How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer
With so many photographers nowadays, how do you narrow down all recommendations from your wedding venue, your friends, and from all the options on Google and social media like Instagram or Tiktok? With an overload of choice, the easiest thing to do for many couples is to compare wedding package prices and choose the cheapest one. However, although your budget is important, don’t let price be the only deciding factor!
There have been multiple surveys have shown that married couples’ biggest regret is limiting their spending on their wedding photographer. Once your last song is played and you exit your reception, all the food, florals, and details will be packed up, but you’ll have your photos to remember the day it all began.
This post will cover 6 areas you need to pay attention to during your inquiries with your potential wedding photographer. The final goal is to give you the right tools and questions to ask so that you can find the perfect wedding photographer for YOU, and have no regrets 100 years from now.
1. KNOW YOUR STYLE
Look beyond the current trends to discover what you truly love. Find what appeals to you now, but will also appeal to you for generations to come. Make a collection of your favorite wedding photos and ask yourself why they’re your favorite. Is it the composition? The editing? The emotion captured? Maybe it's bright and true to life’s colors, or maybe you prefer a vintage look with desaturated tones and a nostalgic feel. Maybe you love the candid photos that capture the joy throughout the day, or maybe you love the editorial, high-glam, and posed portraits.
Make a collection of your favorite wedding photos and ask yourself why they’re your favorite. Noting how the photographer's photos make you feel is the first step to ensuring the photographer will be a great fit.
2. LOOK AT REAL WEDDINGS, NOT JUST PORTFOLIO HIGHLIGHTS
You’re doing your research on a wedding photographers website and were instantly impressed by all the gorgeous wedding photos. The first question you need to ask yourself is: Are these real couples, or are they, professional models? Styled photoshoots can provide inspiration, but these photos are staged and not a true representation of what you might receive in your wedding gallery. Instead of looking at just the highlights, head to the photographers blog instead and look through a couple of their blog posts to get a realistic sense of their photography style.
Make sure they have the technical skills first: are the images sharp, in-focus, and properly exposed?
Afterwards, look for truth and emotional connection in their work. Life, as we come to view it, is a string of moments that impact us on an emotional level. Photography captures those moments, immortalizes them, and if we're good enough as photographers, brings out the emotion of that single point in time, every time you look at that photo.
3. FIND SOMEONE YOU CONNECT WITH, WITH A MEETING
It’s hard to get a sense of a photographer’s personality and energy until you schedule a meeting with them. During the meeting, look for an honest and organized photographer that you trust and feel comfortable talking with, because that’s who will be spending the big day by your side. There have been plenty of times where I’ve talked to a couple and it just didn’t feel right regarding personalities or style, and that’s 100% OK. You are going to be spending a full day with your photographer on the most important day of your life, and a wedding photographer with a personality that matches your own is essential to the overall experience of your wedding.
After the meeting, ask yourself these questions: Did I enjoy the company of this person? Would my friends and family like this person? If so, would I invite this person to a gathering at my house? Your photographer should feel like a friend, not just a hired vendor.
4. ASK ALL YOUR QUESTIONS
There are so many questions you want to ask your photographer, but which will give you the most telling answers? Every photographer structures their business differently, and like most of my couples, this is the first time you’ve ever looked to hire a professional photographer, so there are no silly questions. To get a good understanding for what to expect from your photographer, here are some essential questions to ask:
How many years have you been shooting weddings?
When working with couples, what do you value the most?
How would you describe your wedding photography style?
What's your approach to posing and capturing a wedding day? Have you shot at our venue before? If not, how do you approach shooting at a new venue?
What do your wedding packages include (Engagement session? Second shooter? Albums? etc.)
How do you handle unforeseen circumstances?
When will we receive our wedding photos? Do you send sneak peaks?
What are the next steps if we want to book with you?
5. FINALIZE YOUR BUDGET
If you felt good about your initial meeting, the next thing to consider is your budget. Some photographers have an hourly rate, then charge à la carte for any pictures or albums you want. Some photographers include everything like albums and prints, and charge sales-tax on your package. Some photographers will offer an engagement session and a second shooter, while others will offer to plan out your timeline and do a venue walk-through with you prior to the wedding. Make sure that you understand what's included.
Despite the popular suggestion to make budget as the determining factor, get informed about all the services mentioned above. If you're slightly flexible with your budget, question why good photographers often charge what they charge.
Wedding photographers that are worth the investment will listen and put your needs first, help plan your timeline even before you book them, provide education and wedding planning resources, connect you to other amazing wedding vendors, give you advice on what to wear to your engagement session, and a lot more. Good wedding photographers know that planning a wedding is hard, and want to give you an unforgettable experience from start to finish.
6. GUT CHECK
Once you've seen each photographer's work and prices, it's time to make your decision. Remember that you'll be spending the entire wedding day with this person, so you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable with the photographer. Do you and your fiancé(e) genuinely like this person? Do you feel like this photographer will click with your friends and family? Check out their reviews to see how past couples enjoyed working with them and why.
If you're still on the fence and can't decide, schedule an engagement session as a trial run.
An initial or mini shoot with a photographer will let you meet each other in person, gauge chemistry, and see how they work firsthand. Most couples aren’t used to getting their picture taken, so having a little session with your potential photographer will let you see if you can truly be yourself around them on the wedding day. It also helps the photographer find out what you are comfortable with, and if your personalities and energies match as well.
As you’re searching for a photographer, you will come across photographers that you won’t vibe with, but when you do, your photographer will capture the most beautiful and true sides of you and your love story, and this is valuable beyond estimation. When you have a genuine connection with your photographer, they’ll do a better job at posing you in your most flattering angles and capturing your emotions…your love, your joy, your stillness, and your movements. Years from now, your photos will be all you have to relive and reflect back on this whirlwind of activity, and you’ll thank yourself time and again for investing in them.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you found this post helpful as you're choosing the best wedding photographer for you!