7 Tips on Choosing a Wedding Photographer
Updated: Feb 25, 2020
1. Which style do you prefer?
There are so many different kinds of wedding photographers out there, and whether you're from Minnesota or elsewhere I'd love to help you find the perfect fit. While every wedding photographer is unique, here's my attempt to categorize them to help you figure what might be a good fit.
These photographers tend to approach wedding photography from a more technical standpoint. They'll likely bring plenty of equipment like strobes, flashes, and soft boxes and the poses you'll be put in will be similar to those of your parents and even grandparents. Stylistic editing is kept to a minimum, with a focus on true-to-life colors. Their clean style is truly timeless, but it doesn't stand out as much as others on this list.
Light and Airy
One of the two kinds of natural light photographers (ie. no/minimal external lighting), these photographers usually overexpose their images slightly, giving their images a heavenly, ethereal vibe. Often implementing a gold and green filmic color palette in post-production, this is the most popular style of wedding photography today. Their photos scream joy, love, light, and laughter - all of the feelings you want to associate with your wedding day.
The other kind of natural light photography, this kind of wedding coverage is surging in popularity recently, and it's with this group that I personally identify. With a subdued color palette and film-inspired editing, these photographers are experts at capturing deep and nuanced emotions and drama. If light and airy photographers are angel food cake, moody photographers are devil's food. Like their light and airy counterparts, these photographers are artists at heart who want to make incredible art out of your day.
These photographers will cover your wedding as any photographer for a newspaper or other publication would. Split-second moments are key for this kind of photographer, but they won't always stick to the standard wedding shots, preferring to shoot what is necessary to tell the story of your day. If you're more focused on the people attending your wedding and would rather have pictures of them than pictures of your jewelry, a photojournalistic photographer may be a good choice. Also, they tend to *really* love black and white.
Glamorous and stylish, these photographers produce images worthy of publication in a fashion magazine. Like traditionalists, they are likely to bring more lighting equipment and will spend more time on formal, posed portraits designed to make you look as incredible as possible. They will also spend more time photographing your details and all of the hard work and effort you put into planning your wedding day.
Of course, these are gross generalizations, so be sure to examine photographers' work carefully to see where they do and don't fit. You may want someone who is a mix of various styles as well!
2. Figure out how important good photography is to you.
On your wedding day, you are going to spend SO much money on things that will be used ONCE. Your dress will be worn once, your flowers will only look nice for a few days, and the food gets eaten and ends up you know where. All of the things I just listed are expendables – if you drop the appetizer from your dinner, people will still show up. Couples spend so much money on the party, only to cut corners on photography and get unfixable, blurry photos from the cousin they hired who just got new camera. While this isn't always the case, the cheapest options are usually the least qualified.
3. Google, Instagram and Facebook away!
Okay, but what about actually finding photographers? Word of mouth is usually the most reliable – ask your married friends or any vendors you've booked!
In addition to asking around, find wedding photographers online! On Instagram, search location-specific hashtags (ie. #mnweddingphotographer) to find photographers. If you know where you're getting married, see if you venue has a geotag and scroll through other photos that have been tagged with that location. You can also use Google – when searching, use terms describing your wedding like moody, artsy, fun, or adventurous and include your location.
4. Find someone you connect with!
You're going to be spending a lot of time with your photographer on your wedding day – it's in everyone's interest that you like them! Do you have similar values? Do they stand for something you believe in?When sending emails to photographers, don't just copy and paste – write a genuine email about the vision you have about your wedding day and what matters most to you regarding photography. Don't just send a list of questions you found on The Knot or Brides. Be YOU, and a photographer will respond in a more personal tone allowing sparks to fly. You may not think of finding a photographer being like dating, but it kinda totally is! If all else fails, follow your gut.
5. Ask to see a real wedding gallery.
Spoiler alert – all of your photos are not going to look like the ones your photographer puts on their website and social media. From weird lighting to time constraints, it's important to see how a photographer problem solves on a wedding day and what a gallery of theirs looks like, including photos that are less than Instagram-worthy.
View my sample gallery here (opens in a new tab).
6. Understand why good photography costs what it does.
If you're here, you probably know that wedding photographers can be quite an investment. It's a pretty common misconception that a photographer just clicks a button – in reality, there are hours of preparation for every wedding and photographers spend anywhere from 15 to 30 hours per wedding editing your photos.
On average, a third of what we make goes to Uncle Sam for social security and taxes. Many of us pay for health and auto insurance out of pocket, as well as business liability insurance. On top of that, camera gear is freaking expensive! Professional camera bodies start around $3K and lenses range from $1K to upwards of $3K, and that isn't even accounting for software, flashes, online advertising, credit card processing (3%), gas, website hosting, a computer, memory cards, travel, and personal expenses like rent. At the end of the day, we only get a small fraction of what you pay us.
If you're paying good money for a photographer, you're getting someone who has devoted themselves to their craft and giving you the best images and experience possible. Of course, prices differ based on a photographer's cost of living and other factors such as their process, editing style, experience, demand, notoriety and equipment.
7. Do NOT wait until the last minute to book your photographer.
This one is HUGE – wedding photographers can only shoot so many weddings in a year before they burn out and limit the number of events they shoot each year. If you have your eye on an established or popular photographer (or a photographer period!), reach out now.
For me, I know September , October, and other popular dates book up incredibly fast and I have to turn away SO many incredible weddings because they waited too long to fill out my contact form. I even had to turn away a bride I'd been talking to for a week or so because another bride swooped and paid her deposit to secure that date on the spot. I suggest that my couples book 1-2 years in advance of their wedding date, and I assure you that isn't crazy!