November 19, 2021
With the endless amount of talented photographers out there in today’s world, it can be really freaking hard to choose the perfect photographer for you. How do you narrow down your search? How the hell do you pick just ONE? In this blog post, I want to give you my best tips on how to choose your elopement or wedding photographer.
And not just how to choose a talented photographer, but how to choose a photographer that truly aligns with what you’re looking to get out of your elopement/wedding.
I’m going to do this by talking about the key things to consider when hiring your elopement photographer, from your connection with them, to their values & personality, to their style of photos.
First, let’s talk about why it’s so important to pick the right photographer for you!
Connection + Aligned Values = Key
In the past, wedding photographers might not have been as “important” to a wedding as they are now. They may have simply been a person who is good with a camera, showing up to photograph the day, and giving the couple beautiful photos. That’s all well & fine, but with traditions around weddings coming more into question these past few years, photographers have become more than just photographers.
I primarily photograph adventure elopements because that’s where my passion lies. Not only am I a damn good photographer, but because I believe so much in what I do, I’m able to offer my clients a top-notch experience.
With all that said, it’s incredibly important to not only pick a talented photographer who will give you beautiful photos, but to pick one that you truly connect with on a personal level.
Your photographer is going to be with you through a lot of the process! And, they’re one of the few vendors who will actually be present for the entire elopement/wedding day. So you want to make sure you like your photographer & are able to build trust with them to capture your day perfectly!
How to Do This:
When searching for a photographer, look for people whose personality you enjoy & connect with. Look for somebody who has similar passions to you, and whose values you align with.
This will not only allow you to book a photographer who truly cares about you & wants to give you an incredible experience but will also allow you to feel 1000% comfortable being yourself in front of their camera. Because being in front of a lens can be stressful! Especially, if you feel super uncomfortable or are afraid to show your true emotions in front of your photographer!
Here’s an Example
Here’s a little about me, to give you an example.
After years of photographing weddings and seeing many of my couples booking adventure engagement sessions beforehand, I started to see a disconnect. A disconnect between the free-spiritedness of an adventure session & the production of traditional weddings. So I decided to shift my energy toward adventure elopements because that’s where I found my true passion lies.
Adventure elopements are for couples who want to focus on being together above all else and celebrating THEM.
I am a photographer for couples who are looking to celebrate through exploration of nature and the intimacy of an elopement, not for couples who are looking to celebrate with a big, traditional wedding. When couples book me, I make sure that their values align with mine. That way, they’re getting a photographer who is truly passionate about their elopement and creating an incredible experience for them.
Knowledge & Expertise Matter
When you’re searching for your elopement photographer, make sure you know their level of knowledge & expertise. If you’re trying to spend less on a photographer, it might be best to find someone who is just getting into the industry and doesn’t have as much experience. And if you’re looking for an experienced, knowledgeable photographer who knows their stuff & provides a top-level client experience, your investment will be higher.
This is up to how important your photos are to you, and how much of a priority they are compared to the rest of your elopement vendors. Would you rather sacrifice more money for an incredible photographer who you trust, or sacrifice some expertise about your elopement to spend less money?
Picture Your Dream Photographer
Let’s do a little exercise – I want you to picture your dream photographer.
When you think about your perfect, ideal, 10/10 elopement photographer, what does that look like? What does that NOT look like?
Think about it using the questions below to guide you!
What do they offer – both tangible & not tangible?
What actual services & products does your dream photographer offer?
When it comes to tangible items, are you looking for a photographer who will give you access to all of your photos digitally? Would you rather find somebody who prioritizes albums & other physical products? What type of “result” matters to you most: getting your photos digitally or physically? Or do you not really care either way?
And when it comes to services that aren’t tangible, what would your photographer offer? Maybe you’re looking for a photographer who offers planning assistance through complimentary calls or meetings before the elopement. Or maybe you don’t care as much about having them help with planning; you’d rather them be THE top expert in their art, providing you with incredible, unique photos.
Think also about what your non-negotiables are. This could be assistance with planning, access to your online gallery forever, high-quality albums & prints, etc.
How involved are they in the planning process?
Going off what I mentioned above, think about how involved in the planning process you’d like your photographer to be.
Would you rather work with a photographer who is by your side the whole time, helping you plan, giving you vendor recommendations, and helping you with your timeline? Or are you hiring a coordinator/planner who you’d rather hand that off to, and have your photographer only show up on the day-of?
How much do you want to communicate with them beforehand? Are you wanting somebody who will be super communicative throughout the whole process? Or somebody who’s more hands-off & allows you to do it yourself?
Have they been to your location?
This is a big one! Do you care if they’ve been to your elopement location previously?
Many photographers are great at shooting at new locations, as they’re experienced in photographing new lighting, adapting, and researching locations ahead of time. This is great for some couples who may not care if their photographer has been to their exact location, and if they fully trust their photographer to be an expert no matter where the elopement.
But some couples may specifically want a photographer who’s an expert in their area, at their elopement location. For example, I shoot at Mount Rainier more often than anywhere else, and I know the park like the back of my hand. That might be super important to some couples, and not as important to others.
What is their presence like on the elopement day?
Think about what their presence looks like on the actual elopement day. Do you want somebody who will be helping every step of the way, picking up your dress while you walk, helping carry items, talking to you throughout the day? Or would you rather them be more of a fly-on-the-wall, staying more in the background?
Think about what your elopement experience will look like and who you want helping out on the day of, whether it be your photographer or a family member/friend. If having a photographer who is super involved on the day will stress you out, that’s okay! Search for someone who won’t be that involved!
Consider the Aesthetic You’re Drawn To
Finally, you want to find the perfect photog because you obviously want to LOVE your photos. There are a few factors that go into what your photos look like: the photographer’s style of posing, shooting, & editing.
Some photographers pose couples more heavily; their clients may want lots of help figuring out where to stand and how to move themselves. Because that’s how they will feel most confident.
But some photographers (like me) work with couples more organically, not doing any heavy posing. Focusing more on candid storytelling.
I definitely help direct my couples when needed and help make sure they look amazing, are placed in the best lighting, etc. But you won’t find me asking my couples to do any awkward, uncomfortable poses – because that’s just not who my couples are. They want me to help them look their best but allow them the freedom to express their love & emotions in their own way.
Find a photographer who matches the style of posing you’re looking for, and the level of direction you’re wanting!
It’s also important to love your photographer’s shooting style. If your favorite photos are ones that showcase the landscape from far away, find a photographer who shoots wide landscape photos often. Or maybe you really cherish photos that are more close-up, showcasing more emotion in faces and not as much of the background.
Different photographers will have different styles of shooting: far away, closeup, or a mixture of both. Certain photographers will play around more with their shooting at each session or elopement, trying new ways of shooting with lighting, focused & out-of-focus shots, etc. And some tend to keep it clean with a consistent style for every photo.
Figure out what style you lean toward + what style makes you feel the most by stalking a ton of photographers’ work!
Lastly, it’s important to love your photographer’s style of editing. This means you like how they adjust the photos after they’re taken: some photographers like giving their photos a slightly more moody, romantic feel through their editing of colors and lighting, while some aim for a brighter, more clean look.
There are endless different editing styles out there, so find the aesthetic you love most when looking through photographers. There’s no wrong answer here! You just need to find what style you’re most attracted to & will make your elopement photos timeless!
The Process of Working with Your Washington Elopement Photographer
Want to learn all about the process of working with me if you hire me as your photographer? First of all, I’m honored! 😉 Check out my article on What the Process of Working With Me Looks Like for all the details!