At any given consult with a prospective couple, I can almost guarantee you they will ask me one very specific and totally legitimate question: “Have you shot at my venue?”
Couples get told by some venues that they should make sure that their photographer has worked there before. And I get it! The venue is coming from a good place; They want you to hire a photographer who is going to get you images you’ll be thrilled to show your friends. The venue also wants a photographer who knows what they are doing so they highlight the character of their venue.
It makes sense! By asking “Have you shot at my venue”, couples can screen to make sure the photographer knows how to handle a lighting situations. They can make sure they like the style of images that will be returned to them.
But, if a photographer hasn’t shot at your venue, does that mean they aren’t going to be able to do it on your wedding day?
Imagine if every couple asked this to every photographer! None of us would never have ever gotten a start. Even when we did, we’d be relegated to that venue for the rest of eternity. The wedding photographers would be uninspired and bored with shooting the same shots over and over again.
New venues are popping up all the time. In fact, out of the 28 weddings I shot last year, 14 of them were reception venues I had never shot in before. THAT’S EXACTLY HALF OF THE WEDDINGS I SHOT! That isn’t even including ceremony venues I’d never shot in. Those weddings at unfamiliar venues were some of my best weddings of the year, and many of those venues are now using those images in their marketing campaigns.
I would recommend asking to see a full gallery from a venue they think is similar to yours. If your reception is in a dark ballroom, ask to see another dark ballroom example. If your venue is a theater, a barn, or a backyard, ask to see something similar.
Also, be sure to take into consideration the photographers’ number of years in business. The amount of experience they have will show in their portfolio and in the galleries that you see. A wedding photographer who has been in business for 5 or more years generally will have the basics down and can be trusted to shoot in a venue that is new to them without issue!
But whatever you do, do not discount a wedding photographer just because they have not shot at your venue specifically.
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