How to Choose a Wedding Photographer
If you’re reading this I assume you are just starting your wedding planning and don’t know where to begin! This guide will hopefully answer the question, “How to choose a wedding photographer?”
Like food, there are several different styles of wedding photography. When it comes to photography, there are little to no barriers to entry and one can be overwhelmed with so many different websites it can be intimidating.
The most common stylistic choices for wedding photographers can be broken down into several types – bright and airy, dark and moody, editorial, and creative photojournalism. Knowing what parts of the day is the easiest thing to consider how to choose a wedding photographer.
Some things to consider for your wedding photos and what are important to you :
Reception / Dance Floor
Bright and airy photographers utilize mostly natural light and romantic poses and gorgeous backgrounds. The website of this style is full of bright sunlit images that help romanticize the relationship between the couple.
Dark and moody photographers prefer an edit choice that brings more attention to the connection between the two. The darker look of the images help bring focus to more emotions and are generally more quiet images.
Editorial photographers love to pose couples and give a lot of direction to ensure the post and look of the couple is as perfect as possible. Think of a magazine where a person is sitting in a chair looking away for example.
Creative photojournalistic photographer prefer to have a hands off approach to your day and document the day naturally yet creatively as it unfolds. Amongst the four styles, this is the least amount of posing and is what I consider my style and approach. Aside from the portraits, I generally do not interfere and simply document your one of a kind wedding day. No “pretend you are tying your tie by the window” or “fake first look” for me (barf).
No matter what style you prefer, the biggest suggestion I can give is to look at a full gallery, and then the blog post of that gallery, to see what the photographer values. If it aligns with your values, you should Contact the photographer!
BOO Instagram!!! Instagram is the biggest “fake” portfolio. Anyone can make a half court shot in basketball, but to do it consistently is the difference between Steph Curry and me! Basing your decision on how to choose a wedding photographer by only seeing the greatest hits is not a smart move!
When you view the full gallery, pay attention to how the images make you feel. Do they speak to you and give you an idea of the couple, guests, and wedding day? Do the images elicit an emotional response to you? Do they capture emotions of the couple, and the VIP guests of the day?
If family formals are the most important to you, are the groups well lit and composed? Are there cropped feet or crooked lines?
Weddings take place in the day and night so make sure the images taken during the dark indoors are just as good as the bright outdoors. There are many photographers who much prefer natural light (myself included), but using flashing indoors or outdoors is just as important to documenting your day (see my Instagram explanation above). Natural light is easily the best light, but when the sun sets, shooting only natural light won’t cut it. It is like a chef only knowing how to use a stove but not an oven!
Viewing a full gallery will allow you to gauge whether or not the photographer is capable of shooting in ANY situation (see my post about What Happens if it Rains on your Wedding Day). If you are throwing the most important party for yourself, you better hope the photographer you hire is fully capable of producing quality images in any situation.
One of the best quotes I’ve read states :
“The amateur makes great photos when everything is going right.
The professional makes great photos when everything is going wrong.
That’s what you’re paying for.”
– Huy Nguyen (Fearless Photographers)
Ultimately, choosing your wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions regards to capturing your MEMORIES and will stand the test of time for generations.
Generally, I’d suggest booking your wedding venue first (see this post for Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue) since they book way faster in advance than any other vendor and then your photographer.
Hopefully, you find a photographer and style that best fits how you want to remember your wedding day.
Ask to See Full Galleries
Of course, photographers will have some of their best images on their websites or social media profiles, but if you want to get a clear idea of their ability and style, ask if you can view a full gallery from one of their sessions. While you don’t need to request a full gallery from every potential photographer, if you’re down to two or three, it doesn’t hurt to ask to help you make your decision.
Know What Style of Images You Want
Every photographer has a different style. Are you looking for more candid, photojournalistic images? Or do you want posed portraits? Maybe you have your heart set on natural light photos, or maybe you’d prefer the studio setting. Whatever you want, it’s important to know what style and type of images you’re looking for, so you can choose a photographer who can meet your specific needs.
“Featured On” means nothing…
If you are impressed by how many websites featured their work…I’m sorry to tell you 70% of the time they don’t mean that much. It more likely than not means they paid to be on a website, so they are “featured on” their website. It is a “pay to play” type scenario.
WeddingWire and the Knot Awards aren’t that hard to get
As told by a representative on the phone for WeddingWire when I joked about it, they confirmed that they give them out to vendors who have (something like) 5 reviews for the year. Not difficult. Remember, wedding vendors pay to be on WeddingWire and The Knot so those companies want to encourage them to continue annual subscriptions with these “hard to get awards.”
Small or Large Company?
With a large photography company, chances are you will have a photographer assigned to you, and you may not even have the opportunity to meet with them before your wedding. A local photographer, however, will take the time to meet with your personally, ensuring that you feel comfortable working with them. You will have the opportunity to discuss the details of your wedding and any specific moments you want the photographer to capture. The chance to get to know your photographer personally means you have more opportunities to ask questions and make sure that you get exactly the images you want.
They will work to make you happy
A smaller local photography company has more to lose if a client is dissatisfied with their service, and for that reason, they work especially hard to meet your needs and make sure you’re happy with your images. While a large company may simply assign a photographer to you and move on, a local photographer will sit down with you and work out all the details, from pre-wedding to the day itself until the images and products are in your hands.
You will know exactly what you’re getting
A local photographer will take time to show you some of their previous work, giving you the opportunity to make sure their style fits the type of images you want. You don’t want to hire a photographer whose style is drastically different from what you’re looking for, but with a larger company, it can sometimes be difficult to know what type of images you will get. A smaller boutique company will work with you to ensure you get the images you’re dreaming of—and will be honest upfront, well before any contract is signed, if those images are not something they can provide.
You deserve that personal touch
Chances are you prefer a local salon to a chain experience because of the difference in service and the relationship you have with your stylist. The same goes for a photographer. You want your images taken and edited with skill, but someone who has spent time speaking with you and knows just what moments are most important to you will go into both the photography and editing process with your desires and needs in mind.
A smaller local photography company can offer the attention to detail and personal relationship that a larger company often lacks. When it comes to your wedding photos, you deserve nothing but the best. These are images that you will enjoy for years to come, photos that even your children and grandchildren may enjoy looking back on one day. Choosing a local photographer can help you get the photos you want and make sure your wedding day is just as memorable and special as you’ve planned it to be!
How long have you been photographing weddings, and how many weddings have you shot?
It’s a great idea to ask about your potential photographer’s experience level, as well as their workload. You don’t want to hire someone who’s never photographed a wedding before to captures images of your big day.
Make Sure They’re a Good Fit
Sometimes personalities mesh perfectly, and you become instant friends. Sometimes you and another person are just too different to work comfortably together. If you and your photographer don’t mesh, your session may be awkward or just no fun, and that’s the last thing you want. Meet with your potential photographer before you book your session to be sure they’re a good fit for you.
When it comes to choosing a photographer, it’s important to get all your questions answered upfront and to find someone whose style and vibe matches your vision for your images. The better your connection with your photographer, the more comfortable you’ll feel and the better your photos will turn out! I hope this guide to “How to choose a wedding photographer?” makes your wedding planning process easier.
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