Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. It’s a day that should be remembered for years to come, and it’s something that you can’t go back and change if things go wrong or you made a mistake in hiring an inexperienced vendor. That’s why selecting the right wedding photographer is so crucial to wedding planning.
Even though there are many qualified photographers out there, it can be difficult to know which one will best capture your unique vision and personality during this special time in your life. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps involved in finding a great wedding photographer who meets all your needs and style preferences while staying within your budget.
The First Step – Determine Your Personal Photography Style
Your wedding photographer will be responsible for capturing all of the precious moments of your big day, so it’s important to know what you want from them.
Do you prefer traditional and classic shots that look like something out of a magazine? Or would you rather have more candid and modern photos with a bit more personality? Maybe an artistic shot incorporating elements of nature or architecture into the background would be right up your alley.
To help get started on this decision, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I want posed photos or candid ones?
- How important are backgrounds in my photos?
- Do I want my photographer to come up with a bunch of pose ideas or do I have my own?
- Do I prefer black-and-white photos over full-color photos?
- Do I prefer digital or film photography?
Asking yourself and your fiancé these questions will help you as a couple determine what to look for in a photographer.
Check out our other popular wedding planning tips:
2. Look Beyond the Photographer’s Instagram
When it comes to wedding photographers, you should look beyond their Instagram account. This is where the hard work begins.
See what types of photos they have taken and how often they update their blog and other social media accounts. You can also tell a lot about a photographer by looking at their website or portfolio if they have one.
Anyone can carefully curate an Instagram account with the best photos, but seeing what past clients have tagged them in for additional photos will help you get a full picture of what the photographer is capable of and what your own gallery might look like.
3. Know What You Want From the Photographer on Your Wedding Day
When it comes to a wedding day timeline, what do you want from your photographer?
- Do you want a photographer to be at the venue or be with you while you are getting ready?
- Would it be better for your photographer to capture the ceremony?
- Or would it be more important for them to capture the reception?
Figuring out the answers to these questions could impact the overall cost of the wedding package offered by a potential photographer.
4. Set a Budget and Try to Stay Within It
There’s no getting around it — weddings are expensive. Staying within a budget, especially with your photographer, is key.
You can find great photographers who are still affordable, but you have to be realistic about what you can afford. If you’re spending more on the photographer than your dress and venue combined, something’s gotta give!
The key to staying within your budget is making sure that all of your vendors are providing comparable services for a similar price point. Getting quotes from multiple photographers will help you to determine what is average for your needs on your wedding day.
When looking at quotes from potential wedding photographers, ask them if their prices include everything you’ll need (prints or albums, travel costs, etc.). Also make sure to ask if there are any package deals available where some services may come at no additional cost (ex. unlimited images with an album).
Another tip is getting discounts by booking early. Many vendors offer “early bird” specials, so make sure to check with them before making a decision!
5. Look at Reviews from Past Clients
As you look for a wedding photographer, you’ll want to see what other clients have had to say about their experience with the photographer or their company.
If a company/individual vendor already has reviews on third-party sites like WeddingWire or The Knot, that’s excellent! These online reviews are extremely helpful in providing insight into how a particular photographer runs their business: how responsive they are, how patient they are with clients and so on.
If there aren’t any online reviews yet (or if you want even more information), don’t be afraid to contact some past clients yourself and ask them specifically about their experiences working with this company. If a couple hasn’t left an online review for this photographer but did leave an offline one — say, in writing after the wedding — that can be helpful as well!
6. Ask Those Closest to You and Industry Professionals for Referrals
When you’re considering your options, it’s important to talk to those who are closest to you or friends who may have recently had a wedding. They may be able to give you valuable insight into the photographers they’ve worked with and whether they were pleased with their experience or not.
Your wedding venue can also be a great resource for referrals. If they have an in-house photographer who is highly recommended by other couples, it might be a good idea to consider hiring that photographer if they are available on your wedding date.
Another way of finding reputable photographers is through word of mouth at local business events — like bridal shows or industry conferences — or by reading reviews online from trusted sources such as WeddingWire or The Knot Wedding Planner app.
7. Understand Your Rights to the Photos After the Wedding
Most photographers offer the option for customers to receive their photos in some sort of digital format.
Once they’re in hand, there are some things that both parties should know about how long these images belong exclusively to each other:
Make sure you can print as many copies as you want (and give them away or sell them) without infringing on the photographer’s copyright rights. Also make sure that none of your photos will be sold online or through stock agencies without permission first!
Another important question to ask is if your photographer will be using your wedding images to promote themselves on social media platforms or printing your photos for use in their brochure or postcard they send to potential clients. If this is something you do not wish to happen, make sure you make that clear in your contract with the photographer before the wedding. Having this type of information in print is always the best option.
8. Ask if They Work with a Second Shooter to Capture Your Special Day from all Angles
One of the most important parts of your wedding day is the ceremony, but not all photographers will have the ability to capture it from every angle.
The best way to ensure that you get all of the important moments from your special day is by hiring a second shooter. A second shooter can help get shots that the primary photographer may not have time for, such as capturing close-ups of rings or flowers when they are being placed on each other’s fingers during a ring exchange between bride and groom.
Ask your photographer if they work with a second shooter, who the second shooter is, what their experience is and if there will be an extra charge for having a second shooter.
We recommend having a second shooter throughout the day leading into the special dances, such as the father-daughter dance, your first dance and any other special dances you might have planned.
9. Explore All of the Options Your Potential Photographer Offers
Choosing a wedding photographer can feel overwhelming at first, but you’ll find that once you’ve narrowed down the type of photographer you want and the packages they offer, it becomes much easier to make decisions about the rest of your big day.
One thing we believe is vitally important for any engaged couple is to get their engagement photos as possible before making any final decisions about who will be photographing their wedding day. Working with a photographer on your engagement photos will give you an idea of how the photographer works, if you vibe well together and what their style is.
We suggest talking with as many photographers as possible so that you can see how their work differs from other photographers’ styles. Maybe even do two separate engagement photography sessions with different photographers and then choose your favorite to photograph your wedding day.
10. Get Started
Now that you know what to look for in a wedding photographer, you can start getting ready for your big day!
A good wedding photographer should be able to capture the little moments that make your day special. They should also be able to blend into the background and not interfere with your guests’ enjoyment of the event.
With our helpful tips and tricks, choosing the right wedding photographer for your needs will be easier than ever!
As a multi-passionate creative and a self-proclaimed frequent flyer of weddings, Kiara combines her love for the wedding industry and experience as a professional wedding photographer with her writing abilities to share tips, tricks, and helpful information with couples. She is the owner of Switech Studios a popular wedding photography business. With tons of insider information from behind her camera lens on how to have the best wedding possible, Kiara’s in-depth knowledge is sure to put you on the road to wedding planning success.