The wedding photographer you hire for the big day needs to be more than just a professional with the right equipment. They need to be someone you can develop a rapport with as they will be with you throughout the day and must be someone you feel comfortable around. If you want wonderful natural shots that capture your joy you will want a photographer that brings out the best and makes you feel relaxed. If you are opting for a high editorial look with magazine quality photographs you will want a photographer that gives good direction and shares your unique vision of your best silhouette.
When seeking a wedding photographer, it is worth compiling a short list of several professionals to interview, rather than just choosing the first guy you can afford in the phone book. Different photographers have different styles and you should consider the style you want for your own wedding. Perhaps you prefer traditional portrait shots, or you may like the more informal style of reportage photography which involves the photographer blending into the background to capture un-posed moments. If you are wowed with the idea of a high fashion shoot then narrow down a list of photographers that specialize in this style but have your budget primed for their fees.
When compiling your shortlist you can take recommendations from friends, relatives and the wedding specialists that will play a part in your wedding. Perhaps the venue you have booked has a professional relationship with a photographer they can recommend.
If you see some stand-out photographs on social media that suit your style ask the name of the photographer, browse online recommendations and note the names of photographers that catch your eye in bridal magazines.
Look through professional directories such as the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers, the Wedding Photojournalist Association, or consider wedding photographers with high accolades on Wedding Wire.
As you interview the photographers on your short list be sure to ask to see examples of full shoots of the weddings they have worked on, rather than just the brilliant headline shots they have in their portfolio. You will be looking for consistent high quality pictures. If budget constraints are an issue then consider the importance of a quality photographer over lots of images. You can prioritize the photographer above the album as the album can be built up over time from quality images if you have the flash drive or negatives.
And don’t forget about social media. Yelp is a great resource for brides-to-be when selecting professional photographers, caterers, musicians and the like. It’s very difficult to create “fake” reviews on their website and Yelp actively guards against all attempts to alter the true reviews from actual customers. Of course, take it all with a grain of salt, since getting married is a very personal experience and people do tend to get worked up over any perceived slight.
Photographers, like any professional business, require contracts and stipulations to be met prior to releasing their work to the purchaser. It is a serious line of work and one that should be performed by an artist with a camera; not just your Uncle Joe.
Experienced, professional photographers with an excellent reputation, and a style that is in sync with your own, may be in high demand, so book early. Do not leave your choice of a photographer to the last moment as the images they create will be a lasting memory you will pass on to future generations.