Hey, soon to be newlyweds! The wedding planning process can seem daunting at first, but something I tell all of my couples is that it should be an overall joyful process! You’re planning a day to celebrate something you’ve probably been looking forward to for a long time, so I’m here to help keep the joy in planning by breaking down the process of how to choose your wedding photographer.
Did you know that you spend the most time with your wedding photographer on the big day? Yup, we’re there for it all! From mimosas in the morning to sunset portraits at night to your grand exit, we’re by your side celebrating with you and capturing all of the fleeting moments. Your wedding photos will live on forever on your walls, in albums, and to be passed onto future generations. This is why it’s SO important to choose a photographer who not only has a shooting and editing style you love, but whose personality is a great fit for you as a couple!
DETERMINE YOUR BUDGET
Is photography a top priority for you, or is it a corner you’re willing to cut? If you don’t have a large photography budget, there are more inexperienced photographers who may be closer to your price range.
If photography is a top priority for you, you’ll want to hire an established photographer with experience. A higher price tag means you’re getting a photographer who not only has a lot of wedding experience, but will provide a stellar experience for YOU! Your wedding day will fly by so fast, and you don’t want to spend any of that time worrying about your photographer. Established photographers are also more likely to be a licensed and insured business, which is required at most wedding venues.
HOW & WHERE TO LOOK FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
The first step is actually finding wedding photographers who will be a great fit for your day! The first place I went to to search for my wedding photographer was Instagram, and here’s why. Instagram gives you not only an accurate scope of their style and quality of work, but it also gives you an insider look into their personality and life through Instagram stories, reels and IGTV’s. A great way to find photographers in your geographical area is by searching “‘Your State’ Photographer” or #YourCityPhotographer (aka. Florida Photographer or #tampaphotographer). If you already have a venue picked out, you can search their tagged photos or their geotag location as well.
After finding a few photographers you love via social media, the next step is to reach out to them! The quickest way to do this is by checking out their website and filling out their contact form so they can send over more info. It’s also a great idea to search their brand on Facebook and Google so you can read reviews from real clients.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Choosing a photographer is about more than the way their photos look - it’s about the experience they will give you! Here are a few things to consider:
Response Time When you reach out to them, do they answer within 24 hours?
Seamless Workflow How easy was it for you to inquire and get more info? Are they making the client experience easy for you?
Editing Style Do you prefer a clean true to color edit, something a little more film inspired, or are you drawn to dramatic and moody images? Be sure to reach out to photographers who have a style you love!
Personality Do they make you feel comfortable and at ease? Does their personality match yours well? Since you spend so much time together on your wedding day, you want to choose someone who will make you feel relaxed and confident throughout every moment - especially the stressful ones!
Deliverables What is included in your package? Do they include an engagement session, printing rights to the photos so you can print and share as many as you’d like? Will you have to pay extra for additional images, or are they all included? Will the photos be delivered online, on a USB, etc.?
QUESTIONS TO ASK
Once you really narrow down your top 2-4 photographers, it’s a good idea to ask if you can meet up in person or hop on a video call! This will give you an idea of their personality and you’ll easily be able to ask questions that require a more detailed answer.
How many weddings have you shot solo? If you’re hoping to hire a photographer with a lot of experience under their belt, don’t be afraid to ask this question! This will help you discern how experienced they truly are. Instagram is a great place to showcase stylized wedding shoots with models - which are pre planned and a lot more controlled than a wedding day. But what about the real stuff? Ask to see a real wedding gallery to see how your photog can make magic on a fast moving day with a real couple, not models.
How long will it take for us to receive our full wedding gallery? Will we receive any sneak peeks, and when? A 4-8 week turnaround time for a full wedding is the standard for the wedding industry, so you can expect it to be somewhere around that time frame. Sneak peeks will help to hold you over in the meantime! Photographers who shoot 100+ weddings per year will likely be turning galleries around closer to 3-6 months, and the experience may not be as personal and individualized to you and your love story!
Can I see a full real wedding gallery? To have an idea of what your photogs shooting style is, ask to see a full wedding gallery or two.
Do you have backups on the day of, and backups of our wedding photos after? A wedding photographer should ALWAYS have gear backups in case of an emergency, and ideally dual card slots so that your photos are being recorded to 2 memory cards at once. After the wedding, a photographer should have your wedding photos backed up in multiple places to be sure they’re safe and secure before delivery!
Is a second photographer included/do you recommend one for our day? Some photographers include a second shooter in their packages, and for some it’s an add on! Your photographer will be able to guide you on whether opting for a second shooter is a good choice for your wedding day, or something you can skip.
As you start your search for the best wedding photographer for YOUR day, remember that the experience really matters. Choose a photographer who will provide not only beautiful images, but a client experience like no other! This is your wedding, and you get to decide how it looks :)
This blog post about how to choose your wedding photographer was written by Grace Jicha, a full time destination wedding and elopement photographer based in Tampa, Florida and New York City, and traveling worldwide.