10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer

Monday, May 15th, 2017

As you can imagine, there is a lot of planning that goes into a wedding.  In fact, I spend about as much time helping brides plan their wedding as I do actually shooting their wedding!  With each bride wanting to put their own special touches on their day, it is the photographer’s job to approach each wedding for exactly what it is: unique. Below are 10 tips to find your wedding photographer, so you can have the photos of your dreams.  Check out the list below of 10 Tips to find your wedding photographer. 

1. Prioritize your budget. 

We all have a dream wedding that we have spent years envisioning and months on Pinterest pinning. Unfortunately, we also have to pay for it all! At the end of the day, what really “makes” a wedding are words and memories. The more special, emotional, and meaningful the ceremony and vows, the more everyone is going to remember the entire day. No one will ever say, “OMG! Can you believe they served mashed and not roasted potatoes?” In the end, you only get three or four things after the wedding is done: your rings, your dress, and your photos and video.

The rings you wear every day. The dress you will only wear once. Your photos and video; however, are an investment for yourself and future generations to look back upon. So skip the roasted potatoes and other marginal expenses (no one will miss them) if it means getting nicer rings, dress, photos or videos.  Keep reading for more 10 tips to find your wedding photographer.

10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer

  1. Choose your photographer wisely.

Thanks to the digital revolution, everyone is a photographer now.  Whether it is the camera on their iphone and slew of Instagram filters or someone who invested in a DSLR, everyone has access to take digital images. Add WordPress and free portfolio templates in the mix, it can be very difficult to determine who is a hobbyist and who is a professional, especially when you may only be viewing the best of the best of their portfolio.

One thing to note here though is, make sure you are getting the photographer whose work you are viewing! It seems like it is common sense but often times when brides book with large photography companies, they view the best work from all of the photographers put together and are at the mercy of whichever photographer’s schedule was open on their wedding day. That isn’t customer service nor is that the type of relationship you want with the person who is capturing the most important day of your life.  More 10 tips to find your wedding photographer below. 

  1. Go with the little guy.

Aside from knowing exactly who your photographer is, going with the little guy works in your favor in terms of both of your incentives. Here’s why:

Say you budget $5,000 for your wedding photos and decide to go with a large photography company. A large portion of that money goes to the founders, managers, and large-scale marketing of that company. Like any industry, it is difficult to make a name for your business so they spend thousands and thousands on advertising in print, blogs, bridal shows, etc. Other money goes towards overhead and studio space. Lastly, your wedding photographer has to get paid. Typically, a freelance wedding photographer will get paid approximately $500 to shoot your wedding by the company itself. The photographer shows up to your wedding, has never met you before and will never see you again. They don’t have the incentive to create their best work on your wedding day because regardless of the quality of their work, they are getting paid a flat fee with little to no long-term ramifications. If they missed a shot or showed up late, it isn’t their problem; it is the company’s problem. You try to get a hold of the photographer but the only person you can reach is the front office.

On the other hand, if you go with the sole proprietor (someone who works for himself and owns the business), everything is different. His success and future growth of the company is solely based on your satisfaction with his services.   Need a bit more time during an engagement shoot? Who do you think will be more flexible? Ran into a problem? You have his email and phone number.   I can’t tell you the number of horror stories I have heard over the years from people who were unhappy about their wedding photographer choice and the most common theme between them was going with a large-scale photography company.  You are only on tip 3!  Keep reading for all 10 tips to find your wedding photographer. 


  1. Print your photos.

We have all done it – our cell phone or computer dies and we didn’t back it up. Sheer panic and terror as we quickly take an inventory of all the things we just lost. While digital media and technology are great, they also aren’t foolproof. When is the last time you listened to your favorite cassette or popped in your favorite VHS? Think DVDs aren’t going anywhere? Mac’s don’t even have DVD players built into them anymore. The point is, technology is constantly changing and while the accessibility and shareability of digital images is convenient, it isn’t timeless. Do you want to sit at a screen to enjoy a memory or walk by your living room and see a print displayed? Do you want to hand down your USB to your children one day, or your wedding album? Be sure to print your favorite images from your wedding day, because staring at a phone or screen doesn’t make it art.


  1. Gear makes a difference.

Every photographer and videographer wants to believe that they make the magic, and they largely do…with the help of their gear. There are just some shots that cannot be created with entry-level equipment. Photographers should be shooting with prime lenses or “fast” lenses (with an aperture of 2.8 or less) and MUST have full frame cameras (yes, plural. They should have backup bodies, flashes, batteries, etc.).


  1. Do the First Look!

I will come out and say it; I am a HUGE proponent of the First Look. Some brides have so vividly dreamed about walking down the aisle and seeing their husband-to-be for the first time that just mentioning the idea can get them choked up. To be honest, sometimes I get choked up as the photographer as I am capturing it. But, why not make this moment last a little longer and have it unfold more naturally?

There are so many potential problems shooting the First Look as the bride is walking down the aisle – lighting (some churches don’t allow flash), camera angles (the photographer can only get one shot – the bride walking toward him), and Aunt Suzie sticking her point-and-shoot into the aisle to get a shot are all possibilities. Once you get to the altar, all of the photos are of the back of your head and your husband can’t kiss you despite his excitement!

With the First Look, it is just the two of you. No Aunt Suzies, no recited lines or staged processional, just authentic emotion. When your husband-to-be turns around to see you, he doesn’t have to stand there static and quiet, waiting to hear what your dad has to say. He gets to embrace you, tell you how beautiful you look, how much he loves you, and plant kisses on you. Instead of the first look being planned and lasting just a few brief moments in front of everyone, it can be fun, sporadic, natural and last minutes. I have never had a bride regret doing a First Look, but have had brides regret not doing one.  Keep reading for more 10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer 

10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer

Even if you decide not to do a first look with the groom, you can always decide to do one with your dad, like we did here. Reaction: priceless.


  1. Schedule more time than you think.

An hour or so for photography may be sufficient in between the ceremony and reception to capture all of the formals you need; however, you need to factor in the unexpected delays – signing the marriage license, guests will linger and want to congratulate you, Aunt Suzie will want a photo of every formal pose as well with her camera, and inevitably someone who needs to be in the photo will wander off. Play it safe, schedule two hours for your formals and be sure to factor in driving time. Also, be aware of the season. The sun sets earlier in the fall than it does in the spring and summer. Some brides who don’t do the First Look run out of sunlight and have to cut their formals short.  10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer  is listed below.


  1. Be sure to take some formals.

Today, weddings photography has become much more photojournalistic with some brides wanting to skip out on formals all together. Don’t. In 40 years, you are going to want a timeless formal photograph of you and your husband on your wedding day. Your mom wants that photo today.

10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer

  1. Take a deep breath and trust your photographer.

We are going to have you do random things, hold poses, tilt your head and contort your body into uncomfortable positions…and the photos will come out beautiful! Sometimes random factors will play into an image, whether it is a golden hue from natural light or architecture that we want to incorporate. Run with it. Our job is to see what other’s don’t and make our vision a reality.  10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer 


  1. Have fun!

This is by far the most important and shockingly frequently overlooked aspect of your wedding. If something doesn’t go to plan, don’t worry. Only you know what it should have been; the guests do not. Be sure to have fun, embrace the day, and smile every time you feel like it.10 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer