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After 6 years specialising in Hunter Valley wedding photography, I know that after the ring goes on the finger and the ring-selfies are taken, couples normally set a date and pick a venue… then, they go on the search for a wedding photographer (which can be 12 or sometimes 18 months in advance!) Now, being newly engaged myself – eeep – I totally know that trying to find a great wedding photographer can seem majorly daunting. But, there is one secret that I want to share with you that you need to know when it comes to what to do and how to find the right wedding photographer for you!

Here is it:

STOP. BREATHE. DON’T EMAIL EVERYONE.

Singleton Engagement Photos by Just For Love PhotographySingleton Engagement Photos by Just For Love Photography

I get it. You have no idea what they will cost and you want to pay a fair price – BUT, under no circumstances should you send off generic enquiries to every wedding photographer you can find in your area. Let me explain…

The wedding industry is pretty small – the wedding photography community even smaller – even in large cities. Generally, we are all small business owners that refer work to each other when we are already booked. It is a way of giving back and helping our peers but also making sure that we can send some referrals through to you when your enquiry hits our inbox and we can’t do it – we are a pretty helpful bunch!

SO, when you send out a generic email to the masses – it’s almost a guarantee that one of the photographers you emailed isn’t available and will put your wedding date and enquiry (don’t worry, they would never share your contact details) into one of our local referral groups. That way, when they reply to you, they can suggest other photographers that are available and might be a good fit for your wedding day… BUT, instead of having peers comment and leave their contact info because they’re available; the comments are generally “Oh… I got this email too.”

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As the “I got this email too” comments start flooding in, it becomes evident that you emailed A LOT of photographers. Photographers with so many different styles and approaches and at SO many different price points. Again, I understand that you’re trying to save time and you want to get a variety of prices to look over but here’s the thing…

+ A photographer chooses to work with you as much as you choose to work with them! You want to be a good fit for each other because if you’re not, you won’t get the best photos you can get from your wedding day or enjoy the experience. If their first impression of you is centred around the fact that you contacted every single photographer they know and failed to connect with the images that they pour their heart & soul into – they might believe that it won’t work out and not pursue your enquiry. For most of the photographers who genuinely love their job, they need to feel a connection with their clients before accepting a booking.

Majority of wedding photographers will have their prices or at least a ‘starting from’ price on their website. You guys, do your research. This in itself will save you a whole lot of time! If you’re adamant you want to get 15+  price lists from wedding photographers in a small window of time, why not check out a local wedding expo. Personally, I think that will be super overwhelming – but hey, if that’s what you want to do, an expo would be perfect for that. Just walk up and down each aisle and ask each photographer what their prices are! Want some tips before you head to your next expo, this post might be helpful for you: TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR NEXT WEDDING EXPO

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Ok, so I hear you. You’re wondering what the hell do you do then? How do you go about finding the right one, at the right price?

HOW TO FIND YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

This is what I recommend:

+ RESEARCH. Spend some time looking into the different styles that you may like… do you like the vibrant, colourful photos or are you more a dark & moody type of couple? Would you want someone to document the entire day, from getting ready to a sparkler exit – and maybe an engagement session – or would you prefer someone just be there for the main events (Ceremony, Bridal Portraits & Reception.) Start looking at wedding photos online… and take note of what you both like. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend anyone (and see who is a preferred supplier at your Wedding Venue)… and then make sure you look at the photos they take before you get in touch (there’s no point wasting your time contacting them if you don’t like what you see!)

+ USE YOUR BOOKMARKS FOLDER and keep track of all the wedding photographers whose work you like and that seem to offer collections that fall approximately within your budget. Once you’ve narrowed it down to about 4-6, make sure to sit down with your partner and show them too (if they haven’t been involved up to now.)

Bride and Groom with Alpacas & Llamas on their Wedding Day

+ TOGETHER, CHOOSE YOUR TOP 3 photographers to contact. This is where you’ll learn more specifics about what they offer and how they work… and of course, find out if they’re available or not. If they aren’t, you’ll normally receive an email back with a list of referrals that are similar in style to them and that they know are available for your wedding date.

+ SET UP A MEETING either in person or via Skype or Facetime. As I mentioned, it’s super important to find a photographer that is a good fit for you both and that you feel comfortable with and a quick chat helps you discover that. Ask them any quesitons you have about photography and your wedding BUT also ask them some personal questions too! One thing to keep in mind is that normally a photographer requires a retainer to officially secure the date for you both so as soon as you know you want to book with them, make sure to get in touch quickly and finalise your booking – otherwise you’re at risk of them accepting another wedding in the meantime and then becoming unavailable when you get in touch again. Which would probably break both your hearts (yours and the photographers!)

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SO… there you go! The secret to finding your wedding photographer is more of a ‘please don’t send mass emails’ – because I know how they can potentially jeopardize the relationship you could have with your perfect photographer… and if you want a stack of quotes in a short amount of time, remember to hit up a wedding expo instead!

So.. what do you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, love Kylie xx

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