When planning your Colorado wedding, it doesn't take long to realize there are thousands upon thousands of photographers to choose from. In fact, Colorado boasts one of the most large, diverse bodies of photographers than any other state. Of course, this makes so much sense when you consider just how gorgeous Colorado is, how diverse the natural landscape is, and how many couples come from all over the entire country just to get married in colorful Colorado.
This knowledge, however, does little to help in your wedding photographer search. Here, in Colorado, there is no such thing as a "quick Google search" for your wedding photographer. In reality, you're likely to be faced with hours and hours of research, pouring through multiple Google pages and Instagram accounts that only leave you more lost than you were before.
While there isn't anything I can do about the sheer amount of wedding photographers in Colorado, I do have some tips to help you narrow down your search and home in on the right photographer for you, so that this whole wedding photographer search doesn't have to be so overwhelming.
Do You Like Thier Artistic Style?
When looking at any photographer, this is the first question you need to ask yourself. You don't need to be educated in art styles or understand the entire process that goes into editing photos, but you do need to be able to look at a photographer's body of work and determine if you love it or not.
If you catch yourself thinking "I really like their fall photos but I'm not a fan of their snowy pictures," or "I love the emotion in these photos, but I don't like how warm the tones are," then they are not the photographer for you. Any statement of "I love" followed by a "but I don't like" should be a major red flag in your search.
It's important to love your photographer's work no matter the lighting or season, and it's especially important to love their editing style. Too often photographers are asked if they can change their style to "not have those orange tones" or told "I love your vintage style, but can you edit my photos to be true to life?" While this often comes from a well-intentioned place, it can be pretty hurtful to the photographer who has spent years developing their unique style and dismisses the fact that what photographers ultimately create is art.
So, just like you determine if you like a Da Vinci or a Van Gogh painting, determine if you like a photographer's artistic style and if you don't, move on. They're not the photographer for you.
Do You Like the Mood of Their Photos?
Mood is a component of artistic style that can further help you determine if you like one photographer over another. Say you are trying to decide between two photographers who both edit warm with vibrant, bold colors. You love both their bodies of work because of the colors they use, but you're not sure who you'd rather have capture you and your love because they look so similar.
Well, how do they feel? Does one photographer showcase a lot of laughing couples who look like they were captured in the moment, while the other showcases perfectly posed couples within quiet, intimate moments? This is all about the mood of the photos and while all photographers will have some photos showing a range of moods, each photographer will always have a primary mood, or feel, to their photographs.
So, if you love silly, candid photos with very little direct posing involved, choose the photographer that displays that fun feeling within their photos. If you love a more romantic, passionate photo with a hands on posing approach, choose the photographer who shows you those moments of romance in their photos.
Read Their "About Me" Page
Often times, determining if you like a photographer's style or not is the easiest thing in your search. All it requires is looking at their photos and listening to how you feel. This shouldn't be where your search ends, however. Remember, you'll be spending the entirety - or almost the entirety - of your wedding day with your photographer. It's important that you like them.
Be sure to stop by a photographer's "about me" page on their website and give it a read. Make sure your values align with theirs and that you can see yourself spending time with this person. You don't have to have 100% of the same hobbies or watch the same TV shows, but you do have to get a good feeling about them and know you'll feel safe being yourself around them. This is especially important for queer couples. You have to feel safe in order to enjoy being photographed, and that includes knowing your photographer isn't judging you for loving who you love. If a photographer does not clearly state that they are LGBTQ+ inclusive in their "about me," don't bother sending them an inquiry. They are not the photographer for you.
Do They Include an Engagement Session?
The question to include an engagement session or not in wedding packages is hotly debated amongst wedding photographers. Many, like myself, consider engagement sessions a must, while others view engagement sessions as additional work that is deserving of additional compensation.
There is no right or wrong answer here, but you do need to decide what is the right or wrong answer for you, personally. If you're not sure, consider this: engagement sessions help you celebrate your engagement, build up the hype during a period of your life that is unlikely to ever repeat, give you a change to get to know your photographer prior to your wedding day (where you'll be spending all day with them), and helps you get comfortable in front of the camera. If you ask me, an engagement session is absolutely not something you should skip.
If you determine you want an engagement session, include that in your overall photography budget. That way if you find a photographer you like who does not include a complimentary engagement session in their wedding packages, ask yourself if you're willing to go over budget to add on an engagement session or if you'd be okay skipping the engagement session all together. If the answer is no to both of these questions, move on. They're not the photographer for you.
Are They Within Your Budget?
This might seem like a no brainer, but it needs to be said. Photography is a highly skilled, expensive field and wedding photographers, especially in Colorado, charge premium prices to reflect the value of the once in a lifetime art they produce while also being able to comfortably afford Colorado's incredibly high cost of living. Photographers put a lot of thought into their prices, so asking if they're able to cut you a deal isn't as harmless as you might think. Remember, photographers have to pay for their thousands of dollars' worth of equipment, editing subscriptions, CRMs, business insurance, taxes, permits, the list goes on and on. Not to mention their years of experience and time that has gone in to developing an amazing client experience.
So, save yourself time in your photography search by always checking a photographer's starting prices. If their starting price is already above your budget, move on. If they're your dream photographer and are above your budget, have an honest conversation with yourself and your spouse and decide if you're willing to invest more or if you'd be open to getting less hours of coverage to be able to afford them. If the answer is no to either question, don't ask them to lower their prices for you. They're not the photographer for you.
*Remember, there is no shame in having the budget you have! If you have a smaller budget, you will find a photographer that fits that budget, but keep in mind you will likely have to sacrifice either quality or a good client experience. If a photographer is charging $1,000 for 8 hours of coverage, two photographers, with an engagement session, they're likely not a legal business with insurance, or they're so new to the game their photos will heavily reflect their lack of experience. Photography is the one thing that will last after your wedding day is over, so splurging on a good wedding photographer is less of a splurge than it is a well thought out investment!
Do They Specialize in Weddings Specifically?
Let's be honest, you're likely investing thousands of dollars into your wedding photography. Do you want a wedding photographer who primarily focuses on newborn and family photos, or a wedding photographer who focuses on weddings?
Don't get me wrong, most photographers offer a multitude of services outside of just weddings, but weddings are a highly specific field that require a lot more than just taking beautiful photos. Wedding photographers have to have excellent client communication, timeline planning skills, permit knowledge, excellent deadline management, endurance, the knowledge of how weddings work, how to help bustle a dress, how to reorganize the entire timeline on the fly when the brother of the bride is two hours late and postpones all wedding party and family photos planned before the ceremony (true story), and - do you see where I'm going with this? The reason most wedding photographers, like me, only advertise weddings on their website is because of how highly specialized weddings are. You're really going to want a wedding pro to be your photographer.
Do They Help with Timeline Planning?
Raise your hand if you've planned a wedding before. Oh, you mean you haven't?
Not shockingly, majority of people planning a wedding are doing so for the first time. Wedding photographers, however, have been a part of dozens, if not hundreds, of weddings. A good wedding photographer will not only know the traditional flow of events a typical wedding has, they'll also know how to craft a custom timeline based on your own personal vision for the day. Choosing a wedding photographer who will help you plan a wedding day timeline is imperative in having a smooth wedding day experience.
This is something I do complimentary for all of my wedding clients. Two months prior to their wedding day, I send my couples a comprehensive questionnaire to go over all the details, family photo requests, and overall events of the day. From there I craft a completely custom timeline for my couples that we go over together until we're all feeling good about it. This completely removes the stress from my couples of having to build their own timeline, and is especially helpful to my couples who don't have a wedding coordinator. In fact, many of my couples find it so helpful I often see them printing it out and giving it out to their wedding party and parents the morning of their wedding to help keep everyone on the same page. Hiring a photographer who does this will make your wedding day infinitely less stressful, which translates to you being able to enjoy your day a lot more.
Can You Picture Yourself and Your Lover in Their Photos?
When looking through a wedding photographer's work, pay attention to the bodies they have represented and the style of love they seem to portray. Can you easily picture yourself in their photos? For example, there's a couple's photographer I absolutely adore who takes the most steamy, romantic photos. I absolutely love his work, but he does not showcase queer or larger bodies in his photos, just very skinny, straight couples. While I'm sure he could take amazing photos of my spouse and I, because I can't see myself in his work, I don't feel confident that we would get the experience I'm hoping for.
Apply this to wedding photography. Look for wedding photographers who showcase various body types, skin tones, and love. You don't have to see someone who looks just like you, but you do need to be able to easily picture yourself being captured by this person. If you're not sure they can capture you and your lover, it may be worth moving on at this point.
Do They Have a Long Contact Form?
While this is a bit of a controversial opinion, the length of a photographer's contact form can be either a green or a red flag. Think about it. You're going to be spending almost the entirety of your wedding day with this photographer, you're going to want photos that reflect your unique love and relationship, and you have a specific idea for what you want your wedding photos to look like. How is a photographer going to be able to accurately encapsulate all of that if they don't know you?
While a short contact form isn't a deal breaker, it is a red flag. From before you've even reached out to your wedding photographer, you should already be at the forefront of their mind. A long contact form is the best way to quickly learn all the essential details about your wedding like the date, location, etc., but also to connect with you on a human level. In my contact form, when I ask my couples what they're most excited about for their wedding day, I truly care about what their answer is. I want to be able to connect with my couples as humans so I can bring them that elevated, custom experience you won't get from a photographer who simply views you as a job.
Seek out a wedding photographer who wants the best for you and sees you as human, before they ever see you as a job. A long contact form is the easiest way to tell how a photographer feels about you before even having to reach out.
Colorado Wedding Photography: A Human Experience
Wedding Photography Designed for You
There you have it. Nine tips to help you choose the perfect Colorado wedding photographer for you. I hope this list was helpful in giving you insight as to what to look for in your wedding photographer search, and if you found yourself nodding along to the tips given, you may have already found your wedding photographer in Silver Mountain Photography. Head over to my contact page and let's find out for sure.