I suppose it’s not possible for me to present an unbiased opinion on this topic, as I am actually a one of many Chattanooga wedding photographers. However, a lot of brides struggle with this decision. There are a ton of amazingly talented artists in my hometown. I’m grateful and blessed to call all alot of them friends. We have a great and supportive professional community and most of us believe the in community over competition. There is enough variety that we believe the right client will find the right photographer for them. Photography is an art form and therefore who is the “best” is relatively subjective. So how do you choose? What should someone look for in a photographer? First of all you simply ask yourself a few questions and you will find it easier to narrow down.
What kind of images am I drawn to? What do I want my wedding album to look like when I look back on it in 30 years?
There are lots of words photographers use to describe photography style and editing aesthetic. “Bright and Airy”, “Dark and Moody”, “Classic”, “Photojournalistic”, “Traditional”, “Vibrant” “Bright and Vibrant” “Candid”. All these words are just descriptors, however if you know these words they can help you in your google searching. Try to google some of my examples and see what you like. Also, try searching these as hashtags on instagram.
I describe my style as “Candid, Romantic, Bright & True-To-Life-Color”. While “bright” describes an editing style, “Candid” described my photography style. Most of my favorite images feature people forgetting the camera exists. I consider this to be different from “photojournalistic”. Photojournalistic means your photographer will likely speak very little and give very little direction, they will simply document the day as it happens with creative angles and lighting. This is not me, I will move you if you are in bad light and I will give you plenty of posing direction, that’s why I don’t consider myself photojournalistic. However, you will find me lurking around during the reception in a more photojournalistic style. I won’t interrupt your moment with your family and friends to move the light.
Is photojournalistic bad? NO! It’s actually quite a skill. Is “dark and moody” bad? NO! It’s a really cool look! COULD I do those things? Sure, I have the skills but it’s not my style. Most photographers work hard to put out a ver consistent style so that clients have clear expectations for their photos. My style can be a little fluid depending on the situation, client, lighting, but I try to deliver something similar to my portfolio that caused the client to hire me. There are so many different styles amongst all the Chattanooga wedding photographers you have a lot of options.
What do I have in common with this person?
It is important that you connect with and easily build rapport with your wedding photographer. They will be spending all day with you and emotions can run high so you want that relationship to be easy. You also want to make sure they have a very clear idea of what you want, so easy communication is key. This is why I recommend you get your engagement photos done with the photographer you at least intend on being your wedding photographer. This gives each of you an opportunity to try each other on and get to know each other better.
What’s my budget?
This may be a question you want to ask yourself earlier, rather than later. However, most photographers don’t post their pricing list online so it cant be hard NOT to fall in love with someone who may be out of your budget. In Chattanooga you can find a photographer for your wedding anywhere from free (yes, free) to $8000 with the average being around $4,000 for a full day of coverage.
Why such a range? It mostly has to do with experience. People who are just starting out will offer to shoot your wedding for free or for less than $1000, but BE CAUTIOUS. Of course I don’t recommend this, but I also don’t judge people looking for this kind of offer or the new photographers offering it. When I got married at 19 I paid the photographer $300 and my first wedding I ever shot I charged $400. I’ve been there.
In photography, you can fully expect to get what you pay for. However, what someone charges does not have a lot to do with their skill or “eye”. Pricing mostly has to do with experience in the field and the client experience they provide.
Even very new photographers can have great Instagram feeds and portfolios and that doesn’t necessarily translate to a good experience for you. This is because taking taking photos in ideal situations is relatively easy to do (easy lighting, models, endless amount of time, no pressure, etc). These ideal situations are usually accomplished with styled shoots. I love styled shoots, but it should be a yellow flag if most of someone’s portfolio is styled shoots. You can expect their prices to be lower than the average price compared to someone with mostly real weddings.
Actual weddings are very rarely ideal situations for photography. We have limited time and sometimes very little control over location and lighting. A seasoned, experienced, wedding photographer will know how to handle everything you throw at them (from unruly family members to difficult lighting) and produce portfolio worthy images consistently. That level of professionalism is what you will pay a higher price to receive.
Tip: Ask to see multiple full galleries when vetting photographers. You want to see how they photograph everything from harsh or low lighting situations to family portraits and beyond. If they have shot at your venue before ask to see the gallery from that venue!
Another thing to consider with respect to pricing is evaluating how many weddings a year a person shoots. If they shoot 40+ weddings a year they would be considered “high volume” and therefore might charge a little bit less than you would expect for their level of experience, however with that many clients to juggle you might expect a little less attention. Again, you will get what you pay for.
Who do my other vendors recommend?
Check with your other vendors and see who they enjoy working with. This is a great way to “check references” without asking. Most venues and coordinators have “preferred” vendor lists, but don’t be afraid to ask if they have worked with the person you are considering. They may not be on the list, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great. Truthfully some photographers are simply better at networking than others and that’s all it means. Anywho, those lists are a great place to start.
Now that you have answered these questions for yourself you might just be wondering what you can expect. What is the standard among Chattanooga wedding photographers? Let me tell you generally what the industry standards are in Chattanooga with my blog post next week!
Hi! I’m Sarah Larae! Nice to Meet you!
Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m a wedding photographer based in Chattanooga and I would be honored if you took some time to look around my website to learn more about me and what I do. You can see more of my work on the blog and be sure to follow me on Instagram! If you are looking for a fun, bright, classic wedding photographer who prides herself on excellent client experiences head over to our contact page!