How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Choosing a wedding photographer can be challenging and a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven't been a part of a wedding, or have close friends who can advice you. So here is a step by step guide for how to choose a wedding photographer and find the best wedding photographer for you. If you are curious as to what areas I fit into I've bolded the type I am. :)

1. The best way to start sorting through photographers is starting with finding a photographer with styles you like and want. A photographer's style comes out in three different ways:

  • Style in editing:
    • Clean: lightly processed and appear to be natural
    • Colors similar to a vintage film
    • High contrast: rich in colors
    • Style in shooting:
      • Photojournalistic: These photographers generally document a wedding as a journalist would document a story. They stay behind the scenes and capture the moments, they typically do not do not interrupt the flow of an event. They may also not offer any posed photos including family photos.
      • Traditional: These photographers approach wedding photography as capturing the moment at all costs. They will walk down the center of the aisle to get the right shot, stand in the middle of the dance floor, they are there to capture all the typical moments you want captured. They will do posed photos that look similar to most studio photos (think JcPennies and Lifetouch photos from your childhood).
      • Mixture: These photographers shoot in a style of photojournalistic capturing natural moments while making sure to capture the important moments. These photographers also do posed photos but may approach them from more of an organic fashion. Posed photos probably won't seem so stiff and fake, but more natural and candid while still looking elegant. 

2. You'll want to think about the services you need from your wedding photographer. Below are some common services you'll want to ask about or look for from your photographer:

  • Having a second photographer: a second photographer will provide different angles and help your photographer guarantee they get all the shots. Equipment fails, people are human and miss things, having two photographers can make sure every moment is covered. Also two photographers means you can get more photos at once. One photographer can be with the bride while the girls get ready and another with the groom and the guys.

3. Think about the products you will want from your photographer. Keep in mind you don't have to purchase all of these up front, but may want to order from them down the road. Make sure to ask about ordering later, every photographer has different policies:

  • Digital files only: keep in mind so many people never look at their wedding photos again if they stay hidden away on a CD.
    • Do you want your digital image files to be able to be printed again or do you just want digital files to share online and use on electronic devices.
    • How big will you want your images to be able to be printed?
    • Albums: Look at album samples, their are so many different styles and qualities out there. Know what you are paying for.
    • Prints: Ask to see samples if you want prints, most professional photographers print professional quality prints not easily accessible to the public. If their samples look like a photo you printed on your own they probably are charging you for going to the same places you go to.

4. Set your budget: You can plan for your photographer to cost about 12% of your wedding budget. Keep in mind most photographers spend 60+ hours on one wedding and they have costs to running a business.

5. Research photographers: spend time on their websites, look at the blog posts, see how often they post recent real weddings, read reviews, ask friends and your other wedding vendors for referrals.

  • Make a list of your favorites.
  • Contact your favorites. The easiest way, of course is emails, but some photographers have contact forms on their websites you can fill out too. Ask about their style, the products and services you want, and prices for their packages.
  • You can easily filter through responses by getting rid of the photographers that don't match the style you want, don't offer the products or services you need, ho's price ranges are in your budget, or don't respond with in a few days.  Don't write off photographers who don't giv e you exact prices. Most of these photographers customize packages that fit your exact needs.

6. Interview photographers who you liked the most. Most photographers can do this over the phone, in person or via video chat. If a photographer cannot offer you an interview move on to the next.

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6. Bring questions to ask to the interview:

  • Ask about experience with your particular venue and time of day especially if evening wedding or inside a church.
  • If you plan to hire a videographer ask if the photographer has experience working with one.
  • Ask about how much they edit photos. Some photographers will only do minimal editing (adjust exposures and colors), others will remove every last stray hair, and others will have something in between.
  • Ask about their digital files:
    • What resolution they deliver your wedding digital images in. If they don't know what resolution is you may be weary that they aren't professional even if they proclaim it. All professional photographers will know that you need to deliver print again quality digital image files in 240-300 ppi or higher.
    • How big you can print the photos after? If they don't know this answer you can be sure they aren't truly a professional photographer.
    • Do they provide photos ready for the web? More experienced and knowledgeable photographers will deliver photos ready for the web. The digital image files that are ok to print are typically very large files and can take up a lot of space on your devices and the internet. If you plan to upload your photos to devices or share online you'll want your photographer to give you web-sized and sharped digital photos.
    • Can you have input on the photos you want. Some photographers just show up and shoot a wedding while others will plan out specific shots or requests with you.
    • Make sure to ask who will be there to shoot your wedding. Many companies contract out photographers to photograph your wedding, so the photos you may see in a portfolio may not be the photographer you get for your wedding.

7. After interviews discuss with your fiancee and/or people investing in your wedding:

  • Did you feel comfortable with the photographer? During most weddings your photographer will be with you most of the day, having a photographer who helps you relax is so important. While helping you stay relaxed it isn't completely their job, it is helpful to feel comfortable with them.
  • Do you like their style?
  • Do they provide all the services you need?
  • Are they a legitimate professional photographer, and if they aren't are you ok with that?
  • Do they have the experience to photograph your particular wedding well? (Keep in mind photographers who have no experience shooting an indoor evening wedding may not do a great job shooting your wedding if they've only photographed outdoor sunny weddings.)

8. Did they have a package that closely fit your needs and budget?

  • Decide on your favorite photographer!
  • Finally, finalize your wedding date with your photographer and sign a photography contract.