After the last dance has been danced, the champagne glasses are empty, and you allow the euphoria of your wedding day to settle, you will want to catch every special memory and put it in your pocket to keep forever. That is why your wedding photographer is one of the most important people to bear in mind while planning for the day. Pictures transform your memories into tangible treasures to enjoy for years to come and should be captured by someone who understands your vision, suits your style, and most importantly, is excited about your day. So, how do you go about choosing the perfect wedding photographer for you and your partner? We have compiled a comprehensive list of tips, questions, and key considerations to find “the one” to snap those precious moments!
When to Start Looking For and Booking a Wedding Photographer
It is advisable to start the search for your wedding photographer as soon as your wedding date is set and you have secured a venue. Booking your photographer between 9-12 months before your wedding day is a safe amount of time to ensure that you find a good match (and it gives you plenty of time to collaborate and plan your dream photos!). It is important to note that some wedding photographers are in high demand and only book a certain number of weddings per year. Getting started as soon as possible will give you a leg up if you want to work with someone specific.
Key Prep Work
Work out a budget
Before beginning your search, you should consider how much of your wedding budget you would like to allocate to photography. To get a sense of what to expect, speak to your wedding planner, browse the websites of photographers who suit your taste, and ask around. Knowing your budget will narrow the choices and make decisions easier as you reach out to photographers.
Map out your vision
Spend some time thinking about the end result you would like for your wedding photos. Do you want predominantly candid or posed pictures? Do you love vivid, popping colours, or light and natural images? Browse photographer portfolios to get inspired and make notes of elements that stand out to you. Finding a good match will be easier when you know what you are looking for.
Choosing a Wedding Photographer
Armed with your budget and a look you love, it is time to begin the search! It may be daunting at first to pick just one person to capture your special day, but by following these simple steps, you are certain to make a good choice. Start by looking online and by getting recommendations from friends or family members. If someone you know got married recently and you love how the photos turned out, find out more about their photographer.
Get a sense of their style
Most wedding photographers are versatile and can accommodate various tastes. Often, however, they will specialise in specific shooting styles and adopt unique approaches to their craft. Some are experts in behind-the-scenes, unobtrusive shots, while others may favour a more structured, traditional style. Look out for a general theme in their work and see if it compliments your ideas. Technical aspects like lighting, exposure, and focusing in their images will also help you get a sense of whether or not their style might be suited to what you want. Another helpful trick is to try and imagine yourself in the couples’ photos you see in each photographer’s portfolio (don’t let the decor throw you off!). If you like what you see, that’s a good sign! Finally, if you know that you will be getting married in winter or in a darker venue, be sure to look for similar wedding shoots to understand how the photographer works with low-lit settings. The same applies if your venue has many windows and is quite light – overexposure can ruin the details of your pictures!
Browse through a portfolio
The initial images you will see on wedding photographers’ websites are helpful for gauging their preferred style but are usually only their highlights. If you like their favourites, find out from them if you can view their portfolio and a full album – you want to see how they capture different moments throughout the day and if their work is consistent, has a flow, and could tell the story of your day. You may fall in love with their shots or realise there are aspects of their overall approach that don’t quite appeal to you as much as the highlights did.
Testimonials and past client experiences are invaluable for getting a better idea of how a wedding photographer communicates and works. When you have a shortlist of photographers you like based on their style, read reviews online or contact them to find out if they have testimonials they can share with you.
Set up a meeting
Your wedding photographer will be with you for most of your big day, so feeling at ease around them is just as important as admiring their work. Not only will it allow you to enjoy the process, it will also result in beautiful, natural photos! First inquire if they are available on your wedding date and if they are, schedule a Zoom call or meet them for coffee. Ask questions, get to know them a bit, and even look through their portfolio with them. It is a good idea to jot down some questions you might like to ask them so that you don’t forget the important details when you start chatting!
We have compiled a list of helpful questions you can use to get started:
- How long have you been in photography?
- Have you always lived here? Tell me about yourself.
- How many weddings do you shoot in a year? (This question will allude to their availability and how quickly you should move with booking)
- How would you describe your photography style?
- May I see some recent wedding albums?
- What are your wedding package offerings?
- Have you shot at our venue before?
- How much time do you usually spend on couple portraits and group shots?
- Will we be able to give you a list of specific pictures we would like?
- Will you be the primary photographer on the day? (This is important to ask if you are planning a large wedding)
- How much would a second shooter cost?
- Do you charge a fee for travel?
- Would you like us to provide you with food? If yes, what would work best for you? (Sitting with the guests or giving them a meal allowance)
- Would you be available to stay longer if the day runs over?
- Do you have a back-up plan if you are unable to attend due to an emergency?
- In what format would we receive our photos?
- Are we allowed to share our photos online?
- What is your turnaround time?
- How much is the deposit and when is it payable?
- When would the final payment be due?
- What is your cancellation/refund policy?
- What information do you need from us before our wedding day?
Make your choice!
After considering the above factors and having met with the photographers on your short list, you should have a pretty good idea of who makes you feel the most comfortable and confident that you will have a stunning suite of pictures to remember your day by. Book your wedding photographer as soon as you are certain of your choice to secure them for your date. Be sure to take the time to reach out to the other photographers you inquired with to let them know you have decided to go with someone else. This is a polite courtesy that will allow them to free up the date for other interested couples. Don’t worry about hard feelings, your honesty will be appreciated!
Book an Engagement Shoot
An engagement shoot is not essential, but many couples and photographers find that it is a great practice run for working together and getting used to being in front of a camera (if you or your partner usually aren’t!). Engagement shots are a wonderful addition to documenting your relationship journey and can be used for invitations to pre-wedding events! Book a shoot with your photographer and just have fun getting excited for the big day!
Trust your Wedding Photographer
Last but not least, trust your wedding photographer’s direction, creativity, and expert advice. You hired them for a reason, and, being passionate about what they do, they are committed to producing shots that will make you smile for years to come. Let them work with your wedding planner to map out a timeline for the day and simply enjoy the process. And there you have it! Another item you can tick off your wedding to-do list. At Megara, we specialise in curating memorable and simply beautiful events. We work closely with you to make sure your day reflects you and your love story.