ensuring the confirmations are in writing helps should there be any cancellations or legal disputes.
Follow up a month before the wedding with another confirmation as well as confirmation of the payment process. Lastly, confirm a week before and the day before to ensure everything flows smoothly.
Communicate on the Wedding Day
Stay in touch on the wedding day. Ensure you have all the contact numbers for the bride and groom, their immediate wedding party, the photographer and their team, as well as the venue events manager. This helps you track down anyone you may need to find or discuss things with as the day progresses.
Encourage teamwork, and while the wedding is a stressful day, focus on keeping discussions jovial. Remember, a stressed wedding will result in stressed photos. Avoid this by adding a little humor.
Stay in Touch
The wedding photographer is likely not going to be a one-off contact. Build a good relationship as they will be a vital part of your wedding planning business.
The photographer may refer clients to you. If you work well with a particular photographer, you can refer your clients to them. This is networking at its best.
Working with a Wedding Photographers (Without a Hitch)
Working with a wedding photographer is very similar to how you’d work with any other wedding vendor. The process starts with finding a photographer, vetting and meeting them, setting out the terms and conditions of the contract, regularly communicating, and being clear on what’s expected.
Ask the wedding photographer how you can help them too, as this fosters team spirit.