Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions you can make for your wedding (other than who you marry) and it can be stressful and overwhelming.
The photography industry is not formally regulated and there are no degrees or licenses needed to operate a business. There's also no set standard on pricing so packages can vary widely between photographers.
Oh, and there are approximately 1 million photographers per square mile. How then should you chose?
First Identify Your Style
If you're not artistically inclined it might feel difficult to identify your photographic style. Try this exercise to determine your preferences.
Make a private Pinterest board and pin wedding images that you love. Go crazy and pin as many as you want.
Now go through them and try to identify some patterns. Are the photos light and bright? Dark and moody? Do they have a film quality to them or look like they belong in a fashion magazine?
Some of the basic photography styles are:
Traditional/Classic: Think your parents wedding photos with everyone posed and smiling at the camera. There’s nothing wrong with this style and most photographers will take some photos where everyone is looking at the camera, but if you want all of your photos to be posed and formal a traditional photographer will be your best choice.
Photo Journalistic/Documentary: The stealth ninjas among photographers and the opposite of traditional photographers. If you just want candid photos of your day this style is for you. Photojournalists don't direct any of the action. There's no posing, just documenting.
Fine Art: Involves dramatic artistic angles, creative lighting, and unique perspectives.
Lifestyle: My personal favorite! Lifestyle photography has an editorial feel to it. The subjects are usually posed but in a way that looks natural and often with movement. I love posing couples and then have them interact to draw out natural emotion.
2. Determine your Budget
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. You can easily find someone to take your wedding photos for $500.
But… are you going to like them?
Generally speaking the price of the photography indicates the quality. Higher priced photographers usually have more experience, skill, and better equipment.
There are many different pricing structures that photographers offer and they should walk you through their packages and exactly what they entail.
Good photography is expensive and it’s a luxury service. But it’s also one of the few tangible things that will remain from your wedding day. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a beautiful wedding and end up with photos you don’t love.
3. What Products Do You Want?
Some photographers only offer digital files. Some only offer printed products. Most offer a mix between the two.
While there is no wrong way to sell images to a client, make sure you are clear beforehand on what types of products your photographer sells.
Digital files are great to share on social media, but do you remember 3 1/2in floppy discs? What if all your images were on one, how would access them today? CD’s are almost obsolete, and even USB drives are being phased out!
Make sure you backup any digital files you receive on multiple devices. When you purchase a new device, be sure to transfer your photos!
Most photographers also offer heirloom quality print products. This is the best way to ensure your photos survive the generations.
4. Ask Friends for a Referral
If you loved the photographer from your cousin’s wedding ask for a referral!
Sometimes it’s easier to find a photographer through someone who has recently worked with one.
They’ll be able to tell you what it was like working with the photographer and if you love their photos they might be a good fit for you!
5. Do You Like and Trust Them?
In my opinion this is the most important thing to consider when looking for a photographer.
You’re going to pay this person a lot of money in the hopes that they will deliver beautiful images on one of your most important days.
You really need to like and trust this person to feel confident about your decision.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what lens they use or how many awards they’ve won.
Do they respond promptly to your communication?
Do they honestly and thoroughly answer your questions?
Do you like their personality enough to spend an entire day with them?
Will they love on your family and treat them with respect?