Having gorgeous wedding photos is a high priority for many couples. It’s only natural to want the right person in charge of capturing the day in images! This means choosing a wedding photographer can require some careful consideration. A skilled photographer is both an artist and a technician. A photographer without significant training, working in conditions that aren’t ideal, can produce less-than-stellar results. Likewise, even a highly skilled professional photographer may have a style that you aren’t crazy about.
A really important part of choosing a wedding photographer, even more so than with other vendors, is making sure the person is someone you enjoy working with. Your wedding photographer will likely be around you the whole wedding day! It’s important to get a good sense of how they work before you sign a contract. The last thing you want is to have the vibe of your wedding thrown off by the person who’s supposed to be documenting it!
Your wedding photographer should be one of the first vendors you hire, and taking the time to do your research and properly vet candidates can really pay off in the long run. Here are some tips to get you started!
Practical Wedding-Day Considerations
How much you should spend on a photographer will of course be dictated in great part by your budget. However, there are also some practical considerations you should take into account when deciding just how experienced and skillful a photographer you may need.
One thing that can affect how easy it is to take great photos is the lighting in your venue. An outdoor setting with lots of natural light and sufficient shade can make is ideal for for taking great photos, while nighttime or darker interior settings may require a more skilled photographer. You’ll want to request to see work the photographer has done in similar conditions to those of your venue. Of course, if the photographer has worked in your venue before, be sure to request to see examples of this work as well!
You should also take wedding-day logistics into account. Having some idea of what kind of shots you want may help you decide on a photographer. If wedding photos are super important to you, you may have very specific ideas about what you want. That’s great! If you have a list of shots you want, share it with photographers to get an idea of how comfortable they are with it. Some photographers won’t accept a shot list, but you may be able to come to an agreement on the essential things you want. Remembering the feeling of celebrating your relationship while surrounded by your favorite people should be your goal!
Scheduling and how involved the photographer will be in all of the events of a wedding can also affect price. Some important questions to ask:
- What time will the photographer arrive?
- Will the photographer stay for the whole day?
- If the event runs long, is the photographer willing to stay? Is there an extra charge and how much?
- Will the person you meet with be the one taking the photos? Will they have an assistant at the wedding?
Style and quality
Of course, it’s important that you like the photographer’s style. You don’t want wedding photos that look old-fashioned or moody if that’s not what your going for with your wedding. You also may not want your wedding photos to look like everyone else’s! If that’s the case, you may be able to find wedding photographers in your area that have a distinct style that is also a good fit for your wedding. To make sure a photographer has a style that you like, you should look at lots of examples of their work.
When looking at samples, request to see full weddings, instead of just the best shots. This can also give you an idea of the photographer’s ability to take great shots in different lighting conditions, as noted above. Also take note of what kinds of shots the photographer favors. Whether the shots are traditional, photojournalistic, or somewhere in between, make sure it matches what you want for your photos.
If the photos you see all have a particular tint or general look, this is probably due to the photographer’s post-processing. A good part of a photographer’s style comes from post-processing, and regardless of the lighting in your venue, your photos may be processed to have a similar look. Make sure that it’s a style you like!
Apart from style, you should also make sure the quality of a photographer’s images meets your expectations. When it comes to quality, the most important question to ask is whether the photographer works in RAW or JPEG format for taking digital images. RAW is definitely preferable. If you want the unprocessed images, you may be able to request files in RAW format, but be aware that it isn’t common for photographers to provide these and they may refuse.
Other Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer
Of course you aren’t hiring a wedding photographer to just hang out with you on your wedding day. You’ll also be expecting the photos to be delivered to you in some way. You’ll likely choose what package you want when you hire the photographer. The most important thing is to get the right photos taken. You can probably order extra prints later on if you realize you want more. Just be sure to know when and how you’ll be receiving them!
Be sure to ask you photographer:
- What’s included in the package? How many prints and what sizes?
- How long after the wedding will you be able to see proofs? How long after you order will photos be delivered?
- What are the usage rights? Will the photographer be able to use your photos in advertisements? Will you be able to use your photos however you like?
Hiring a non-professional photographer can be a good way to save money, but you should take even more care in the vetting process. Non-professionals may have less experience with working at weddings and a less extensive portfolio on which to judge their work.
You may need to be more specific about what you want. Providing a shot list is a good idea, for example. You may also need to specify what type of attire you expect them to wear and where they should be at every stage of the wedding. It’s also important to ask what kind of equipment the photographer will be using to make sure it can provide the quality of photos you are hoping for.
As with a pro, it’s best if the photographer is shooting in RAW format. However, with a non-pro, it may be more important that the you get access to the RAW files. This will give you more flexibility to redo the post-processing if there are any issues with it.
And whether you’re working with a professional or a non-professional, it’s always essential to have a contract that puts all the details in writing. Check our general guidelines for hiring vendors here.
Capturing the Moments that Matter
You probably won’t be relying on your photographer to capture every significant moment. Nowadays it’s likely that most of your guests will be carrying devices with cameras. And unless you specifically ask them not to, they will probably be taking their own photos to remember the event by.
You can get everyone involved in capturing moments to create a more complete picture of your wedding day. To do this, you’ll want to have somewhere to collect and share all of the photos. You can easily add photos to the album on your Joy wedding site. With the Joy app, your friends and family can add their photos as well! All of your photos will be in one place, and you can choose to make them public or private.
And if you don’t have the budget for a photographer, you can of course choose to DIY. Your friends and family will probably be happy to help you capture the important moments of your wedding. But don’t just expect one of your guests to show up and handle taking all of the wedding photos! If you’re depending on friends and family to be the main photographers, be sure to let them know ahead of time and split up the responsibility among a few guests. Everyone should have time to just enjoy the wedding, including you and your partner!
You can get amazing wedding photos, whether you with go with a pro, a non-pro, or DIY. Just have a plan in place, and you’ll have wedding photos of everyone having an awesome time!
Get Started – Add Photos to Your Wedding Site
Your Joy wedding site and the Joy app allow you to publish your own photos and collect the moments that your guest have captured. You can get started right away!