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How to Choose a Wedding Photographer: Expert Guide

Searching for the perfect wedding photographer is a crucial step in planning your wedding. Finding a photographer to capture your memories + all the beautiful details and candid moments is so important! Choosing a photographer who makes you comfortable, captures your best angles, and can help plan and keep your wedding day flowing is essential to a joyful wedding experience, and it's how you’ll relive your wedding day for the rest of your life! Here’s a breakdown from a wedding photographer who’s photographed hundreds of weddings.

How to find a wedding photographer

How a Wedding Photographer is different

When searching for a wedding photographer, you may think that any human with a camera will work. As long as they know how to take a beautiful photo, that’s the main thing you’re looking for, right? Yes, BUT, there’s so much more you want and need from a wedding photographer! That’s why taking a glance through a photographer’s website or Instagram and seeing beautiful images isn’t enough to decide that any photographer is the person you should trust with your priceless memories and to give you images that will be cherished by you, your partner, and your families for decades to come.

Hiring a wedding photographer is a little like picking a jungle tour guide. You could go with the first person wearing khaki and hiking boots who looks reasonably knowledgeable. For taking a spin around the local park, that’s probably fine. Suppose you’re headed into uncharted territory on the adventure of a lifetime, where mistakes and miscalculations can have expensive and emotionally devastating results. In that case, you don’t want just anyone by your side, making sure you don’t accidentally end up in a too-close encounter with an anaconda! You need a Steve Irwin! Someone you can trust, whose warm, calm presence will allow you to relax and enjoy the adventure, knowing you’re being safely guided to the most spectacular views.

How to find a wedding photographer

Essential Skills of a Great Wedding Photographer

Professional wedding photographers should take great photos. They also need to make you feel comfortable while being photographed, be able to pose you if you’re not familiar with the best way to stand and move in front of a camera, have the ability to produce great images under time constraints, know how to work with challenging light, and understand how to balance capturing candid moments while gently keeping everyone moving on track with the timeline.

These are just a few skills an excellent wedding photographer will have. Choosing the right photographer for your wedding will have the biggest impact on your wedding day experience and the images you receive after the celebration to remember and relive your wedding for the rest of your life!

Questions to ask before looking for a wedding photographer.

When thinking about your wedding photography, what style do you love and want to see in your images? Light and airy, moody and romantic, true to life color? You want to find a photographer whose images match the style you like best. Another thing to decide before beginning your search is budget. How much are you comfortable spending on photography, and what fits within your overall wedding cost? Finally, ask yourself and your partner what kind of personality you want in your wedding photographer, someone who will hype you up and give you lots of instruction and guidance or an artist who will unobtrusively follow and photograph the natural flow of the day. There are no wrong answers, but getting clarity on these questions and what you’re looking for in a photographer is good.

Seven steps to find a great wedding photographer.

  1. Book your wedding venue! Knowing where your wedding will be and what the style of the venue is will help narrow down the best photographer for you!

  2. Ask around - Word of mouth, whether from friends or wedding vendors (like a planner) is a fantastic way to find good photographers. Recommendations from people who have personally worked with a photographer will give you the inside scoop!

  3. Once you have a list, it’s time to interview your potential photographers. Ask questions like, - how do they back up images to prevent loss, how long have they been photographing weddings — are they insured - what happens if there’s an emergency - why are they a wedding photographer - how and when will you get your images?

  4. Look at their pricing! What’s included? Are there any extra fees or travel costs if you choose to work with them?

  5. Look at their work! Check out their website and social media, and request full galleries from recent weddings! One of the best ways to weed out substandard photographers is to see what their work looks like across an entire wedding day in different locations + lighting situations. Professional wedding photographers work will include excellent couple’s portraits but also show fantastic reception photos, ceremony, and getting ready shots. Look for a mixture of posed and candid images.

  6. Ask yourself and your partner if you both like the photographer’s personality. Your photographer will be with you during emotional and intimate moments. You’ll spend more time with them than any other vendor you hire. It’s important that you vibe and feel comfortable with them.

  7. If all of this checks out, cue the fireworks and do a happy dance. It’s time to book your photographer!

Red flags to watch out for when hiring a photographer.

You may find photographers who have beautiful images splashed on their website and socials, but a few warning signs to look for include,

  • The photos they show are ONLY couples portraits and the images are repetitive. If you don’t see a wide range of good images from different locations, celebrations, and times of day, watch out! There should be reception photos, detail shots, and candid photos from multiple weddings. You want to find a photographer whose experience is more than just one or two weddings and a few styled shoots.

  • They don’t have reviews! This could be an inexperienced photographer or someone who’s previous clients didn’t have anything good to say about working with them.

  • Bad communication. If they don’t get back to you in a timely fashion, fail to answer questions, don’t follow through on appointments, or send over examples of their work when promised Houston, we have a problem!

  • They don’t have full wedding galleries to show you.

  • Their pricing is too low. According to Wedding Wire, the average wedding photography cost is between $1150.00 and $3000.00.

  • They’re not insured. Some venues will require your vendors to show proof of insurance. An amateur photographer won’t be able to provide this. It also indicates they may be cutting corners in other business areas.

There’s a lot to consider when finding the perfect wedding photographer, but asking the right questions and trusting your gut will help you find the photographer who will capture your wedding with artistry and care!

How to find a photographer on a budget.

If price is the biggest factor for your search, here are a few things to consider. Wedding photography should be 10-15% of your overall wedding budget. Here are some cold-hard facts to think about

  • There are no do-overs of your wedding day! If you’re disappointed with the images or have a terrible experience while working with your photographer, you cannot go back and try again.

  • You will never have the chance to walk down the aisle with all your friends and family gathered around you.

  • You’ll never recreate the decor and location you've spent months planning and carefully setting up.

  • You can’t redo the reception where your Aunt spontaneously started breakdancing or the toast from your best friend that made you tear up.

There’s no chance to relive the look in your fiancee’s eyes when they see you in your wedding dress for the first time. It’s a serious risk not to have the right person in control of your memories and an event that you have spent incalculable amounts of effort and money to create. Word of mouth is your best bet if you’re looking for a budget photographer. Find people who have had an excellent experience and can vouch for the professionalism and skill of the photographer.

Doing an engagement session is an excellent way to evaluate them and will give you a good metric for how they’ll photograph you on the wedding day. That being said, trust your gut! If a potential photographer seems like a steal or too good to be true, you may find out later that there are gaps in their experience and the resulting images. I know multiple couples who chose a beginner photographer and never received ANY images from their wedding!

How to find a wedding photographer steps and tips

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Find a Wedding Photographer

Q. How much do the best wedding photographers cost?

A. Average wedding photography for 8 hours begins between $1500-$3000; a photographer with years of experience, whose work has been published, or who is artistically gifted may charge more. You can expect pricing starting at $4500 and higher for in-demand, talented artists.

Q. How long before a wedding should you get a photographer?

A. It’s a good idea to book your wedding photography as soon as you have your date and venue set. Photographers who are in demand will book out a year or more in advance, so start looking no later than 8 months before your wedding date.

Q. What percentage do you tip a wedding photographer?

A. Tipping is a generous gesture that can show your appreciation. However, it’s not a requirement for your wedding photographer. If you decide you want to tip, between 5-10% of the cost of service is a good metric.

Q. How do you choose the right wedding photographer?

A. Decide what style of photography you prefer, ask for recommendations, carefully vet your potential photographers, read their reviews, and go with your intuition!

Tips to find the best wedding photographer


Virginia based
wedding photographer for the people who take the road less traveled

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