Masthead header

How to choose the best wedding photographer for you

How to choose your wedding photographer?

Everyone and their dog is a photographer these days (my dog is more of a videographer, but I’m sure he could take some stills, too, if he wanted). But is every ‘photographer’ or someone with a ‘nice camera’ a perfectly fine candidate to be your wedding photographer? Well, that completely depends on how much you appreciate quality in photos.

If you’re not too fussed and think that it doesn’t really matter how the photos have been taken as long as you can at least see who is in the photo, then you can ask anyone who knows how to point a camera and press a button to take your wedding photos. Cameras are so clever nowadays that you may get a few OK photos even if you have never taken photos before.

On the other hand, if you appreciate quality photography where moments (your memories) have been captured with a good eye for a beautiful composition, appreciation of the lighting conditions and the ability and readiness to capture your moments on the fly, all through the day, I recommend you choose an experienced, professional wedding photographer for the job.

How do you go about choosing the perfect photographer, then? There are so many to choose from! Search for a wedding photographer in your area on the internet and you will see dozens and dozens of photographers’ websites.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Goes without saying, but I’ll start with an easy one: look through all the photos presented on their website to see if you like the style of the photographer. Do you like the way they have captured moments throughout the wedding day, do the photos convey an emotion, how they have used light, posed the couple in the ‘after the ceremony’ photos, and do you like the detail shots of the bouquets, venue and decorations? Do you like the way the photos have been post-processed, the light, the colours and the quality of the black and white photos?
  1. If you are looking for an experienced wedding photographer, make sure that the photographer really is experienced in photographing real weddings. Be aware that some photographers may have a few stunning photos on their website in their ‘portfolio’, but in fact the photos have been taken at a styled shoot rather than a real wedding – i.e. someone else has picked a location and models and usually even posed the models for the photographer who then only had to push the button to take a great photo.This is very different from being experienced in photographing real weddings where the photographer has to document the whole day as a photojournalist, pick the best locations and pose the beautiful couples photos, have the presence to organise people into the formal photos in an efficient yet friendly manner, interact with everyone with respect and good humour, and so on – all of which contributes towards making wonderful pictures, and a pleasant experience for everyone.

    Make sure that you see dozens of photos from one (or more) weddings so that you can see that the photographer is able to create the story of a whole wedding day with consistently good quality photographs. Anyone can get lucky and snap a nice photo or two, but consistency is a mark of a good professional.

  1. Read testimonials from previous clients. Are they saying things that you appreciate and would love to be able to say the same after your own wedding? (You would probably want to hear a bit more than “great photos, thank you!”)
  1. Check that the photographer you are interested in hiring is a professional: that they are fully insured, they have not only solid camera gear but also solid backup camera gear with them on the day, and that they have a wedding photography contract that states the rights and expectations of both parties. Just to be safe. Your wedding is a once in a life time event – you want to make sure that it is photographed by someone who is properly and seriously prepared for the job.
  1. When it comes to price, don’t make your decision on who is 20% cheaper or more expensive. If your budget is very small, obviously your investment choice between £500 and £3000 is an easy one to make, but if it’s a question of a few hundred pounds, I recommend you choose the photographer whose work you love, over the one you ‘can afford’. Your wedding photos are something that you will be looking at for decades to come; would you want to think every time “I wish we had paid that little extra at the time to get the wedding photographer we really liked”?I have heard this many times and it breaks my heart every time I hear someone say that they asked a friend/relative who has a nice camera, or the cheapest available ‘wedding photographer’ to take their wedding photos, and they were so terrible that they don’t even want to look at the photos ever again. Think of your wedding photos as an investment for future joy: it may cost a little more now, but it will pay off in great dividends as you will be able to enjoy your beautifully captured memories for the rest of your life.
  1. Last but by no means least: make sure that you feel comfortable with the photographer as a person. He/she is going to spend the whole of your wedding day near you, so you definitely don’t want it to be someone you feel awkward around, or someone who doesn’t have the social skills and respect for the fact that it is your and your guests’ big day. You will get a sense of their personality from their website and their testimonials, but best to have a telephone conversation with them to start with, and meet up, if at all possible, before making your final decision. Better still, have a pre-wedding photo shoot with them so that you get a feel of what it will be like to have them as your photographer!
Hope these tips help you find the right photographer for you. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below.

Link to my featured weddingswedding photography testimonials

Author: by Katariina Jarvinen

Connect with Katariina Jarvinen on Google+

Contact Katariina|Share on Facebook|Tweet this post|Subscribe (RSS)
Ashley Price - 15th January 2013 - 11:25 am

Feedback as requested:

I would try and make a bigger distinction between asking a friend to do it and a professional. People who don’t want to invest in a professional may well pick up on your sentence “Cameras are so clever nowadays that you are almost guaranteed to get a few nice shots even if you have never photographed a wedding before.” They’ll say to their friend “Just keep taking photos”, in a sort of scatter gun approach. Some of them may come out reasonable.

As well as reading testimonials from other clients – I suggest that you ask friends, relatives, work colleagues, who have recently got married, who they used and whether they were happy. Ask to see some of the photos.

I would also do links to news stories showing where not taking the time to properly choose the right photographer can be a big mistake. See this from the Telegraph website as an example: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6263595/Couple-sue-wedding-photographer.html

At the end of the day you want people to see that the money they are spending on a photographer is an *investment*. Do they want photographs that they will treasure for ever (or, at least, for as long as the marriage) or “snaps” that will be forgotten very quickly, or that they’re embarrassed about so don’t want to show anyone?

Malcolm Oakley - 15th January 2013 - 11:45 am

Read it. Good advice, only concern is use more paragraphs. In particular items 2 & 5 need paragraph urgently!!

Foz - 15th January 2013 - 11:59 am

Great post, Katariina, and I’m sure this is good advice for anyone looking for their wedding photographer.

Even though modern cameras are very clever, I know that there are so many things for me to think about when shooting a wedding that only experience and technical skill will help me achieve the great shots that I (and my clients) am striving for.

And your final point is a key one, I think. To achieve great shots, rather than ordinary ones, it is crucial that my clients are relaxed with me and that I am able to draw some emotion from them into the photographs. For that I need to have rapport with my clients, built up before the day itself.

I’d be interested to here of people’s good and bad experiences with wedding photographers……

Thanks,
Foz

Kippy - 16th January 2013 - 5:25 am

Fantastic post. I probably agree with some of the other comments regarding it being a little verbose (easy for me to judge, not so easy for me to reign myself in! haha) but I think the important thing is that we, as photographers, owe it to ourselves (and the field of photography-of-people) to educate consumers. That is something you’ve done very well, here, I just think maybe a lot of people will skim and not get it – not get the importance of #2 (which is kind of funny to read, given the private message I had JUST sent you prior to reading this!), for example.

There is also a bit of confusion (for me, as a reader) in tone here … at some point you seem to be talking to the prospective client, using “me” language, and at other points you seem to be taking on a more cool and detached “lecture” type tone. D’you know what I mean?

In closing, I think that if people have the option, they’d be foolish not to choose you as their wedding (or other) photographer. You are one of the best I know. 🙂

Kippy

Katariina - 21st January 2013 - 11:22 pm

Thank you for your comments, everyone!

I have changed the words a little, Ashley – thanks!

Malcolm, I can’t work out how to add a paragraph within a numbered list… it doesn’t do it. Will see if I can condense the text instead…

Foz, thanks for commenting as a fellow wedding photographer!

Kippy, thanks – will look into that issue that caused confusion!

Obviously everyone agrees that I have to be less verbose, so I will try and do that.

Nora - 28th January 2013 - 1:15 pm

Hi!

Got married almost 10 years ago, still happy that we had a professional taking the photos – we now have kids who are interested in seeing those pictures.

About the item 6 on your list Katariina: I could not agree more how important it is to feel comfortable with the photographer as a person. First of course, that the couple feels comfortable, but also others like the bride’s maids and the mother of the bride and the groom’s men… it’s about the trust that leads people to be natural in those photos.

Keep up the good work. 🙂

Helen Batt - 15th November 2013 - 2:11 pm

Feeling comfortable with the photographer is of the utmost importance. If you feel intimidated, or generally just awkward, then this will show in the pictures. DO your research, and meet the photographer, more than once if necessary. This is your big day, and (hopefully) the only one you’ll ever have, so you have to be 100% sure in your decision. In 30 years time, all you’ll have to show is your memories and these pictures; you’ll want them to be amazing.

Katariina - 18th November 2013 - 11:34 am

Well said, Helen – so true!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*