Choosing a Photographer

Choosing a photographer is one of the most important wedding decisions you’ll make. After the cake has been cut, the band has packed up and the guests have gone home, photographs will serve as a reminder of all the amazing details you planned and the wonderful moments you experienced on your wedding day. Here are some suggestions to help guide you through the process of finding a great photographer who will capture those details and moments perfectly.

Start your search early. Many photographers book a year in advance, so once you’ve chosen your date and your venue, make sure finding a photographer is high on your list of priorities. There are tons of great wedding photographers out there and many ways to find them. Get recommendations from friends or family members who have recently gotten married and be sure to look through their wedding photos. If you’ve booked any other vendors for your wedding, ask them for suggestions. Scour the internet. Many wedding websites have directories of photographers in your area. WeddingWire is a great resource for information about wedding photographers and reviews from their previous clients. Bridal magazines often feature local wedding photographers as well.

Check out the blogs and websites of any photographers you come across. This is a great way to learn a little more about them, get a feel for their pricing and see several examples of their work. It’s also a great way to figure out what style of photography you’re looking for. Are you drawn to traditional portraiture, artistic images or a more photojournalistic approach? Do you prefer color photographs or black and white? Do you find yourself leaning towards a photographer who uses a mix of techniques? Answering these types of questions will help focus your search.

Contact the photographers you’re considering to determine their availability for your wedding and to request more detailed information about their pricing and packages. Once availability is established, review and compare their costs and services. While great wedding photographs can seem priceless, we all have a limit when it comes to finances. It is often recommended that you spend around 10% of your budget on photography, but this can vary. It is important not only to figure out how much you can realistically spend, but what you’re hoping to get for that price. Photographers usually have a variety of packages, some of which may be completely customizable. Options may include different hours of coverage, a second shooter to take additional photographs, proofs, online galleries, a DVD of all your images, albums for you and your family, slide shows or even photo booths for your reception. Decide which offerings are important to you and which you’d be willing to cut.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to available photographers who meet your style, budget and package requirements, try to set up a few meetings. Meeting in person is ideal, but phone meetings can be helpful too. Make sure you bring a list of important questions with you. Check out this printable checklist from Shutterfly or this detailed list of questions from Here Comes the Guide for ideas.

Use your meetings to get a feel for each photographer's personality. Your photographer will be with you every step of the way on your wedding day and his or her personality can have a huge impact on your experience. It's important that you can communicate well with each other. Having a good rapport with your photographer will make for better pictures.

Discuss their approach to photographing weddings. Find out how often you’ll meet during the planning process and how much direction they’ll give on the wedding day. Whatever the answers to these questions might be, make sure you are comfortable with them. Tell prospective photographers about what you have planned so far. Working out the timing and details of your day will give you a better idea of how much coverage you’ll need and which packages will work the best for you.

Be sure to look at complete wedding albums. Even if you’ve looked at every photo on a photographer’s blog, it is important to see photographs of a wedding from start to finish. This will give you a more comprehensive look at a photographer’s work and provide insight into what your final product might look like. Make sure the style and quality you fell in love with on a photographer’s blog still holds up in the albums.

Ask prospective photographers about their experience and how long they’ve been shooting weddings. Although newer photographers can still take amazing photographs, you want to make sure the person you choose knows exactly what to do on your wedding day. Find out about the type of equipment they use and how much back up equipment they have. Checking that they have liability insurance is important as many wedding venues require it. It’s also helpful to make sure that any photographer you're considering has a network of professionals that he or she can count on to fill in during an emergency.

Once you think you’ve found the right photographer, be sure to review a copy of his or her contract and make sure everything you need is in writing. Then you’ll be ready to sign the dotted line, submit your deposit and cross “Choosing a photographer” off your to-do list!


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