How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: 5 Tips

Oh gosh, choosing your photographer is one of the most exciting and important parts of planning your wedding! Now, you might think I’d start this blog post by saying: “Pick me. The end”. But no, that wouldn’t be in your (or my) best interests. I’ve noticed that I like to compare a lot of things to dating – and here’s another one. Your photographer should feel like a great date – may be potential for a long-term relationship. Let me explain, what I mean,

There are many talented photographers all over the country, and they’re all priced differently and have different styles, and different philosophies.

So how do you choose the right one for you? I’m going to cover some points to consider when making that decision and hopefully you’ll be more informed as to who will suit you best. 

1. Availability 

Wedding photographers often get booked a year or even two years in advance. I recommend picking a couple and reaching out as soon as possible. Depending on where you’re getting married the peak seasons look a bit different.

The rule of thumb is that summer is the peak wedding season, so June, July, and August get booked up pretty quickly. The second busiest season falls in the Fall, primarily September and October.

Unless you’re planning on getting married in the Southwest – then, because of the hot summer in the desert, the fall becomes pretty busy too. Usually, winter is considered off-season. 

Tip: a signed contract and paid booking fee will be required to secure your date. 

Tip 2: Friday weddings despite becoming increasingly popular are still a good alternative to finding the photographer of your dreams.

Side note: Photographers after venues and wedding planners are the biggest “date keepers” – meaning many stars have to align for you to have your perfect team together! 

2. Budget

That’s a big one. Very often it comes down to priorities. Some couples schedule their wedding date around the photographer, and their investment exceeds 10,000$ because that’s important to them. Some people ask their guests to snap a couple of shots with their phones. Every story is different and each couple will have a different budget for photography. 

Experienced wedding photographers that are in demand and do great work are usually priced from around $3000 – $10,000+. Yes, that’s quite a range but you get what you pay for. Every photographer is priced differently based on their experience, the cost of running their business, and so on. And there are ways to spend less: you can hire a family member, or a student and maybe they’re super talented and they will awe you with their work. But make sure your expectations match the choice. 

That would be unfair to them as they may still be learning or doing it as a hobby. On the other hand, if you want to get a professional photographer because that matters to you, and feels right, respect their prices.

3. Read reviews

When you have narrowed down to a few photographers whose style you love, the next step is to read reviews. My favorite way is to look at 1-star reviews and see the tone and how the photographer responds to their clients not being satisfied. From my experience, you rarely really know what occurred between the client and the photographer but you can get a good read on how they deal with stress and difficult situations. I think that’s super important. You want someone with a good reputation but also who will be easy to work with on your wedding day.

4. Photography Style (Posing + Editing)

This is, in my opinion, the most important part when choosing a photographer. And it’s super important to be on the same page.

If you are drawn to high-end fashion-styled posed wedding images, then look for a photographer that does just that. If you prefer something more casual and natural then scroll through their Instagram portfolio and their websites and make sure that the images make you feel things (in a good way!). 

3 main styles of wedding photography

  • Documentary/Reportage – mostly candid images; think photojournalism – this style focuses on capturing genuine emotions, powerful moments, and all the big belly laughs and tears without making the world prettier.

Pros: Captures story and emotions while being relaxed and unobtrusive, with little to no editing in post-production, you will cry and laugh while leafing through your album.

Cons: No posed group photos unless you ask for them, no dramatic shots.

  • Traditional – mostly posing with a lot of guidance with where to put your chin, big staged family portraits, very predictable, and very reliable images from the ceremony and your day.

Pros: Lasting pictures of family and friends, usually edited in timeless style (true to color, true black)

Cons: Follows a strict timeline and can take time and staging so you can miss the emotion of the day.

  • Contemporary/Editorial inspired – it’s where documentary style meets fashion. Depending on the photographer’s portfolio could be highly posed and designed or super go with the flow. You’ll need to find a creative artist with the same vision as you.

Pros: Dramatic, beautiful, unique shots, very edited to achieve the desired look

Cons: Sometimes the vision comes ahead of capturing the personality of the couple, or the emotion of the day.

I know… That’s a lot to take in. I think the crucial part of making the decision is seeing their full wedding galleries, then making sure that what they’ve done in the past is in line with what you like.

And please, please don’t choose someone that has a candid style of shooting using natural light and ask them to do glamorous posed images in a dark barn with no windows (and vice-versa). We all have a style because that’s what resonates with us. That’s how we see the world and it feels like magic to us. And we hope you feel the magic too when you’re looking through the images.

Fall Wedding Minnesota Photographer

5. Personality

So you have decided which style of photography you want and found some names that might be perfect. The next step is meeting them. Ask yourself some of these questions: Do you get along well? Do you feel supported in your vision? Do you feel like you are on the same page?

Again, it’s a bit like dating. If it doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t. Trust yourself. And eventually, you will find a person that you’re gonna cry and laugh together during a meeting or a call and you’re gonna be like “I don’t want to work with anyone else!” 

This works both ways and is just as important for you as it’s for the photographer. They will be with you for the whole day. Yes, you’re hiring a professional 3rd wheel. You will most likely spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than anyone else, so it’s important you feel good around them.

Pro tip: Try meeting your photographer in person or having a chat over Zoom or phone that’s how you can get the best read on people. It will also give you a chance to ask any questions you might have.

Bonus tip: products

Photographs are your legacy and it’s important to preserve them. The question is how. Your wedding albums will probably be the single most important souvenir from your wedding day and their quality matters. Ask your photographer about samples and talk through the design process. Similarly, with fine art prints and framing. Professional photographers have access to the best specialists who don’t serve clients directly. So, it’s important to have a good idea of what your photographer’s products are.

If you want digital files only, then ask how many you will receive and the form of delivery (USB or direct download? Will they be edited? Will you get an online gallery to share with your family and friends?

Questions to ask when speaking to a wedding photographer for the first time

Sometimes jumping on the call might be a bit stressful, so here’s a list of questions I believe should be asked so that by the time you put down your phone (or turn off zoom) you’ll feel confident in making your choice of a wedding photographer. I tried organizing them in a way that should flow pretty naturally in the conversation.

Working style

  • What is it like to work with you on the day of the wedding?
  • How would you describe your working style?
  • What’s the wildest thing that happened to you during the wedding? How did you manage that situation?
  • What do you love about photographing weddings?

Photography style

  • Can we see a full wedding gallery from one of their previous clients?
  • Do you offer to retouch or color corrections?
  • Can we request specific shots?

Cost and technicalities

  • How much will it cost to book you for our wedding day?
  • What’s your backup system? How long will you store our images?
  • Do we own rights to the images?

Products

  • What products do you offer?
  • What does the process of designing albums look like?

Rescheduling & Cancellations

  • What is your policy on rescheduling due to bad weather?
  • What’s your cancellation policy?

Timeline

  • When will we receive our wedding photos?
  • What’s next? What can we expect in the next couple of months from you?

Bottom line: There are many choices to be made and many wonderful, creative photographers to choose from, but the most important advice I can give is to choose a photographer who you feel good talking to and whose work you like. As I said before, photographers are kind of your third wheel, you should enjoy their company on your wedding day.

Also, once you pick your person, trust them. That trust will result in photos that you will cherish forever.

Curious about having me as your photographer? Get in touch, and let’s see if we’re a good match.

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