Good advice on how to find a great Wedding Photographer!

As promised, I'm out there reading blogs, articles, how-to's, top 10 lists.... yeah, it's a lot, I know.  I'm finding all the "good stuff" for potential and upcoming brides and grooms!

Here's a story straight from "The Knot" with some pretty good tips!

The full article here by Wendy Laurel:

10 Steps to Finding a Great Wedding Photographer

  And... my takeaway bullet points:

Do Your Homework

Start your search by reading reviews from recent newlyweds and browsing hundreds of local listings. Carefully review potential photographers' websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they've shot, which will give you an idea of their style. The design of the website may also have clues about the photographer's personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if possible. Is the feedback from clients positive? How does the photographer respond?
This is so important and I see so many who don't do this.  By the time you sit and talk with a potential photographer, you should have spent at least a few minutes on their website, Facebook, and googling them!  The more you know, the easier the decision will become.

"Set Up Interviews

This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their site—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they're available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, wedding style and what you envision for your photos."
Yeah, we're busy, we know you're busy too, but... as she said, this is not a decision to be left to chance.  You will spend more time with your photographers than with your spouse on your wedding day... well, until after, then... yeah, I don't want to be there!

"Make Sure Your Personalities Mesh

Don't underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn't irritate you in any way. Remember: They'll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don't want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener."
This goes with the last point, if you don't like this person whom you're paying hundreds or thousands of dollars, why are you hiring them?  There are so many good and even great photographers in the Tampa Bay Area.  Why settle?  A great portfolio, awesome reviews, tons of experience don't mean a darn thing if you can't get along.  Trust me, you will appreciate the photos from someone you like, and trust far better than someone with a huge reputation that you can't stand. The article goes on to other things, like packages, confirming who will actually be at your wedding.  Good things to keep in mind! I'll end my story here by saying, there are so many variables, so many things to watch for when hiring a photographer, it can really become overwhelming, so, I'll give a few simple steps myself to help you along.
  1.  As they said, check out your potential photographer fully.  Business licenses, insurance, how long in business?  Do they have a website?  Reviews (Weddingwire, Google, Yelp, and The Knot are just a few sources).  Don't use the "one basket" method.  Just because your photographer is popular at a certain venue or website, is not necessarily an indicator of how good of a job they will do for you.  You have to do a little legwork here, and check them out.
  2. MEET THEM.  Can't stress it enough.  I'm not your typical Wedding Photographer, and I'll admit, some people have a hard time with my personality.  I'm a bit loud, I have strong opinions, and I think I'm funnier than I probably am.  In the end, I bust my butt for my clients, but... you can't know that without meeting me, and hearing the words direct from my mouth.  Text on a page doesn't cut it for personal interactions!  Oh, you're having a destination wedding and meeting in person is just not possible.  I get it, and we have a lot of those.  A phonecall in this case is the best you can do.  At least you get to hear their voice, you'd be amazed what you can pick up on from a voice versus an email.
  3. Price is important, but not the end all.  Sure, Wedding Photography is expensive.  And... Wedding Photographers have latched onto the "You get what you pay for!" addage a bit too much in my opinion.  So much so that even newbies with less than a year under their belt are charging above national average prices to shoot and hopefully not mess up your wedding.  Price is a personal thing.  You're going to spend more than you probably think you should for a good wedding photographer, but... don't buy based on price alone.  I mean high and low.  Some guideline:  You're not likely to get a great photographer for under $500, no matter what they tell you.  Conversely, spending $3,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 does not guarantee you a great one.  See points #1 and #2 again.
  4. Never feel pressured.  If they try to get you to sign today with lame used car lines like, "I'll knock off 5% if you sign today.", or "I'll throw in this doohicky if you contract with us right now.", run.  Those sales tactics are for people who lack confidence in their work, or, have something to hide.  It's tacky.  It's pressure and I just can't stand for it.  Sure, we're all booking hundreds of brides this afternoon, and there's no way to know if your date will be available tomorrow.  Yup, there is a touch of truth there, but, a reputable businessperson will give you time to think without pressure, rather than give you the hard sell.

Okay.  I think that's a pretty good list.  Again, go check out Wendy Laurel's article on The Knot:

10 Steps to Finding a Great Wedding Photographer