Bias aside, choosing a wedding photographer can be one of the most important vendor choices you’ll make in the planning process. Why? For starters, your wedding photos are often the only tangible documentation of your day and the memories, so you want to make sure you choose a photographer whose style matches your vision. Not all photographers are the same (nor should they be), and one person’s style can be vastly different from the other! I know I am not the photographer for everyone, and that is okay! I want all couples to work with a photographer that fits their needs best, even if that isn’t me! There is a photographer out there that fits your style and budget!
Another thing to consider: your photographer will pretty much spend the whole day with or near you. For many couples it’s important to have a photographer whose personality and presence vibes with theirs to maintain an ideal wedding day environment! If you’re someone who has a more reserved personality and you want a very low-key environment it might not be the best fit to have a photographer who is incredibly high energy. That being said, it might not matter to you either way and that’s okay too!
I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed when choosing a photographer for my own wedding. There were so many different styles, moods and people to choose from. I think as soon-to-be-wed folks there can be an impulse to start searching and sending inquiries as soon as possible. Unfortunately I think the wedding industry has sort of pushed that panic mentality onto couples in a post COVID cancellation and reschedule world.
But I’m here to encourage you to pump the breaks for a moment!
I think before you start searching the internet and social media for photographers, it can be advantageous and time saving to reflect on what you are looking for in a wedding photographer. What do you want your wedding photos to look and feel like? What services and offering are important to you? What is your photography budget?
Being intentional with your wedding planning always comes down to reflecting on and asking yourself the right questions first before setting plans into motion. Choosing the right photographer starts with figuring out what/who the “right photographer” really is for you. I recommend starting with the following questions:
Figuring out your ideal wedding photography style has a few different general components to it: coloring, editing style, posing style and mood. I’ve had a few couples say to me during booking calls that when they look at photos they can’t quite describe what it is that they like or dislike, they just get an instinctual feeling about it. That’s great! But it can be helpful to have some general terminology to make searching and exploring easier for you. So here are some wedding photography styles and related words to think about (For context, I’ve starred words I use for my own photography!):
Okay but how do you decide which of these styles you like? As cliche as it sounds, I’d head to Pinterest. In this digital age we have an incredibly high level of access to wedding photos and that can be really helpful when used intentionally. If you’ve been planning your wedding on a Pinterest board since before you were even engaged you might already have a good idea of what types of photos you like. If you haven’t and you’re blindly searching for examples of what you want, it can be a lot to take in. So, I’d suggest using some of the aforementioned styling terminology as search terms! Try things like “timeless wedding photography” or “candid and true color wedding photography” and see what results, if any, catch your eye.
It’s okay to like different styles! Once you’ve started to find examples of the work you like you can start to pick out what it is you do and don’t like about certain photos. An important thing to remember though is that your wedding photos won’t ever look exactly like someone else’s. Your day will be unique to you so you’ll never find a perfect example of what your wedding photos will look like. Even still, finding the photography style that aligns with your vision is still important in ensuring your memories are preserved the way you want them to be!
This next set of questions doesn’t drift too far from the first but instead of thinking about style we are focusing on types of photos that you want. Reflecting on what moments you are most excited for or are most important to you is a great exercise for wedding planning in general. I know it might feel too early to think about this stuff so early on in the planning process. But I think it’s important to consider the exact kinds of photos you might want before you choose a photographer to make sure you are choosing someone who’s approach fits the type of photos you want. Different photographers approach wedding days differently – if details are important to you, you wouldn’t want to choose someone who doesn’t really photograph details, right?
Ah yes; one of the less fun conversations to have when planning for a wedding or elopement. Why is it that money is often a tough topic to navigate? Wedding photography is definitely an investment and as a wedding photographer myself I obviously believe in the value of a wedding photographer. I am, however, not naive to the fact that people have widely varying budgets and that not all photographers are in everyone’s budget range! Photographers price their work and services by a variety of factors including experience, their cost of living, gear, local market averages, travel and more. Knowing your photography budget, budget range, or percentage of your total wedding budget you’d allocate towards photography prior to searching for a photographer can really make the search process a little easier. Most photographers won’t have their full pricing details on their website but will at least have starting prices to give you an idea!
Wedding photography carries a different level of important to different people. Deciding how much of your budget you do or do not want to allocate to photography is your choice!
Once you know your budget, you can think about what you want included with in that budget. What services are important to you and do you want included? Some photographers offer everything a la carte style and others have things packaged or bundled up. Aside from wedding day coverage there are other services to decide if you are looking for such as an engagement session, rehearsal dinner coverage, bridal sessions etc. Do you want physical products like prints or albums? Are you interested in any unique or creative offerings? Knowing the services you want ahead of time can help you send detailed inquiries to photographers so they know exactly what you are looking for!
This might not be as important for some to consider as others, but in my experience the most positive client relationships I’ve had are the ones where we’ve felt most aligned via values, personalities and even common interests. Yes, at the end of the day a wedding photographer is a business for hire. But I think creativity and art flow and thrive best in aligned situations and relationships. When you and your wedding photographer vibe together, there will be a deeper level of trust and connection. Communication feels more effortless and fun when you feel like you truly connect with each other.
One of the joys of hiring wedding professionals is the choice and ability to book people who’s values align with yours. I think it’s important to reflect on what values are non-negotiable to you. Is it important that you work with a photographer that is inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community? Do you want to work with a photographer that does not discriminate against different races or marginalized populations? Is religion important to you and your partner? Decide what values are essential in a person you would want to work with.
Some personality types clash and that’s okay. Depending on where you are at in life you might have a pretty good idea of what personalities you vibe with and which ones you don’t. Again, a photographer will be spending 8-10 hours with you, your friends and family on your wedding day! Choose a photographer that will add the right presence to your day. If you want someone who will tell people what to do, choose a photographer with an extroverted personality. If you want someone who is very easy going and quiet, you might be better off with a low-key person.I think it’s important to also consider what professional qualities are most important to you. If communication is important to you, you want to make sure you find a communicative photographer. If formality is important to you, choose someone with a more formal approach.
This will definitely carry over into the inquiry and connection process. Many photographers will request a video call with you before booking so that you have a chance to meet face to face and see how you fit together. If it doesn’t feel right when you chat, trust your instinct. A great wedding photographer just wants you to find your perfect wedding photographer, even if it isn’t them.
Okay, now this might have been a lot at once, but I promise you that taking the time to reflect on what you want from your wedding day and your potential vendors will save you time, effort and maybe even money as you plan. Having a clear idea of what is important to you before you start searching and inquiring can help you seek out and inquire with vendors you are truly interested in. As a vendor myself, I can tell you it is so much more exciting to receive an inquiry from someone who truly feels connected to my work versus someone who is just shopping around. There is an instant level of connection that sets the stage for a really awesome experience together!
At the end of the day, your wedding celebration is YOURS. You have the power to decide how it looks, feels and happens. You get to decide what is important to you and what isn’t. Ask yourself the right questions and take the time to reflect together and you’ll be able to create a day that feels like your own.
See you again soon with more wedding planning tips! xx