A good photograph tells a story, evokes emotion, and captures moments in time that would otherwise be lost forever. So, for couples on their wedding day, it’s only natural that learning how to choose a wedding photographer is a pretty big deal!
However, with the vast array of wedding photographers out there, it’s rather difficult to know where to start your search. Photographers vary widely in terms of skill, experience, and price. As a result, it is important to take the time to research your options and find a photographer who meets your needs.
To help you out, I’ve listed some ways on how to choose that rare gem of a wedding photographer that is exactly what you need for your big day:
How to Choose a Wedding Photographer (4 Simple Steps)
#1 – Set a budget and be upfront about it with your photographer.
It’s challenging to put an actual number to how much certain aspects of your big day is worth to you. What makes it even harder when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer is that couples are often faced with a wide range of prices for photography services. While some photographers may charge a few hundred dollars, others may charge several thousand.
The best way to approach this is to first understand the different factors that affect photographer prices. These include the experience of the photographer, the number of hours they will be shooting, and the number of edited images they will provide. Once you have some understanding of these factors, you will be in a better position to set a budget that works for you.
Fortunately, wedding photographers don’t need to be expensive, especially if you know exactly what you’re looking for. So, don’t be afraid to be upfront about your budget once you meet with a photographer. In general, it is best to start by setting a realistic maximum price and then searching for photographers who fit within that range.
#2 – Make a shortlist of photographers that fit your style and budget.
Now that the budget has been set, you can eliminate the photographers that exceed what you’re willing to pay. The next category that will help you in how to choose a wedding photographer is their style. Photography, after all, is an art form, and each artist has his or her own unique style.
When it comes to how to choose a wedding photographer, there are two main schools of thought. The first is the traditional approach, in which the photographer takes posed shots of the bride and groom and their guests. The second is the candid approach, in which the photographer captures spontaneous moments as they happen. Both styles have their pros and cons, and it ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Traditional wedding photography has a certain classic elegance to it. The posed shots tend to be more formal and polished, and they can be beautifully composed. The downside is that they can sometimes feel a bit stiff and artificial. Candid photography, on the other hand, is all about capturing real emotions and genuine moments. The shots tend to be more natural and relaxed, but they can also be less predictable. Many wedding photographers incorporate both candid and traditional shots into their style – I have a mix! Check out this Barn at Willow Brook wedding for an idea – but they will often lean one way or the other.
Once you’ve decided on the style you prefer, you can begin shortlisting the photographers that fit both your style and budget.
#3 – Ask the right questions.
A crucial part of how to choose a wedding photographer is to meet with your photographer in person before booking them for your big day. This way, you can get a feel for their personality and gauge whether or not they’re a good fit for you.
You can also ask them any questions you may have about their services, pricing, and policies. If meeting in person isn’t possible, a video call is the next best thing. This way, you can still see each other’s facial expressions and body language, which can be helpful in making a connection. Plus, it’s just a good idea to put a face to the name before entrusting someone with such an important task!
Here are a few questions that you should ask:
#1 – What gear do you intend on using?
A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so it’s important to make sure that every detail is captured perfectly. That’s where wedding photography comes in. To get the best results, it’s important to use the right gear.
For instance, a DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens is ideal for capturing the ceremony; while a telephoto lens is better for close-ups of the bride and groom. A tripod can be helpful for capturing group shots and nighttime photos, while a flash is essential for indoor shots.
However, your photographer may opt not to mention or use some of this equipment for artistic reasons and that’s completely okay. This question is only intended to let you know if the photographer you’re talking to has the competence to know when to use and not to use their gear.
#2 – Is the engagement session included?
Many photographers include the engagement session in their overall package. Is this something you want? Is this part of a package this photographer asks?
#3 – What is a typical wedding day timeline?
Most wedding photographers have an intimate understanding of wedding day timing. Ask your prospective photographer for a sense of their typical timeline to see if they match up with your vision and know what they are doing.
#4 – Do you have any experience with my desired location/type of event?
When it comes to photography, lighting is king. And the lighting in certain venues can be drastically different than others. Photos taken outdoors under natural light, for example, can be drastically different from indoor venues such as a chapel or cathedral. So, it’s important to ask if your photographer has experience in shooting in venues similar to yours.
Have them show you samples, or better yet, full galleries of similar scenarios so you can assess whether their handling of the lighting conditions is up to your standards.
#5 – What is their favorite wedding photo?
This will give you such a clear idea of their vision!
#6 – What’s the turn-around time for receiving the final product?
Photographers should be able to give you a fairly accurate timeline for when you can expect your photos. But as a general rule of thumb, it usually takes around four to six weeks for edited wedding photos to be ready. Of course, this timeline can vary depending on the size of your wedding and the photographers’ workload. So if you’re worried about when you’ll get your photos back, it’s always best to ask!
Keep in mind that while you may be anxious to see your wedding photos, it’s important to give your photographer the time they need to produce high-quality images that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. So try to be patient – those gorgeous pictures will be worth the wait!
#4 – Get to know your photographer.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing your wedding photographer. After all, they’ll be responsible for capturing those precious memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
Get a feel for their personality and make sure that they’re someone who you would enjoy spending time with on your big day, as you’ll most likely spend a lot of time with them. Taking the time to find a photographer who you click with is an important part of wedding planning. Plus, it will ensure that you have beautiful photos to remember your special day by.
Building rapport with your photographer before the big day can help to ensure that you are both on the same page and that your vision for the photos is aligned. On the day of the wedding, you should feel like your photographer is a friend rather than a vendor. This level of comfort will come through in the photos.
Choose someone you can communicate with who truly understands how you want your wedding to feel. How do you know? When you talk to her, she’s more interested in learning about you than describing all of the prices.
Final Thoughts on How to Choose a Wedding Photographer
At the end of the day, what elements of a wedding really stand the test of time? The flowers fade, the drinks and food are enjoyed and gone, and the clothes are worn once and never again.
What endures? Your love, of course. The rings you wear every day. And the pictures that keep each joyous moment forever. Your photographer is one of the only vendors whose work is going to be part of your life for decades to come! That’s why it is so worth investing in; and why the journey of how to choose a wedding photographer matters so much.
Make sure you take a look through the portfolio on my blog for a taste of my own wedding photography style – and good luck with your search!