Hiring a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the wedding planning process, and because of that, it can be one of the most overwhelming. There are thousands of photographers out there, and it can be hard to distinguish which one is right for you! Pictures are all you’ll have after the wedding to remember the best day of your life, so choosing the wrong photographer can have big consequences! But fear not, below I’ve put together a little guide on how to find your photographer, what to look for, and what to ask to ensure you make the best choice possible for your wedding day!
This is the first, and probably most important, step to finding your wedding photographer. Every wedding photographer has a different style and approach when it comes to documenting your wedding. Some focus on the details, some focus on candid moments, some edit their photos to look light and airy, some do it dark and moody. There’s a lot of variety and styles to choose from out there! So comb through social media, blogs, magazines, etc., and find what speaks to you. Check out my blog on photography styles to get a better idea of what’s out there. My advice, don’t pick a style that’s too trendy. You want to still like your images in 30 years, so I would try to pick a photography style that’s timeless and classic. But that’s just me. lol
I know photographers preach about how photography is an investment and you shouldn’t hire a budget photographer. But honestly, budget is important. If you don’t have a lot to spend on your wedding, don’t inquire with a $7,000 photographer! They won’t come down in price for you. They charge that much for a reason. Photography is not the kind of service you negotiate on. So sit down with your family or planner, determine what you can reasonably spend, and reach out to photographers that are within your price range. Now with that being said, I do think photography should be a sizable part of your overall budget and is not something you should skimp on. So after doing some research, determine a budget that’s right for you and your wedding.
Now, let’s start actually looking for your photographer!! A great place to start is with your friends who recently got married. Did you like their wedding photos? Find out who their photographer was! They’ll be able to give you insight into what it’s like to work with their photographer and how happy they are with the experience. Another great way to find someone is to search hashtags on social media. For example, #dallasweddingphotographer will help you find photographers in the Dallas area. On social media, you can also search your venue and check what photos they’ve been tagged in. This way you can find photographers who have worked at your venue before! This is actually how I found my own wedding photographer. Lastly, check with your venue to see if they have any recommendations. Photographers will often give venues sample albums to show their clients. So see if your venue has any sample albums from local photographers. That way, you can see exactly what that photographer’s work looks at your venue!
As I’ve said before, photography is an investment, and you wouldn’t/shouldn’t invest in something you don’t value. When looking through photographers, don’t just pick someone who will get the job done. Pick a photographer whose work you really value and admire. Try to picture your own wedding in their images. Do you think your venue and colors will look good in their editing style? Can you picture you and your fiancé in the images? You want to make sure their work reflects your own personality and tastes. The right photographer’s work will make you feel something! You should get a little emotional or excited looking through their work. A photographer’s job is to tell a story and display emotion through their images. If you’re not feeling it, they’re not the photographer for you. So look through a bunch of photographer’s websites and social media and pick someone whose work stands out to you!
Beyond liking a photographer’s work, it’s important to actually like their personality as well. Your wedding photographer is the vendor you’re going to be spending the most time with on your wedding day, so make sure it’s someone you connect with! If you have a super bubbly personality, don’t hire someone who doesn’t match your level of excitement. If you and your fiancé are more laid-back, don’t hire someone who’s super high-strung and stresses you out! During your consultation, you should enjoy talking to them. They should make you feel comfortable and like you’re talking to a friend. Before scheduling a consultation, it’s a good idea to read through their blog, website and social media. Photographers put out what they want to attract. So if you’re really connecting with the things they post on social media, or the story they tell on their “about” page, chances are, you’ll be a good fit!
Wedding photography is HARD. It’s a very special skill that takes experience, talent and a lot of hard work. Just because a photographer is great at taking family photos does not mean they’d be good at wedding photography. Weddings are unpredictable and fast-paced. It’s so important that you hire a photographer who has experience and who you can trust. The photographer often runs the show on your wedding day. If you don’t have a coordinator (or even if you do) the photographer is usually the person moving things along, making sure everything stays on schedule and ensuring you get all the images you need to tell the story of your day. So hire a photographer who knows what they’re doing and has done this before. Preferably many times! I’m not against hiring a newer photographer, especially if you’re on a budget. We all start somewhere. But just make sure you’ve done your research and you really trust this person. You want to enjoy your wedding day and be stress-free knowing you’ve hired a professional you can trust.
Now, a good, experienced photographer is going to answer most of your questions before you even ask. I’ve had potential brides show up to consultations with a list of questions they printed off the internet, but that’s not necessary. A photographer’s job (and any business person really) is to make you feel confident in your decision to hire them by explaining their services and experience. But that being said, there are a few key questions you should ask just to make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting.
This is SO important. Wedding photographers only put their very best images on their website and social media. There’s nothing wrong with this. I certainly do it too. But a photographer’s best images don’t necessarily reflect their usual work. If they blog regularly, this can give you a better idea, but it’s still best to ask to see a full gallery or two. This way, you can get an idea of what their work looks like as a whole and what you can expect from them. Are their images consistent? Did they capture all the important moments? Is everything in focus? Do they deliver the number of images they promise? Sure, your photographer may be able to take killer portraits at sunset on a beach, but they also need to be able to take good pictures of the bride getting ready, family portraits, reception dances, etc. A photographer’s beautiful website and portfolio may pull you in, but make sure you do your research so you know exactly what you’re getting.
I’ve never had a bride ask me this, but honestly, I think it’s important! Backup gear and insurance are the top signs that you’re working with an established, professional photographer. You want to be able to place your full trust and confidence into the person you hire. If they just show up with a single camera and no insurance, you’re opening yourself up to unnecessary risk. What if that one camera malfunctions? You’re the one who’s ultimately going to pay for it by not getting your wedding pictures! And a lot of venues require your vendors to have liability insurance, so make sure you’re working with a professional by asking this question. If they say yes, great, you’re good to go. If they say no or skirt the question, you might want to reconsider. Your wedding day is not the time to start taking risks. And while we’re on the subject, make sure you sign a contract with your photographer and actually read it. It will protect you both!
This is something that varies from photographer to photographer and is based on a variety of factors. For me personally, I deliver galleries to my clients within 30 days, but I know photographers who take upwards of 6 months. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s best to know this information beforehand to set expectations. If you go into the wedding thinking you’ll get your photos within 2 weeks and your photographer takes 3 months, you’re going to be really disappointed and impatient. But if you know what to expect ahead of time, it’ll be easier to put it out of your mind and wait patiently. Now keep in mind, a photographer’s delivery time doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better or worse at their job. Editing takes time, and photographers have lives outside of their business. They also often have day jobs. So don’t make any major judgments or decisions based on the answer to this question, just make sure you know what to expect.
And that’s it! Choosing a wedding photographer can be overwhelming, but it’s really important to do your research and pick someone you connect with. These are photos that you’ll hopefully cherish for the rest of your life, so make sure you hire a professional who can do it right!
Now that you have your dream photographer, check out these 10 Tips for Brides for Great Wedding Photos to learn what you can do on your wedding day to help your photographer out!