April 25, 2024

Hot take: Wedding photos for life, not for likes

Finding the best wedding photographer for you comes down to one question: what do you value the most?

A bride walks down the aisle with her father on a farm in springtime.

When you search “how to find a wedding photographer” on Google, thousands of results populate trying to answer your question, but these results only answer half of the question, because only you can know who the best wedding photographer is for you.

The quizzes, checklists, sponsored listings, and vendor pairing sites are overwhelming. Despite the lack of activity on my blog, the process of finding the right fit is always on my mind. The only conclusion and the best advice I have when looking for your wedding photographer is simple: decide what you’re looking for and never settle.

Hear me out. I know “never settling” sounds easier said than done. That does not mean breaking the bank on a photographer– you always have to make the right decision for you, and no one else knows what is best for you other than you.

Here, what “not settling” means knowing exactly what values you’re looking for in the person holding the camera and settling for nothing less.

You’re not just looking for a body with arms and thumbs for holding a camera who can copy a viral photo from Pinterest. Probably.
(It sounds silly, but am I wrong? You need someone whose style, perspective, creativity, personality, and craftsmanship you can trust, right?)

Are you looking for the best deal (and possibly willing to take come-what-may with a bargain)? There’s no shame in that by any means.

Or, are you looking for an experience with someone who is ready for anything and who, after the cake is cut, you’ll trade home repair secrets with like old friends?

Are you okay with a hands-off approach, a photographer you meet and/or speak to once before the wedding, if at all?

Or, do you want a photographer who’s communicating with you and hyping you up from the moment you inquire until the moment you’re leaping into your send-off car after the wedding?

Do you want originality and personality in your wedding photos? Or a photographer who’s cheaper and sticks to what they know will work for them?

Know that you deserve to work with an artist who makes you feel like a masterpiece, and by all means, find the person who recreates images they’ve seen on Tumblr —if you’re into that. Just know that you shouldn’t have to choose between photos for life and photos for likes.

Your photos will live on in your family for generations and survive longer than any Instagram “like” count could dream of. Pinterest trends come and go, but that framed newlywed portrait on your mantle is forever.

To take a step back: a lot of thought has gone into this post.

People say if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Cynics follow this statement up with “…because those jobs aren’t hiring”, and optimists believe there’s truth in the innocent adage. After leaving social work and turning my passion for people as a wedding photographer into a business, I can safely say that I’ve landed squarely in the middle of these two viewpoints when trying to give my clients the very best.

In the social work profession, as in many professional fields, we pledge ourselves to a code of ethics.

We are instructed to, first and foremost, treat all people with dignity and respect. We assume unconditional positive regard and we meet people where they are.

I feel like many of these are good practices in everyday life, as I currently apply them in wedding photography.

I’ve never been so thrilled to go to a day of work — a wedding day — after months of prepping for engagement sessions and crafting timelines. I’m still excited to commit hours then pouring over images during editing and album curation. I’ve also never felt so out of my element in my life. It’s been a deep dive into a corner of creativity, technology, and parts of humanity that I never expected.

Transitioning to a career as a photographer has meant learning how to sell not only your art but also how to brand yourself—that is, the self. What makes each of us unique typically isn’t widely commercialized because it’s rare. It’s intangible.

Then, there’s finding a way to match this branded version of yourself with clients who seek a product that you offer, wrapped up in the trappings of an experience only you can provide. Matching is the goal. In my personal experience, I’ve found is that couples trying to find a wedding photographer tend to either want the photographer for their art or they’re hunting for the best bargain. (Again, there’s no wrong way to go about this! It’s up to you to know what you want to prioritize.) What is absolutely the right thing to do, however, is to communicate those needs to your photographer.

Folks, we’re about to hit the three-year mark here at Stokes Del Rio, and I’m still learning new things all the time.

This third year has meant figuring out that “meeting people where they are” means learning where and when is right to show up for them in the first place. It means asking questions and having real conversations. For me, one big question that bears asking is “How am I the best wedding photographer for them?”

Finding the best wedding photographers isn’t always easy, but it is so worth it.

For many great photographers I have the privilege to call friends and me, we genuinely hope that every couple finds someone who captures them and their love authentically and without restraint. Showing up for each other where we are also means giving each other space to determine what’s best for our chapter in life– for your wedding day! Those moments you’ll never get back, so, at least in my opinion, I think there’s nothing more important than trusting in your needs and wants.

To wrap all this up, trust yourself. Just by knowing what matters most to you in the person behind the camera, you’ll find the best wedding photographers.

What do you think? Drop me a line or comment below!

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