Booking a Wedding Photographer

You are engaged and you’re going through your wedding checklist. You get to the part where you need to book a wedding photographer. Sounds straightforward. After a quick search, you see a giant list of potential prospects.

Great, now what? 

How to narrow your search and make a list of the best photographers

There are a lot of options out there. You could visit sites like Wedding Wire, Zola or The Knot using their search tools to help you filter choices, ask your friends or post in a community forum. Here are some tips to help you create a list of photographers to review and possibly contact.

Ask your venue for a recommendation list

If you’ve already chosen your venue or are seriously considering a venue, ask them for a wedding photographer recommendation list. It’s definitely not a requirement for them to have worked at your location, but it can be a perk to have a photographer familiar with all the perfect spots around the property. You can also search their website for galleries that feature your venue, if possible.

Check for pricing on their website

Most photographers will list their starting rates directly on their website. This is a good starting point to understand if it will fit your budget. They may have a page dedicated to pricing or it may be included on their individual service pages. If a budget is important to stick to, then I’d use this to rank your list.

How to review your list of photographers for quality

Now that you have your list of photographers, let’s get into the nitty gritty. By this point, you’ve probably explored some of their galleries to see if it matches your style, so here’s how to view their galleries from a photographer’s point of view to determine if they’re going to deliver the same value for you as what you see online.

Look for consistency across their galleries

There should be an obvious editing style in their portfolio. If not, chances are they may be outsourcing photographers or not involved in photographing all weddings in their portfolio, which is not going to guarantee what you see in one gallery will be the same for your wedding. When interviewing the photographer, you can ask if the person who shot the gallery you love is the photographer you’re booking - especially when booking with a company.

Note the use of filters and editing style

Plenty of photographers will lean on over-editing, filters or better yet, auto-apply one filter across all photos - giving you inconsistent brightness or color grading. If you have the opportunity to review an entire gallery of one wedding, not just the featured photos, it’ll give you the answer to this question. I would look for the natural quality of the moment. Bumping up or darkening the brightness may vary depending on the mood of the wedding, but your goal should be as close to “real life” as possible.

Find examples of extreme lighting conditions

Nighttime receptions. Dimly-lit indoor spaces. Bright outdoor spaces (beach weddings, I’m talking to you!). If your wedding location falls into any of these categories, you’ll want a photographer with the experience and equipment to handle it. Nothing is worse than getting grainy or overexposed images back because the lighting couldn’t be captured properly. See if the photographer has some galleries that closely resemble your location.

What to expect from your photographer

So, your list is ready and you want to start inquiring. There are a few things to keep in mind as you interview your photographer.

Responding timely to your inquiry

While a photographer may be busy running their business, they should have a system in place to promptly handle your inquiry. For most photographers, 24 hours is a fair amount of time to reply to your email or phone call. I like to respond within a few hours, especially if it’s during the day. Pay attention to how long it takes them to respond to your inquiry. This will probably tell you how well the communication will be throughout the process.

A compatible personality 

Seems silly to mention, but pretend it’s like a first date. Sparks should fly and you should be able to connect with your photographer. After all, you need to feel comfortable with this person taking your photograph on one of the most emotional and vulnerable days of your life. You’ll almost want them to feel like they’re one of your friends, so that you can open up to them.

Being transparent and clear about pricing

If you need to stick to a budget, then it’s important as you cover pricing, to have their site or pricing sheet pulled up, so that you can compare. If you haven’t seen their prices yet, I would ask them to send you their pricing sheet after the call. When you’re ready to book, they should send you a quote with the final amount and any deposit requirements clearly outlined.

There are plenty of things to consider when choosing your wedding photographer:

  • To narrow your search, you can focus on whether they are in proximity to your wedding venue or if they have experience photographing at the location. Look for specific galleries in their portfolio.
  • Look for quality in their photos, paying special attention to the use of filters. If your wedding is outside or at night, see if you can find examples showcasing how they’ve handled those lighting conditions.
  • Make sure they are responding to you in an appropriate amount of time, that they’ve made pricing crystal clear and that you feel comfortable when talking to them.

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