Choosing a great photographer is one of the key ingredients to making your wedding day even more special. Why? Well for starters, it doesn’t matter... Read More

Choosing a great photographer is one of the key ingredients to making your wedding day even more special. Why? Well for starters, it doesn’t matter how fantastic the venue was or how great your dress looked on the day of the wedding, because eventually, and more quickly than we would like to admit, those memories will begin to get, well, more than a little blurry. 

And, I should say, what memories you actually have of the day.

I know my husband and I were blown away at how fast the whole day went by. We were shocked when viewing photos from our friends and families after seeing what we thought had happened versus what actually did! Viewing our first round of photos went a little something like this…“oh my gosh, I thought I didn’t kiss my dad at the end of the aisle, phew…I forgot to get a picture of me and grandma…who is that guy, I don’t remember even meeting him?” 

The interesting thing is how repetitive viewings of your photographs will start to shape your memories of the day. You will begin to remember the wedding through the eyes of the photographer, which is why in my opinion the photographer should be a larger consideration than most people think.

What follows are some helpful hints with not only choosing the right photographer for you, but also for getting the shots you want!

So where to begin? Personally, I’m a Googler. That is typically the first place I look when searching an area for vendors. When I search I take into consideration if they are local. Do they specialize is weddings? What are their qualifications? Do they use a film camera or digital? I also like to ask around town, and in your case, question the other wedding vendors you are working with. Or, do you know anyone who was married recently? Who did they use and what do their pictures look like? This helps to narrow down the field and the ballpark price. If for instance you find a photographer who would be traveling out of state, their prices are probably going to be higher.

Once I find some photographers, I go through the portfolios they have available online, or check out wedding albums if a friend refers me. This is where a great deal of personal opinion comes into play and basically, all you have to know is this; that you really, really, really like the way their photographs look. So much so that you wish they were your own. So choose a couple photographers whose photos you enjoy and then compare styles.


As you start to look over the sample photos available, whether you find them online or in an album, it will become apparent how unique different photographers’ styles can be! I think that it is important for the bride and groom to collect several wedding photos that they both like and/or mark down a few that particular photographer had taken before you sit down to discuss your preferences. What was it about those photos that spoke to you? Was it the location? Is it the coloring of the photo? Could it be the fact that the photographer used a wide angle lens? Maybe it is the position of the couple or the entire composition of the picture? Knowing why you like a photo will help convey your vision of what you want your pictures to look like and hopefully end in the desired outcome. Good communication and examples will help to guarantee that the photographer knows exactly what you want to happen the day of the wedding.

I also take into account whether or not their style is more traditional, meaning they show you lots of photos with everyone lined up, starring at the camera with big “say cheese” grins! If so, you might have found a photographer that is more traditional. If that is the case and it meets your taste, they might be the one for you. However, it could be that their bride was more traditional and wanted that style of photos.

A newer trend in wedding photos and my favorite style is more non-traditional and much more casual. I love the look of candid group shots, taken with everyone talking and laughing. Hidden moments of a flower girl giggling, or the bride’s parents stealing a smooch behind the tent. I really love photographs that capture more natural moments.

However, a good mix of both works too! No one says it has to be one or the other; once again, it is all about what you want. Just make sure you communicate this with the photographer!

Decisions, Decisions

Along the same vein, when and where the photos will be taken is something to decide long before the morning of this very special day. Will group and couple shots take place before the ceremony, after, or both? Taking photos before the wedding saves time and allows you to be a bit more creative. It also leaves you more time with your guests and can save you money by cutting out the appetizers/cocktail hour. However, seeing the bride/groom beforehand does take away the surprise of seeing each other when walking down the aisle.

A few months before the wedding, start scouting around to find a location that will meet your photographic needs and always have a few backups; taking weather, lighting, and access into consideration. Are you only taking photos at the reception hall, or will you travel to a place that means something special to the both of you?  Make sure you coordinate this with the family and photographer and consider transportation and time constraints! 

Making a List

Once they have an idea of your style, write down a list and let them know the important moments that you would like captured. Some couples want to replicate a photo that their parents have. I know ours was smooshing cake in each other’s faces. We really wanted to capture that moment, but we didn’t necessarily care if he got our picture cutting the cake. There were also important people, not represented in the wedding party, that we wanted to make sure were in our photos. Making the photographer aware helped him keep track of all the important people and moments we wanted captured!  

Digital vs. Film

Double check with your photographer about the type of camera they have. This too is mostly about personal preference. Shooting with a traditional film camera is rarely done in the world of weddings anymore. This gives the photographer immediate feedback on the photos they are taking and allows them to re-do moments if necessary. Later on, it will allow them to more easily edit those photos giving them an almost limitless ability to edit content.

Along with the type of camera they have, I like to know what is used for backup. Some photographers carry several cameras with different capabilities and lenses making it easier for them to switch from one to another. Photographers work together at times as well or may work with apprentices who will also take pictures of the day, usually for no extra cost. I like to know everyone who will be there and what their role is. I also want to know what happens if the photographer cannot be there? Who is coming as a backup on your big day?

Price & Packages

In order to narrow the field down even more, I will start to look at the cost. At this point I have kept price out of the search because for me, it is not the ultimate factor. However if you are on a strict budget, you want to make sure to keep that number in mind so you don’t go over. Or, so that you know how much you’d have to compensate by limiting your budget in another area if absolutely fall in love with the work of a photographer who is more expensive than you’d like. After all, a great photograph can transport you back to moments in the past both physically and emotionally allowing you to truly feel like you were in that very spot again reliving that event.

Like anything in life, that kind of quality and talent costs more. There shouldn’t be an outrageous difference between the folks you have chosen, but if there is, do not be afraid to ask why? Sometimes the fee includes albums or print work that you may not want or need. This might make the price negotiable. As I said earlier, you are going to have the photographs of your wedding forever. A talented photographer has the ability to capture your wedding by highlighting the most important moments that you didn’t get to see because you were too busy experiencing them! They can even enhance those moments to look more incredible than they were originally, and that is worth extra to me!

Once you know you are alright with the price, or, as alright as you can be, make sure if you haven’t asked or been shown already, you know what that includes. I was able to work with a photographer who edited some of our photos and then gave us all of the photos he took, over 800 for me to edit in my spare time. That saved us a bit of money. Our plan was to print out only a few special moments that we wanted to display while also allowing us the ability to make photo books on our own instead of the more traditional albums.

If the photographer does offer photo books or albums to you, remember that they can be very pricey compared to making them on your own. Some folks opt to pay the photographer for their editing and creative skill while also sparing themselves time and energy over saving a few bucks. Sometimes you have to pay more to get the rights to your photos in order for you to make your own copies. As always, read the fine line carefully and ask lots of questions in order to make sure you get your moneys worth and are aware of all the potential cost upfront!

Make sure to do a fair amount of shopping around and make sure when you do find the right photographer, you feel comfortable with them being part of the most intimate moments of your day! Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, and more importantly, make sure they listen and communicate back to you what it is that you are looking for when it comes to the photos. In the end, one shot is all you’ve got, so take the time to make sure you all get it right!

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