You spend so much time picking out all the details and planning your special day and it all goes by in a heartbeat. The photos last forever so choose your photographer wisely because you’ll be married to those photos for a long time.
GOOGLE IS KING BUT THIS ISN’T A MONARCHY
Google is a good way to start but it shouldn’t be your final decision. The photographers in the top results could be the best and most talked about or they might also just be the smartest at playing the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) game. Meaning their top 3 might not be your top 3.
KICKBACKS FOR REFERRALS
Say it ain’t so, sorry but any business can be corrupted. It’s normal for wedding photographers to give wedding planners commission but not just independent wedding planners, it happens under the table at major hotels and resorts too with their event planners. Some are recommended on merit and some based on $$$ so get a few options so you are getting your best value not their best value.
IT SHOULD BE A COLLABORATIVE DECISION
Our clients who visit our site are split about 50/50 between males and females. Make sure you both look at the photographer’s portfolio together, even if one of you is less into pictures you will want to agree on a style. Some photographers have a more natural style and use minimal retouching and some can draw you in their studio on their computer, find the right fit for both of you.
ONE OR TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS?
What we tell clients is that if your wedding is under 25 guests then one photographer should be fine but anything more than that choose a 2-photographer package if you can afford is. The case for two photographers is you will get optimal coverage, for example one photographer can photograph the groom getting ready while the other one is with the bride and bridesmaids. Having two photographers also frees up both photographers to be more creative during the once in a lifetime moments like your first kiss, or walking down the aisle, etc. It’s not overkill, trust me it’s a superior product when it’s done properly. Definitely don’t choose two photographers from different studios; you want people that work well together and not fighting with each other to get position.
Hiring a wedding video team and photography team from the same studio has its pros and cons. The cons being some photography studios offer video but it’s not their forte so there is significant drops off in quality from their photography to their video. The pros are that if they come from the same studio it’s one less vendor to deal with and more importantly they will play nice with each other. Photographers and videographers can get territorial and can stumble over each other trying to get that perfect shot. Another advantage of going with the same studio is that when it’s done right the style of the photos and video will match. Bottom line is that if your chosen photography studio doesn’t offer video that’s fine, ask them if they have someone they like to work with. If your photographer and videographer don’t know each other going into the wedding day then make it clear who has the right away. Typically you’ll want the photographer to have first position and let the video teamwork around them. Videographers will hate me for saying this but just ask yourself what’s more important to you and whichever you choose give them priority.
Get a list of references and make sure they aren’t family members or friends. Be sure your photographer has shot at least 10 weddings as the primary shooter under their belt. The last thing you want is a photographer learning on the job at your wedding.
BE AWARE OF FAKES
Make sure the photographer’s portfolio is listed on a public gallery and not just a private portfolio. Destination wedding photography is a wildly saturated and competitive market and unfortunately that leads some photographers to steal images from other more successful studios. It sounds crazy but it happens all the time and because the destination photography community is so spread out many of these photographers can go years without getting caught and shamed.
VIEW A FULL WEDDING
Insist on seeing at least 100 pictures from one particular wedding. This will give you a feel for how they shoot from start to finish and will give you a feel for their style in visual storytelling.
WAIT, HOW MUCH DO I OWE YOU?
Get an all-inclusive rate. The last thing you want is to agree on a price plus vague expenses then have your photographer over charge you for flights, transfer, etc. Your photographer doesn’t need to be from Koh Samui but it’s a major difference in price if he’s coming from London or from Bangkok. There is nothing wrong with choosing your photographer out of London to shoot your wedding in Thailand but you should know what you are paying for so find out where they are based. You might find better value with someone a bit closer in the region.
WHERE SHOULD WE GO FOR OUR PORTRAITS?
Some couples want to escape the resort and capture the local culture for their portrait session, I highly recommend this. For those of you who want to venture out make sure your photographer knows where to go and make sure you are clear about what you want to capture. You might be thinking a pagoda would be a good place for local pictures while he/she wants to go to a rice field. Figure this out ahead of time.
Insist on talking to your photographer at some point before the big day. Having a Skype call breaks the ice and it’s a good time for you to get to know each other and to talk over some details. Most good studios will set up an appointment to do so but if they don’t insist on it.
Justin Mott is the founder of Mott Visuals Weddings, a boutique destination wedding photography studio with a decade of experience based in Vietnam and Thailand covering all of Asia and Beyond. http://www.mottvisualsweddings.com