Updated: May 7
So you just became engaged! Many congratulations and welcome to your fabulous and unforgettable year as an engaged couple! Usually the first decision is where you would like to be married and have your reception. The second is to decide on your photographer.
So... what's the best way to choose the perfect Wedding Photographer for you? It's very easy and manageable if you know which questions to ask yourself and your photographer. Yes, I know there are hundreds from which to choose in your area but let's start to whittle them down to a manageable number. After even a few beautiful websites, they all begin to look the same with gorgeous photographs everywhere you look!
Ok so let's figure this out. First let's talk about your style as the first step in choosing your wedding photographer. Let's pretend that you have brought your beautiful wedding album to show off to your family at Thanksgiving. Imagine turning the pages to the oohs and aahs of everyone! Which images do you expect to see there and what type of feel does your album have? Are the images big, clear and vibrant, full of color? Or are they soft, ethereal and dreamy? Do you like to see a lot of bokeh/blurriness in the background or do you want every detail in the photo to be sharp? Do you like lots of closeups with both bride and groom looking at the camera, or prefer a more photojournalistic feel with more candid shots? Do you want to see more traditional shots, creative and artsy ones, or something more avant guarde? When you look through websites, keep these in mind.
So should you do a google search in your area like: best photographer, St. Augustine, FL or go to the knot and look up reviews first like:
A google search will usually bring up the photographers who spend the most money. If their main photography website comes up on the first page, they are spending a small fortune for sure and God bless them! That also means that tons of people like you are clicking on their sites so in turn, that helps them to get a higher ranking on google searches. They will probably be the most expensive photographers or the ones that are the crazy, insane, amazing ones who do one wedding a week ,if not more, during wedding season! God bless them again for that! You can choose your wedding photographer by going directly to their websites.
A google search will also bring up wedding sites, like theknot, which have reviews on photographers in your area. These wedding sites will show you some of the photographers' photos and if they are serious wedding photographers, you will see a link to their websites like https://www.annacasciophotography.com/
You can also do a search based on review ratings, starting prices and location. All this will put you on a great path to choosing the best wedding photographer for you.
Should you book your photographer at a Bridal Show? Sure! If you like what you see, love what you hear, plus love her personality then try to get a commitment for your date. It truly is a load off when you make a decision! The nice thing about a bridal show is that you can feel, touch, see the photographer's products and get a great taste of their style. Also, you leave with a feeling of accomplishment! ...and you will score major points with your sweetie for ticking "photographer" off the list! Generally speaking, most photographers attend Bridal Shows close to their permanent location so you will be looking at local photographers. Vendors pay a lot of money to be at these shows, so it is a great place to meet serious, professional photographers. We also spend hundreds (if not thousands) to create a beautiful booth, so definitely help us out and book us- we are great people and will make you very happy!! :)
Let's talk about what to look for in the reviews:
Obviously brides should be gushing over their photos so that's a good start! It is also helpful if some of the reviews are from other people in the wedding party or parents of the bride/groom, other vendors etc. This starts to give you different perspectives of how the photographer worked the wedding and how others felt about the images. I have had Moms hire me for their daughters' weddings as well as grooms, so we want to hear from everyone, not just the bride.
How about camera equipment? It's imperative that your wedding photographer has the most professional, high level equipment possible. Believe me, there are plenty of people who bought basic starter camera equipment and hung a "Professional Wedding Photographer" shingle on their door" with no real training, photography degrees or experience. I'm not saying some of them aren't great photographers, but you want to get the most professionally qualified photographer you can afford who can handle the extremely stressful job of being a wedding photographer. They should also have enough training behind them to handle the many technical aspects of the wildly varying lighting situations during the course of the day and night. Have a look at their photos to make sure that they all look natural without any harsh lighting etc. Now sometimes photographers are forced to shoot a wedding outside in the middle of the day when the sun is creating horrible dark shadows. There are ways to mitigate that, of course, but it's usually using a flash and/or standing close to the altar or blowing out the lighter parts of the image- then of course there's photoshop but we photographers want to capture the moment perfect from the start. Your photographer should be well aware of all lighting scenarios and have the equipment which can handle them.
Talk to your photographer about how she imagines the day will go. Do you want to do a "First Look" before the ceremony; when do you want to do the family shots; how much time do you have to take photos after the ceremony and before cocktails. Your photographer should be mature and "bossy" enough to organize all of the shots quickly, especially when there are tons of family members and a large bridal party. Of course, in a professional and nice manner! There is nothing worse than the bride standing around in her gown in the hot sun while the photographer is too shy or too slow to organize these mandatory group shots.
A very important question to ask your potential photographer is where they usually shoot from during the ceremony. I have been horrified by photographers who are actually on the altar with the bride and groom! Uh- are they getting married too!?? Or they permanently plant themselves in the aisle flashing away during the entire ceremony, blocking the bridal couple from important people like your parents or special Auntie! Hello...personal space anyone!? Not cool in my book but again, professional equipment (and common sense!) will allow your photographer to not have to do that. I like to be as invisible as possible during your ceremony- it's a very sacred and private time! All of the close up photos you see on my website are actually taken way down the aisle, far away from you saying "I do".
So the biggest question is usually price! First look for photographers who have the images which resonate with you. If you can meet them in person or via skype to assess their personality, even better. Then start to look at their prices. Some will have packages, others allow you to pick and choose so you don't have to pay for something you really don't want. If you don't want an engagement session or wedding album, don't buy a package which includes it! Remember, at the end of your wedding and after your honeymoon, you will have only your photos. Try to not skimp on your photographer. Yes, it's important to have amazing food and your dream venue, but if you have a cheap photographer with cheap equipment, you will have cheap photos. Let's face it, even if your cousin Freddie the engineer agrees to take photos since that's his hobby, you will expect to have photos like your favorite wedding images on that incredible photographer's website or the "best wedding photos of the year" on pinterest. If you want the best photos from the most important day of your life, don't do it- it's not fair on Freddie and he might secretly resent the pressure you put on him (since he'll be a nervous wreck and would really love a cocktail!) You need a professional, end of story. Try to make up the extra money by reducing your food expense, decor or anything else. The difference will really get you a much better photographer, but it won't have a huge effect on your food. Look at your percentages and see where you'll get the biggest bang for your buck! You can even include a photography fund on your gift registry.
The cost for a wedding photographer varies with location, experience, your date, the total time of photography coverage and number of photographers. Some photographers will shoot a small wedding on their own for less than $2,000, while others charge $50,000 for a large wedding with perhaps 5 photographers. So there is a huge variance. And the price might include edited images with rights plus an album, or it might just be their time. Obviously, if a photographer accepts a small 4 hour wedding, then she will not be able to do a large 10 hour one which would garnish more revenue. This is why there is usually a minimum amount. Have a look at the websites of photographers in your area and check them out on wedding websites like on theknot
You will start to get an idea of the average cost.
The Deposit Amount varies since some photographers ask for a minimum amount up front to hold the date while others base it on a percentage of the entire package. Most photographers are like me and take credit cards, checks and are on Venmo. Once you are booked, you are booked! Your photographer will be turning away other brides based on your commitment, so deposits are nonrefundable. A credit is oftentimes given if you have to postpone your wedding. Just make sure your photographer is available before you book your venue again!
Don't forget to ask when you will see your photos?? I am a bit different since I start to upload the family and party shots two days after the wedding. I usually have all of the wedding photos edited and uploaded to two private online albums in about 7 to 10 working days. Some photographers have a 6 month timeframe. I like to put the family and party ones in one album which everyone can see and order from, while the other album is your personal album which the guests do not see (unless you want them to). Just talk about this with your photographer and make sure you are happy with timeframe and the presentation of your images i.e. online, hard copy proofs etc.
Google Search your photographer to make sure there are no negative articles about them in the news. You don't want to join a class action lawsuit with other brides who are still waiting for their photos after 2 years! Be smart and choose a reputable one- there are lots of us out there.
And finally, don't be afraid to make a decision! If the photographer has a personality that meshes with you, you get a great feeling and love the photos just pull the trigger, sign the contract and tick "photographer" off your "to do" list!! You will be very happy, no worries. Remember, photographers are like wedding gowns- there will always be another great one so just choose one of your favorites and relax! If you see an image you can't live without, send it to her and she will make sure you have it. We want you to be absolutely thrilled with your wedding photos and work hard to keep our brides happy on the most special day of their lives!
To help figure out how much you should invest in your Wedding Photography, have a look at: