What to consider when choosing a wedding photographer

One of the most important aspects of planning your wedding is making sure you hire the perfect photographer to capture every moment of your special day. Having countless photos to look at years after the date has passed will give you a way to relive that memorable day over and over again. From the customized coasters and table numbers sitting on your reception tables to the father-daughter dance and the flowers that your bridesmaids held, a great photographer will capture every detail flawlessly. So how can you be sure to choose the very best person to photograph your wedding? Here are a few tips that may help with the daunting task:

Keep in mind you get what you pay for
While it’s certainly important to adhere to your wedding budget, a photographer is definitely one of the things you should splurge on. The phrase “you get what you pay for” usually holds true when it comes to photographers. While a low price may be tempting, never decide on a photographer purely based on their low costs. When you and your spouse are sending your kids off to college and getting ready to celebrate your 20th wedding anniversary, you will be extremely grateful for the splurge when you have beautiful, high-quality pictures to look back on.

Book early
Try selecting your photographer six to eight months in advance to ensure that you get your top pick, as the best photographers often book up way in advance.

Jana Williams Photography

Jana Williams Photography

Know your style
Before you decide on a wedding photographer, sit down with your future spouse and decide what type of pictures you both want. Some photographers have a modern, contemporary style, while others stick with a classic, artistic approach. Do a little bit of research on various wedding photographers to find the style you love the most. Finding your ideal style will narrow your choices and help the decision of choosing your photographer. Here are a few of the most popular styles today:

Documentary: If you love photojournalism and candid pictures, this is the style for you. This style thrives on spontaneity and in-the-moment photos, rather than styled shoots.

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Fine art: This method gives the photographer the freedom to infuse your photos with their own personal style, technique and perspective. Some ways photographers do this is by making items in the background blurry to really put the focus on the bride and groom.

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Portraiture: If you’re feeling nostalgic about your parents’ wedding photos, this classic option is perfect for you. Each shot is posed and the photos are taken in a more formal manner, often in front of staged backdrops.

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Ask the right questions
When you schedule a meeting with a potential photographer, it’s important to come prepared with the right questions. Have a list ready of what you would like to ask them so you don’t leave anything out during your discussion. Here are some of the most crucial questions you should be sure to put out in the open during your visit:

Can I see some of your work?
Professional photographers always have a portfolio you can look through of previous work they’ve done at weddings. This will give you great insight into what your wedding pictures might look like. And if you don’t like their work, you can easily move on to your next option. You should look through these albums critically – see if the images are nice and crisp or if small details are blurred. You’ll also want to make sure that the photographer captured all of the special moments that you’ll want, like the first look between the bride and the groom and the exchange of the wedding rings.

Abby Jiu Photography

Abby Jiu Photography

Do you have references?
The best way to get the low-down on a certain photographer is to call up one of the brides that have used his or her services in the past. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what they liked and didn’t like to give you a good idea of whether you should hire this person. It’s customary to ask to speak with two to three former brides. When you call up these women, ask them important questions like, was the photographer on time? Would you recommend this person to your best friend?

Who owns my wedding pictures?
This may seem like a silly question to ask at the time, but the truth is, some photographers hold ownership of your photos, which means you have to pay if you want them. A small number of printed photos might be included in the package, while the rest you’ll have to dole out a photographer fee to receive. If a photographer owns the rights to your pictures, they can also use them in advertising or even sell them, so if you don’t want this, make sure your contract states that your pictures can’t be used for those specific purposes.

Laura Ivanova Photography

Laura Ivanova Photography

What do you charge for overtime?
Should your wedding extend beyond the specified hours your photographer is contracted to be there, you’ll want to know exactly what they charge for working overtime. You don’t want to find out later that you went over budget because you didn’t look into the fee for keeping the photographer around.

Jennifer Moher Photography

Jennifer Moher Photography

Make sure you like them!
While ensuring that you pay the right price, have the perfect style, and book far in advance are three very important aspects to consider when choosing your wedding photographer, another key aspect, perhaps even the most important, is finding a photographer that you genuinely like. Your photographer will be the person who you spend the most of your wedding day with (even more than your groom!), so finding someone who you get along with and like spending time with is crucial. Some couples choose to use the same photographer that shot their engagement photos so that they can begin developing a relationship before the big day.

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