Wedding photography is one of the biggest (and in our book, best!) investments you’ll make in your wedding day. So it’s important to choose a wedding photographer whose work you love now, will still adore in years to come, and who you feel is the right fit for you, your partner, and your wedding. Along with a wedding video – and all the memories of course! – your wedding photos are among the few things you’ll have as a keepsake of your day, long after the confetti’s been swept away and the last of the wedding cake has been eaten. So having your day documented by the right person is so, so important.
Unless you’re a photography buff yourself, it can be hard to compare photographers with different styles, work out what makes a photographer great, or know if they’re the right person to photograph you and your other half on the big day. To help, we’ve rounded up some essential tips for how to choose a wedding photographer below.
How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer
1. Do Your Research
The first job on your to-do list is to seek out wedding photographers who work in your area and view their photographs. We’ve compiled a handy list of recommended photographers to use as your starting point – these guys come with the One Fab Day seal of approval, so you can trust them to give your day the love and attention it deserves!
At this point, you’ll start to notice how many different styles of wedding photography there are – fine art (dreamy, reminiscent of fashion magazine editorials), documentary (candid, off-the-cuff), traditional, modern, etc. When you’re looking at a photographer’s photos, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what style you’re looking for, all you need to ask yourself is, do you like their work?
- Don’t just look at the images on their homepage, go into their gallery or blog section and look at full weddings, or scroll through their social media feeds. Look for consistency, not just a few great images.
- If there are certain photographs that are important to you – family portraits, fun dancefloor pictures, detail shots, etc. – make sure you’re happy with how the photographer shoots those kinds of images. Bear in mind that some photographers don’t post the family or group shots on their site, but will be happy to send you examples!
- This can be tricky, but try to separate the photographer’s work from the weddings they shoot. Whether you like or dislike the dress or the venue, shouldn’t have a bearing on how you view the photographer’s work.
- If you know your venue is particularly dark or if you’re getting married in winter, look for similar weddings, to see how a photographer has shot them. Needless to say, you should be happy with what you find!
- Picture yourself in the images and think about how you’d feel. Getting photos taken can be awkward for some people, so choose a photographer whose style will make you feel as relaxed as possible.
- Despite your best efforts, many aspects of your wedding will date – the outfits, your hair, and of course, your photography – that’s all part of the fun of looking back on old photos. That said, pick a style of photography you can imagine loving in years to come and will be happy to hang on your wall at home. Lots of photography styles look cool on Instagram or on wedding websites (ahem!), but it’s also important to have a photograph that you’re happy to frame and show the grandkids one day!
2. Create a Shortlist
The next step is to contact a couple of wedding photographers whose work you really love – we recommend starting with two or three. Initially, you need to know two things; are they available on your wedding date, and can you afford them?
How much does a wedding photographer cost? Well, how long is a piece of string? Photographers often don’t put their rates on their website, but don’t let that intimidate you. If you’re seriously considering booking them, all you’ve got to do is drop them a line and ask to see their rate card.
- You tend to get what you pay for with wedding photography, everyone will have different priorities, but it’s not the place to cut corners.
- View wedding photography as an investment. Your wedding might last a day or a weekend, but you’ll have these photographs forever, they’re going to live on the walls of your home, and you’ll return to them whenever you’re feeling nostalgic about the day, so it makes sense to assign a significant portion of your overall budget to photography. For most couples, this tends to be between 8 and 15% of the total budget.
- Remember you’re not just paying for a photographer’s time on the day, but the hours of editing after your wedding, along with their talent, extensive experience and (extremely expensive!) equipment.
- The good news is that there’s a wedding photographer out there for every budget, and even the most high-end photographers tend to offer different packages to suit various price ranges.
- If you’re really looking to cut costs, rather than booking a lesser quality photographer, book a great photographer for part of your day. Just bear in mind that not all wedding photographers will offer this service.
- Once you’ve received responses from a few photographers, a front-runner should naturally appear. If you find yourself going back to the drawing board, simply repeat the process with another one or two photographers until you have a clear favourite.
3. Build a Rapport
Something a lot of couples don’t realise until their wedding day is how much time you actually spend with your photographer – it’s almost as much time as you’ll spend with your other half! So of course it’s crucial that both of you like them, that they’re calm or good craic (or both!), and that they’ll put you at ease.
- Try to meet your photographer in person before your wedding if possible, as this will help you to build a rapport. If you live abroad or can’t meet in person, have a Zoom, Facetime or Skype call – awkward for a moment, but definitely worth it.
- When chatting to your photographer, give them lots of information about the style and vibe of your day. This will give everyone a sense of whether or not it’s a good match.
- This is also a good opportunity to ask your photographer about themselves, and how they like to work on the day. For example, do they do the group shots and portraits all at once, or in several shorter bursts?
- Be aware that certain photographs require time – those epic drone shots or stunning golden hour portraits, for example, can take a while to achieve. Some couples are happy to spend two hours on their portraits, while others would prefer to spend more time with their guests. Ask your photographer how much time they like to dedicate to the portraits – while the best ones are flexible, their answer should align with your priorities for the day.
- An engagement shoot is a relatively new concept, but it can be a great way to settle any nerves or awkwardness around posing for photos ahead of the big event.
- Remember that a good wedding photographer is calm and confident, they’re able to put you at ease, keep the day moving, and command a situation with professionalism and a sense of humour, whether it’s a group shot with 20 of your college mates, or your auntie who keeps thrusting her iPad in the way of the shot!
4. Discuss the Finer Details of the Contract
Once you’ve covered all the bases above, you’re almost ready to book your photographer. At this stage, you’ll want to make sure you’re 100% happy with the terms of your contract and you’re clear on what’s included in the package.
- When reviewing what’s included in the package, look out for the number of digital images you’ll receive, and whether you’ll have to pay extra to receive them without watermarks.
- Ask about pricing for prints and photo albums, as the rates and quality of these vary from photographer to photographer. This is not something most couples think about until after the wedding, but it’s worth exploring your options early on in the process.
- If you’re including extras like an engagement shoot or a second shooter (a second photographer who assists with capturing the wedding) in your package, this should be reflected in the contract.
- Talk to your photographer about how many hours of coverage you’re paying for – some leave at dinner, others after the first dance.
- Your contract should also cover things like the photographer’s meal on the day (don’t forget to ask them for any dietary requirements to pass on to the venue or caterer), and the cost of their travel. This is especially important for destination weddings.
- Some photographers will request a list of required photographs from the couple, others will have their own tried-and-tested list that they work from. If you’re providing a list, at this stage you should establish a deadline for when they need it.
- Ask about the payment schedule – how much is the deposit, and when does the balance needs to be paid?
- Ask your photographer what happens if they are sick or unable to work on the day of your wedding. These things happen, after all!
- Check how long it will take to receive the photos. Photographers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
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