1. Figure out your style
First things first, Figure out what style you like While it may seem like all wedding photos are similar, because they all highlight a couple, ceremony, cake cutting, etc., the style in which it’s all photographed varies so much. Before you even start looking for a wedding photographer go on Pinterest and do a quick search on wedding photos. There’s many different styles: light and airy, moody, photojournalistic, editorial, etc. Photographers all choose a certain style they shoot and edit with. Figure out what kind of photos you love first, then look for a photographer in that style.
2. Choose a friend
Choose a wedding photographer you could see yourself being friends with You can typically tell within the first few chats with someone if you share a connection with them or not. Make sure the emails you’re getting back after inquiring with photographers are genuine and friendly, and if you’re really unsure of them make sure to set up a Skype or in person meeting. If the photographer sounds like an automated robot chances are they are all about business and may make you uncomfortable the day of. Think of your guests. If the photographer seems friendly, approachable, and down to earth they’re more likely to feel comfortable with their photos being taken. This is someone who will be with you all day, so choose someone you mesh well with and could see yourself being friends with. A true smile is impossible to fake so choose wisely.
3. Budget for quality photos
Budget for your photographer This may seem like an obvious thing to point out, but make sure you don’t skimp on your photography budget. Remember, after the wedding day is over all that’s left is your spouse, the ring, and your photographs. The food and cake will all be eaten, and your dress, as beautiful as it may be, will not be worn again. If photography is your lowest cost of you big day it’s likely time to rethink that. You should expect to spend anywhere from $800-$1500 for full coverage of your wedding day with a professional photographer, and this is on the budget friendly side.
4. Do your research
Do your research. When you find a photographer whose work you love make sure you spend some time going through his/her website. The initial impression will likely help you tell if you like their style or not, but also take time to read their “about me” page, glance through some galleries, and check out their social media pages. Make sure you fully love their work and even let them know what galleries or photos you love most when you inquire so they can get an idea of what exact style of shooting and editing you like. While it’s important to find a photographer that shoots in the style you love, it’s also equally important that that photographer have the experience to back it. If it doesn’t already say on your photographer’s “about me” page or website make sure you ask about their experience and how long they’ve been photographing for. You’ll want to hire a photographer that knows their gear well. If your on a budget, hiring a photographer with less wedding portfolio experience can be a good choice to getting good photos without blowing your budget. I’m thankful for all the couples that loved my other work enough to believe I’d shoot their wedding just as well. Even my very first couples have left loving their photos! All that being said, it’s possible to get great wedding photos you love without hiring the most expensive, 10+ year industry pro.
5. Create a wedding timeline
Talk about your wedding timeline. Most likely, you have a wedding coordinator and have discussed a day of timeline of when things will occur and where by the time you book your photographer. You’ll want to share this timeline with your photographer along with your coordinator’s contact information so your photographer can plan their shots around it. You don’t want your photographer pulling you away for portraits when you were supposed to be seated for an important toast from your father, and you wouldn’t want your photographer to not get a chance to squeeze in portraits of the two of you because you’re so busy needing to be somewhere else. It’s always best to find an agreed upon time to step away for quick portraits of you two and your close family with your photographer before your wedding date. Typically, right after the ceremony is the best time for these.
6. Have a shot list
Make sure your photographer knows everything you want captured There’s a lot that goes on during weddings, and your wedding photographer will make sure to capture all the big moments, but make sure they know what small moments you want captured as well. Maybe you want to have a portrait taken with a special family member there, or you have a hand sewn quote hidden on your dress, or maybe you want first looks done or are exchanging gifts before the ceremony. All those little things are important for a photographer to know and it’s always better to mention them beforehand so you don’t forget to ask for it on the day of, or worse when you’re looking at your gallery and realize you wish you would’ve had photos done of it.
7. Add on a second shooter
Consider having a second shooter at your wedding Wedding photographers know how to set up a timeline for your big day to ensure they get all the main photos covered, but one person physically cannot be everywhere at once. There are many moments that one single photographer cannot cover completely alone. Your first kiss cannot be captured along with the tear in your mother’s eye at the same time, for example. Almost all photographers offer an add on option to have a second shooter included in your wedding photography package, if it’s not already included. If you’re having a wedding of over 50 guests I highly recommend stepping up your photography package to include a second shooter.
8. Have fun!
Have fun during your wedding day Relax and have fun on the day of! Think of your photographer as just another good friend you have by your side to celebrate your love. If you feel uncomfortable or are treating the day like a photo shoot you’re going to be too in your head and thinking about what you look like vs. enjoying the moment. The uncomfortableness and fake smiles will show through in the photos , trust me. Your photographer is there to capture candid moments of the big day and most of the time they’ll aim to be a fly on the wall capturing it all from a distance so you can have space to enjoy and be with friends and family.
9. Be patient
Be patient Patience is key when it comes to the delivery of your wedding photos. Most photographers will delivery sneak peek galleries the day after your wedding with a handful of photos for you to share on social media and with loved ones, but after that it can often be a waiting game on getting the full gallery. The turnaround time varies between photographers, but most take around 3 weeks to fully edit and deliver. Sending those, “Hey, just checking to see the status of my photos?” emails will not make your photos come any faster. Your photographer is constantly working on them and has to go through and cull, edit, and upload them all which takes a lot of time. Just the upload process can take a full day, so it’s important to wait it out so you don’t rush the photographer so you receive the best images back.
10. Order your prints + albums through your photographer
Order prints and albums through your photographer Your wedding photographer will be the only person with the full RAW images of your wedding photos. While you’ll still get delivered high resolution images from them, your photographer will be able to produce the best quality prints and albums of your wedding photos. They already have an eye for what will look good, know your photos in and out by the time your album is delivered, and have worked with many printing labs and materials to get the best quality work produced for you. Rather than taking your digital images to Costco to be printed, spend a little extra and have it done through your photographer for the best quality. Trust me when I say it makes a huge difference in how they come out, plus it’s zero work for you so you can just relax and enjoy your newlywed period.