After months of fittings, tastings, and planning down to the very last detail, the day you’ve always dreamed of will seem to come and go in a blur. That’s why quality photography is a must! You want to be able to preserve the day and look back on everything that occurred. Through pictures captured in a style that speaks to you, you can remember, relive, and cherish each moment for the rest of your lives.
From falling in love with a dreamy online portfolio to the nitty gritty of contracts, let’s look at the process of finding a photographer that’s your perfect match.
Define your style
Wedding photography is more than just documenting the event. The right photographer for you will capture the spirit of you as a couple, as well as your day. While other factors come into play when choosing a photographer, determining a style that speaks to you is the first order of business. Below are four styles you might encounter as you start your search.
Documentary: Candid, spontaneous, not styled or posed. Capturing moments as they happen — shots of decorative details, action, and people. This style is currently trending, as couples gravitate toward the effortless, unforced feel of documentary-style photos.
Portrait: Classic and posed. Poses can be staged with traditional backdrops (such as a church alter) or more creative (like lounging on a vintage sofa or holding hands in front of a vibrant city mural). Portrait doesn’t mean dull or dated — it just means the scenery and composition are arranged just-so.
Fine Art or Edgy & Bold: Dramatic and dreamlike, with interesting angles and framing. Might use more muted tones for a film-like effect. These photos will represent the photographer’s vision, so if you love an artist’s unique style, fine art photography could be a great fit.
Many photographers can do a blend of these styles, so don’t worry so much about being pigeon-holed into one or another. In the end, worry less about what a photographer calls their style and more about whether or not their work makes you happy.
Once you’ve established your target style, it’s time to shop around. Collect referrals from friends, review local wedding magazines and websites, and check out bridal shows near you. Of course browsing local photographers’ websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and Instagram feeds is the quickest way to get a feel for the talent in your area. Today’s wedding photographers tend to lay it all out online: their personality, sensibilities, style, and philosophy — all things that will affect your decision.
Meet in person
Once you’ve curated a shortlist of potential photographers that seem to check all your boxes, it’s time to meet. Don’t underestimate this step! Even if your artistic visions align, it’s just as important that your personalities click. Remember, this person is shadowing you on your wedding day!
Ask yourself how this person will mesh with your friends and family, too. They should be professional, respectful, and know when to hang back, while also being bold enough to go after great shots and draw natural expressions from your guests.
Question & evaluate
First and foremost: Only meet with photographers within your budget. It’s disappointing to fall in love with a photographer’s work only to later discover their rates exceed your spending allowance. Do your research ahead of time and only meet with photographers you can afford.
Ask to see a complete album of a wedding shot in a similar venue or with a style similar to yours. If you’re only gauging a photographer’s work off their online portfolio, you might be seeing a highlight reel; it’s best to get the whole picture.
Have a critical eye when assessing wedding albums: Did they capture all the shots you’re hoping for? Are the images clear? How’s the composition? Is the lighting blown out, too dark, or just right? Some photographers are more skilled at capturing low-light images, so consider the time, season, and location of your wedding and chose a professional whose talents suit your needs.
Some photographers are more skilled at capturing low-light images, so consider the time, season, and location of your wedding when choosing a photographer. With many expert wedding photographers to pick from, you’ll have no trouble finding someone whose experience is a perfect match for your wedding.
Define the package & get the specifics in writing
Photography packages vary from one professional to the next, so it’s critical to find out what’s included, as well as the cost of any add-ons. A photography package may or may not include the following: second shooters, additional hours, high-res jpgs, photo albums, or engagement sessions. Some photographers even offer same-day slide shows of the ceremony and wedding morning to play at the reception, or a few photos with quick turnaround for posting on social media. Many photographers offer such services a-la-carte, so you can choose only what’s of value to you. Remember that seemingly-affordable wedding photography suddenly isn’t all that affordable if you have to pay an extra $1,000 just to get the photo files.
Speaking of files, ask any potential photographers how they back up your photos; if their answer doesn’t come swiftly and confidently, that can indicate a lack of professionalism. Also ask about their typical timeline for delivering proofs and final photos and how you’ll receive them, whether it’s small printed photos, a full album, an online gallery, or a flash drive of all the raw files. Bear in mind that faster isn’t always better. Some professionals shoot weddings nonstop during the high season, then spend the next six months of the low season processing photos flawlessly.
When you finally make your decision, get everything in writing. When is payment due? Will there be a backup camera? What’s the contingency plan should your photographer fall ill or have a family emergency? When will proofs be ready to view? Answering all of these questions up front will ease your mind and manage your expectations.
On your wedding day: Must-capture moments
If there are friends and family that you want to be sure to snap a photo with or a particular time in the ceremony or reception that you want captured, it helps to put that in writing as well. Of course this list isn’t a binding contract, but it will help keep you and your photographer on track. Download our Ultimate Planner online at premierbride.com/planning for a checklist of can’t-miss moments.