Choosing the best photographer for your wedding.
Unlike the work of your other wedding vendors (music, flower arrangements, cake), photographs aren’t things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first.This means you don’t know what you’re getting until after the fact. That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanour are extra important when choosing your photographer.
Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake — you’ll immediately post them on Facebook when your photographer gives them to you, and you’ll look back at them 50 years from now, reminiscing about your vows, the kiss, and the first dance. Choosing the right photographer to capture those poignant moments is an important decision, and it’s crucial to find a pro who understands your vision for your wedding day and can document it with style. But you’ll also want someone you trust and feel comfortable with since he or she will be by your side the entire wedding day.
To help you find the right person to entrust with this task, follow our guide to selecting the perfect wedding photographer.
If you’ve ever explored our wedding planning tips, you probably already know how strongly we feel that your wedding photographer isn’t just another vendor. That being said, we also know that choosing your wedding photographer can seem daunting and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ve broken it down into simple steps that will take you from choosing your photography style to booking the perfect photographer. Ready? Let’s do this!
Choose Your Photography Style
If you’ve never thought about your wedding photography style, don’t worry, you’re not alone! We’d be willing to bet most couples don’t realise how many different styles of wedding photography exist. But, just like you need to know your wedding style before you can start picking out flowers or decor, you need to know what photography style(s) you love before you can start looking at photographers. We’ve got a handy quiz to determine which wedding photography style is perfect for you!
Wedding Photography Styles (in a nutshell)
Fine Art — Fine art wedding photographers are actively creating art while capturing the story of your day. Every moment has the potential to turn into a photograph that could be a stand-alone piece in an art gallery.
Photojournalistic — The purpose of being a photojournalist is to unobtrusively capture the wedding day as a whole, not just the planned moments. Photojournalism got its start in newspapers, so remember that you won’t get the posed shots if you hire a true photojournalist. If you don’t like posing or staging, then hiring a photojournalist might be the perfect option for you.
Traditional — A traditional photographer appreciates the staples of a wedding and will capture them for you with art and grace. You can expect a modern take on the posed photos in your grandparents’ wedding album. Traditional wedding photographers typically focus on capturing the details that are important to you, including family photos, décor, and other images that you might have on your shot list.
Editorial — If you love the look of photography in magazines then you might like your wedding to be photographed with a similar feel. Editorial allows photographers to shoot creatively and over the top. While you won’t find candid moments in this style of photography, everything about the editorial look is dramatic, edgy, and sexy.
Moody and Dark — A moody look means that your photographer edits their photos in such a way as to mimic film imagery (or they might be a hybrid shooter — shooting both film and digital). If you love bright, bold colours and want your photos to look exactly how you remember your wedding day (color-wise), then the moody style may not be for you. However, if you’re looking for an artistic, interesting perspective of your wedding day, then this style might be your new obsession.
Adventurous — Think of this style as more of a personality trait rather than a look. If you and your soon-to-be love to travel and explore and are looking for someone who will follow you wherever your wanderlust takes you, then finding a photographer who describes themselves as an adventurer is a must!
One important thing to know is that most photographers don’t just shoot one style. Most photographers incorporate all of these styles into their work in some way or other. It makes it more fun for them and more interesting for their clients. So, keep that in mind when you start looking at portfolios!
Thoroughly Research Your Prospects
With so many professionals’ websites and social media accounts to pore over, it can be tough to know what you’re even looking for. The first thing, of course, is that they have a website. If the professional is simply using Facebook for their entire business, that can be a red flag that they may lack experience or professionalism. Once you’re on that website, there are a couple of important pages you should browse. The first is their portfolio, which is going to give you a feel of what they believe their best work is. Here you can get an idea of the types of weddings they enjoy producing or capturing, as well as a feel for their overall style. You may notice a consistency in their work, and if it resonates with you, keep them on your list! You may also find that there isn’t a common thread through the work you’re finding in their portfolio. This may mean that they are versatile and are able to adjust and tailor their work to different clients, or it may mean that they don’t yet have a strong sense of what they’re best at. If you’re interested in seeing more of a certain style, make a note of what you liked in their portfolio when you reach out and ask if they have similar work you can take a look at.
The second part of their site you want to peruse is their blog. One of the things you’re looking for here is that it has been recently updated, showing that they’re actively booking clients and putting out exceptional work. Another thing you should look for is yourself. No, you won’t be on their blog, but you should look for couples and celebrations that feel like they could be your own. If you’re able to see yourself in this professional’s work, it’s a good chance they’re a fit for your wedding.
Email Your Favourite Photographers
Once you’ve found at least five photographers who you would like to contact, it’s time to reach out and ask some questions. Keep in mind that this email is the beginning of a relationship with your future wedding photographer, and you’re making just as much of a first impression as they will with their response. Don’t just blast the same generic email to every photographer you find online. Get to know them, their work, and what you love most about their business. Then tailor each email to the photographers you’re genuinely interested in.
With this first email, you’ll want to be sure to ask the following questions:
- Is your date available?
- What are their latest pricing, packages, and contact information?
- Can they provide several references?
You might also want to set up a phone consultation, during which you can ask about their approach to their work, what makes them love shooting weddings, and find out what you can expect from them on your wedding day and throughout your relationship. Photographers know this is a big decision, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable and well informed!
Set Up In-person Interviews
The only way to truly get to know someone is to meet them, which is why in-person interviews are a must when choosing your wedding photographer! What you’re looking for in this interview is how comfortable you feel with the person behind the business. Like with any interview, the vibe you get from the person is just as important as the questions you ask. Would you feel comfortable having this person follow you around with a camera all day? Do you feel confident when this person tells stories about past weddings they’ve done at your venue? Does this person share a similar design aesthetic?
In addition to bringing some basic questions to the interview, it’s a good idea to bring along a mood board with some details you’ve envisioned for your day. First, you want to know if the professional can execute your vision. Second, you need to know if they can make your dream come true within budget. This one is all about expectations. If the answer is no, either the professional requires more than you can afford in order to bring your ideas to life, or you may need to be more realistic about what can be accomplished within your budget. You’ll get a better sense of which is the case after meeting with multiple vendors!
Trust Your Gut
You’ve done your research, you’ve narrowed down the choices, you’ve laid out your pro/con lists. Now it’s time to trust your gut and make a decision. Which photographer made you feel the most comfortable during your in-person interview? Which photographer can you see blending in seamlessly with you and your guests on the big day? As long as your shortlist includes credible professional photographers who align with your vision and fit into your budget, you can’t go wrong. Go with your gut.
Important Qualities To Look For
Value for money/cost
This can often be a deciding factor for a lot of brides and grooms, and although it is a vital element, it should not be the basis for your decision. High-end prices do not always guarantee the highest quality, but likewise, reasonable pricing does not always depict low quality.
A photographer should be open about their pricing structures and in turn, you should be clear on your budget. Neither one of you wants to waste any time so a clear dialogue right from the beginning will resolve this.
Your photographer should offer a variety of packages to suit all and should always be flexible with pricing and what is included within each package. Your photographer is providing a service, and each couple will have different expectations and requirements, so do make sure that your photographer can tailor make a package to suit your needs.
Always remember to ask about any hidden extras. Some photographers charge an additional fee for editing, creating artwork for an album or even travel and food expenses. You should always ensure that all costs are detailed in a quote before entering into any contractual agreement.
The experience a photographer has will play a large part in the organisation and structure of the day. I am sure many photographers will agree that they have often played the role of coordinator, photographer, master of ceremonies and children’s entertainer. Taking the photos is just a small part of being a wedding photographer. Without the necessary experience and the ability to perform under constant pressure, important moments can be easily missed.
Always try to choose a wedding photographer who has already worked at your wedding venue. This isn’t a necessity, but your photographer must show a willingness to meet at the venue regularly, exploring the best photo locations and opportunities as well as taking the time to run through the structure of the day. It is also a good idea for the photographer to meet with the venue proprietor/wedding coordinator to make sure everyone is clear on the day’s agenda from start to finish.
Ensure you ask how many weddings they have covered since they began trading and how long they have been in the business. This doesn’t mean that they are any less capable if they have only been trading for a short period of time but will give you a good idea of experience gained. Similarly, if a photographer has been in the business for years and has experience in abundance, you may want to check that their style has moved with the times and will meet the expectations of a modern-day bride and groom.
Recommendations/Word of Mouth
A lot of my bookings have come through recommendations from previous clients and word of mouth. If your friends and family have been happy with the quality of the service and work of a particular photographer, then chances are, you will be too. Again, this should not be the main reason for your choice but should be the final piece of the jigsaw.
Speak to your friends about their experiences with their wedding photographer and try to make use of tips and advice from those who have organised their weddings. A good photographer will always be able to give you a testimonial from previous clients upon request or even provide you with contact details should you wish to hear from them directly.
The quality of a photographer’s portfolio should be the first thing that captures your attention. A good photographer should be able to offer clients a variety of styles, capturing the personalities of the bride and groom and showcasing the happiness and fun of the day. Be clear on what style you would like and make sure the photographer can provide this in their portfolio.
If you are drawn to a particular photographer, make sure you ask to view all of their images (not just the favourites they pick for their websites!) so that you can check the image quality is consistent throughout.
Be aware that photographers have different editing techniques. If an image is heavily edited, then chances are this will be a common theme within their photography portfolio and is usually an attempt to try to cover up poor quality.
Above all, the style of the images should say something about you both as a couple. Whether you are looking for relaxed and informal photography or you would like to go for a more adventurous and contemporary style, be sure to do your homework and shop around.
As a bride and groom, you put a lot of trust and faith in your wedding photographer. In order to get the best images and a true account of the most important day of your life, it is imperative that you feel comfortable and relaxed in their presence.
You can usually tell within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone, whether you feel a rapport or connection. First impressions are key, and if you instantly strike a bond, then you are on to a good thing. If you feel uncomfortable around your photographer for whatever reason, then this will become very apparent in your wedding photos.
Also, think of your guests. Suppose your wedding photographer is approachable, friendly and down to earth. In that case, your guests will be at ease, allowing the photographer to blend in and capture the day as it naturally unfolds rather than a forced and posed account.
Remember, a true smile is impossible to fake, so choose wisely and ensure you meet with your photographer a couple of times before confirming your booking.
Everyone has a budget, I understand that, but never cut back on your photographer. You may have a friend that can take a great photograph, but can your friend be that consistent all day, know the routine and what to expect. What happens when it rains, or if it’s dark? Can they handle a whole group of people to get the formals? Maybe, maybe not, are you ready to take the risk with your wedding photographs?
It’s like buying a house, you look around, and you find the style you like. Then you’ll maybe go and see 3 or 4 and one of those will just feel right. Go with your heart. If it feels right, it usually is. Just check their portfolio and album samples to see how they deliver the whole package. Be clear with what you are asking for and be sure your photographer understands your requirements.