If you already started looking for a wedding photographer and feel overwhelmed, we have great news for you! Among all the options out there, there is one wedding photographer who would be a perfect fit for you. But how to narrow down all the great recommendations from your wedding venue and your friends? How do you choose a wedding photographer from all the options on Google, wedding websites, or on social media like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok? What are the 10 Tips For Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Photographer?
We have been photographing weddings for over a decade and have an eye for great wedding photographers in our industry. We have also seen first hand the temptation of couples to compare wedding packages from different wedding photographers. It’s easy to assume that the more things included at a lower price, the better.
However, some couples don’t care how many pages there are in their free wedding album if the photos in it are not what they have envisioned them to be. They know that timeless wedding images and the exceptional experience of working with a wedding professional are what they are looking for.
So you’ve stumbled upon a wedding photographer’s website and were instantly impressed by all the gorgeous people in their beautiful wedding photos. The first question you need to ask yourself is: Are these real couples, or are they, professional models?
We love styled photoshoots or showing breathtaking couples portraits. Still, the problem is that some wedding photographers allow their potential clients to believe that these photos are a true representation of what they will receive in their wedding gallery.
A realistic expectation for real wedding day photos should not be based on the heavily curated wedding gallery of styled shoots that took days to plan and prepare.
First of all, models with extensive experience in front of the camera don’t require a lot of guidance from the photographer. Also, wedding vendors like hair and make up artist and a floral stylist will adjust the model or the props before every single shot. This is clearly far from the reality of a wedding day.
Yes, these wedding images are Pinterest-worthy and perfect in every way. However, in 30 minutes allotted for the couple’s portraits, the photographer won’t have the same results. It does not matter how great they are on a technical level or while working under pressure. The images are simply not going to be the same. However, these are the images you need to see, as well as photos of all the real and spontaneous moments from an average wedding day.
So head to the photographer’s blog and look through at least five weddings to get a realistic idea of their wedding photographic style.
If you are serious about the specific wedding photographer, you can also ask to see an entire wedding gallery. Lastly, during your meeting, be sure the photographer is extra communicative about realistic expectations for your wedding day. Overpromising wedding professionals may seem very accommodating but the results may turn out to be disappointing. Instead, choose a wedding photographer with a realistic approach to wedding photography and an extensive portfolio of real weddings.
Technical expertise is the basic but significant skill to check when asking how to choose a wedding photographer. It does not matter how great the photographer’s gear is when they did not practice enough with it and have a problem using it on the fly. Knowing the equipment and ability to adapt to many unexpected changes goes a long way in wedding photography. How can you tell if the wedding photographer is great on a technical level and can nail photos without technical mistakes?
First of all, the photographs you see on their wedding portfolio should reflect their ability to work in different lighting conditions. It is very important in wedding photography because often the photographer has no choice over when and where to photograph. However, how they adapt to challenging lighting conditions will make all the difference. They either use available natural light, bring in artificial light, or confident enough to ask people to change their location for the best photo results when appropriate. All of these skills are important in wedding photography. When looking through the wedding photographer’s portfolio ask yourself these questions:
Is each photo well lit, or do some images look dull or muddy? Do people have super brights spots on their faces while others are too dark? Does the backlit photo look sharp or blurry? Is angled light used to embrace the moment, or is it creating unflattering shadows and lines on faces? In a photo in the dark environment, is it obvious that the photographer used flash? Does it enhance the image? Do people squint in their portraits, or do they look comfortable?
The second mistake that you don’t want your wedding photographer to make is to overexpose the images. If their style is “light and airy”, you need to make sure they don’t make this tragic, image destroying mistake. Technically sound wedding photos show all the beautiful details in the bride’s dream dress. Sadly, wedding photographers often overblow the intricate beadwork or lace detailing that made the bride fall in love with it. Why would you want your wedding photos to be among them? If they say they intentionally overblow the details because it is a part of their style, please know that no one consciously wants to destroy their photos. Details are very important, so pay attention to wedding dresses and their details when reviewing different wedding portfolios.
For example, when we photograph backlit portraits, we make sure the bright light does not fall on the front of the dress (the part of the dress in focus). This choice of lighting highlights the veil and the dress creating an effect of a glowing portrait. At the same time, all the beautiful wedding dress lace and beadwork is preserves.
When looking through the photographer’s portfolio, ask yourself these questions: Can I see all the beautiful details of the bridal dresses? Does the dress look flat like a white sheet of paper?
The third unrecoverable technical mistake that you need to pay attention to is the sharpness of the images.
When looking through the photographer’s portfolio, ask yourself these questions: Are portraits of the people looking in the camera sharp? Are the images sharp and blurry in the wrong places? If the image is blurry, is it to express the emotion or show the movement? Does the soft-focused image look artistic, or does it seem to be the result of poor technique?
Creativity is what makes wedding photographs stand out in the crowd. It is a unique touch that makes a good photo even better. It is an idea that turns an average setting into magical. There are many different ways photographers can express their creativity in wedding photography. For example, photographing in-between moments requires creativity to see the significance in something very simple, like the bride walking to the church to get married or the groom having a moment with his father before the ceremony.
Creativity takes courage
The way the photographer captures the bride’s details also requires a creative approach. Sometimes getting a great wedding photo means something as simple as the angle change or shooting through something. Sometimes, the bride’s long veil flowing in the air is what makes your heart skip a bit.
You will know a great photo when you see it and be sure to listen to your heart when you discover a collection of photos that you like.
Posing skills are essential for wedding photographers. They should be able to create flattering images for different body types, know how to bring out the emotions between the bride and groom, pose large groups of people and make people feel more comfortable and at ease in front of their lens. Posing skills also come with good taste and highlight people’s beauty and not minor imperfections.
Our vision is to create photos that don’t feel posed but still guided. We embrace the connection between people instead of taking pictures of people just standing there. At Pasha Belman Photography we pay attention to every detail, focus on proper angles, and create interaction between the bride and groom, so our images of you are forever your favorite ones.
Another aspect to consider is the photographer’s editing style. Some specialize in dark and moody aesthetics, while others create light and airy photos. Each style is unique to the photographer, and there is a photographer for every bride. The question is,
Light and airy style became very popular in recent years because it is modern but timeless at the same time. It prints beautifully, and such wall art goes great with any interior. We chose this style for our photography because it provides a timeless aesthetic with accurate colors and flawless skin tones.
To figure out what style speaks to you more, start by putting together a collection of your favorite wedding photos and ask yourself why you like them. Do you like skin color, the color of the greenery, the moody tones, or bright colors. Then look for photographers with the same aesthetics in their portfolio.
Lastly, when looking through a photographer’s portfolio, look for consistency in their work. A sign that a photographer is not yet sure of their style is a portfolio that is not consistent. They apply filters on some of their photos but not on others; the same colors look different in different images; skin tones are not consistent from photo to photo. Even seasoned wedding photographers can have inconsistency in their portfolios. It is especially true when they are hybrid shooters and they work with both film and digital cameras. These are all red flags that you may not receive the type of photography that you were expecting.
Wedding photographers are naturally good at working and interacting with people. However, do they shine when working under pressure? Stress and anxiety are not always easy to handle, especially at weddings where so much goes into the day.
Weddings are an uncontrollable event where one of the moving parts can affect the entire timeline, and things can get hectic. If a bride starts stressing, the last person she wants by her side is an even more stressed out photographer. It is crucial that the photographer remains calm, supportive, confident, and reassuring and continues to carry the creative flow even when it seems impossible.
The heavy rain started, and the ceremony cannot start? Your wedding photographer is here to support you and beautifully document the moments of anticipation while everyone is waiting for the ceremony to begin. In moments like this, you want a professional and confident team of professional photographers by your side.
The photographer must know how to control the situation in the nicest way possible, especially when it comes to a loud crowd. Rowdy groomsmen or a large family photo with children of all ages should not be a problem for a professional. A great wedding photographer thrives on this kind of pressure and knows how to direct people kindly yet assertively.
Honestly, it is impossible to know from the meeting or the portfolio how the photographer can control the crowd of people or any stressful situations. But it does not mean you should not take this critical personality trait into considerations.
Instead, ask your friends or other wedding vendors who have worked with them before what stands out from their experience of working with this particular photographer.
We have had a bride planning her destination wedding in South Carolina, and she knew no one in the area to ask those types of questions. She first studied our Google reviews and then asked if she could directly chat with some of our previous brides over the phone. Our bride was glad to talk to our potential bride and told her how awesome it was working with us and how we handled ourselves during the day. Why is it important? Because you want to introduce your friends and family to a friendly, confident professional and want them to have a positive experience with them.
Creating a realistic wedding timeline is a crucial part of the wedding planning process. A skilled wedding photographer should be able to step into the process and identify the timeline parts that are not realistically aligned with the bride’s expectations. For example, a winter wedding ceremony ends 30 minutes before the sunset. The bride expects all the extended family photos, bridal party photos, and couple’s portraits to be taken during daylight. An experienced wedding photographer would suggest timeline modification to make all the essential photo moments happen without jeopardizing the final results.
If the ceremony time is set in stone, we would highly recommend a first look before the ceremony. This would allow us to take all the key portraits in daylight, just like on our website. Then during 30 minutes after the ceremony, we would take more photos of the bride and groom by themselves. Otherwise, the bride should know that we would have to reserve to flash photography after the sunset and be OK with that.
The same goes for the situations when the timeline is shifted early in a day. In this case, a great photographer would ask the bride to limit the number of family photos to the immediate family. Otherwise, they would have to rush through them all to accommodate a long shot list. This way, they would create carefully crafted portraits of the couple’s closest people. Later, during downtime at the reception, and they’d work with extended family groupings
Timeliness with the delivery of the final images is also an essential part of the entire experience. When you sign your wedding photography contract, it will say there how long it would take to receive your wedding photos. But we strongly advise double-checking on the real number of weeks with the photographer.
If the photographer promises to deliver the gallery in 12 weeks, but in reality, it takes them over six months because they book more weddings they could handle, you would probably get disappointed. To avoid this, carefully read their reviews and make sure you know exactly what you are getting.
The photographers you bring to your wedding should dress the part. Sure, jeans, white sneakers, and logo t-shirt are comfortable for a long day of work, but this dress code is usually inappropriate for a wedding. As a matter of fact, your wedding photographers should blend in with your guests, be comfortable and look professional at the same time. That is why many professional wedding photographers wear all black. It is an elevated look even for a sweltering day. An all-black outfit can also be easily coordinated between all the photographers on the team for the uniform look.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, we highly recommend asking your wedding photographer what they will wear on your wedding day. If they insist they wear jeans and you are OK with that, then at least you will know what to expect.
Why wedding photographers personality is important? Your wedding photographer will be spending one of the most important days in your life by your side while also interacting with your family and closest friends. Besides, you will be working with your wedding photographer before and after the wedding. So you need to make sure your photographer is organized, friendly, and honest with you.
The final important thing to consider when choosing your wedding photographer is a budget. Despite the widely accepted suggestion to start with the budget as the key determining factor, we recommend first getting informed about all the characteristics mentioned above. Only then will you truly understand the difference between photographers you are considering for your wedding.
If you only consider wedding photographers within a strict budget, you could potentially be setting yourself up for a disappointment or an uninformed decision.
The best way to do it is to arrange a virtual or in-person meeting before booking. After the meeting, ask yourself these questions: Did I enjoy the company of this person? Would my friends and family like this person? If so, would I invite this person to a gathering at my house?
Did you know that multiple surveys have proven that married couples’ biggest regret is not spending more on their wedding photographers? Why do you think is that?
Because these brides cannot expand their vision during the research process, they choose to settle for a budget photographer. Unfortunately, they would not even consider the best photographer for their wedding by giving too much attention to a wedding photography budget. Instead, they budget for wedding favors that guests leave behind or too big of cake that goes uneaten. Only later they would realize that their photos were the only thing left after the wedding was over and the only investment that truly mattered.
First, choose a range of wedding photographers who check off all the right boxes and then ask for their prices. Then try to look somewhat beyond the budget and experience for yourself why good wedding photographers charge more. Wedding photographers worth your investment will listen to your needs, help plan your timelines even before your book them, and answer questions promptly.
They will connect you to other fantastic wedding vendors, provide education and wedding planning resources, give you insight into different venues and advice on what to wear to your engagement session. They know that wedding photography investment is an investment in stunning photos and a fantastic experience from start to finish.
Once you analyze various wedding photographers by asking the questions above, you will start differentiating the good ones from the OK ones. While quickly narrowing down the pool of options, you will make an informed decision about the wedding photographer you want and deserve.
Written by Natallia Belman
Pasha Belman Photography is a husband and wife wedding, family and senior portrait photography team based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Recognized as some of the top Myrtle Beach Photographers.