How To Choose The Best Wedding Photographer In 5 Steps

Choosing a photographer is one of the most important aspects of the wedding planning process, as this is the person or team that will help you to remember the most important day of your life by turning real-life into art (whilst also making sure they get some flattering shots of you in your dress!). This isn’t something you want to leave up to chance, so check out our top 5 tips on how to make sure you have the best possible photographer on your big day!

  1. Choose a style and a budget
  2. Start searching
  3. Do in-person interviews
  4. Make a decision
  5. Look carefully at the contract
Photo: Valeria Quintero Photography

1. Choose a style and a budget

There are many different kinds of styles when it comes to photography, and before anything else, you have to find the one that you feel most represents your personality, and the tone of your wedding. If you’re having a casual beachside ceremony, it doesn’t make stylistic sense to hire a professional who specialises in portrait photography! The most common type of wedding photography is photo journalism – this is a subtle form of photography, used to capture the most spontaneous moments and the joyous expressions that you don’t even know you’re making. However, there are several other forms, which you can learn more about here!

As for the budget, you have to accept that if you want quality photos, you will need to invest a significant amount. You’ve been planning this day for months, or even years – it deserves to be recorded with grace and talent! Therefore we recommend that you put aside approximately 10% of your overall budget for hiring a professional photographer – and a little more if you want an engagement shoot, or even a more sensual boudoir shoot!

Photo: Rocha Photography

2. Start searching

Once you and your partner have decided on the style of photography that you want, it’s time to start the big search. This can seem daunting at first, but remember that there are plenty of tools to help you – the most useful being Zankyou’s online directory (we’re a little biased, but it really is great!). Here you can find the best of the best that the United States has to offer – and with most of our photographers happy to travel, you need not be restricted by destination.

If you’re looking online, try and stick to recommendations from the experts – us! – as opposed to going it alone. Someone’s website might look incredible, but without external verification you can never be 100% sure. Look through magazines as well, and more than anything else, focus on any potential candidate’s portfolio – this is where you really get a sense of their style and abilities! At Zankyou, you can check out our photographers’ portfolios in our Real Weddings category.

Start narrowing down the list as soon as you can – bear in mind that decent photographers can be booked up to years in advance, and some have a maximum number of weddings that do every year. Make sure you’re one of them!

Photo: Júya Photographer

3. Do in-person interviews

If possible, try and meet your photographer in person before you hire them. This gives you the best chance to get a glimpse of their personality and attitude, and decide if they’re the perfect fit for you and your partner. It’s important that you do this yourself – don’t delegate this choice to your wedding planner or anyone else, as only you and your partner will know if you feel a real connection. You also have your own expectations, and so it’s vital that a potential candidate is right for you. However, don’t treat this meeting as formally as a job interview – you’re trying to solicit the services of a professional, not scare them off! – but ask them about previous weddings they have attended, and how they overcame obstacles and problems in the past. 

If you can’t meet in person, then a Skype conversation is a perfectly acceptable alternative, and is an easier option – particularly if you feel like you’re up to your neck in it with planning! The important thing is that you feel chemistry with the photographer – it’s good even this early to establish a rapport. The relationship you have with your photographer shouldn’t have any bearing on the quality of the photos, but if you make friends, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable on the day!

Photo: LifeEmotions Wedding Photography

4. Make a decision

This is more difficult than it sounds, we know, but at some point within the process, you and your partner have to sit down and decide who to hire. We recommend that you meet with around 5 photographers before choosing the one, as this will give you a breadth of potential options, and don’t be afraid to email or call them to clarify details you’re not sure on. This is also the time to do some more in-depth research on your candidates – read reviews of their work, and if they have featured weddings on their websites, you can even contact the couple pictured to ask their opinion! Go back through their portfolios, and imagine yourselves in the shots – do they suit your style? Now is the time to scrutinize!

Once you’ve selected your photographer, call them to let them know the good news! Before this point, ensure that you have made absolutely clear the dates you will need them – you don’t want a mix up at this stage. Once they have confirmed that they are on board, it’s time to meet with them again to sort out the finer details of the contract, and to verify the extent of their involvement – some photographers like to visit the venue before the big day, for example, to gauge the types of shots that will be possible.

Photo: Pequeño Robot

5. Look carefully at the contract

Upon signing your contract with your photographer, there are three main things that you need to make yourself aware of:

  1. Price – this can alternate based on the size of your wedding, and if any assistants are needed. Post-production techniques and style can also affect this number, alongside the time of year (summer weddings beware!). Before signing, agree with your photographer that this number is absolutely final – and only subject to change if you and your partner want to add or subtract elements from the package.
  2. Time – specify how many hours of coverage you want. Most photographers are completely flexible, and will happily cover the pre-wedding period and the reception/party as well as the ceremony, but now is the time to be specific. Also, get a number from the photographer regarding how many hours they anticipate putting into the editing phase.
  3. Receiving the photos – find out how long it will be before your photos arrive. This process, on average, can take between 8-12 weeks, but be prepared to wait a little longer if you’ve hired a highly sought-after photographer. You can also find out if your photographer will offer you a photobook – a common option now – and paper copies.

We at Zankyou recommend that alongside having a verbal agreement, you and your photographer sign a comprehensive contract that includes all the details of your relationship. This means that in the unlikely event you encounter an issue, you have something to refer back to.

Photo: Ingenio + Photography

We hope this advice helps you in your wedding planning journey, and that you’re happy with your photographs at the end of your big day! Don’t hesitate to check out our directory to get the process started, and good luck!

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