Photo by Kindred + Co.
Besides an awesome planner, a wedding photographer is one of the most important vendor decisions on your big day! The only things you will have after your cake-cutting and your bouquet-toss are your photos! Finding the right photographer can be tricky, so here are our best tips! Of course, we are always happy to recommend wonderful people, so check out our vendor list!
1. Ask to See a Full Wedding Day
Instagram images can get your heart a flutter! Perfect photos in a beautiful grid may give you high expectations. Keep in mind, most wedding day photos are not taken during perfect golden hour.
Asking to see an example of a full wedding day will let you see a photographer’s range. Do they shoot well inside? How about in harsh sun? Because chances are, your ceremony will take place during less than ideal lighting. Do they capture the most important moments well?
Seeing an example or even a couple will allow you to see what your wedding gallery will look like.
"Photographers tend to share their most favorite or perfect photos on their websites, blogs, and social media. Asking to view a full gallery will let you see how they handle different lighting situations. Ask if you can see a full gallery of the venue you're having your wedding at. If they have not shot there, don't toss them to the side; they may have not had the opportunity to shoot at your venue yet. Instead ask to see a gallery similar to your venue style and lighting."
It's common to curate your best work as a professional, but as a client, you'll be so grateful you took the time to look over their full wedding day to make sure what's on their grid represents their work out on the job (and not just how they capture a styled shoot in ideal circumstances).
Photo by Desert Paintbrush
2. Find a Style You're Obsessed With
We know you've come across several dozen amazing photographers in your search. You've probably seen a number of styles that you've fallen in love with. But which one are you obsessed with? This means when you're on Instagram or Pinterest, you can't help but smile or gasp when you see this specific kind of photo. You find you like the photo before you even know who took it. Want to know some styles? Here are some very popular choices...
Photographers all shoot and edit their photos a bit differently. Some opt for more desaturated colors while others love really bright images. Some photographers love to incorporate a lot of sun flare into their photos while others will use flash to overpower the sun. The possibilities are endless! Do you want your photos to look fun, joyful, exciting? Or do you want a more demure, vogue look?
In addition to the feel you want, consider also how those photos will look in 10 years. Make sure you love the style because it fits you and not because it’s “trendy”.
3. Get to Know The Photographer
Talk with them, preferably in person or on a video chat. Tell them about you and learn a little about them. You will be spending a lot of time with this person (or persons when there are 2 shooters), and they will be close to you at all times on your wedding day, so make sure your personalities jive.
Photo by Casandrah Jensen Photography
The right photographer can make your day so much more amazing just by being there. You will also want to ask them all the hard questions!
- •"Do you charge more for images after the wedding?"
- •"How do you back up your photos?"
- •"What do you do in case of illness?"
Make sure there is no doubt as to what you will be getting!
"On your Wedding Day, your photographer should feel like a close friend. This is what enables couple to feel themselves in front of the camera. Get to know your photographer. What are their interests in music, movies, tv? What are their view on marriage & family? What is their dress style? What editing style & aesthetic do they gravitate toward. Most photographers try to communicate with a certain audience through their portfolio. We want to reach like-minded people, so we post imagery from people we connected with. If your style, interests & values are aligned with your photographer's, chances are you're going to make some serious magic together because you will enjoy the time together."
This can be one of the most crucial steps in making sure your wedding day goes smoothly. Besides your planner, your photographer is one of the vendors you'll be spending the most time with throughout this whole process.
Photo by Adventure & Vow
4. Read Reviews
Read their reviews carefully. Reviews will be your best friend! See what other brides have to say about your photography candidate. Those brides went through the whole process, so their opinions mean a lot! Even more valuable is if someone close to you worked with them before. They'll give you advice you can trust!
Pay attention to how the former clients review their photographer. Simple 5-star reviews are good, but do they gush over their experience? Again, because this person will be rubbing elbows with everyone, you want someone who will make everyone feel comfortable and fantastic!
"Find a photographer who has a willingness to go above and beyond. I'm more than happy to wake up early and stay up late to get those amazing photos. I am here for my clients literally from the moment they book me."
Photo by *Forevermore Films
5. Go for 'Experience': Tenured & Customer-centric
Anything can happen on a wedding day. We hope it all goes to plan, but whether you're eloping with an intimate party or going all out with a large wedding gathering, it's always a possibility you'll have a 'hiccup'. If and when that happens, you'll want someone who can handle unexpected moments and still capture them like a pro. For example the clouds come and go, making the lighting inconsistent-- can the photographer adjust as needed? Your nephew is crying during family photos-- can the photographer get them in a good place for an important shot?
In all fairness: When you ask a pro photographer if they feel the extra money is worth it, you'd get a predictable answer. But consider this: there is no undo button if an inexperienced shooter misses a key moment or captures your whole wedding day with poor camera settings (or worse, without enough memory on their camera SD cards to get everything they were supposed to). Experience naturally wins out.
These are common struggles heard from former brides:
- •"My photographer was brand new and missed several key moments"
- •"It's been 8 months (or longer). I still haven't gotten my photos."
- •"Our family photos took forever... everyone's blinking, crying or not looking."
- •"My photographer showed up late (or not at all)..."
What if your budget doesn't allow for a top photographer? We hear you! While your budget is always part of the decision-making, we have to insist: make sure you prioritize this vendor. That doesn't mean the vendor has to have 6 years experience-- it just means they've shot a few weddings and have some reviews to help you make an educated decision.
Photo by Escape & Adventure Photography
Selecting the wrong photographer can, sadly, ruin a wedding (we never like to go to extremes, but unfortunately with vendors like planners and photographers, it's true). We're always understanding that everyone has to start somewhere, and that's why we recommend new photographers shadow more experienced ones first. As a client, do your homework.
Photographers, like planners, will spend a good portion of your wedding day with you. Save yourself the regrets and select someone who checks the right boxes.
"Your day rarely goes out with a few hiccups. Things like sickness or weather will totally alter your day. Can you imagine having a photographer that panics when your timeline doesn't go according to plan? It's extremely stressful. Your photographer should be confident in helping you sort through your day."
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