7 tips for picking a wedding photographer and the questions to ask to make the right pick.
As you may know, booking a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions for your day. Your wedding photos are the one investment & keepsake you will have 10, 20, 50+ years from now. Along with the photos, the person you choose is equally important in value.
In this blog post, I hope to offer guidance on what to look for in a wedding photographer! Now, I know this is a long blog, but trust me when I say that you don’t want to skip over these tips. Pour a coffee, grab a cozy blanket, cuddle up with your partner, and let’s talk all things wedding photography!
1. Personality Type.
Wait, what Kassidy? You didn’t put editing style first?
That is correct! Here is my thought process.
Perhaps you value intimate, emotion-filled imagery. You place a priority on wedding images that make you feel something. How will these images be created if you don’t feel a high level of comfort with the person photographing you? Will you be able to let your guard down in front of someone you don’t connect with personally?
Being in front of the camera can be a vulnerable experience. Especially with the wrong person. A photographer’s personality can truly make or break your session/wedding depending on how they communicate with you, go about posing, and make you feel internally.
The person you select for this role will witness raw, intimate moments alongside of you. Heck, this might become the person you rely on for emotional support on your day. In the past, I have had couples become overwhelmed by their guests and need someone to debrief with. (That someone becomes me!) Your photographer not only needs to feel like a best friend, but someone whose values are right in line with yours.
Questions to ask:
1) How would you describe your personality?
2) (If you are into the enneagram, ask––) What is your enneagram type?
3) Ask them to describe their shooting style to you!
2. The Client Experience.
Hello, you are a future bride or groom! You deserve to pampered, heard, and seen throughout your wedding planning process. You are investing a lot of money into your vendors and should receive an organized, thoughtful experience alongside of the images captured.
You should have no doubts that the people you’ve chosen are exactly what you’re looking for. If you don’t feel this way, don’t settle!
Client experience is not only about little gifts or surprises, although these are fun! It is about how you are treated from beginning, middle, & end. Efficient communication, thoughtful responses, well-designed materials, and feeling appreciated are the things to look out for!
Questions to ask:
1) Do you have reviews we could read from previous clients?
2) After booking, what is next?
3. Photo Aesthetic.
Probably the most obvious pointer, but a photographer’s overall aesthetic and consistency in their images is major! First, I encourage you to identify the photography style you feel most drawn to. No two people’s style will be exactly alike, which is the beauty of picking a photographer. There are “overarching” themes in editing style (I.E., light, airy, warm, cool, etc.,) but each photographer has their own unique eye and approach to their image creation.
Remember that your photographer’s style is what inspires them and suits the images they capture. Therefore, they will not change their editing style! So if you aren’t in love with what you see, don’t ask them to edit differently–– keep looking!
No one editing style is the best. It is the same as flowers (kind of.) They are beautiful in their own way, but we all have that one or two we are most drawn to.
Questions to ask:
1) What inspires you to edit the way that you do?
2) Could we see a couple photo galleries from the past?(To ensure editing is consistent throughout an entire wedding day!) Take this with a grain of salt, though. Every couple is different and wants emphasis on different portions of their day.
3) What is your approach to posing your couples?
4. An Expert & Resource.
Your photographer is not only an expert at taking photographs, but should be someone you can rely on as your plan out your wedding. Seasoned photographers have done “this” a time or two, and weddings become like second nature.
If you have questions about your timeline, need vendor recommendations, or feel lost in your planning, you should feel like guidance is easily accessible from the photographer you pick!
Hiring a photographer with connections and a desire for “teamwork” on your wedding day is also important. Along with experience comes valuable friendships in the wedding industry! It is likely your photographer will take a lead (alongside your coordinator) in conducting how the day goes. This role should be given to someone who respects your vendor team and is comfortable co-running the timeline!
Questions to ask:
1) Will you assist us/our coordinator with making a timeline before the wedding?
2) Do you have a list of preferred vendors/recommendations?
3) If you want to dive into this topic, you could ask how your photographer handles mishaps on a wedding day.
5. Gear and Post-processing.
You’re ready to create beautiful images! Make sure that your photographer has a process afterwards that protects your precious memories.
When asking about the safety of your images, every photographer should answer that they shoot on a dual-card slot camera, backup to multiple drives, format (professionally clear) SD cards before use, and save their SD cards until your full gallery is sent off! You also want to hear that they shoot in RAW (don’t worry about what this means!)
I would argue that these above steps are the biggest non-negotiable. These are memories you cannot recreate and you are investing thousands into them–– make sure they are being honored that way!
Questions to ask:
1) What steps do you take to ensure images are safe?
2) Do you have business or liability insurance?
3) It is likely your photographer will have this written out in their contract, but if not, ask how long previews & the full gallery delivery takes and how many images you can typically expect!
7. Heart, Passion, & Care.
This might be a personal preference, but I encourage you to seek out a photographer whose entire heart is invested in what they do. It is no secret that weddings are expensive. Unfortunately, some individuals see the dollar sign and think its enough to start doing wedding photography.
It takes a special type of care and passion to do this job for a living. As a former bride, I can tell you with 100% certainty to TRUST that gut instinct you feel when first interacting with a potential vendor. You should feel welcomed, at peace, and loved in your correspondence with a future photographer. If they are quick to talk about money or want to jump right into booking without answering your questions…. typically a 🚩.
This is the hardest pointer to describe because it is entirely subjective! All I can say is this:
You are not for everyone. And not everyone is made for you.
When it comes to a vendor’s heart, you should always be at the center of it. (Not money, clout, or getting the best IG photos.) Your vendors should be passionate about telling your story in the best way possible and caring for you the way you deserve to be!
Questions to ask:
1) (I love being asked this question and I am sure your future photographer will, too.) What inspired you to start photography and what keeps you doing it today?
2) Outside of your work, tell me about yourself!
3) For fun, ask about your photographer’s past career or if they planned to do photography all along. It is likely they didn’t, so learning more about their history is neat. For example: I worked in healthcare prior to running my business full-time, so my caregiving skill-set oftentimes channels into my work.
Welp, that’s the guide! How long did it take you to read my novel? 😉
I sincerely hope that these topics & questions have your brain firing in a way that it hasn’t before in your planning! All of these ideas can apply to any vendor category, not just photography. The bottom line is that you have to trust your gut to tell you the answer. NEVER, ever settle! Your perfect photographer is out there and will be passionate about taking care of you & your memories. (Oh, and hello, I’d love to work with you too.)
Thank you for choosing to spend some time with me today! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this guide and if it was of any help for you. Feel free to shoot me a DM or email: @kassidyilaynestudios or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers to you!
– Kassidy xx