You’ve found your perfect dress with The Bridal Collection but now you need to find the perfect wedding photographer. Choosing a wedding photographer can be challenging and a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been a part of a wedding or don’t have close friends who can advise you. So, here is a step by step guide created by Denver, Colorado wedding photographer, Emmy Gaines of Celebrate Again, on how to choose a wedding photographer and find the best fit for you.
1. PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE
The best way to begin sorting through photographers is to start by finding a photographer with a style that you like and want. A photographer’s style comes out in different ways.
- Style in Editing
- Fine Art: colors look more like film photography or are true film photography, but include a lot of white and bright tones
- High Contrast: colors are rich, but can be more dark and moody
- Vintage: washed out, colors are more sepia-toned and soft, blue skies will often be lost
- Style in Shooting
- Photojournalistic: These photographers generally document a wedding as a journalist would document a story. They stay behind the scenes and capture the moments, they typically do not interrupt the flow of an event. They may also not offer any posed photos including family photos.
- Traditional: These photographers approach wedding photography as capturing the moment at all costs. They will walk down the center of the aisle to get the right shot, stand in the middle of the dance floor, they are there to capture all the typical moments you want captured. They will do posed photos that are similar to poses you’ve seen in your parents’ or family members’ wedding photos.
- Mixture: These photographers shoot in a photojournalistic style capturing natural moments while making sure to also capture the important moments. These photographers also do posed photos, but help subjects achieve these poses by helping them arrive at them naturally instead of just putting them in place and having them hold the pose. These photographers will give actions and prompts to help subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera. Posed photos probably won’t seem so stiff and inauthentic, but more natural and candid while still looking elegant.
2. ADDITIONAL SERVICES
You’ll want to think about the services you need from your wedding photographer. Below are common services you will want to ask about or look for from your photographer.
- Second Photographer
- Having a second photographer will provide different angles and help your photographer guarantee they get all the shots.
- Equipment fails, people are human and miss things, so having two photographers can make sure every moment is covered.
- Two photographers means you can get more photos at once – one photographer can be with the bride while the girls get ready and the other with the groom and the guys.
- A Photo Booth
- Advanced Retouching
- Some people want more advanced retouching on their photos to remove every blemish and undesirable features.
3. ORDERING PRODUCTS
Think about the products you will want from your photographer. Keep in mind you usually don’t have to purchase all of these up front, but may want to order them down the road. Make sure to ask about ordering later, as every photographer has different policies.
Digital Files Only
Most people don’t look at their wedding photos if they stay hidden away on a computer file, CD or flash drive.
Do you want your digital image files to be able to be physically printed again or do you just want digital files to share online and use on electronic devices?
How big will you want your images to be able to be printed? (file and resolution size factor into this)
- Look at album samples, there are so many different styles and varying levels of quality out there. Know what you are paying for by asking about how long their albums last.
- Ask to see samples if you want prints. Most professional photographers print professional quality prints, not easily accessible to the public because they are printed through printing labs that use the high tech or old school chemical methods of printing photos (there is a substantial difference in quality between a professional lab and your neighborhood Walgreens!).
- If a photographer shows you a sample that looks like a photo you could have printed yourself at a chain store or on a home printer, they are probably charging you for going to the same places you could go yourself.
4. SET YOUR BUDGET
Estimate that your photographer will likely cost about 12% of your wedding budget. Keep in mind that most photographers spend 60+ hours on one wedding and there are costs involved in them running their business. As with many other industries, it is in true in photography that you typically get what you pay for, so newer photographers may charge less because they are looking to gain more experience. Alternatively, more seasoned photographers may have higher fees because they have more experience and are only able to take on a limited amount of weddings per year because they are in higher demand. It is not uncommon for these photographers to book one and a half to two years in advance. Some typical budgets are as follows:
5. RESEARCH PHOTOGRAPHERS
Spend time on photographers’ websites. Look at their blog posts, see how often they post recent (and real!) weddings, read reviews, and ask friends and other wedding vendors for referrals.
Make a list of your favorites and contact them. The easiest way, of course, is e-mail, but some photographers have contact forms on their websites that you can fill out, too. Ask about their style, the products and services you want and prices for their packages.
You can easily filter through responses by crossing off the photographers from your list that don’t match the style you want, don’t offer the products or services you need, whose price ranges aren’t in your budget, or those who don’t respond promptly (if you haven’t heard back in roughly three business days, it may be an indicator to move on). Don’t write off the photographers who are hesitant to give you a precise quote. Most of these photographers customize their packages to uniquely fit your exact needs, so they may tweak their pricing accordingly.
6. INTERVIEW YOUR SELECTIONS
Most photographers can do this over the phone, in person or via video chat. Bring questions to ask to the interview.
- Ask if they have prior experience with your particular venue and even the time of day in which your wedding will occur, especially if you’re planning an evening wedding or one inside a church. Don’t fret if the photographer has never worked in your venue previously, as many experienced photographers are willing to visit a new venue ahead of time to get a sense of the space and lighting.
If you plan to hire a videographer, ask if the photographer has experience working with one and if they have any concerns, requirements or limitations with working alongside a videographer.
Ask about how involved they get in editing photos. Some photographers will only do minimal editing (adjust exposures and colors), while others will remove every last stray hair. Still others have methods that lie somewhere in-between.
Ask about their digital files:
What resolution they deliver your wedding digital images in? If they don’t know what resolution is, you may be wary that they aren’t professional even if they claim to be. All professional photographers will know that they need to deliver print quality digital image files in at least 240-300 dpi or higher.
How big you can print the photos after? If they don’t know this answer, you can be sure they aren’t truly a professional photographer.
Do they provide photos ready for the web? More experienced and knowledgeable photographers will deliver photos ready for the web (which are formatted differently than a photo that will be printed). The digital image files that are okay to print are typically very large files and can take up a lot of space on your devices and may be too large to upload for sharing online. If you plan to upload your photos to devices or share online, you’ll want your photographer to give you web-sized, sharp digital photos (if too small or poorly formatted, they can appear pixelated or blurry).
Ask if you can have input on the specific photos you want. Some photographers will simply show up and shoot a wedding while others will plan out specific shots or requests with you.
Make sure to ask who will actually be there to shoot your wedding. Many companies contract out photographers to photograph your wedding, so the photos you may see in a portfolio may not be the photographer you get for your wedding.
7. REVIEW OPTIONS
After interviews, discuss details with your spouse-to-be and/or people investing in your wedding. Consider the following when reviewing your finalists:
Did you feel comfortable with the photographer? During most weddings, the photographer will be with the bride and groom majority of the day, so having a photographer who helps you relax is so important. While helping you stay relaxed isn’t entirely their job, it is helpful to feel comfortable with them.
Do you like their style?
Do they provide all the services you need?
Are they a legitimate professional photographer, and if they aren’t, are you ok with that?
Do they have the experience to photograph your particular wedding well? (Keep in mind photographers who have no experience shooting an indoor evening wedding may not do a great job shooting your wedding if they’ve only photographed outdoor sunny weddings).
8. DECIDE ON A PHOTOGRAPHER
Decide on your favorite photographer!
Finally, finalize your wedding date with your photographer and sign a photography contract.
Celebrate Again is team Emmy and Brittany, joy-filled photographers curating weddings with a touch of whimsy since 2009. Head over to our website to learn more about working with us.