How to Find a Wedding Photographer (Updated for 2020)
When planning your wedding, there are a lot of details to handle. While finding a wedding planner, gown, or finding a wedding venue certainly top the list, you want to find a wedding photographer fairly early in the planning stages. After all, it’s your wedding photographer who will create memories of the entire event for the enjoyment of your children and grandchildren. All too frequently, a wedding photographer’s job begins with the actual proposal or engagement, so it pays to get a head start.
Never forget your wedding photographer will be creating memories for a lifetime. Choosing the wrong one can leave you with years of disappointments. In the event, you were thinking about having a friend with a camera serve as your wedding photographer, consider whether you want to leave all the important wedding moments in the hands of someone who is not a professional wedding photographer. These memories are too important to leave in the hands of a well-meaning friend or relative.
When to Ignore Wedding Photographer Recommendations
"It’s about chemistry, and your personalities need to mesh"
It’s a natural reflex for a couple that is looking for a professional photographer to ask their married friends for recommendations. That may not be the best idea. Your friends may have been happy to follow all their photographer’s orders, but you want more of a say. It’s about chemistry, and your personalities need to mesh. You genuinely need to like the person who takes your memorable photos. The person adored by your friends may not be right for you. Make sure your wedding photographer is attuned to your specific wants and needs.
Wedding Photography Cost
The most expensive photographer does not mean the best photographer. However, give some thought to experience. Experienced photographers with a reputation for outstanding work will charge more than well-meaning beginners. When looking back on your wedding photos in years to come, you want to revel in their beauty.
You don’t have to go for the most expensive photographer. But consider if you can save money in other areas, such as wedding decorations, that can boost your wedding photography budget. You’ll probably be glad you did.
Most wedding photographers have wedding photography packages that include an expensive and exquisite album that are difficult to resist. The album merely adds to the cost of the wedding photographer. If you are trying to save money, opt just for pictures. You can put together your own album. Drop hints to family around the holidays that a wedding photo album would be a welcome gift. This means you can allocate your entire photography budget toward actual pictures.
Wedding Photography Style
Your first step in hiring a wedding photographer is deciding on your wedding photography style. Do you prefer posed, journalistic, or emotional? Also, take into consideration the lighting at your wedding venue. Some photographers specialize in indoor or outdoor photography. Others can be more artistic or journalistic in style. Decide what wedding photography style you want to look back on when you return from your honeymoon. How to find a photographer that will meet your needs? The best way is to scroll through the list of local wedding photographers (see Wedding Photographers Near Me) and to use the wedding photography style filters to narrow down these wedding photographers by wedding photography style.
An experienced wedding photographer senses the opportunity for great spontaneous pictures – 'The look in a father’s eyes as he walks his little girl down the aisle'
Next, take a look at each photographer’s examples of prior work, note the number of years of experience and the wedding photography packages available, read the short “About me” blurb they wrote about themselves (this will give you a sense of the photographer’s personality and whether or not you are likely to get along). When going through a wedding photographer’s portfolio, be sure to note both the posed and spontaneous shots. Most professional photographers are able to pose their subjects; an experienced wedding photographer senses the opportunity for great spontaneous pictures – the look in a father’s eyes as he walks his little girl down the aisle; pictures of parents unable to contain their pride and joy. These moments tell the real story. There is usually only one opportunity to capture a moment, and a professional wedding photographer knows how to anticipate.
Once you narrowed down the list of local wedding photographers to the ones that appeal to you, you should contact them with specific questions and to determine wedding photographer average cost (you will need it later to negotiate down the price of wedding photography).
Get Wedding Photographers Quotes
For comparison purposes, you should get a large number of quotes. This helps to both compare price quotes for your specific wedding AND helps you negotiate the price down during the next step in the process. Those vendors who are within your price range can then reply with more information.
To request multiple quotes from local wedding photographers, you can copy/paste the same brief message or email to every single one from your list. Or, you actually make use of this nifty negotiation tool we call Get the Best Deal .
Click the link above, fill in the information, including your wedding date and budget in the form presented – the automated quote request will go out to all the local wedding photographers in your area. Those who are interested and available will then bid against others and send you a quote request. The best part is that your email will not be shared with those providing the quote, so you don’t get signed up for a bunch of junk mail or newsletters, and you can quickly narrow down the list of photographers who can work with your budget. Once you select a couple of good options, the next step is to set up a face-to-face meeting.
Questions to Ask Wedding Photographers
When you arrange a meeting with your local wedding photographers, be sure to ask about the following issues:
- Do you have a preferred style? Most photographers can blend styles, but they also have a style in which they specialize – portraiture, natural, journalistic, etc.
- Will I see untouched proofs before I place my order?
- How long have you been a wedding photographer?
- What is your experience in black and white wedding photography?
- What do your packages include?
- What length of time will you spend photographing? What is your overtime charge?
- Do you have a backup photographer and an assistant? What happens in the event you become unavailable on my wedding day? This is critical. If your photographer doesn’t have a backup person and equipment, you could be left without wedding photos. Make sure this is specified in your contract.
- What do you wear? This may sound frivolous, but you probably don’t want an “artistic” photographer in T-shirt and Bermuda shorts shooting a formal wedding. The photographer should blend in. Also, certain colors have significance to certain religions. This quick question can eliminate potential problems.
- Can we meet in person? Never hire a photographer whom you can’t meet prior to the wedding.
- Do you have insurance? Insurance protects the photographer, not you. However, any photographer that does business without insurance is either inexperienced or not very reliable.
Most of these accounts also provide additional feedback from prior clients. It wouldn’t hurt to take a peek.
Much of social media can be a waste of time. When trying to choose between a handful of possible wedding photographers, however, it can provide you with a few additional clues. Check out the Facebook, Instagram and other accounts of your possible candidates (links to these are included in the profiles of our local wedding photographers). This should provide you with the opportunity to learn more about their thoughts and philosophy regarding photography, weddings, what they have done and what their future plans are. Most of these accounts also provide additional feedback from prior clients. It wouldn’t hurt to take a peek.
Photography Equipment Matters – To an Extent
Ask your wedding photographer how he or she uses their “tools.”
The chances are the more experienced your wedding photographer, the more equipment and lenses he or she has. What is actually more important, however, is how well he or she uses that equipment. Does the photographer do basically the same type of shots, or does he or she vary in detail such as portrait, landscape, zoom lenses and creative group shots? Are the photos run-of-the-mill, or do they demand attention? A great photographer is one who can create a memorable picture using any equipment. Ask your wedding photographer how he or she uses their “tools.”
Read the Fine Print
All professional wedding photographers will provide a contract outlining price and terms of service. Make sure this contract includes any potential extras, such as parking or travel, and covers any damage to or loss of equipment.
Discuss who owns the rights to the photographs. If it’s the photographer, you may need special permission to past your wedding pictures on social media. This should be spelled out clearly in the contract.
If the wedding photographer you are meeting is your top choice, now is the time to pull out those other wedding photographer price quotes you got (make sure to print them before coming to the meeting)! Use them to negotiate down the price and/or other terms of the contract. For more tips on negotiation with wedding photographers, or other wedding vendors, read How To Negotiate With Wedding Vendors article.
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. The right photographer can make it one of the most memorable. Your wedding cake, wedding venue, wedding music, and wedding decorations will soon be history. Your wedding photographs will help them live forever.