Wedding Planning

How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

After the hundreds of hours spent planning and preparing for your wedding, the actual day itself will likely go by in a total whirlwind. Once the I-do’s have been said and done, you’ll be swept away celebrating with friends and family, making speeches, cake cutting, and dancing like there’s no tomorrow!

With all the excitement of the big day, it’s hard to find a spare five minutes to stop and soak up every little detail. This is why your wedding photos are so important. While the day might fly by quickly, your photos are going to be the lasting memories of an amazing day that you’ll treasure forever.

With this in mind, choosing your wedding photographer is kind of a big deal. With hundreds of wedding photographers to choose from, how do you find the photographer whose style will capture your big day exactly as you’d hoped? Not to mention someone that you and your partner will be able to connect with and feel totally comfortable around?

Your wedding photographer should be one of the most carefully researched suppliers you book for your big day. Making sure you have an amazing wedding photographer to capture every carefully planned detail and intimate moment is one of the best investments you’ll make.

If this is starting to sound like an overwhelming task, don’t stress. We’ve compiled some helpful tips to make sure you choose the perfect wedding photographer like a pro!

how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer
Photography: Jacquelyn Hayward Photography
Floral design: Soil and Stem

Define your photography style

First things first – you need to decide exactly what you’re looking for in a photographer before you go any further! In today’s modern world, it’s not just as simple as clicking the shutter button. There are many different styles of photography, with certain photographers that specialise in each one.

Some of the most popular wedding photography styles to choose from include:

  • Fine art: this photography style is soft, romantic and filled with light. Many fine art photographers will shoot using film, or a mix of film and digital.
  • Traditional: usually heavily posed, portrait style shots. Most traditional photographers will also airbrush and edit your images to give a very polished end result. Think about the imagery you see in glossy, high-end wedding magazines.
  • Documentary: a strong focus on capturing spontaneous, candid moments and emotions and telling the story of your day, as opposed to staged shots. There will be little interference from the photographer, in fact, you might not even notice them for the whole day!

If you’re not entirely sure which photography style resonates with you, jump over to your Pinterest wedding boards. See if you can identify a common thread with the photos you have already saved. It’s likely you’ve been leaning towards a particular photography style without even realising it!

When it comes to the style of photography, stop and think about what is important to you both. Do you want beautiful, slightly glamorous and posed shots of you as a couple? Or would you prefer candid, behind-the-scenes snaps? Do you want the end result to be flawlessly airbrushed, or totally raw and natural?

If you have already defined your wedding vision, you should have a general idea of the kind of look and feel you’d like your wedding photos to represent, so this is usually a good place to start.

how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer
Photography: Erich McVey

Define your photography requirements

Once you’ve decided on your ideal photography style, you’ll also want to figure out exactly which aspects of your day you want to be captured professionally. Most photographers will offer different packages based on the hours required, so try to identify exactly what you need (and what you don’t!).

Visualise your day from start to finish and try to identify which areas you definitely want to be covered. This could include:

  • Bride and bridal party getting ready
  • Groom and groomsmen getting ready
  • Venue location shots
  • Detailed decor shots – like your table settings, floral arrangements, seating chart.
  • Bridal party transport to the venue
  • First look
  • Wedding ceremony
  • Bride and groom portraits
  • Bridal party portraits
  • Family portraits
  • Pre-dinner drinks
  • Dinner
  • Dancing

Keep in mind too that if you have a long list of detailed shots you want to be captured, your photographer may need to organise a second shooter. For example, if you want a shot of you walking down the aisle, along with a photo of your partner’s face when he sees you for the first time – you can see how that would be a little tricky for one person to be capturing both of these moments simultaneously! It goes without saying that the more coverage you need and and the more detail you request, the more hours you will need to pay for your photographer.

how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer
Photography: Jon Cu

Do the research

Now that you know exactly what you want in your wedding photographer, it’s time to do the research!

Referrals are a great place to start. If you have friends or family whose wedding photos you absolutely adored, ask for their recommendations! It can also be helpful to gather referrals from any vendors who you have already booked, like your venue or your wedding planner. It’s likely they have worked alongside many different photographers in the past and can help you narrow down your search.

Alternatively, hop onto social media or a search engine and start hunting for photographers in your local area. All good photographers will have an easily accessible online portfolio that you can browse through to get a sense of their work. If they have a blog, this is a great indication to see how they capture a wedding from beginning to end.

Once you have found a selection of wedding photographers that align with your style, get in touch for a copy of their packages and availability on your wedding date. Keep in mind that great photographers can book out well in advance, so try to get this organised at the 12 to 10-month mark on your wedding planning timeline. (link to wedding planning timeline)

As with anything, the best wedding photographers are going to be more expensive due to their level of experience and quality of work. Our top tip: an amazing wedding photographer is absolutely worth the investment when you receive those everlasting mementoes of your big day.

how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer
Photography: Taylor & Porter

Meet in person

Your wedding photographer is going to be an integral part of your big day, so make sure you meet them face to face where possible! You’ll want to see how well you get along and if you and your partner can form a genuine connection with them.

Keep in mind that your wedding photographer is going to be present for some pretty intimate moments, so it goes without saying that you want to feel relaxed and comfortable. If you feel awkward or uncomfortable around your photographer, this will definitely come across in your photos.

When you meet with your wedding photographer for the first time, it’s a good idea to ask some important questions upfront so that you have a clear understanding of how they work and the expectations of both parties.

You’ll definitely want to know the following:

  • Are you available on my wedding date and how far in advance should I book with you?
  • What kind of deposit is required to secure the booking?
  • What kind of packages do you have available? What would you recommend based on my requirements?
  • How would you describe your photography style?
  • How do you like to work on the day – discreet, or very present?
  • Will you have an assistant or second shooter?
  • Have you shot at our wedding venue before, and if not, will you check it out prior to the day to location scout and identify any lighting issues?
  • Do you shoot in digital or film?
  • If I prepare a shot list of images required, will you be able to work with this?
  • What is your general turnaround time for receiving the photos after the wedding? How will they be sent?
  • How many images will we receive?
  • Do you offer photo albums, and is this an additional cost?
  • Do you have a backup photographer in case you are unable to shoot on the day? If so, can we view a sample of their work?
  • Have you shot any weddings similar to ours in terms of style and guest numbers?
  • Will you colour correct our photos?
  • What kind of equipment do you use? Do you have a backup?
  • Do you have all of the necessary insurances required?
  • What information do you need from us before the big day?
  • Do you have any testimonials from past clients?

If your photographer can confidently answer the above questions, you can feel comfortable that they are a true professional. Don’t forget to download our helpful printable too, so you can take it along to your meeting and tick each question off as you go!

how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer
Photography: Erich McVey

Consider an engagement shoot

Wedding photography is definitely an important investment, so if you are still unsure about locking in a particular wedding photographer then consider trialling them with an engagement shoot first.

Not only will you receive a beautiful copy of engagement photos to share with your family and friends, but it’s the best way to see how you all work together. It gives you the opportunity to get to know each other and form a connection before the wedding, so when the big day does roll around they will feel like more like a friend and less like a stranger!

If you’re a little camera shy and feel nervous or awkward in front of the lens, you can also use your engagement shoot as a way to build up your confidence and learn to relax. Practice makes perfect after all!

Be honest and have fun

At the end of the day, the best way to find your perfect wedding photographer is just to be honest! Let them know what you’re expecting, what you might be nervous about, what you like and what you don’t like. The right wedding photographer will be able to answer all of your questions, make recommendations, and help you feel at ease and totally relaxed when it comes to the big day.

Choosing your wedding photographer isn’t a task to be taken lightly, but using the helpful tips above will allow you to find a photographer that is not only talented, but someone you can really connect with. Just remember to take a little bit of time to figure out your requirements first and do the research. You’ll thank us later when you receive those beautiful images to treasure forever!