How The Heck Do I Choose A Photographer?!

You'll look at dozens of photographers when doing your research. Many of them will be great, but some won't be to your taste. If you're in Auckland especially, there are so many incredibly talented photographers it will be easy to feel overwhelmed by choice! 
Choosing a photographer based on their work is important - you're going to look back on these photos for many, many years to come. But more important, I think, is that you need to find someone you'll genuinely enjoy being around, as you'll be spending a lot of time with them. Your photographer will be one of the only vendors that you'll spend your entire day with. 
Choosing a wedding day photographer that you completely trust and get along with is huge. You'll want to make sure you vibe with them and feel at ease with them when the wedding jitters hit - especially if being in front of a camera doesn't come naturally to you.
After so many months (and maybe years!) of wedding planning, you'll be surprised how fast your day will go by - trust me, mine did! Before you know it, you’ll be blobbing on the couch with your husband/wife reminiscing about your wedding day. That’s why having the right wedding photographer to capture and preserve your wedding day memories is so important.
The Importance of "Gut Feeling"
Wedding photographers are so much more than just another vendor – they often become friends. When you hire the right one, you spend the time getting to know them during your engagement photos, wedding planning sessions, and the wedding itself. 
My advice: find someone who has the same kind of energy as you. If you hire a serious, brooding, artist type, but you're a very energetic and silly person at heart, there's going to be a mismatch of personality. 
It's like any other relationship in your life: Surround yourself with good people. The photos will be better for it and. more importantly, so will your experience during your wedding day.
A good photographer will do everything they can to make even their most camera-shy couples comfortable in front of a camera. 
The stakes are high – this is your big day after all! More than anything, you need to be able to trust your pro.
Find Your Style
First things first: You and your fiancé need to decide which photography style you like
There are several options (think: fine art, photojournalistic, dark & moody for example) and photographers generally specialize in one or two styles. Try to identify what you don't like before understanding what you like. Once you've nailed down what you're attracted to, you can do a deeper and more specific dive in that direction. 
Knowing which aesthetic suits your wedding best will help whittle down your list and allow you to find a pro who can bring your wedding photography vision to life.
Hit Up Your Social Network For Recommendations
Ask your recently married friends whose wedding photos you loved. Ask for recommendations from your wedding planner or the manager of your reception site. There are also a TONNE of wedding planning Facebook groups out there, and Instagram is great too. But just remember - photographers will only post their best images on social media, so make sure when you meet with photographers you like, you ask to see full galleries.

The Big Question - How Much Will a Wedding Photographer Cost?
The answer is not exactly straight-forward, and you may find prices vary greatly.
But if you do want a rough, ball-park figure, most experienced wedding photographers are somewhere between $2,000-$5,000 for full day (8hrs) coverage. 
The average wedding in New Zealand costs around $30,000, and a general consensus from many wedding blogs is that you should allocate approximately 10% of your total wedding budget (check out popular wedding blog websites Wedding Wire & who actually suggest more) to photography (and/or videography). For example, if your wedding budget was $30,000 your suggested photography budget would be about $3,000.
Of course this is not a hard and fast rule. To some, photography is just not as important as other aspects of the day, so they will likely spend less.
What To Ask Your Photographer
Most photographers offer a free Initial Consultation so you can get to know them and ask any questions. This will help you gauge if there is a personal connection between you and the photographer. You should do most of your research before the consultation, however there are definitely some important questions you should consider asking. For example:
 - How long till I receive my photos?
 - Can we see some full wedding galleries?
 - Will we have rights to the images?
 - Do you charge a travel fee for out of town weddings?
 - What is your cancellation or reschedule policy?
    (Highly relevant in today's environment! #covid19)
Finally, don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. Ask them about how they handle last minute changes, how they help with posing, how they help calm your nerves and give you reassurance when you most need it. 
A good photographer should also be asking you questions. What do you like to do for fun as a couple, or what's most important to you about the wedding photos? What toothpaste do you use? 
The more we get to know you as a couple, the more your personalities will be reflected in your photos.
The best wedding photographers will go above and beyond to make sure your day is as calm and enjoyable as possible - taking photos is just part of our service.
Schedule a Test Run
I love engagement sessions. I think of it as practice. Most couples aren’t used to getting their picture taken, so having a little session before the wedding gives them time to become accustomed to being in front of the camera. It also helps me see how best to encourage you, to find out what you are comfortable with, and helps me blend in on the day of the wedding.
While an engagement session isn't 100% necessary, engagement sessions give people confidence — once they get the photos back and they see how good they look, they are typically less anxious about the photos the day of the wedding.
Part (or sometimes all) of the cost of your engagement session can often be credited towards the cost of your chosen wedding photography package. It pays to ask your photographer if this is something they offer.
When it comes to selecting your wedding photographer, it all boils down to picking someone who's photo style matches your aesthetic for your wedding.
And when you have a genuine connection with your photographer, they’ll do a better job capturing your emotions — your love, your joy, your serenity. 
Years from now your photos will help you to relive the magic of the day and you'll be showing your children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren your special day.
You’ll thank yourself time and again for investing in a great photographer.
Hiring a wedding photographer is a big decision, so don't feel pressured to choose one right away. Don't let a photographer hound you to book with them — you don't need that stress on top of what is already involved in planning a wedding.
Take your time, this is one of the most important days of your life. You're entrusting someone to preserve this day through photos. 

Good luck — feel free to get in touch if you have any questions! ...but no pressure 😉

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