How to Choose a Wedding Photographer – 10 Tips For Selecting Wedding Photography

You want your wedding photographer to capture everything that makes your day special, to capture you at your best, to deliver photographs that live up to your expectations. Here are 10 tips for selecting wedding photography that you can live with throughout your new life together.

  1. A reputable wedding photographer should have a physical location. A physical location where you can find them when you need them and where you can meet with them safely is important. Brick and mortar wedding photography studios build trust within the community and with their clients. If your wedding photographer does not have a local address (not a PO Box) that they will share with you, it’s a good reason not to trust them. They might work out of their house, but do you know where that is? A physical office or studio is paramount to them being trustworthy. Would be you be willing to have a random stranger come to your house, or for you to go to their house? It’s safer and more reliable to choose a wedding photographer with a studio or office you can visit and where you can find your photographer.
  2. A good wedding photographer should help make your day go more smoothly. Aside from a dedicated wedding planner, your photographer is the only vendor who is going to be spending the entire day with you. A good wedding photographer should make things easier for you. They should solve problems. Your wedding photographer should be flexible. They should be able to adapt and thrive in difficult situations. Find out more about their abilities and ask about a difficult lighting scenario, bad weather, or other catastrophe and find out how they dealt with it in the past.
  3. You need your wedding photographer to be focused on you. When you meet with any wedding photographer for the first time, do they ask about you, get to know you, and find out what you want? Or do only they talk about themselves and what they do? Find a photographer who is willing to spend time getting to know you so you know they understand you and your needs. This is the best way to find out if they are a good fit for you.
  4. Your wedding photographer should be knowledgeable and helpful. They should offer suggestions about options you have for different things, provide advice on scheduling and setup, be full of ideas, and be ready to make your day and your planning easier. A good photographer is big on planning. Your photographer should work with you before an engagement session to select clothing and location. Your wedding day photography should be scheduled as part of your day rather than as an afterthought. Photography does not have to be inconvenient – it can be a fun and integral part of your day.
  5. It might sound strange, but not all wedding photographers are the same and not all photographers are a good fit for every client. If your wedding photographer meets you and finds out about what you are looking for and then tells you that they don’t think they would be a good fit for you, it might be surprising, but it’s nothing personal. Wouldn’t you rather a professional be honest about this than trying to change to meet your needs? Sometimes photographers realize that what they specialize in is not the same thing a client wants. Photographers don’t want to make you unhappy, and if a wedding photographer thinks you might be happier with a different style of photography or with a different situation, we will tell you before you book so you are not disappointed later.
  6. Price is NOT the most important factor when choosing a wedding photographer: You definitely get what you pay for. Photography is like anything else in life: You get what you pay for. It is not logical to think you can hire someone for little to no money and get the same results you would get if you had spent twice what you paid. Price is normally a factor when it comes to quality. Photographers who charge more are usually backed by their reputation, their brand, and their experience. You should also understand that your photographs will become the lasting memory of your wedding day. There are two things you should spend money on for your wedding, it should be your venue and your photography. People will probably not remember the food, you will only wear your dress once, and most of the other things are not huge investments anyway (flowers, music, makeup). You will look at your wedding photographs regularly – perhaps even every day – for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t your wedding photos be great?
  7. Your wedding photography studio should be insured and licensed as a legal business. Many venues actually require insurance from vendors working there. Camera equipment is expensive and you should make sure your photographer is fully insured by a reputable insurance company to make sure you are protected. Many photographers are just individuals with cameras and maybe a slick website. Make sure your photographer is backed by a legal, legitimate business.
  8. Your wedding photographer should have backup equipment and a backup plan. Mandatory: Cameras with two slots for memory cards that can be written to simultaneously in case one card fails, backup cameras and lenses, a data backup plan including offsite backups, and a disaster plan. Protect your investment. If your photographer only has one camera, it’s not enough.
  9. Multiple photographers with your package are much better for you than having just one. Your wedding photographer should have multiple photographers on staff in case someone get sick or God forbid injured. A lone photographer cannot be in enough places at once to possibly cover a wedding day adequately. For all but the smallest weddings, your wedding photographer should have at a minimum a photographer and assistant/second shooter. Anything less and you will be missing out on important moments, angles, and opportunities.
  10. Your wedding photographer should NOT dump a disc of photos on you and disappear after the wedding day. Some photographers will sell you a disc of high resolution photos, give them to you, and that’s it. Your wedding photographer should provide value-add services and products after your wedding day – for example, photo books or albums, photo prints, and wall art. Other services you should look for are in-studio viewings and selection, retouching and editing services, and gift options. A photographer that shoots photos for a disc is going to give you a result that is a completely different set of photos than a photographer who is shooting with an album in mind or to create artwork. You are going to get a much better selection of photos from a photographer focused on artwork and an heirloom album than one who is going to shoot-andburn a disc for you and call it a day. Will you really want to spend time and money designing your own album? Probably not. Make sure your photographer provides you with personal usage rights for the images, but you do not need raw files or ultra high resolution photos if your wedding photographer designs for you an amazing photo album, gives you a disc of JPG digital negatives, and offers print, artwork, and design options after the wedding. Consider what you really need and talk to your photographer about what they provide.

If you choose a wedding photographer who you get along with, whose portfolio or example photographs you enjoy, who offers products you want, and whom you feel you can trust, your wedding photography experience should be a positive one.

Photography is one of the most important decisions you will make for your wedding, and you owe it to yourself and your future legacy to invest in selecting a good wedding photographer instead of just the cheapest photographer you can find.

20 Tips on How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

How to choose a wedding photographer

With so many wedding photographers, so many prices, and styles choosing the right wedding photographer can become quite a big and unwieldy task for the modern couple

To begin with, the internet makes things easier, because you can see lots of work side by side, but this does not immediately let you know the most important bits of information, which will in the end determine the best choice for you

20 top tips for choosing a photographer

#1 Who ever you choose, you must click with them

A website will only go part of the way of finding out about attitude and the person.

You will be with your wedding photographer, on your special day from dawn to dusk in some cases, inviting them into your dressing room, while you are getting ready. The photographer will then work with you and your family through the day. You need to find someone you trust, and get on with

#2 Who ever you choose, you must click with them

Yes that’s point one! But it is point 2 as well. Anyone shooting your wedding needs to get the best out of you, and this ultimately is a mix of communication, and camera craft. You need to be confident your wedding photographer can guide and instruct you and your family during the poses and group shots. If they make you smile, put you at your ease, the job is half done

#3 Know that wedding photography is both a business and a vocation

Wedding photography is a business, and professional wedding photography is one of the hardest and stressful disciplines in the photography game. You need to choose a photographer, who is a good in business and photography. I am not talking about profits here; I am talking about the way they run the business. You need to look at the business and think – will they be here in 5 -10 years time, when I have lost my disk, and I want a re-print.

#4 Can you communicate with them easily

Like all wedding suppliers, you need to know – can you communicate with them easily. A hotmail account and a mobile phone number are a giveaway. Look for a landline number, open in office hours. Ask yourself – how quickly do they reply to e-mails, and at what time of the day. However, remember we don’t work 7 days a week, and we don’t answer the phone if we are shooting a wedding. It is not uncommon for busy wedding photographers to take off a day in the week

With a wedding photographer, you need to be clear on this issue, because unlike nearly all of the other vendors, you will be communicating a lot with the photographer a long time after the wedding

#5 Choose what style you like

There are a number of different styles of wedding photography ranging between stiff and formal, through to totally documentary (nothing at all set up). There are also photographers that pull in aspects of other photographic disciplines such as fashion, fine art, avant-garde etc.. On top of that, there are a number of ways the photographs are processed, ranging from standard colour, black and white to totally gimmicky processing.

Before you seriously look at choosing a photographer, choose the style you want first

#6 Matching a photographer to the style you want

This is obvious, but more often than not, the photographer is chosen for another reason, and their style is foisted on the couple. You need to know that good professional photographers can change the style they shoot a little from shoot to shoot. However you do not want to choose a formal photographer to shoot a reportage style etc. Most of us are in the middle, and lean one way or the other.

Look at the photographers work, try and look at whole weddings if they are available, and if many weddings are available to view, look to see that the photographer does shoot in the way you want.

#7 Portfolio shots are different to general wedding photographs

Photographers choose images for their portfolios because they are either the best of the best, or they fit a certain format, or both. They tend to be dramatic, show stopping images. The 99.9% of the images the wedding photographer shoots are the ones you need to be interested in..

#8 Recommendations

Nothing is better than a recommendation, but nothing is worse than an unqualified recommendation. If someone recommends any wedding supplier or wedding photographer to you, then you need to know: have they actually shot the wedding yet? What is the relationship between the photographer and the person doing the recommending? I am often approached by venues, wanting a 10% cut, so that they can recommend me. I always say no. This goes on a lot

If you get a recommendation from a happy couple, who have had the album, and enjoyed the service provided from start to finish, then go with it, but still ensure you like the person and style.

#9 Deliverables

Getting the wedding photographs shot is the most important thing. If you have little money, invest in getting the day covered before investing in products.

All other products – albums, canvases, prints – need to be considered separately. What is the photographer’s attitude to longevity, and quality in the products? Your wedding album should last generations if it is made properly, and will last a few years if poor quality materials are used. Consider this to be an investment.

Do a little research first – find out about acid free materials and pigments, and why using them is important.

On the subject of deliverables, find out how reprints, albums and products are delivered, and if online galleries are provided, and if reprints can be purchased online.

#10 Get a short list and have a meeting

If you can get a very short list of photographers, and go and meet them at their studio. At the meeting you need to cover a few key things. Look at complete wedding albums. Are there any surprises, or inconsistencies? Look at the quality of the work, does it match the website? Do you click with the photographer? Does the studio and business look efficient and organised?

If the photographer is coming to you, ask them to bring a few complete albums, but remember they take up a lot of space and are bulky.

With sample albums, expect to see fingerprints, dings and the like, they tend to get carted from pillar to post, and lots of people thumb through them.

#11 Make sure the photographer shooting your wedding is the photographer you are booking

There are a number of industry practices you need to be aware of: Firstly there are networks of photographers, run from a head office. You may look at the website and see stunning images, but that doesn’t mean the local chap they send is any good.

Secondly, A small number of unscrupulous photographers actually use stock images or copy images from other photographers sites. This is done to defeat the chicken and egg problem that photographers have when they are starting out and have no portfolio.

Thirdly, a number of the better photographers actually run their businesses like hairdressing salons – i.e. the name on the door is the award winning hairdresser, you can pay so much for the junior, and a little more for the executive, and the full rate for the owner – however the style book contains only the best work from whoever.

#12 Award winning photographers

There are 1000’s of awards, and nowadays all photographers seem to be award winning. If they are saying this – find out what award, what photograph, and when. Don’t be too swayed by awards, look at results – real wedding photographs in albums, and use your own eyes and judgment.

#13 Professional qualifications / letters after names

Be very clear to find out exactly what the letters mean. In most instances, the photographer sends in 12 mediocre images with a “joining” fee, and all of a sudden they have flashy letters after the name. If you see this, go to the website, and find out how the photographer joins, and find out if it is merely a commercial organisation that promotes photographers, or a genuinely educative organisation promoting excellent photography.

#14 Contracts, deposits, copyright, pricing

Good professional photographers have this sorted, and have an immediate view. No contract – alarm bells. Discuss releasing the wedding photographs on disk, and what the copyright issues are. Discuss the pricing, and pricing for things that are sold afterward like re-prints, and copies of disks.

#15 Attitudes to backups

Film used to last for ages, decades. Digital has issues, disks degenerate, hard drives crash. A photographer’s attitude to backup is vitally important. As a minimum, the images shot at the wedding, and the photographs produced after editing need to be properly backed up, on and off site. If the wedding photographer can’t immediately tell you his or her process for backing up then an alarm bell should be ringing.

#16 Do not be swayed by today’s fashions

Do look at your mums wedding photographs – some things done 20-30 years ago, look cheesy now – faces in champagne glasses, spot colouring etc. We can all do these tricks, but do not let the fizz and polish sway you between one photographer and another. The most important thing they can do is shoot the wedding photographs properly in the first place.

#17 You do have to pay for quality

If the price is stupidly lower than al of the others, corners will be cut. This will be in equipment, processing time, quality of materials. Often people who have full time jobs doing something else, view shooting weddings not as a full time job, but a s a way of earning cash on the weekend, so the price is set low to attract anyone who wants to pay. While this works for a few weddings a year, you need more commitment than this, because as they get busier, something needs to give, and it isn’t normally the day job.

#18 Ask what backup kit / contingency plans they have

Any professional wedding photographer worth hiring will be able to immediately tell you this. You need to cover – what if a camera breaks or stops working? What happens if the photographer gets ill on the day? What happens if the weather is bad?

The correct answers are – I have a full duplicate kit (and some), I have a network of professionals I can call on at the drop of a hat to cover for me, I know the venue, I have a plan, I will do XYZ.

#19 What to look for in the photographs

When you look at wedding photographs, and you are comparing photographers ask: Has the photographer got the attention of the subject? (Ignore if the photograph is purposefully a candid). Are the eyes, and face sharp? Is the background distracting? Are the poses natural or awkward looking? Do the photographs work well as a set in terms of colour, skin tones and lighting? Are there annoying traits like every background blurred, or every image heavily tilted? On the straight images – are the key parts of the shot straight and parallel to the edges of the photograph?

#20 Get the balance right

The relationship, meeting and conversation you have with your wedding photographer needs to be two way. In other words the best place to be is where you bounce off of each other creatively. If it feels like your potential wedding photographer is telling you what he will do and need to the point where you feel you are changing what you want, or if you feel you have to spoon-feed the photographer with ideas – then you have the wrong photographer.

Again this is just like the hairdresser. You won’t go in the hairdresser and be bullied into having a perm and a colour, but on the other hand you expect your hairdresser to react to what you say constructively, and come up with ideas. In the hairdresser, when you find the right one, you know it – there is a balance between what you want, and the creative input the hairdresser brings to the table. Dealing with wedding photographers is the same; you don’t want a mouse or a prima-donna.

The Process Of Hiring A Wedding Photographer

Although most people have attended a wedding, that doesn’t mean that they will know the process when it’s their turn to go down the aisle. Below is a step by step guide on the process of hiring a wedding photographer.

Step One: Hiring a photographer.

This can be a daunting task even for someone who follows hundreds of wedding photographers blogs. It is recommended that you hire someone within the state that you are getting married. Most wedding professionals travel all over and even if they do not live in the area you are getting married they have most likely photographed there before. Ask them to Narrow your search down to five wedding photographers that you really like. They can be in several different price brackets at this point. Begin communicating with them-choose three you want to meet with in person. The in person meeting is huge because the photographer will be with you the entire day and you want someone not only competent in wedding photography but someone you know you can get along with and wont mind having around. After your meetings you can then choose your photographer.

Step Two: Choosing a package

Hopefully you spoke with your photographer at the meeting about what kind of coverage they offer, and what kind of coverage you will need. Let them help with this they shouldn’t sell you more than you need, but they also should be there to cover all the important moments that will happen on your wedding day. Wedding photographer typical day is 8 hours just like any other professionals work day. That said often 10 hours of coverage is needed in order to begin with the bridal prep and end well into the reception. Your wedding photographer should help you decide if you would like a wedding album (recommended so that your memories are secure in print and digitally) and they should talk you through if they give you the rights to the wedding images or if they keep the digital files etc.

Step Three: Deciding how the wedding day works

There are two models for the photographer on wedding day… the first one is traditional, and the second is with a first look. These models are how we structure the time needed and schedule of the day for photographs.

Traditional: Photographer will come and start with the details at the hotel. Dress, shoes, invitation, rings, bridesmaid dresses, perfume, jewelry, and flowers. After those details have been photographed the wedding photographer will turn their attention to the women and their photojournalistic getting ready photos. This is where the wedding photographer begins to capture moments and build the story of the day. After the bride is in her dress an experienced photographer will often have a first look with the parents-so dad and mom will come in and see their baby girl for the first time in her wedding gown. Meanwhile the second photographer is with the men and taking candid shots of them tying their ties and just hanging out being men before the ceremony. As the bride walks down the aisle at the ceremony the second photographer is taking shots of the grooms expression, and the main photographer is photographing the processional with the bridesmaids and the bride walking down the aisle. After the ceremony the wedding photographer will (with help from the appointed family member) gather up the full family for their portraits. The wedding photographer will begin with the brides side of the family and break it down until the smallest family breakdown (mom and bride, dad and bride, siblings and bride) have been photographed. The wedding photographer will then move onto the grooms family and do the same thing starting with the biggest grouping and breaking it down to the smallest groups. When that is finished it is time to photograph the bridal party. An experienced wedding photographer should be able to get three different posed bridal party shots done in 15 minutes. From there the photographer will photograph just the group of men, and then just the group of women. These two groupings should only take 10-15 minutes and the wedding photographer should know exactly how they want each member of the party or grouping to stand. From there the wedding photographer will take a few portraits of the bride, then the groom, and finally finish up (this whole thing from family to finish should take an hour) with the bride and the groom together. At this point the wedding photographer turns everyone over to the coordinator and the band or DJ. They are in charge of how the reception flows. The wedding photographer will photojournalistic capture the moments from this point on. Even the formalities like the first dances, cake cutting, and bouquet throwing are done in a candid style.

First Look: The Wedding photographer will still meet you at hair and makeup and do the detail shots first. But after the bride is ready the wedding photographer has scheduled the day so that there is an hour and a half of photo time before the ceremony. It begins with a private viewing of the bride from her parents, and then the photographer has chosen an intimate spot with good light for the groom to see his bride for the first time in her dress. The wedding photographer will tell the bride and the groom how to walk to each other before so that they can be in the wings with their long lens getting great emotional moments. After this (generally 15 minutes) the bridal party will be gathered for the bridal party pictures, the women, and the men pictures. This will be about 30 minutes. Finally about 45 minutes before the ceremony the family will be photographed. The bridal party and bride and groom should be finished 30 minutes before the ceremony with all pictures as guests begin to arrive and often the bride doesn’t want to be where she can be seen by everyone. After the ceremony the bride and the groom can take a few moments to be husband and wife and the photographer can take pictures with little to no direction. Then the bride and the groom are able to go to cocktail hour with their bridal party and talk to all of their guests. It is recommended that in the traditional line up of a day there is a receiving line so that you meet all of your guests and don’t have to do it at dinner time. In the first look scenario you can do that at cocktail hour. Again the reception is photojournalistic and candid based for all events.

Step Four: What happens after the wedding

The wedding photographer hopefully explained how they work already in a meeting or in an email. After the wedding many wedding photographers will edit a photographers favorites set within several days and send you an email as well as post them to their blog/FB sites. If the wedding photographer is very busy make sure to ask what their turn around time for all of the wedding photos are. Often times a month is a reasonable amount of time. Also chat with them about their process for culling down the set of final images. It is very important part of a wedding photographers job to edit through and choose the best photos as we have the ability to process thousands of high-resolution images but it is often overwhelming for you the bride to process through that many which is why it is important that we are presenting only the best one of each of the images we take on the wedding day. That will be more than enough wedding images. Talk to your wedding photographer about how they send you the final set of images is it via web or is it via hard drive.

Step Five: The wedding album

If applicable one of the last formal business interactions (as hopefully you are friends at this point) is the wedding album design. Most wedding photographers will begin by creating a version for you telling your wedding story. Then from there you can make changes, edit it, and perfect it to be your favorite images. The wedding album is to take your readers in 10-40 years through your wedding day, so it is often best if you do not choose the images if you let the photographer choose the images to work from. Then as said you can make changes to the album. Wedding photographers are storytellers and this is where their final vision and style can be really seen. In your initial meeting with wedding photographers you saw their album style and hopefully choose someone whose design elements you liked and whose overall feel of the wedding day story through the albums you related too.

That is a summary of the involvement of the wedding photographer, and the process in which the wedding photographer evaluates your day. Each photographer will look for different things on a wedding day, and each wedding photographer will have a unique style but we all will follow a professional and meticulous formula for getting the wedding photos.