How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: The Complete Guide

If you’re on this page, there’s a good chance that you are at the very beginning stage of your wedding planning, and that means that you’ll need to choose your wedding photographer soon!

It’s super exciting, but also a little bit overwhelming.
Like most of life.

This post gives you everything you need to know about how to make that choice! There are three pretty involved sections, so grab a drink or two and get ready to learn how to look at each photographer’s

1. Self
2. Style
3. Services

Check out that alliteration. Here we go!

1. Self. First we are going to consider how to choose a wedding photographer based on who she is as a person. Her Self.

First of all, no matter how much you like a prospective photographer, she must be professional and accessible. If you send a photographer an email and it takes him more than two or three days to respond, he might not be someone you want to work with. If he doesn’t sign an actual contract with you, that’s a red flag.

Next, your personality should mesh with that of your photographer. You should get along well, and your photographer should be someone that you feel you could be friends with…

Even family. If your family is very quiet, you don’t want a very loud photographer running around with all of you on your wedding day stealing the spotlight. That photographer could be a great person, but if he isn’t going to fit in on your wedding day, there could be a problem. This person is going to be by your side the whole day! Can you imagine feeling like you have to turn your personality up or down ON your wedding day because your photographer is so different from you?

Choose someone who could be a friend, not someone you would want to avoid.

How do you know? Check out the About session on their website! It might be cheesy, and it feels weird for us to write about ourselves to readers we can’t see, but it’s helpful! If you have something in common with a photographer, it’s easier to get to know each other. Here’s mine–so if you and/or your guy also like Harry Potter, food, and the beach, we are on our way to being a great fit!

Moreover, meet in person before booking if at all possible so you can see whether or not you hit it off!

Seriously, there is NO reason not to find a photographer you can get along with. There are SO many; I guarantee one of them will be perfect for you and your fiancé.

Contact me if you’d like to know more about my “self!”

2. Style. This next step is all about judging photographers based on the Style and quality of their work.

First of all, head over to your prospective photographer’s website and decide whether you LIKE her photos. How do they make you feel? If they make you feel awkward or uncomfortable, look elsewhere. If you feel happy, excited, etc., keep going.

Remember that the photos on the website will mostly be the best of the best from that photographer. See if she has a blog or a Facebook page to find a better range of photos. If you see mostly couple portraits in the main portfolio, you’ll want to determine whether you’re happy with how the family photos and reception candids look too.

After all that browsing, you’ll probably have a good idea of whether or not you like the work. If you want to make sure, a few more things you can do:

1. Contact the photographer and ask to see a full wedding day gallery. You’ll see the best alongside the worst. Don’t be too hard on them, but make sure that there are more good photos than bad ones. Would you be satisfied if this was your gallery?

2. Look at a sample of the photos (maybe favorite, least favorite, and in-between) and ask yourself some questions that are more on the technical side. Do the subjects’ eyes look sharp or fuzzy in close-ups? Are the shadows harsh or does the light seem pretty? Are skin tones natural-looking or are they overly orange, green, purple, or blue? Do you see unwanted details or distractions in the photos such as bra straps or skin blemishes? Can you see all important details in the photos or are there large areas that are completely black or white? Does the horizon line of the photo look straight?

If you like the photos and the quality is good, your next step is to determine whether you like the photographer’s photographic process and style.

Does the photographer only take posed photos? Only candids? Or a mix?

{Words like “classic,” “fine art portraits,” and “traditional” mean posed while “lifestyle,” “photojournalistic,” and “documentary” mean candid.}

Does she ensure that each photo is properly edited and blemish free?

Does she have plenty of time to devote to each bride or does she accept 100+ weddings per year?

Why does she do what she does?

And which of these things are important to YOU?

You might have learned a few of these things in the About section, but you also might have to ask. I’ve included a separate page on my website to explain my vision and process, which you can find here.

If a photographer’s personality as well as her work AND the reasons behind it resonate with you, there’s a good chance you’re a great fit for each other.

Contact me if you want to know more about my style.

3. Services. You’ve made it to step 3! Hang in there because it’s a lengthy one. The last thing is deciding whether a photographer’s price and Services are what you want.

This is the area where you might be making compromises. Trust me when I tell you that it’s better to spend a little more or be flexible with the elements in a package than to settle for a photographer whose work you don’t like or with whom you don’t get along well.

But if you LOVE multiple photographers, the price might be the deciding factor.

So what kind of services do you want to look for?

1. Coverage for the majority of your wedding day. If you’re planning for your wedding to really be a party, or if you’ll be traveling from your ceremony venue to your reception location, you probably want a photographer who offers an unlimited package so that you don’t have to worry about running out of time. If you’re only having a short ceremony and a few guests, look for an elopement package or something that includes fewer than 8 hours.

8 hours is pretty average, but your photographer will be glad to help you determine how many hours you will need!

2. Print rights to the photos. It’s not fair to ask a photographer for FULL copyrights, because that’s like asking her to act like she never even took the pictures. Print rights mean that you can download and print the photos as much as you like and share them freely as long as you give credit to the photographer. You just can’t SELL them. That makes sense, right? On the other hand, if you’re not given print rights, you’ll have to choose your favorite photos and purchase them separately, which is a real downer, especially if you weren’t planning on that.

Also ask your photographer how many edited photos you can expect to receive. It might be a wide range, like 400 to 1000, but if you want to capture the full story of your wedding day, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting more than 300 photos. 60-100 photos per hour is a pretty good rule of thumb. And they should all be edited.

3. Extras that add value. You might think that you only need the coverage and a gallery, but extras are really very important. Think engagement session, bridal session, album, session styling, second photographer, etc. These are the things that will make your experience shine and give you the most bang for your buck. You can contact me to learn more about them, but the main thing to remember is that more extras=better value.

Tip: Look at your package on your photographer’s price list and add up how much it would cost if you purchased everything separately. You’ll see how many amazing bonuses you’re getting by choosing that package!

Often when you look at packages you’ll also see prices. Here are mine. If you don’t see a price list on a photographer’s website {hint: investment is another word for pricing}, contact her and ask. But be intentional about it because sometimes we get this email:

hey wat u charge

We want to know a little about you, about your wedding, about why you’re asking for these prices. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself a little just in case the photographer has another inquiry for your wedding date. You might just get more attention if it’s already clear that we’re a great fit!

When you see the prices, don’t dismiss anyone based on sticker shock. You get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend $10,000 on your wedding photography when your budget is $3000. It just means that you shouldn’t be looking for a price of $800 when your budget is $3000.

When you’re thinking about your budget and considering whether you need to move things around, remember: You’ll eat the food, wear the dress, dance to the DJ and look at the beautiful flowers. But when you’re 70 and your grandkids ask what your wedding was like, it’ll be the photographs that get pulled from the shelf. When you’re having a rough marriage day and lock yourself in the bedroom, it’ll be the photographs that will remind you how much you love him. When you lose a loved one down the road and need to see their face again, it’ll be the photographs that are going to comfort you and make you smile.

I might be biased, but photography has the most value because it lasts your whole life.

If you’ve found a photographer who is a good fit for you based on personality, process, and price, you’ve found your photographer! If you can go ahead and book, do it now so that the date and current prices will be YOURS!

Contact me if you want to know more about my services or if you’d like some recommendations about who might be a great fit for you. 

Ready to book? Click here to start the process!