To get you the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, Makenzie had a discussion with a local wedding photographer, Mente Bezuneh, owner of Mentopia Productions.
When should you hire your photographer?
Sooner is always better when it comes to booking your wedding photographer, especially if you have a specific vendor in mind. If you also plan to do an engagement shoot with the same photographer you book for your wedding (which is highly recommended so you can get familiar with your photographer and become comfortable with them before your wedding day), and if you are planning to use engagement photos for your save the dates, you should book your photographer at least 10+ months in advance. Your favorite photographer is more likely to be booked up the longer you wait, so the sooner you book them, the better.
How can you find the right photographer?
A wedding photographer is a significant investment. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly vet photographers. So, how do you find trustworthy wedding vendor reviews? One way is to ask around. “I find most of my work is referral based, either from past couples or fellow vendors such as the DJ or wedding venue,” Mente said. “Don’t be afraid to ask your other vendors for their recommendations. They won’t recommend someone they don’t know, trust, and like working with.”
Another way is to ask to see galleries from past weddings they shot. A lot of photographers can make a quick photo sessions look like a beautiful $5,000 session, but the real test is seeing how they shoot in a church or reception venue with low lighting available. Taking a look at a full gallery or two will help you feel confident in investment you make with them, and if they are the right photographer for you.
What is a typical payment schedule with photography vendors?
Most photographers will choose a two or three-payment system.
The first installment is the deposit, which is typically due along with the signed contract to hold your wedding date, this is typically also non-refundable if you cancel too close to the wedding date. If they do a two-payment schedule, the second payment will be due around the week-of the wedding. In a three-payment schedule, the last payment will be due after the wedding when all images are finished and ready for delivery.
How much should you tip?
Not all brides and grooms tip their wedding photographers, but if you do decide to, $50 to $200 is a good range. Around 50 percent of couples actually tip their wedding vendors. Of course tips are not required but they’re always appreciated by every vendor.
Should you negotiate?
Most prices are set in stone, but you can try to negotiate with your wedding photographer. Most photographers will offer packages set at different price points to meet clients where they are with their budget restrictions and to take the negotiation part out of it. Packages factor in fees like editing software, gear, licenses, insurance, and other business items brides and grooms don’t see. For photographers, negotiating could lead to hardly breaking even, or even losing money. Some photographers are willing to work with couples’ budgets on occasion though. Mente says if the bride or groom has been dreaming of working with him but can’t quite afford him, he is willing to hear their story. Not all photographers will though, Mentopia is one of the exceptions.