“The highest happiness on earth is the happiness of marriage.” - William Lyon Phelps

Trust, faithfulness, and communication are some of the key ingredients to a good marriage. However, planning a marriage requires organisation and cooperation, especially when choosing the right photographer. A wedding photographer has to capture all the emotions on the day as and when they happen. The preparation, ceremony, photos of the couple, etc., being a wedding photographer is a lot of work. They need to be discreet and professional and capture all the moments up close without getting in the way. Then they need to put all the best photographs into a collection for the happy couple to take with them in their new lives together. Here’s our advice for choosing the right wedding photographer.

Establish a Budget for Wedding Photos

The best wedding photographers are those who are within your budget. There’s no point in looking at photographers that you can’t afford. Weddings are expensive enough as it is. This is counterproductive and just plain frustrating.

How much does wedding photography cost?
The photographer is a part of the budget that's often underestimated. (Source: Shutterbug75)
The first thing you need to do is agree on how much you’re willing to spend on your photographer. For some married couples, this is one of the most important steps and sounds a lot simpler than it is. Since a photographer is often considered an essential part of the wedding, it’s one of the first decisions you’ll make. Rates can be anywhere between £500 and £3,000 depending on what you opt for and the photographer's experience and reputation. If they’re going to be hanging around all day taking photos, expect to pay more. If you want to save money, you might want to have them there just for the ceremony. If you know someone who’s pretty good at photography, you might want them to take your photos for the rest of the wedding day. Similarly, don’t hesitate to encourage your guests to take photos of the whole day. This way, you’ll have photos from throughout the day. Even if your photographer is there all day, you might still want people to be taking photos so that you don’t miss a thing. Even if photography isn’t everyone’s thing, a little encouragement can go a long way. That said, you don’t want to get in the way of your professional photographer. The main part of your budget will come down to how much you have your photographer do on the day. Similarly, a novice photographer will often be cheaper than a photographer with 20 years of experience. Whatever the reason, focus on your budget when choosing your photographer. Don’t forget that photography isn’t the only thing you have to pay for.

Find the Style for Your Wedding Photography

Whether you want your photos in black and white, a vintage style, candid, or posed, different photographers have different styles and ways they like to work. To find the best wedding photographer, you need to look around.

What types of wedding photographer are there?
Make sure you pick the right type of wedding photographer for what you're after. (Source: StockSnap)
More and more couples choose reportage photographers. These are photographers who’ll capture the moments of your wedding as they happen. They’ll focus on candid shots of the bride and groom, the guests, and provide you with photographs that capture the best moments and overall feeling of your wedding. There are also photographers who focus more on the details. They’ll focus on the beauty of the day and focus on capturing photos with nice backgrounds and beautiful colours without paying too much attention to the narrative. These photos can be looked at in any order. Each photographer will have their preferred techniques. Some choose to shoot in black and white or take colour photos then apply a filter to them. Each has their own style so you should really look at their portfolios. A portfolio is a sample of the photographer’s work and it’ll give you a general idea of their style and what they can do. Most modern photographers will present their portfolio online so that interested parties can find them easily. The samples of high definition photography and videos (in the case of videographers) will help you see what they’re capable of. You might want to look for “couple’s photography”, “portrait photography”, “photojournalism” or “reportage photography” to decide. To work out which style you prefer, you might also want to visit social networks like Instagram and Pinterest to decide what you like and what you don’t. Thus, you’ll have a better idea of what it’s all about. Your wedding photographs don't necessarily need to go into a wedding album, either. There are plenty of wedding photographers who can provide you with digital copies of your wedding pictures rather than an album you may or may not ever look at again. Find out more about where you can get wedding photos taken.

Getting in Touch with Your Wedding Photographer

Once you know what kind of style you’re after for the big day, you need to start putting together a list of names. Try to put the shortlist in order of preference.

How long before the wedding should you get in touch with your photographer?
You want to make sure that your photographer is fully briefed on anything unusual that's going to take place during the wedding. (Source: SplitShire)
Of course, if your list includes around 30 names, you might want to narrow your search. On the other hand, if you have just two or three that you’re interested in, you can probably start contacting them. The first thing you need to ask them is whether or not they’re available on the day of your wedding. Their rates are often on their websites but if not, you’ll want to ask them how much they charge. However, there’s nothing stopping you from telling them exactly what you want so you can get a fair quote. If everything goes well, most photographers will arrange to meet with you before the wedding to iron out the finer details. Use this opportunity to calm your nerves and ask any other burning questions that you may have. The important thing is that you and your photographer are on the same wavelength. Talk about what your wedding will be like, what the venue’s like, who will be there, and any other pertinent information that the photographer will need. You can also ask them about their experience:

  • How many marriages have they done?
  • What equipment do they use?
  • Do they have backup equipment?
  • How long will it take for the photos to be delivered?
  • How much do they charge for travel?
  • Will they have an assistant on the day?

This is also a good opportunity to see if you and the photographer get along. You want to feel comfortable in your choice as it’ll be one less thing to worry about on the day. The last thing you’ll have to do is decide upon your photographer and get the contract signed.

How Long Before the Wedding Should You Contact Photographers?

Wedding photographers are often booked long in advance, especially for the busy summer period. Many of them will be fully booked every weekend of summer and won’t be able to help if you’ve left it too long. You need to get in touch with your photographer as soon as possible. That said, it’s pointless getting in touch if you haven’t booked your venue yet or don’t know your dates. It’s too risky booking your photographer for a certain day if you don’t have somewhere for them to photograph. If your wedding is taking place in winter, autumn, or spring, you may have more luck finding a photographer. For reputable photographers, you’ll want to be looking at least a year in advance. Similarly, if you want an engagement photo for wedding invitations, you might have to go to a photography studio. Some wedding photography packages will include these services so discuss this all with any professional wedding photographer you talk to. Additionally, the more requests and demands you have, the earlier you want to talk through it all with your photographer. Most professional wedding photographers will be familiar with what happens during a wedding but if you're going to have something special happen as you're walking down the aisle, you might want to let them know. Similarly, if there's something special about the wedding venue that you want captured, tell them! They won't need wedding photography tips, they're experts at taking pictures, after all, but just let them know any pertinent information that'll help them get the best photos.

Where Can You Find the Best Wedding Photographers?

Where can you find great photographers? Where should you look? Perhaps you’ve got some friends who were married recently. In this case, you might want to ask them who they used and if they have any photos you’d like to take a look at. Word of mouth is a great way to find reputable photographers.

How can you find wedding photographers?
You can find wedding photographers online, in the phone book, and at wedding fairs. (Source: Pexels)
It’s also quite simple to find wedding photographers online by searching for them plus the name of where you’re getting married. Plenty of websites will show up. Have a look at the portfolios and rates first. There are also wedding blogs which will have recommendations for photographers where you'll be able to find their details. You just need to get in touch or have a look around their own sites. Be it wedding fairs, wedding planners, or in-person, there are plenty of ways to find the ideal photographer for your wedding. Don’t make this step more difficult or stressful than it has to be. Just make sure that you agree on the final decision. If you want the perfect wedding photo, engagement photos, or even videography, don't leave it until the last minute.

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A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.