It can be challenging navigating the world of wedding planning - to say the least. This is especially true when you are looking for specialists in fields that are a) very often foreign to your own and b) over-saturated. At Poppy & Sage Photography, we try to make life a little easier for everyone; we would like to share some thoughts and tips on how to go about narrowing down the right photographer for you individually (we find that often one partner takes greater responsibility for aspects of planning, such as choosing a photographer) and as a couple, too, of course.
Choosing a photographer is a huge commitment. So many styles to navigate. Do you want documentary? Fine art? Edgy, bold, colourful? A great photographer will make an "average" wedding look stunning. A bad photographer will make a stunning wedding look average... or worse. More than that, though, some (definitely not all!) of the most popular wedding photographers do not necessarily have strong, well-composed, thoughtfully executed portfolios but have wonderful, easy-going personalities that make everyone feel comfortable and relaxed - an essential ingredient for the recipe of wedding photography you want to look back on for a lifetime. What if you want it all, though? Photographers who mesh well with your personalities and create images that you will treasure?
Here is a deductive process we recommend to help you to hopefully hit the jackpot:
1) Is this a business or a hobby?
One key indicator is whether the business has an ABN or not. Sometimes you will find this information on the business website and sometimes you need to ask for it. Another indicator is whether they have liablility or not. (You will find details for both our ABN and liability on our FAQ page.) Having associated paperwork (such as the above) tells you that the owner(s) is invested & takes their business more seriously than a hobby (just one piece of the puzzle but a very important one).
While on the topic of paperwork, do they offer you a written contract? Very often clients think of the contract as having a sole purpose: to protect the business. However, the contract is there to protect you, too. The business is legally bound to follow through on their end of the bargain. Do they clearly articulate the deliverables to you (minimum number of total images? Or how many images will be delivered per hour? Or turnaround for said images? Et cetera...).
2) Does this business genuinely care about our needs & wants?
How would you even know? It can be almost standard to feel like a number in business and you are as time-poor as everyone else so where do you even start? Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with gut feelings. For example: if you feel as though you are being rushed to close the sale and things are not progressing at your own rate, this can be a key indicator that you are simply $$$ to the business. Another example: we all have insecurities we want to be able to work around and angles we prefer to be avoided. If you don't feel comfortable discussing these kinds of details with your photographer, they are probably not the best fit for you.
However, there are some tangible indicators, too. For example, how happy are they to catch up and have a chat with you? A wedding photographer should have excellent communication skills; good listening is non-negotiable. You will only be able to determine this by having a chat. If your location is outside a reasonable travel zone, are they happy to jump on skype? Make time for you over the phone? There is not much point falling in love with a photographer's work but then not really getting each other in person. We welcome whatever form of communication you prefer and we are very happy to meet in person within a 10 km radius of Brisbane CBD. We especially appreciate the opportunity as it breaks the ice. Furthermore, if you do choose to book with us, the wedding day itself will be so much more relaxed. We are another familiar and friendly face on the day. :)
Another key area to focus on is how well they get to know you and your wants and needs. We recently read through a comment thread on facebook. One bride mentioned that her photographer took ~50 detail shots of her dress and that she did not particularly care for that many. We love a good detail shot (could easily take 50 ourselves!) but we wouldn't if we knew that was low priority for the couple concerned. For example, we provide our couples with a detailed questionnaire upon initial contact. We do this to get a feel for your priorities and vision. Completing the questionnaire gives us an insight into your style and taste, too. Frequently, the questionnaire is handed back to us with unanswered questions. This is totally fine, too! If the question is asking for an answer that is not a big deal for you, that is still valid information for us. We try to tailor our product to suit both of you as closely as we possibly can.
3) Does the business interact with other related businesses or attend industry events, such as wedding fairs?
In other words, you're looking for social accountability. Is this business known to other businesses and do they seem to have some sort of rapport? The more you find a vendor sitting on the fringes of their industry, the more likely they are to be either complacent or unreliable... and sometimes both. We work with other businesses regularly; we share the information for the ones we love here.
4) Do I LOVE the photographer's portfolio or am I just okay with it?
Only you can answer this question satisfactorily. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have signature shots that we gravitate toward. We all have our own unique "eye" or bias or perspective. We all have our own secret editing sauce. It is so important that you find the portfolio that resonates with you. While you are going through the process of narrowing down a photographer, pick their portfolio apart. For example, if your wedding is in the middle of the day, you want to look for images shot in full sun. Do their indoor and outdoor images differ greatly? Perhaps their outdoor images are not that great but your wedding is indoors in a cathedral and they rock those particular shots in their portfolio?! Better yet, ask to see a full wedding and decide for yourself if they capture all the moments that matter to you and your significant other.
5) Does this business support a cause bigger than themselves?
People seem to be much more savvy these days when it comes to choosing a business to support. We all want to be part of something that makes a positive difference. Something that makes this world a better place to be in. The reality is this: the fact that we all need to put food on the table for our families and pay our bills is not necessarily reason enough to support a business. However, when you see a business doing their bit to not only support themselves but contribute to society as well, it is so much easier to get behind that. Find one that supports a cause you care about, too. That's our personal challenge for you! :)
When you are booking, feel free to check with us if we are supporting a local organisation at that time. We regularly run campaigns supporting local charity organisations. You will find information for them during that period. If we are supporting at the time you book, we will pass on their specific details and we will donate 10% of the total amount of money you spend on our service.
All the best for your search and may it be as smooth as possible!