How to Tell the Difference Between a Good Wedding Photographer and a Bad One

How do you tell the difference between one wedding photographer and the next? Searching through the sea of wedding photographers can be a big task. When I got married, I was given the task of selecting our wedding photographer, and I looked at websites of many different photographers. Some were more expensive and some were less expensive, but often I couldn’t tell the difference between the actual pictures. If I could tell that I liked one photographer’s work better, I didn’t know why. This left me with very little confidence in selecting a wedding photographer.

I want you to be able to choose a wedding photographer with confidence. So let’s answer the basic questions.

Why can’t I tell the difference?

The reason that you and I could not tell the difference, is that most of the work that is put online is the best work of the photographer. All of the photos you see on websites are great photographs. If they weren’t, they would not make it on the website. If you had a camera and went out to shoot a thousand pictures one day, I am sure you could take at least 1 good picture.

This is exactly what some photographers do. They shoot weddings and come up with 2 or 3 good pictures from the wedding. These are the photographs that are posted on their website. You will never see the other photographs. A poor photographer will only be able to take 1-10 good photographs from your day. A good photographer will be able to shoot 30-70 great photographs from your wedding day. A great photographer may be able to shoot 50-100 great photographs.

Real weddings?

Another trick that photographers use to build up their online portfolio is to use fake wedding shots. Some photographers will hire some models and go to a beautiful location and spend a whole day taking photos. They will put these shots on their website and while the shots are great shots, they aren’t from real weddings. The photographer gets the opportunity to spend half an hour perfecting each shot. They may fiddle with the pose. They may take the shot and realize that there’s something distracting in the background. They will not have this much time on your wedding day. You will not get any photos that look like these on your wedding day.

Some photographers may even go to a workshop where another professional photographer teaches them on how to take great photos. In these cases, the teacher is the one who actually poses the model and sets up the lighting. Will your photographer actually be able to create those shots themselves?

Ask to see an entire wedding of photos

So don’t select a photographer merely by looking at the online portfolio. All photographers should have a great online portfolio. (If they don’t, definitely beware.) Meet with the photographer and ask to see photographs from an entire wedding. The photographer should show you 200 or so photographs from an entire wedding and see how many of these photographs you think are great shots. Not all of them will be great. Even the best photographers will have mediocre shots, but if there is a large number that are great shots, you know you have a good photographer.

Know the great photographers

Another way to be able to distinguish the good photographers from the bad ones, is by being familiar with the great photographers. There may be one or two great photographers in your area that charge over $10000 per wedding. You may not be able to afford that, but by looking at their photographs you can realize what good photography really is. Then look for those elements in other photographers. Some of the great wedding photographers are Joe Buissink, Jeff Ascough, Jessica Claire, Nate and Jaclyn Kaiser from The Image is Found, Jesh de Rox and others. Look up those names and peruse their photographs. You will get a sense of what great photography and as a result, you will be able to more easily differentiate the good photographers from the mediocre ones.