There’s something really quite special about a wedding photographer. They make it their life’s work to capture beautiful, intimate moments between couples as they step into the next chapter of their lives together. These images will be passed on from generation to generation, it is a huge responsibility. With their cameras, they are able to tell the visual story of the wedding celebration—and I’m continually in awe of how beautifully they capture the essence of our couples! I am very passionate about photography and the work wedding photographers dedicate their lives to.
Couples can find it difficult and overwhelming to select their wedding photographer. My advice? Make sure you click with them. How you feel around your photographer is as important as their portfolio (if not more). At the end of the day, you need someone who will make you comfortable and confident in front of the camera and someone who is committed and invested in capturing your wedding and telling your story. We often say, after the wedding is over, the wedding photos are one of the only things you will have left to help you remember the wedding day.
To help you as you navigate this part of the wedding planning process, here are seven tips to help you find and hire your wedding photographer:
1. Identify your style
Going into an interview with a wedding photographer can be an intimidating process, especially if you haven’t fully landed on what your style is. I suggest that you start by thinking through your preferences. Do you like dramatic and moody pictures? Or are you more drawn to candid shots? Do you like light and airy?
If you’re having a hard time pinpointing your style early on, social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest can help. Give yourself a few days to scroll through wedding photos and bookmark the ones you like. Then, when you look back at the saved collection, you should have a pretty clear picture of what style you are drawn to.
2. Ask yourself: What are you looking for in a photographer?
When it comes to picking your photographer, it’s important to have a list of criteria that goes beyond the portfolio. Yes, it is important to make sure that your photographer has shot at or can shoot in your wedding venue. For example outdoor/natural light photography can be different than ballroom photography where a flash maybe required.
But other important questions to ask yourselves could be how much experience do you want your photographer to have? Is it important to you that your photographer has had work published before? Are you wanting your wedding to be published? Do you or your partner have a hard time feeling comfortable in front of a camera? If so, you need someone who can put you both at ease. Ultimately, the person you choose will be there to capture truly intimate moments between the two of you, so you need someone you can trust.
3. Look for a photographer that matches your needs
Once you’ve identified your style and written down your criteria, it’s time to start looking at photographers. If you are working with us, we will help you by narrowing down the people we believe are the best fit for your needs. If you are planning your wedding on your own, first, explore photographers in your city or follow up on recommendations from your friends and family. Before getting in touch, take a look at their portfolios. Do they match the style you’re looking for? Have they captured the moments at other weddings they’ve worked at that you want captured? Have they shot in your venue or a venue like yours? Are they featuring real weddings in their portfolios or is their portfolio primarily made up of styled shoots? What are past clients saying about their experience?
4. Reach out to your shortlist
As you narrow down your options, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your top two or three choices for wedding photographers. When you first reach out, ask for their availability and the types of packages they offer. If they have your date open and one of their offerings feels like a good fit, then it’s the right time to set up a call or a meeting.
5. Questions to ask your wedding photographer:
I recommend that my clients go into their first meeting with a wedding photographer with a list of questions in case they get nervous and forget what they were wanting to ask. We have a list we suggest are good conversation points that we share with our couples. Here are some important ones:
- What is your background? How long have you been a photographer?
- Why did you choose to become a wedding photographer? (This will give you a sense of whether they are truly passionate about taking photos at weddings—which is important.)
- Can you tell us a bit about your style and approach? (This will give you an idea of how they might work with you on the day.)
- Who will shoot the wedding? (Some photographers work in collectives, and the person you interview might not be the person designated to your day. It’s important to know this up front so you get a chance to meet that person before the big day.)
- Do you work with an assistant? Why or why not?
- What will happen if something comes up and you can’t attend?
- Where do you shoot if it rains?
- How do you typically work with a videographer? (This will give you a sense of whether they have experience working with a videographer who might be competing to capture the same moments.)
- Do you bring multiple cameras?
- How do you protect the files so that they’re not lost?
- How do you present the photos after the wedding? And how long after the wedding do you share them?
- Are there any additional costs we should be aware of?
I also recommend that couples ask to see a full wedding portfolio when they’re chatting with a photographer. This way you can see all the photos that were taken at an event—and not just the top tier ones that made it to the website.
6. Take your pic(k)
Once you’ve landed on a photographer you like, take a moment to celebrate. That’s a big step! All you have to do now is sign a contract with them and send in a deposit to hold them for your date. At this stage, you can also consider adding an engagement shoot to your package. This can serve as a practice round for working with the photographer and getting a sense of how you feel in front of the camera. The bonus? You’ll have lots of great photos to use for your save the dates.
7. Bring your photographer into the planning process
As you plan out your big day, it’ll be important to be in close contact with your photographer. Work with them to create a family shot list and figure out the different settings you want photographed. This will help them create a schedule that can then guide your timeline leading up to and following the ceremony.
Finding the right wedding photographer is no easy task—but getting it right is so rewarding. I hope this list of tips and tricks helps you find the right one so that you can have beautiful images to remember your day for years to come.