How to Find the Best Wedding Photographer

March 11, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Advice

If you’re planning a wedding, you’ve probably heard this spiel one or twenty times already: After the cake is cut, the flowers are wilted and the last favor has been stuffed into your Aunt Betty’s purse, only your photos remain.

So, needless to say, finding the right photographer is pretty important. It’s also pretty overwhelming. With the advent of affordable photography equipment, just about anyone who can afford a digital camera can call themselves a “photographer” — and you’re expected to find the one who will capture your wedding exactly the way you envision it. And you thought finding your spouse was hard!

Unfortunately, some of the most common selling points for wedding photographers can actually be red flags in disguise. Here are a few signals you should watch out for and question when talking to potential photographers.

1. “This studio shoots 300 weddings a year!”
Experience is a must. You don’t want a photographer using your wedding for practice. But busier isn’t always better. If someone shoots over 100 weddings in a year, either they’re shooting back-to-back events every single weekend, or they’re hiring associate photographers to fill their shoes (and their sample albums). Neither of those is an automatic deal breaker, but you should get a feel for how these photographers handle their heavy workload.

If they’re doing it all themselves, do they seem passionate or jaded? If they’re hiring an associate, is it a talented colleague or a random freelancer? Make sure you know who will be holding the camera on your wedding day, and that they’re committed to treating you like a VIP no matter how many other clients they have.

2. “She’s running an insane sale!”
The right photographer can make a budget wedding look breathtaking, but the wrong photographer can make even the most expensive wedding look tacky. Ask anyone who’s been burned: It’s not a bargain if you hate your photos. If your favorite photographer is running a discount (like 10 percent off for Friday weddings, or a free engagement session), then heck yeah, jump on it. But don’t let a deep discount be your deciding factor. Good wedding photographers pay taxes, carry insurance and invest in high-end gear and professional-grade printing. So before you cut corners with a dirt-cheap photographer, ask yourself where they cut corners.

3. “The venue recommended him!”
I’m going to let you in on a little wedding industry secret: some wedding venues sell spots on their preferred vendor lists. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every venue. Some offer excellent recommendations because they like to see gorgeous images of their venue floating around on the web. But always cross check recommendations against friends, online reviews and your wedding planner before plunking down a deposit.

4. “He’s family!”
Maybe you have a cousin who just graduated art school, or an uncle who does wildlife photography or a friend who recently launched a portrait studio. And they’ve offered to shoot your wedding for freeeeee! While it may seem like money-saving serendipity, you risk bad blood if they screw up. Weddings are a tough gig with a lot of variables. Just because your friend takes beautiful photos of sleeping babies, it doesn’t mean she knows how to light a pitch-black reception venue.

And what if you don’t love the photos? What if your images get lost because your cousin has mad skills but no file-backup system? What if your shutterbug uncle heads to the bar to do a quick shot with his brother during your first dance? Bottom line: when you’re choosing a wedding photographer, choose a wedding photographer.

5. “Her portfolio is ahh-maaa-zing!”
Okay, this is actually a really good reason to book a wedding photographer! But it shouldn’t be your only reason. After you’re done drooling over the dreamy images and Pinterest-worthy poses, email the photographer and set up an in-person meeting. Remember, your photographer will probably spend more time by your side on your wedding day than your own mom or even your newly betrothed. So no matter how much you love someone’s work, make sure your personalities click before you invite him or her along for one of the most important days of your life.

  1. image
    Margo Sears said on October 12, 2016 7:10 pm:

    I’m a pro photographer and this is SPOT ON! Excellent advice, good “secrets” reveal, easy to read, factual and WISE ADVISE! I am sharing it.