5 Things to Look for in a Wedding Photographer
Some product links are affiliate links but all are where I make my gear purchases. You can also see just the product list here.
Thanks to Instagram, blogs and portfolio websites, it’s easier than ever for photographers to share their work. These days, photographers aren't limited by physical albums and prints, instead we can share our latest passion projects or most recent shoots instantaneously.
If you’re hunting for a wedding photographer, first look for someone that fits your style. From the highly stylized and posed to the soft and natural, there’s a huge range of wedding photography styles out there and photographers that are drawn to those styles. If you’re not sure what style you like, spend a bit of time just looking around Instagram and Pinterest. Most legitimate photographers share huge swaths of their work online for you to peruse.
Personally, prior to a wedding, I always ask couples to put together 15-30 images that resonate with them so I’m confident that I understand the style they're hoping to achieve. I always work to key in on exactly what it is that a couple is most excited about.
Once you’ve found the style that sends you off daydreaming about your perfect wedding photos, you can start hunting around for photographers. Aside from style, take a few moments to consider if there are any technical capabilities you want your photographer to be particularly proficient in. If your wedding is late in the day or during winter, you’ll want to be sure to find someone that’s comfortable in low light situations. If film photography feels timeless and classic to you, you’ll want to look for photographers that shoot on film (or ask for a second photographer that specializes in film photography).
While there are A LOT of wedding photographers to choose from, there are peak wedding times so if you feel strongly about working with someone make sure to check if they're available and lock in your date. Don't be surprised if your favorite photographer is completely booked for summer next year! That said, if they are available and you're not quite ready to commit, some photographers will give you a heads up if they are receiving other inquiries for your date if requested.
From hair and makeup in the morning, to the last toast of the evening, your wedding day is an extraordinarily special moment and your photographer will be there every step of the way. Make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable around and have a good rapport with. This will result in better images along the way. If you’re laughing, smiling and comfortable the photos will reflect that happiness and joy.
I’m a realist so won't tell you to blow your entire wedding budget on a photographer just because you absolutely LOVE their images. That said, your wedding photos will be one of the main mementos of your wedding day so I would caution against using price as your primary deciding factor and going with the least expensive option (unless they also happen to be awesome and fit your style). Instead, put together a list of 4 or 5 photographers you would be happy with before inquiring about price points. Most likely, some will be in your range. If all of them are more expensive than you budgeted for initially, perhaps reevaluate if you have allocated enough for photography.
If a photographer isn’t available or is too expensive, be sure ask them for recommendations or thoughts about what to look for. I maintain a list of 4-5 wedding photographers that I recommend when I’m busy and I have a list of 20-30 wedding photographers that have styles and specialties that I reference when someone is clearly looking for something specific that I don’t specialize in.