Five Common Mistakes Couples Make When Selecting a Wedding Photographer

1. Not considering your own photography needs and personal style.

More than any other vendor, a photographer needs to “get” you and what you are trying to do with your wedding. They need to understand not only the look of your wedding, but your style. They need to understand your style of relating, both to each other and to your photographer.

For example, if you are very natural, low-maintenance, and don’t wear a lot of makeup, you don’t want your photographer Photoshopping you to the point where you look heavily made up. If you are having a modern, trendy wedding, vintage-looking treatments on the photos are going to clash with that! In larger urban areas, there may even be photographers who specialize in your style or wedding niche. Or, you can just keep your eye out for a photographer who takes time to get to know you, your wants and needs (and of course who considers those to be important!)

2. Not learning how the photographer approaches a wedding.

Distinct from the photographer’s style is their approach to shooting a wedding. What do I mean by approach?

Some photographers take a very hands-on approach to shooting a wedding. They want to direct and create every photo as a near-portrait. For some couples this seems natural. For others, it can be very uncomfortable.

There are also photographers (usually using the terms “documentary,” or “photojournalistic”) who take a fly-on-the-wall approach. They won’t interrupt the day unless it is absolutely necessary.

Many photographers combine the two approaches, or claim to, but most have strong leanings one way or the other. Ask questions to find out whether your photographer will need to direct most photos, or whether they will be able to capture natural moments (such as the getting ready photos and reception) without directing.

3. Not considering the photographer’s personality.

This gets said a lot, but it’s something all couples need to hear. You are going to be with this person for most of your wedding day. If you find them annoying, offensive, irritating… that’s a stress you don’t need.

4. Only considering the photographers’ personality.

This one isn’t often said, but it needs to be. There are lovely people out there who are offering photography services, and getting hired on the basis of a good personality, but the photography skills aren’t there. Some young photographers are even getting the advice that their skills are not important — only their personality is important. But couples want the entire package: a nice person who is also a skilled photographer.

5. Comparing apples to oranges.

There are photographers with experience, and photographers without experience. There are photographers with quality professional gear, and photographers with amateur gear. (Unfortunately, since so much of the amateur gear now looks like the professional gear to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell the difference unless it’s also a hobby of yours.) There are photographers with high-quality work and average work.

There are photographers who know all about weddings, and love them, and there are photographers who do them “just for the money,” (as they will frequently confess to other photographers, but of course not to you!) There are photographers who offer superior products, and photographers who offer the cheapest products so they can keep profits high. There are photographers who return phone calls and emails promptly, and photographers who can be hard to reach when you have questions.

With all that, how can you compare? Honestly, though I know it can be hard to accept, one way is price. Photographers who know their worth tend to price higher. I say “tend” because of course there are photographers who have an inflated view of their worth, and are overpriced. By the same token, there are photographers who are worth much more than they are charging (I fear for them, too, lest they go out of business and deprive us of their greatness!)

The bottom line is that finding a photographer is a lot like finding the person you want to marry (though hopefully, it takes a lot less time!) When it’s right, you know it. When you fall in love, nothing else will do!