In twenty years, your wedding dress will be donated, or sitting in a closet; your cake will be a distant memory; and you’ll be lucky if you remember exactly what the table center pieces looked like. Your wedding’s photographs, however, will continue to have a life of their own as you bring them out to relive the moment.
Choosing a wedding photographer is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it isn’t the right project to hand off to your friend who dabbled with photography courses a couple times in college. If your photographer doesn’t get the images you want, there are no do overs here.
How can you choose the right wedding photographer? Here’s your step-by-step guide.
Know What a Good Image Looks Like
Although this is fairly basic, it’s a step that often gets overlooked when couples are sifting through prices, recommendations and a million portfolios. Many people have a basic sense of what makes a “good” photograph, but may not know exactly why they prefer one photo over another. Here are a few important factors:
- Composition: Is everyone right in the center of the frame, or does the photographer find interesting angles to shoot from? For posed shots, do they find intriguing backgrounds that aren’t too distracting?
- Lighting: A good photographer is always using light to help -- it can be the difference between an average portrait, and a dramatic one. The difference won’t always be that stark, but pay attention to the lighting throughout a photographer’s portfolio: does everything seem exposed correctly? See a Practical Wedding for more information on good lighting.
- Focus: You may have noticed in wedding photography that portraits often focus on the face, while the background is blurred. This happens when photographers use a lower aperture. Focus, or a lack thereof, is an important element for creating memorable photographs.
Do Your Research
According to SnapKnot, the average couple spends about $2,800 on their wedding photography. While you might budget for more or less, be aware of what the market rate is in your local area - and realize that you may be taking a cut in quality if you find someone offering 50% the average going rate.
Always take the time to meet with a photographer and go through their existing portfolios. Make sure you don’t just see their top pictures from each wedding -- a full album from a single wedding will give you a better idea of their average shots, and what you should expect. If you’re interested in getting a lot of candid shots for your wedding, make sure that your photographer seems comfortable with them and doesn’t just stick to more traditional posing for most of their images.
Don’t Forget to Ask Questions
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but come to any meeting with your potential photographer with a list of important questions. Some good places to start:
How much experience do you have?
You want a photographer who’s been around the bend dozens of times and knows the ins and outs of wedding shots.
What sort of “insurance” do you carry?
A good photographer will typically either have an assistant (so that they can get photos of any events happening simultaneously) and/or a backup camera (if something happens to their main camera, you don’t want to rely on your cousin’s point-and-shoot to capture the day).
Is retouching included in your package?
In the digital age, most photographers are retouching their wedding photos in order to eliminate distracting elements and create even more intriguing effects. However, this process can be as time consuming as the wedding shoot itself -- so make sure you know what’s included in your price. The Knot also points out that some photographers will include engagement photos in their package -- so don’t forget to ask about this, either.
How can you make my wedding stand out?
You want a photographer who will take a creative approach to your wedding, in ways you have never even dreamed of. Check out our guide to the top 5 creative wedding photo approaches.
Finding the right photographer for your wedding is an important part of planning for your big day. Use this guide to make sure your special moments are preserved forever in beautiful photographs.