Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding. It’s a choice that will impact the tangible memories you have of your wedding day after your family and guests have returned home.
Although wedding photographers are expected to capture all of the same important moments from a wedding day, there will be key differences between photographers on how they capture moments and how they interact with everyone, and what they provide for the price you pay.
Consider these areas when choosing a wedding photographer.
The most popular style since about 2005 has been photojournalism/documentary. This means that your images will be telling the story of your day and include a wide range of details, as if the photographer was producing a very long photo essay. Documentary wedding photographers usually stay out of the way and prefer to let the beauty of your day unfold without interference. For group and couple pictures, they will still pose you. For the rest of the day, they will be constantly looking for the moments that matter and will be ready to capture without making you wait. These photographers are not afraid to use unconventional framing or angles to capture your moments.
Visit the websites of as many photographers in your wedding city as possible to determine what style best fits with the way you would like your day captured. You’ll probably be able to determine within a few minutes if you like the photographer’s visual style and whether they make your list. [Learn how to book a wedding photographer.]
Remember though, that while style is important, the photographer’s personality and approach may matter more to you when you’re being photographed hundreds of times on your wedding day.
When you’re meeting prospective wedding photographers, don’t ignore your feelings. This person will be spending an entire day with your family, closest friends, and taking hundreds of pictures and you and your loves ones. Does the photographer make you feel comfortable and put you at ease? If not, keep looking to find the right person.
Wait everyone, let’s do another take. Some photographers use the posing model where they will ask you to stop and pose for photographs during important moments like cake cutting and exchanging of rings. While posing may be ok after the wedding ceremony, many couples are not comfortable with their ceremony being interrupted so the photographer can take a photo. Most photographers would never dream of pausing your ceremony, but there are some out there with a more commercial approach where they treat you like actors on a set. Some professionals claim that posing is the best way to achieve the perfect photograph (even during tender moments).
- Second photographers are critical to capturing as much of your day as possible. Any photographer who considers himself/herself a professional will have a second photographer available as a package option. Most pros will already include a second photographer in their packages. Photography is a lifetime investment, so it’s worth paying the extra money if the photographer charges a premium to have a second photographer at your wedding.
- Prints, Discs, or Albums? You want to make it as easy as possible for parents, grandparents, and other important people to obtain images of your wedding. Some photographers use the boutique model where your package includes an album and some prints are also included. No digital files are provided unless you pay extra. Albums take a tremendous amount of hours to polish, so some photographers offer photo prints as the bulk of their package. This was more common before the digital era, when making albums could not be done by the photographer using a computer. A third offering is very common now: digital only delivery. These photographers skip the album and prints altogether and provide just a disc or website with downloads for your images. Getting your images on disc means that you’ll be able to easily share photographs with family and friends, just be sure to make a second copy of the disc in mint condition and store it in a fire proof safe or safety deposit box. Online downloads are becoming a new standard, but they may not make it easy for grandparents or elderly guests to obtain your images. With online downloads, you are responsible for downloading and storing your images. Many photographers will limit image availability to one year for online downloads.
The average wedding photographer (in the continental U.S.) charges $2,500-3,000 for their basic package. Check out this article to see some infographics about how prices vary across the U.S.