You can only live your wedding day once – but your wedding photos let you relive it forever. One of the things I love about being a wedding photographer is that I can offer people a window back into some of their happiest moments. What a privilege! It’s so important to know how to choose a wedding photographer you’ll love because you need to be able to trust them with memories that last a lifetime!
Deciding on a wedding photographer is such a significant decision! Here’s the thing: we’re all different. Every photographer has a different style, not only of photography itself but also the way we edit our photographs and the overall atmosphere we evoke. Shot lists, hours, packages, rates – all will vary depending on who you hire. So, with all that in mind, let’s dive into everything you need to know about how to choose a wedding photographer.
#1 Decide on Your Vision
The first step in how to choose a wedding photographer is to decide on your vision for the style of the photographs. What kind of atmosphere are you hoping to create, both in the event itself and in the photos? Do you want something formal and classic or playful and candid? Are you hoping for your pictures to be soaked in a soft haze of nostalgia or sharp and pulsing with life?
There is a huge range in the kind of photography you can settle on, and knowing what exactly you’re going for is going to make it so much easier to choose a wedding photographer.
#2 Book Your Venue
The next thing to decide is where to get married. When you’re thinking about how to choose a wedding photographer, you don’t have to hire someone locally, but it is a great (and often less expensive!) idea to interview people who know the area and your chosen venue really well. Wedding photographers who are familiar with your venue will already have an idea of the best opportunities for photos, and may even have photographs of your venue in their portfolios – this will go a long way in helping you imagine what it will be like for them to photograph your wedding.
Wedding venues often have a list of photographers that they recommend, so it’s worth asking for that. And here’s a top tip: scroll through the venue’s page and location tag on Instagram. If you see wedding photos that you like, trace them back to the photographers and add them to your list. This brings us to the next step of how to choose a wedding photographer:
#3 Cast Your Net Widely
Research far and wide – ask your friends and family for recommendations, scroll hashtags, look at local listings, and fall down the rabbit hole of Pinterest. When it comes to how to choose a wedding photographer, Googling isn’t always the best option – so use your connections to find the hidden gems whose work you really love
#4 Narrow Down Your List
After you have your preliminary list of photographers, go a little deeper. Spend time on their website, read customer reviews, and see how people talk about them online. The goal here is to pick the best four or five people who seem to tick a few preliminary boxes: you like their aesthetic, they are well-reviewed, and you want to know more.
#5 Request Full Wedding Albums
The next step in how to choose a wedding photographer is to ask the four to five people you selected to send you an example of a full album from a wedding (You can request to see one from me here!). This is simply so you can assess how well they did overall, instead of only admiring the highlight reels they put on their website. From this step, choose two or three photographers to arrange a meeting or a Zoom call with.
#6 Interview Potential Photographers
Actually speaking with potential wedding photographers is an incredibly crucial stage in the process of how to choose a wedding photographer that you’ll love. You want to make sure that you mesh well with the person – if you’re inviting them into some of your happiest moments, you should at least get along! A personal conversation helps you determine if they understand your vision.
This is also the time to ask questions! Come prepared to:
Ask about photo rights
You might be surprised to know that, legally, all the photos your wedding photographer takes belong to them, not to you. This can affect a lot of things, including if you are permitted to post photos without a watermark and if you can have any hard copies, like books or albums, made. Ask each photographer what their policy here is – most often, wedding photographers are happy to let you do as you like with your photographs, but it’s important to check!
Ask about editing
Editing is an included service when you hire a wedding photographer – but you may have questions about what services they provide. If you are interested in retouching, for example, or any kind of creative manipulation of the photographs, make sure that this is part of your criteria for how to choose a wedding photographer from the beginning.
This is also the time to ask about how long it typically takes a wedding photographer to send you the finished photographs. Everyone will have a different timescale that they work with, so it’s good to be prepared.
Talk through your list of shots
This isn’t just a time to ask questions – when it comes to how to choose a wedding photographer, it’s important to share your dreams too! Most wedding photographers have a list of shots that they guarantee you, but if you have any particular moments you want them to capture or any ideas for the kind of photos you want to take, be sure to talk through these.
Ask about packages
When you’re navigating how to choose a wedding photographer, ask the photographer to walk you through what is included in their rates and different packages. How many hours do they guarantee you? Is a second shooter to capture the little details included?
Make sure you leave each interview with a very clear idea of pricing and product.
#7 Compare Candidates
Now comes maybe the hardest part in how to choose a wedding photographer – picking between your candidates. Hopefully, one person has stood out to you from the photographers you spoke to. You clicked personality-wise, they’re excited about your vision, and their rates match your budget. Amazing – you’ve found your wedding photographer!
But if none of the people you’ve interviewed are quite right – don’t worry! The process of interviewing will have given you a much clearer picture of what you’re looking for – you’re only a few more conversations away from finding the perfect fit.
Final Thoughts on How to Choose a Wedding Photographer
Choosing a wedding photographer can feel overwhelming at first, but I hope that these simple steps have broken it down into something that can feel exciting. Ultimately, you are choosing an artist to document your love story in images that you can keep forever – what could be more romantic?
Searching for a wedding photographer that you love? You can see more of my wedding photography here!