Congrats on your engagement! I’m sure you have a million ideas rushing through your head and you’re now on the hunt for the best vendors to make your wedding day happen just as you want it! One of the first things I would think about as a bride-to-be is, who is going to capture your big day?
Your wedding day will be wonderful and magical, and you want to preserve those memories and that important step in your relationship. Your wedding photos are what you will have to hold and look back on for years to come, so you want to make sure you book a photographer that fits well with you as a couple!
Here are my tips on how to book the best wedding photographer for you:
01. Do your research!
Look through different photographer’s websites and social media to get an idea of what their work is like. What is their style? What kind of weddings do they usually photograph? Are they usually rustic and low key, or classic and timeless? What does their website look like (this may give you a clue to what their style is like)? Do you have a similar style to this wedding photographer? What do their social media platforms look like? What is included in their wedding package? What have past clients said about them? The list of questions goes on and on….
Ask your photographer a lot of questions! You want to make sure you are both on the same page about what you are going to get out of this relationship. Trust me, your photographer wants to make sure you are 100% satisfied with their products and services, and most importantly they want you to be happy and have a wonderful experience.
02. What kind of style do you like?
- I am describing these styles from my perspective, so just keep that in mind! Also, everyone has their preferences for certain styles…so no given one is not right or wrong…they’re all just different!
Film or Digital – Film and digital photographers have a very different look and also work differently. Flip through photographers websites and start to recognize what you like. If you keep getting drawn to film photographers, then maybe that is the way to go for you! If you find that you like digital work better, then go that route! Just start to refine what it is you like about the images and make sure you pick the appropriate medium (film vs. digital) for you.
Fine Art – These images will have a more artistic approach to them. While they will still reflect reality, the images will be more dramatic and gorgeous. Often fine art photographers are film photographers as well. These images tend to be dreamier and have a very soft feeling to them.
Documentary – These images tend to capture the moments of the wedding day as they are happening more. There are more spontaneous images and less things are styled. You would rarely see people staring into a camera for this type of style. Together all the moments tell a story. (Now fine art photographers can also have a documentary sort of style as well, they are not mutually exclusive.)
Moody and Dark – This kind of a newer style of photography and has rich and dramatic images. If you are looking for a more artistic and different perspective to tell your wedding day, this may be for you. If you love bright and bold colors, then the moody style is probably not for you.
Traditional – Captures the staples of a wedding day. You can expect some posed photos and family portraits and also a focus on details that are important to you.
- Some photographers (and most) I think have a mixture of these styles, so just look through different styles and see what you like! Start to recognize why it is you like about some images and why you don’t like others.
02. Meet with potential wedding photographers
I believe that picking your wedding photographer should not be done in isolation looking at websites alone. Set up a time to meet with your top choices in person. By doing this this allows you to see if your personalities match and if they would be a good fit for your wedding day. This is key! You will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than any other person (more than your future spouse), so you want to make sure you really like them! You want to feel comfortable around this person. You’re probably going to be changing, crying, laughing, and everything else in front of this person.
At this meeting, be prepared to talk about your wedding. Tell your photographer what you are looking for. Share details about your wedding party, your venue, your style, and what you envision for your photos. Again, communication is key! You want to make sure you are a good fit for each other and are on the same page.
03. Ask about your rights
Different wedding photographers have different contracts. Some photographers own the rights to all the photos taken at the wedding day and can use them promotionally (on their website or blog or submit them for publication in wedding magazines, etc.). Some photographers let you use the images however you’d like (but please do give your photographers proper credit when sharing images). Regardless of what their contract says, just make sure you understand the contract and understand what you CAN and CANNOT do with your wedding images.
04. Ask about what comes in the wedding photography package
Some photographers have multiple wedding packages where you can add on additional items if wanted (engagement session, bridal session, etc.) and some photographers have one total wedding package. Some photographers include a variety of coverage in their wedding packages and some do not. Just be sure that you understand what you are getting in your wedding package before you sign a contract.
I would think about the following (Goodness this list is longer than expected…):
- Is an engagement session included? If not, what is the cost of adding one on?
- How long is a typical engagement session? How many images could I expect to get from this?
- Is a bridal session included? If not, what is the cost of adding one on?
- How long is a typical bridal session? How many images could I expect to get from this?
- Do they cover your rehearsal dinner? Do you want your rehearsal dinner covered?
- How many hours will they be there on your wedding day? Think about how many hours your photographer needs to be there to capture all your getting ready time, details, ceremony, family portraits, bride and groom portraits, cocktail hour, reception, and exit.
- How many images should you expect to receive of your wedding?
- How will my images be delivered to me? Do I have the rights to download and share these images?
- Is a wedding album included in the package? Are you interested in a wedding album?
- How do you get prints made?
- Will there be a second shooter (second photographer) there as well to help capture your wedding day?
The list can continue on, but I’ll stop there! I think you can get the idea that a LOT goes into your wedding photography package. So think about what is important to you and what photographer and package best suites your needs.
05. Ask your photographer if you can see a full gallery of a wedding or two
Often photographers post a few images in their portfolio of a given wedding or share a few images on social media. While I am sure those images are gorgeous, this does not give you a sense of what a total wedding day full of pictures looks like. You want to know what to expect after your big day is over! Most photographers would be more than happy to send you over a gallery to look at full of wedding photos. This will give you a better idea of what you’ll get for your wedding photos.
06. Have fun!
It’s your wedding day! Enjoy yourself and celebrate. You know you did a lot of research to hire the right photographer so trust their judgement on your wedding day. Worry about spending time with your loved ones and your new spouse!