A lot of time and effort goes into planning a wedding. The process is instead time-consuming, from picking the perfect wedding rings and attire to choosing flowers and location. But, the fact is, after your ‘I do’s are said, and the ceremony is done, all you have left of your big day are the memories… okay, and a partner for life.
What better way to relive your wedding day than through photographs? So it’s no wonder your choice of photographer is one of the most crucial choices you’ll have to make. Who you choose as your photographer is significant if you decide to elope – after all, it’s the only way for people who weren’t attending to witness your marriage celebration.
Since the last few years, elopement weddings are becoming increasingly popular as a flexible outdoor option compared to traditional weddings. Although elopement once meant a secret marriage, it has evolved into a private exchange of marital vows in an adventurous location. Today, couples choose to elope, camp and hike in the most breathtaking places.
An elopement photographer is hired to document the whole elopement experience and capture the couple’s personality with spectacular images. This is why you need an excellent elopement photographer.
Finding the best photographer for you is not easy, but it is not difficult either. Below are some things you need to look out for when choosing a wedding or elopement photographer.
The experience of the photographer you are going to be hiring plays an important role. The more experience a photographer has, the better they’ll be able to capture your intentions even in challenging locations. A photographer that has captured multiple weddings will understand the various elements of the profession like the best angles, lighting, composition, outdoor safety awareness, and survival.
An experienced photographer can help you with other wedding-related things. For example, if you have any doubts when it comes to the wedding venue or elopement location, a photographer who’s been in the business for a while can give you some worthy recommendations!
You can ask potential photographers questions like how many weddings they have photographed and how long they’ve been doing what they’re doing. See if the photographer has a website because most of their information is. If not, ask them to share more details with you. Don’t be shy to shoot with any questions – they’ll be capturing the most important day of your life; you have to make sure they tick all the right boxes.
Reputation is everything. What people are saying about a photographer matters a lot. If you want to purchase a product online, you’ll most likely read the reviews to know how efficient the product is. The same goes for photographers. Different websites rate photographers, so ensure you look for reviews online before reaching out to the photographer.
If the photographer does not have any online reviews, that is a warning sign – unless they’re new in the craft. You can go a step further and ask them for permission to speak to one of their past clients that are willing to share their experience. If a photographer is acting dodgy or does not want you to see any of their reviews, chances are – that is not your photographer.
You can always ask your married friends for a few recommendations. If they’re satisfied with their wedding photos, their photographer might do the trick for you as well!
Photographers usually have a portfolio of their best work to show their customers. Most prefer an online portfolio like a website. A gallery often reflects a photographer’s best work, so there is no need to probe further if it doesn’t look appealing to you.
However, if their gallery looks too good to be true – it probably is. Ask for additional photos that aren’t in their portfolio, or once again ask to speak with a previous client of theirs. If you notice any disparity in the quality and attractiveness of the images, chances are the photographer heavily edited the photos in his portfolio, and that is a red flag.
Although your big day is usually planned to perfection and there’s little to no room for mistakes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hopefully, nothing wrong will happen at your wedding, but you need to know if your photographer carries insurance. If things go awry and the photographer loses the pictures, you need insurance to cover the cost of retaking your images.
Note that insurance is not a must because you’ll only need it on rare occasions, but it adds a layer of protection and offers comfort in the fact that your photographer is very serious about their work.
No matter how good a potential photographer is, you are better off without them if they have an obnoxious personality. You’ll be spending a whole day or more with this photographer, so you have to get along and feel comfortable. If you don’t click, your photos may not turn out the way you want – regardless of how many clicks the photographer makes.
Consider meeting your photographer a few times before the main event. Of course, face to face is better, but if that is not possible, connect over social media platforms or have a Skype or Zoom call to establish rapport.
A good photographer can capture pitch-perfect moments and scenarios; a great photographer creates pitch-perfect environments! Your photographer should encourage and cheer you on to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Not all of us know how to pose or are specifically photogenic, but your photographer can teach you all these things. If photographers are highly introverted, they make the couples feel doubtful or insecure, and they won’t capture natural images.
Every wedding or elopement photographer has different packages, but generally, the pricing ranges from $500 to $20,000. There are a few factors that affect photography packages. Will it take place in a National Park or an exquisite destination? How many hours will the photographer have to work? These are some of the factors you should keep in mind. Traditional weddings are expensive, but you can shave off a significant portion of the cost if you elope.
When couples elope, they usually plan a celebration back home with everyone. So, when hiring a photographer, you are not just paying for someone to take pictures – you are paying someone with outdoor experience to capture landscapes, guide you, and keep the pace.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to find photographers who have an excellent outdoor experience. Keep in mind that the more experienced a photographer is, the greater their demand and the higher the price, so have a budget and stick with it if you don’t want to overspend.
Backup camera gear is essential, especially outdoors. Rocks, lakes, dirt, and unpredictable weather can ruin your photographer’s equipment and make your experience a debacle. For example, a camera or lens could fail or, worse, fall on a rock and shatter. So many possible things could go wrong, and when they do, the only thing that can prevent you from rescheduling is backup gear.
You also need backup memory cards. Ask your photographer if they backup their images and where. Another hard drive? The cloud? A photographer that prioritizes backup is one you should entrust with capturing your special day.
What about the lenses? A photographer should have a plethora of lenses in the event of any inconvenience. For example, if it’s windy, dirt can get in the camera if the photographer does not use the right lens. Camera gear is heavy to haul, but make sure you ask your potential photographer what kind of backup equipment they have.
Remember, you can always get insurance too!
Will the photographer be directing or posing you, or doing both? Most couples want their pictures to look natural, authentic, and alive. They want genuine smiles and laughter, not forced ones. So, a good photographer should direct the couple into looking, smiling, and posing as naturally as possible.
Some photographers will pose you and other couples the same way; others don’t. First, ask the photographer about their directing style and philosophy to know what you will do and how. Then, check the photos on their portfolio, blog, or website, and if you like the way the couples expressed themselves, you should go for it.
You need to know what kind of adventures the photographer has been on. Experiences are fun, but they can go south really fast because you’re taking some dangerous risks. Sometimes, emergencies can happen, and you need a photographer that knows what to do if these emergencies arise.
Earthquakes, snakes, bears, insect stings, and weather changes are a few things you need to be cautious of in the outdoors. If your photographer has witnessed most of these things firsthand, they would know what steps to take if anything happens. You shouldn’t be scared of the outdoors, but you should be prepared, especially for adventurous couples.
Therefore, before going on an adventure with a photographer, ask the person where they have travelled or hiked, what kind of mountain gear they use, and if they know first aid. First aid is not necessary, but you might need it if you go to a destination with no accessible hospitals around.
The devil is in the details, so you shouldn’t overlook the small details before booking a photographer. For example, you should ask the number of weeks to deliver the images because some photographers can take months. Also, ask the number of images you’ll receive at the price you’ll be paying.
All professional photographers retain the copyright for their images, but the couple gets the right to print the pictures for personal use. Some photographers offer the full resolution digital file in addition to the package for an extra cost. It would be best to ask whether you need to buy them or come with the box. In addition, read the contract thoroughly so you won’t have to forfeit your money if you cancel your elopement or you change your date.
If you want to find the best photographer to capture your big day, you need to have an unmistakable style in mind and be very straightforward with what you want so your photographer can execute it efficiently. If you get comfortable with your photographer beforehand, you’ll have a fantastic experience, so invest some time in getting to know the person behind the camera.
Don’t rush into making a decision – settling on a photographer is probably the second most important ‘I do’ you’ll ever say in your life!