According to Brides.com, the average couple spends 15% of their budget on photography and videography—that's a pretty decent chunk! After all, your wedding photos are one of the few tangible from your wedding day for the rest of your lives. Naturally, you'll want to make sure you have a great photographer lined up. Not sure where to start? Our detailed guide to wedding photography will take you through each step of the process from photography style to shot list and more.
Decide on a Photography Style
Traditional, photojournalistic, dark and moody, editorial . . . the list goes on. Unless you're a photographer, the particular photography style may not be obvious at first glance. Start by exploring magazines, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and other popular sources to identify the types of wedding photography you're most drawn to.
A hashtag search can open up a whole world of photographers in your area where you can browse through their different styles to discover what you like! If you live in Southern California, for example, you can search #SoCalWeddings or #SoCalPhotography to see what photographers in your area are posting. As you browse, try to pinpoint what it is about certain photos that you like: do you like ones that are light and airy? Candid? Sepia-toned? Silly and playful? The options are endless.
When you find a few photographers that you like (local or not), look at those photographer's websites to determine their self-identified style. When in doubt, just ask! Most photographers only shoot in one or two styles at maximum, so determining the style you like is essential.
Choose a Professional Wedding Photographer
Now it's time to find a photographer! It might be tempting to have your artistic cousin shoot all your photos, but that is often a risky move. Not only will your friend/family miss out on enjoying the wedding as a guest, but you'll likely be sacrificing the quality of the photographs. Whether you choose a pro or not, this ultimate wedding shot list is a great starting point.
“One of the tricks for finding the best photographer for your wedding is to look at “real wedding” features on the internet. We feature our own on our blog and you can also find tons more on other popular wedding blogs such as Style Me Pretty, Ruffled, Junebug Weddings, etc. Usually these posts have credits at the end that link each vendor’s website.”
- Rachel, Stonetree Estate by Wedgewood Weddings
Do Your Research
Even if a wedding photographer’s photos are gorgeous or they come highly recommended by someone you know, it’s always useful to do your own research and vet a photographer before booking. Make sure they sound professional in communication to you, have an up-to-date website and social media, and have reputable reviews online (look at Yelp, The Knot, and Wedding Wire). These are just the starting points, but ones that you definitely don't want to miss.
“Since photographers set their own pricing, you’ll notice that costs can vary greatly among them. When looking at photographers’ prices, consider what all is included: Most photographers offer packages including features such as a second shooter, a certain time commitment, a photo album, an engagement shoot, etc. It’s important to compare the value you get between different options.”
7 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
- How many hours are included in the quote? Is there an additional charge for extra hours? Standard wedding packages often include 4-8 hours of coverage, with options for overages.
- How many photographers are included in the price? Some photographers bring a second shooter as standard, while others only offer it as an add-on.
- Is an engagement shoot included? This isn’t necessary but it’s a good chance for you and your photographer to get a feel for working with each other. Choosing the same photographer for your engagement and wedding also means that your photography style will be consistent throughout your memories.
- Does the package include an online gallery and/or printed album? It’s always possible to have photo albums made later down the road, so this isn't an essential item unless it's important to you. Online galleries are usually standard these days, but it's best to check just in case!
- What’s the standard time between the event and photo delivery? How soon do they promise to have the photos finished (including any editing) for you?
- Are they comfortable shooting a wedding like yours? For instance, if you plan to have an outdoor nighttime ceremony, can they shoot effectively in low light? What about live music? Lots of kids?
“We’ve worked with our preferred photographer for years. She’s always really receptive to the couple’s needs and style choices plus she makes everyone look effortlessly fab!“
- Aubree, Galway Downs by Wedgewood Weddings
Narrow it Down to the Right professional
While a photographer may have the perfect shooting style, a great price-point, and rave reviews, keep in mind that you’ll be spending a majority of your day with your photographer, so it’s important to be sure that you like them and connect with them! Do you feel good vibes? It's really all about the vibes. The best way to decide if you have good photographic chemistry is to meet with them in person over a cup of coffee or have a long phone call with them to discuss availability, price, and style.
“It’s important to hire someone whose creative work is a natural fit for what you’re looking for. Asking a photographer to change their style and shoot like someone else is sure to end poorly (and irritate them in the process). It’s worth it to find a photographer who matches your style and fits your budget.”
- Audrey, Fallbrook Estate by Wedgewood Weddings
“Definitely check whether the quote includes edits. While you two look beautiful, there may be minor background editing required and you want to know your photographer offers everything as a package.”
- Madison, Boulder Creek by Wedgewood Weddings
"Be realistic about how many photos you need. You might be able to get a reduced price if you reduce the number of shots you’re asking for (and many photographers take extra shots anyway – they can’t let a perfect moment slip away unrecorded!)"
- Veronica, The Retreat by Wedgewood Weddings
At the end of the day, go with your gut. Does this photographer meet your budget, style, and energies? Do you think you could spend ten hours with them at ease, laughing and having a good time? If so, you know you've found the right one. When in doubt, give us a shout and we'd be delighted to help!