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Planning a wedding is no small feat. Most couples and their families spend over a year with excitement and anticipation planning the perfect wedding day. The largest portion of your budget will most likely be spent on catering and finding the perfect venue. A big portion of your time will be spent picking out linens, finding the perfect flowers and deciding which signature cocktail to serve your guests. There are so many decisions and choices to make but the one decision that will help you relive your wedding day over and over again for years to come is finding the right wedding photographer.

With over thirteen years experience as a wedding photographer based in the southeast Michigan, here’s my advice on how to pick the perfect wedding photographer for you.

Anyone can order a camera online, design a quickie website, start a popping Instagram, buy a few followers, and call themselves a wedding photographer. There are over a thousand wedding photographers in Detroit that I know of from social forums and friend groups. Some are dedicated wedding professionals and some are amateurs at best, but without photographic experience or expertise, how does a couple just starting their search for a wedding photographer in the Detroit area know the difference between amateur and professional? Picking a professional wedding photographer in Michigan is not easy and selecting a professional wedding photographer in Detroit that stands out is even harder. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a wedding photographer in Michigan or somewhere else – these tips are useful for couples everywhere.

Know What Kind of Wedding Photography Style you Want

The first step is to narrow down your selections. You've googled, checked Instagram, asked friends, spoken with your wedding planner, searched the Knot and Wedding Wire, maybe even looked through Junebug Weddings or Style Me Pretty. Hopefully you checked websites, blogs, reviews and other social media networks like facebook. You should see what style stands out to you. Create a pinterest board, bookmark, or print out the old fashioned way, about 10-20 wedding photographs that you absolutely love. When you select these images, don’t spend a lot of time analyzing them. Your eye will tell you immediately what you love and what you don’t. When you look at all these images together you should see a common thread uniting the photographs and that thread will be the style of imagery that speaks to you. Are you drawn to bold, crisp and sharp images? How do dark and moody images make you feel? Do muted colors and trendy filters speak to your heart the most? Do black and white photographs with lots of luscious grain draw you in? How do you feel when you see editorial vanity fair style posing? Can you imaging your entire wedding being photographed in the style of the photograph you are looking at? Once you have your favorite images, it’s time to identify the style that you are drawn to. Before you lock yourself into a specific style, here is what I want you to know. Just because you think you love wedding photojournalism or aka documentary style wedding photography the best doesn’t mean that same photographer can’t do some traditional posing for you during your wedding day. Every professional wedding photographer I know will have a pocketful of styles they use while shooting. A wedding day is unscripted, so we have to be able to wear many different hats. What is important to know is the type of photos that draw you in, so when you start looking for wedding photographers in your area you can easily narrow down your choices by simply looking at a few websites quickly.


How to find the perfect wedding photographer

HOW TO PICK A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

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Learn more

ABOUT US

We are a team of exceptionally passionate creatives who are dedicated to authentic wedding day storytelling. 

OUR FAVORITE VENUES

Pine Knob Mansion

Planterra

Lovett Hall

Greenfield Village Eagle Tavern

BOOK US

Pick 5 Top Wedding Photographers

So you’ve narrowed down your list to 5 top local wedding photographers. First, you have to like the images they produce. When you look at their website are there a variety of weddings shot over many years to show that they have been in business for awhile? If so – give them a point. This is a good sign. When you look at their photos can you imagine your own wedding being captured photographically in the same style? If so – one more point. Do they appear to be educated or take workshops or some sort of continuing education? Because the photography field is unregulated and anyone can claim they are a professional photographer without legitimate training or education, this should score three points in my opinion. Are the images you see on their website consistent? What you want to watch out for is an amateur trying to pass themselves off as seasoned professionals. It can be very difficult to discern a professional from a non-pro to the untrained eye, especially if you don't know much about photography. You should look for images that are clean, crisp, and consistent, regardless of the style of photography. A seasoned educated professional wedding photographer will have consistent images showcasing their work.

How much does a wedding Photographer in Michigan cost?

It’s important to set a reasonable photography budget before you start shopping. The average price for professional wedding photography in the southeast Michigan is between $3,000 - $4,500 for a full day of wedding photography service that will include your high-resolution digital files. If you want to add wedding albums and an engagement session then that number will adjust accordingly. Our services, for example, start at $2,800 for a full day of service and we are considered very affordable for our level of experience and the style of wedding photography we offer in the Detroit area.

Learn more about your Favorites

So you’ve narrowed it down to your favorite three photographers. Now it’s time to do a little investigating. I know it sounds scary, but I don’t ever want to see a couple taken advantage of by anyone. Owning a business is a big deal and anyone who’s been in this business long enough will have some sort of digital footprint so you can truly dig further into their background. It doesn’t have to be too serious, but the simple truth is that there are some business owners who do not operate in your best interest and it’s important to weed these out of your search. I want you to feel good about who you hire and have no remorse. Consider this, in the past few years four couples have hired our team because their original photographer either went out of business before their wedding, gave them horrible customer service or produced really bad engagement photos that did not look like the photos on the photographers website. This is the absolute truth. One client recently hired us after finding out the original photographer had renamed his business a few times to try to stay in business because of the bad reviews he received under his “old names”.

The Internet is your best friend. Google your candidates, check their reviews, make sure they are running a legal business by checking with the state or county they operate in. Ask your other vendors if they know the photographer you are considering. A professional who cares about their reputation and respects their industry will be respected in the community they live and work in. 

The perfect wedding photographer (continued)

HOW TO FIND A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

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Learn more

ABOUT US

We are a team of exceptionally passionate creatives who are dedicated to authentic wedding day storytelling. 

OUR FAVORITE VENUES

Pine Knob Mansion

Planterra

Lovett Hall

Greenfield Village Eagle Tavern

BOOK US

*** A word of warning about reviews, especially in the recent years with covid cancellations. If you find negative reviews on a photographer or any other vendor you are considering, please read it thoroughly with an open mind. Does it sound legitimate? What type of complaint is it? Does it seem petty or confusing? Did the photographer respond to the complaint in a professional way? What you should consider regarding photography reviews is that art and photographs can be subjective. So it’s very important to read negative reviews carefully and try to understand them. Don’t necessarily exclude a candidate because of a bad review, rather you should ask the photographer about the review and consider their explanation. How someone handles complaints is almost more important than someone who claims to have never received one. 

Interview your top three on the phone

Pick up the phone and call them up. I know it’s seems fashioned these days with email and texting, but your time is valuable. There’s no need to waste time with an hour long in person visit before having a quick phone conversation. Believe it or not we book most of our couples from a simple phone call or zoom / facetime meeting. Most of the time we don’t even have a need to meet in person anymore until the engagement session. Ask them about their style, how long they’ve been in business, what is their ideal client. Ask them what they love about photographing weddings. You will be surprised at what you hear.

Things you Don't Need to Ask Your Potential Wedding Photographer

There are many lists online with 30 or more questions to ask your potential wedding photographer. Some of the lists are helpful but others will only confuse you. Your wedding photographer does not need to have photographed at your venue in the past. It's perfectly acceptable for a pro to work at venue they've never experienced and still achieve incredible images for you. A professional wedding photographer who is experienced will not need to do a venue site visit before your wedding. We know our craft, we know our lighting, we know how to achieve good exceptional photos very fast. The only time we've ever done a site visit was when we photographed a wedding at a science conservatory, in the planetarium. That posed unique challenges that we simply had to address up front. What you should ask your potential photographer is if they are comfortable shooting at your venue and if they can think of any challenges they may face to get the shots you desire.

The perfect wedding photographer (continued)

HOW TO FIND A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

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Michigan wedding photography by Kellie Saunders, LLC. Kellie leads a team of dedicated and passionate wedding photographers in Michigan who service the Metro Detroit area. Her team provides wedding photography in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, Rochester, Birmingham, Port Huron and the entire metro Detroit area. This award-winning team's work has been published both locally and nationally. Her team of professional Michigan wedding and engagement photographers have an authentic documentary wedding photojournalism style while creating timeless signature fine art wedding portraits. Please inquire for destination weddings.

©2021 KELLIE SAUNDERS
DETROIT MICHIGAN WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERs
725 S. Adams rd., suite 140, Birmingham, MI 48009
KELLIE@KELLIESAUNDERS.COM
313-468-0273

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