Many couples get so caught up with planning all the obvious details of their wedding such as the cake, the wedding decorations, the gown and gifts for members of the wedding party that they often overlook the importance of selecting the right wedding photographer. It’s important to remember that the photographer you choose will be responsible for capturing the moments and memories of what may be the most important day of your life! With this in mind, you’ll want to take great care in selecting a wedding photographer considering there are no second chances. So, choosing the right wedding photographer need not be troublesome but does require some research, to find the right one to fit your budget and requirements.
As you might imagine, wedding photography is one of the most challenging types of professional photography. The wedding photographer has to make everyone look beautiful, shooting in a multitude of locations in all kinds of weather conditions and accomplish all this in minimum amount of time. At the same time, your wedding photographer should have the personality to complement you on your most joyous day. Take your time and follow some of the simple suggestions discussed below, and you will most certainly be satisfied with the outcome.
Where Do You Begin?
Personal referrals or asking friends, relatives and co-workers for suggestions, is a great place to start. Typically, people who have had positive experiences with photographers are more than willing to share that information. In addition, you’ll already have some insight about the photographer’s personality before you actually meet. After compiling a preliminary list, visit each photographer’s web site and thoughtfully review his or her online portfolio. If a portfolio looks appealing you, chances are, that photographer might be a good fit. Next, call or email each photographer on your list. Through this initial contact, you can determine the photographer’s availability, the type of work they specialise in (candid or traditional) as well as an estimate of the cost and what you’ll receive for that fee.
Schedule appointments with the photographers who seem most appropriate and ask to view their portfolios in person and discuss more details. Ask each of them to show you a complete portfolio of a single wedding this will give you a much clearer sense of what you can expect than a collection of choice shots from several different events. Pay attention to whether the photographer is adept at portraying individual expressions and personalities. Ideally, these meetings should include the bride and groom as well as the bride’s parents since you will all be interacting with the photographer.
What Questions Should You Ask?
Be sure to write down all of your questions beforehand, and take thorough notes during the meetings. Although most professional photographers will provide you with a clear outline of their services and fees prior to your meeting, you will, in all likelihood, still have a large number of questions to ask. Remember, the more information you have, the more confident and relaxed you’ll feel on your special day. Here are some questions you may ask:
- How will you show me pictures for selection (e.g., electronic, proofs, contact sheets, online gallery, etc.)?
- Will you help me choose the final pictures?
- How will you make it easy for friends and family to order reprints?
- What are the costs of the various levels of coverage?
- Are there different degrees of coverage?
- What is your photography style; photojournalistic, traditional, mixed, etc.?
- How much for the duplicate prints, albums, folios, enlargements, thank you cards, etc.?
- What’s your time frame for preparing the pictures for my selection?
- How about engagement session?
- How long do I have to make up my mind as to which pictures I want and how many?
- How long have you been in business?
- What kind of guarantee comes with my hiring you?
- What’s your philosophy for photographing weddings?
- Will you have an assistant?
- Do you have travel fees?
- How much is your overtime fee?
- What do you plan to do at my wedding to make my wedding photographs unique and personal to me?
- Do you have a backup?
- Will you be shooting my pictures personally?
- Will you use film or digital?
- What’s your payment policy?
- Do you give any guarantees on your services and photographs?
- What is the possibility of the pictures fading?
How Much Will It Cost?
The following are some points that will help prepare you for what you might expect to pay for your wedding photography:
- Plan to allocate a significant portion of your wedding budget to ensure photographs are perfect. Expect to spend at least around £1000 plus on a professional wedding photographer to document your event. Albums and prints are usually extra. Other extras that may increase your bottom line include additional hours, additional photographers, custom albums etc. etc. Add on too many extras ñ and your photography budget could quickly creep to £5000 and beyond!
- Cut the extras and purchase a basic wedding photography package from a skilled photographer. By paying for the photographer’s expertise only, you will ensure great images and you’ll buy yourself some time to save up for the custom album and prints after the wedding.
- Get the proofs! To that end, try to find a photographer who will let you keep the proofs. Many photographers consider themselves to be photographers only – artists not in the business of selling photographs. After the big day, they’ll hand over your proofs and be on their way. They’re yours to keep and you can print them in any manner you please or save them for printing after you’ve saved up some cash.
- Enter the digital age with digital photography. It’s less costly than film, and with technological advances in equipment and digital images are no longer a sacrifice in quality. Many photographers have taken the digital plunge which results in savings for you!
- Cut the timeline the longer your event, the more it will cost to document it. Since photographers often charge based on the number of hours they will spend at your wedding, a shorter/smaller wedding celebration will yield big savings in your photography budget.
Making a Commitment
At this point, you should have a relatively clear idea of which photographer is best suited to capture your wedding day memories. Once you have made a decision, be prepared to leave a deposit to reserve the date. You may still wish to reassure yourself by asking about a few final details. For example, find out what the photographer’s policy for wedding-date changes is and what the alternatives are if he or she is not available on the backup date. Also, ask about their policy for an unexpected cancellation. If you feel the photographer is right for you, then relax and make the commitment with the confidence that you’ve made a well-formed, intelligent decision in planning the most important day of your life.
I had a super tiny wedding with only a few family members in attendance. I also wish that I had had a photographer because we totally forgot to take a photo of just me and my hubby. Oops!
Sometimes just having a photographer for a small wedding can pay off. Thats what I need to do I think, try to do small weddings then I work on what didn’t work then see what WILL work the next time round.
GiGi Eats Celebrities says
Oh man. I thought I picked the right wedding photographer. NOT SO MUCH. Ugh.
Doing your home work does pay off, and when you get the wrong type of photographer, then you pay for the mistakes too. We all make them, but hopefully not as painful as getting the wrong type of photographer to cover a wedding.
Sorry you had a bad experience.
Sarah Bailey says
These are some great tips to help someone choose the right photographer, after all it is one of the most amazing days of your life so you want to make sure it is captured properly.
It is such a specialised field that I want to get more experience doing weddings as a second photographer first. I am going to put my name out there to see who bites, I may get lucky and get a few weddings as that all important 2nd photographer.
jenny at dapperhouse says
Such important and good advice. You HAVE to be careful with photos because with special evvents, you don’t get a redo.
Thank you. Yes wedding photography is such a specialised field that even I am biding my time before I even attempt another wedding shoot. I did once for a close friend ( was the best man too for that wedding), I need more experience before I try another one.
such great tips! bookmarking for later
Thank you, Thats good to hear.
tara pittman says
My daughter used a proof only photo guy. She then placed them oneline and asked us which ones we wanted to print
I use a set of Lightroom presets to make my images look more like film photographs. I am looking to get another set which will give my photos more of a vintage look. So far, I have had people say they are impressed with some of my photos thus far. Thats why I am NOT rushing in Wedding photography just yet.
The Mad Mommy says
These are fantastic tips and I love the list of questions. We got married in our backyard and only had a friend take a couple pictures, lol.
As a photographer myself, I kinda put myself in someone else’s shoes and thought of what types of questions would ask myself if was doing this type of job all the time. Then I came across the website and I just loved the questions. They hit every nail on the head. win win. If I had been available I would have done your wedding photo’s very cheaply just for the experience of doing a wedding.
I remember looking into this and being shocked at the price… But these are pictures that last a life time. I love the questions you listed. That would have been so helpful then. I am pinning this for our friends to see! Thanks for the advice John!
Thank you for book marking. If this post has proved to be useful, then I have done the job as I intended. Glad I was able to help
These are such great questions. I had a family member do photos for my wedding, but if I would have hired someone, I would have been sure to ask all these questions.
I have done a couple of friends weddings, and I want to do a few more, but I want do as a 2nd photographer. I am always looking for better experiences as a photographer.
I am glad this post has proved to be useful, even if it is a few years too late. 😉
Kari Carter says
Nick and I just got married this month and we didn’t think much about a wedding photographer. I found ours on Thumbtack the week of the wedding and we were very happy with the photos. We got all the photos in digital format. It was great!
It does depend on what you are wanting from your photographer. Just asking for all the photographs in digital format or if you want a mini-printed album, will depend on price. USB devices are cheap these days. Glad you were able to capture your special day.
Nguyen Hai Ngan says
Thank you for sharing such an awesome post. There is plenty of advice on the internet on how to find a wedding photographer. And you know, most of it is actually pretty good . But recently in the comments of some of our sponsored posts, it’s become clear that a lot of the advice out there is geared toward people who already have a handle on photography, people who can look at a photo and say, “Yup, that’s a great image.”
It is hard to find a good photographer who can suits your needs. I did decide to put as much good advice as I could in one place. I am glad there is a good response to this post.
Jennifer Rollins says
We got married at the courthouse so we didn’t have a photographer. I do wish we would have had a small wedding with family though!
I wish I could have been available for being able to photograph your wedding. I would have done a great job for you.
Having a good wedding photographer is so important. Especially with the quality of cameras there are today, you can get some really great photos.
I have a 24mp camera and there is a new one coming out with a 46mp (Megapixels) and this will make it a beast of a camera. I am a Nikon user and I just find these cameras among the best on the market. Yes, find a good wedding photographer is just as important as making decisions on the Wedding Dress, cake and location for the wedding. It is that important.
I love doing photography and have done several weddings. These are great questions to ask and things to take into consideration.
I may need to pick your brains, so I can get some hints on doing more weddings for myself. I am very happy at the response this post has gained.
Ave Hla says
These are really great tips! I remember that choosing our wedding photographer was really difficult. Wish I had had this list back then.
It can be a mine field when looking the right wedding photographer. I guess you could pass these tips on to someone who may need helping in looking for a wedding photographer.
These are some really awesome tips. I didn’t have an actual wedding ceremony but I think these tips could apply to nearly any major event where you want the moments captured by a professional photographer. Thanks so much for sharing.
I am glad you like these tips. Yes, you are right, you could apply this questions to any type of event you require a photographer for.
This is such a helpful post!! Includes tons of things I wouldn’t even think about asking, such as overtime fees. My cousin is engaged so I’m sending this over to her – thanks!
Thank you. I hope she finds the right photographer for her special day. I am glad I was able to help.
This is a great resource and list of questions for someone to ask when they’re hiring a wedding photographer. I’ll be sure to pass this along to my friends who are engaged!
Thank you. I am glad this post has given some great insights as what in entailed, in finding a great wedding photographer.
Blair Villanueva says
I agree with your tips. I once read online a viral post about a couple who hires a photographer for their wedding and ended up delivering a trash services, though they paid expensively and in full amount.
That is why is it better to get someone who is recommended by others.
It took sometime to research for this blog post and I am very happy with the response this post has gained. For those starting out in wedding photography, it can take a while to gain a good reputation. Getting your prices right from the start is important, not to high so you cant get work, but not too cheap that you out do your self to keep your gear up to date and in good condition.
I hired a photographer on my wedding. I just wanted to make sure to document that very special day.
I am glad that you did that. With this blog post, I wanted to highlight the best way of getting the right photographer to do the job you ask him/her you’ve hired them for. While also making sure you’ve paid the right amount and asked the correct questions before you’ve hired them.
Hannah Neilson says
Thanks for saying that you would want to consider what kind of experiences people have had with a wedding photographer. Talking with different people about it would probably help a lot as well. My brother is looking for a photographer for his wedding this spring, so he’ll have to find someone who has a lot of positive reviews.