How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

how to choose wedding photographer

One of the most important steps involved in wedding planning is hiring the right wedding photographer. Hiring the wrong photographer could mean sacrificing the quality of your wedding photos or interrupting the flow of your wedding day. Luckily, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about how to pick a wedding photographer. When deciding on a wedding photographer, you should consider the following:

1. Find Your Photography Style

Before starting your photographer research, gain a general understanding of your preferred photography style. No photography is the same — styles can be candid, posed, rustic, modern and everything in between. First, you’ll need to decide if you want digital or film photography:

  • Digital: Most photographers today use digital photography. Digital cameras offer more versatility when shooting and are able to adjust to almost any light and environment. Photographers have more freedom to get creative with their photographs when working digitally.
  • Film: A more traditional type of photography is film. Film photography is less versatile, but a photographer’s hard work is rewarded with stunning soft, organic-looking photographs. Film photography is generally more expensive because of the added work required to produce every photograph.

Some photographers can work with both types. If you’re interested in both, that’s something you should bring up during your interview process. Once you’ve decided between the type of photography you want, choose your preferred photograph style or aesthetic:

  • Classic: Classic photography stands the test of time, making it a reliable option when you can’t decide which aesthetic to choose. It’s striking and somewhat formal, and something you’ve likely seen replicated in past generations’ wedding photographs.
  • Artistic: If you’re looking for fun, energetic photographs, you may gravitate towards artistic photography. Artistic photography incorporates different angles and poses that aren’t traditional but make for stunning pictures.
  • Lifestyle: If you prefer a more laid-back vibe, you may enjoy lifestyle photographs. Lifestyle photography takes candid moments and transforms them into beautiful photography. No crazy poses are needed, just your natural rhythm.
  • Dramatic: If you’re looking for a “wow” factor, dramatic photography may be right up your alley. Dramatic photography pushes the limits on extreme backgrounds, colors, lighting and angles.

Some photographers are versatile, while others specialize in a single aesthetic. Decide which aesthetics you like best and talk to a variety of wedding photographers about your goals.

2. Research Photographer Reviews

research photographer reviews

You’ll likely want an experienced wedding photographer. Experienced wedding photographers generally have a long list of reviews you can reference and an extensive portfolio. The best place to start researching photographers is their website.

You can get an immediate look at a photographer’s experience from their website. Photographers usually put their best foot forward on their homepage, so you can get a general idea of what your wedding photographs may look like. If you don’t like what’s on their homepage, it’s safe to assume you won’t like the result of your wedding photographs.

After looking at their homepage, look at their review section and portfolio. Consider the photos and explore what others say about working with the photographer.

What Are Some Skills a Wedding Photographer Needs?

When reading reviews, check for must-have skills and attributes, like:

  • Calmness under pressure
  • Ability to bring your vision to life
  • Stamina to work for 6 hours to 12 hours
  • Creativity to take stunning photos
  • Professional boundaries

Of course, you also want to make sure the photographer is competent with photography equipment. Reviews should give you an accurate look into these qualifications, allowing you to filter out candidates and identify those who can move to the interview stage.

3. Perform Wedding Photographer Interviews

Once you’ve found three or four photographers, schedule an interview with each one. Having an interview with each wedding photographer gives you a deeper look into their photography and social skills, both of which are important. Some things to ask your wedding photographer when interviewing are:

  • Are you available on my wedding date?
  • Will you be the one shooting my wedding?
  • Will you bring another photographer?
  • How many hours will you photograph my wedding?
  • How many other weddings have you photographed?
  • What size weddings do you typically photograph?
  • How would you describe your photography style?
  • Do you work with film, digital or both?
  • What is included in your standard package?
  • Do you offer retouching or other corrective services?
  • Is there a travel fee?
  • How long will it take to receive the photographs after the wedding?
  • Will we have rights to the photographs?
  • How much is the deposit?
  • Do you have a refund or cancellation policy?
  • Do you have liability insurance?
  • Is there a backup plan if you are unable to attend the wedding?
  • Will you be posting photographs on your website or social media?

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Your wedding only happens once, and it’s important to hire a photographer that you know will deliver quality photographs.

What Should a Wedding Photography Contract or Package Include?

During your interview process, request a copy of the photographer’s contract. Contracts are necessary for almost every business arrangement, especially wedding photography. Some things covered in a wedding photography contract include:

  • Working hours
  • Package price
  • Terms of payment
  • Dates worked
  • Image rights
  • Failure to comply clause
  • Cancellation and refund policy

Don’t sign contracts right away. Instead, take the contracts home with you. Gather contracts from all your possible photographers and read them a few times. Compare the pros and cons of each, and highlight any areas where you would like clarification.

What Is a Reasonable Price for a Wedding Photographer?

A big part of wedding planning is managing a wedding budget. For a basic or newer wedding photographer, you’ll want to budget at least $1,500. If you want a more experienced photographer, you’ll want to budget twice as much. Contracts with more services and perks will cost more, with some contracts costing $5,000 or more. If your photographer does not own their business and works as part of a larger company, you’ll want an additional $100 to $200 as a tip for their services.

Can You Negotiate With a Wedding Photographer?

You can technically negotiate with a wedding photographer, but it may be seen as rude if done incorrectly. Remember that your wedding photographer isn’t making 100% of their quote. Most are self-employed, meaning at least 30% of their income goes to taxes. An additional 10% to 20% of their quote is likely invested back into their business.

If you plan to negotiate with your wedding photographer, request an itemized breakdown of the costs. You can kindly ask for a deal if you notice a higher charge in a certain area — like the cost of an additional photographer, for example — but be mindful that some photographers may not respond well to negotiation.

Why Do Wedding Photographers Cost So Much?

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive, and photographers account for a sizable amount of your budget. But why? Wedding photographers cost so much because they’re talented at capturing the perfect, unrepeatable moments at your wedding, and it takes time to edit those hundreds of photographs. Most of the cost accounts for the time photographers spend taking and editing your photos. On your wedding day, your photographer spends 6 hours to 12 hours actively taking photos. Then, they spend four weeks to six weeks after the wedding editing each photo.

You’re also paying photographers for their skills. It’s not easy to perfectly capture a moment, but a reliable photographer can do just that. With those skills come professional equipment, which photographers need to pay for. Camera lenses alone cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Are 6 Hours of Wedding Photography Enough?

Depending on your plan, six hours of wedding photography may cover your wedding day from the moment you finish getting ready to the final moments when you hop in the getaway car with your new spouse. But, six hours of wedding photography doesn’t provide much leeway if your wedding goes longer than expected.

You’ll likely want to find a photographer with an eight-hour contract. The extra two hours allows time for your photographer to capture moments while you’re getting ready and any final goodbyes while you’re sent off to your honeymoon. If you have a larger wedding that will likely last longer, you may even request a 10-hour or 12-hour contract.

4. Measure Your Compatibility

compatibility with wedding photographer

Your wedding photographer will act as your shadow throughout your wedding day, so you’ll be spending a lot of time with them. While interviewing, make sure you get along with your wedding photographer. This can help the day remain fun and lighthearted. If you don’t think you’ll get along with someone, simply choose a different photographer.

5. Get the Post-Wedding Details

After discussing the photographer’s process during your wedding day, inquire about what happens afterward. The two questions most couples ask are the following:

How Long Does It Usually Take to Get Wedding Pictures Back?

It will take about four weeks to six weeks to get your photos back from the photographer, depending on the number of photos taken, how many clients the photographer has and how much time the photographer dedicates to editing per day. During your interview stage, ask your photographer about their average turnaround time. You can get a good estimate during your research stage by checking their reviews, too.

Why Do Wedding Photos Take So Long to Get Back?

Photographers are busy people. Remember that they’re running a business, so much of their workday entails:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Answering emails
  • Talking to new clients
  • Visiting venues
  • Marketing to new clients
  • Networking
  • Completing photo sessions

After their business duties are fulfilled, they spend their time editing photos. Keep in mind that you may not be their only client at the time. Before hiring your photographer, ask them how many clients they work with at one time. If they say they work with many clients, you can expect to wait a few weeks longer, unless they have a dedicated team that can handle the influx of photographs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Wedding Photographer

common mistakes to avoid when hiring a wedding photographer

This is likely your first time hiring a wedding photographer. Hiring the wrong photographer could mean sacrificing your wedding photo quality — or even the rights to your photographs. When deciding on a wedding photographer, avoid these common mistakes:

1. Overlooking Their Personality

You’re going to spend a lot of time with your photographer. Your wedding day should be full of happy memories and joyous people, and a sour photographer could dampen the celebratory mood. Along with their personality, you want to determine how professional they are. You don’t want a wedding photographer that acts as a guest to your wedding. You’re paying for their service, and they should be courteous and constantly ready to snap a perfect picture.

During your interviewing stage, you’ll likely naturally know whether or not you click with a wedding photographer. If you can hold a pleasant conversation and even laugh together, you can reasonably expect pleasant encounters on your wedding day. Similarly, if your photographer acts professionally during the interview stage, they’ll likely be professional at your wedding.

2. Skimping on the Budget

Most wedding planners recommend dedicating 12% of your budget to your wedding photographer. For most people, this means $1,500 to $3,000 allocated for wedding photography.

The cost largely depends on the wedding photographer’s experience and package. A standard $1,500 package will get you the basics — six hours of photography, a single skilled photographer and edited photographs. Spending more means you get a more experienced wedding photographer or more frills, like an added photographer, an extra hour or two of photography and potentially canvas prints or an album afterward.

It’s often true that you get what you pay for. It’s better to spend more now than wish you did in the future.

3. Skimming the Contract

Your wedding photographer’s contract shouldn’t be taken lightly. Contracts tell you everything you need to know about your wedding photographer’s services and critical information like:

  • Whether or not you have the rights to your photographs
  • What happens in the event of a cancellation
  • If there are any refunds if the promised services aren’t met

It may seem obvious that you would have power over your wedding photographs. But, if you sign a contract without fully reading it, you may be signing away your rights to your wedding photographs and have to pay separate fees to have a watermark removed from each one.

4. Hiring Photographers at the Last Minute

Hiring a wedding photographer should be one of the first things you do when planning a wedding. Wedding photographers have other clients, which means they could already be booked on your wedding day. Get the wedding photographer you want by starting the hiring process one year to nine months before your wedding date.

Choose a Picture-Perfect Wedding Dress From Alexandra’s Boutique

picture-perfect wedding dress

Congratulations on your engagement! Weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime fairytale moment. If you’re searching for your dream dress, choose one from Alexandra’s Boutique. At Alexandra’s Boutique, we strive to create a memorable experience for our brides. Let us know how we can make this moment special for you by contacting us online. When you’re ready, schedule an appointment with us.