10 Steps choosing the wedding photographer that's right for YOU
Pick a Style
Choose a style of photography that you like. Are you looking for Fine Art photography that is bold and elegant, or would you prefer the crisp clean style found in Documentary photography? Whatever style you love is the style you should look for in your wedding photographer. Not all photographers shoot and edit the same (thank goodness), so make sure the photographer's style matches the style of your wedding and your personal taste in photos!
Do Your Homework
When choosing a wedding photographer it's important to do your homework. Make sure your check out their reviews. (See my reviews here.) See what other brides, grooms, and clients say about their work style and how they act during the day. Also, look at their portfolio. This goes back to step one of picking a style. Make sure you like the photos they take.
Meet face-to-face if possible. If a face-to-face interview isn't possible at least talk to your potential photographer on the phone. Make sure that he or she answers all of your questions and gives you his or her undivided attention.
You will be spending a lot of time on your wedding day with your photographer. If you're like most brides you will spend more time with your photographer than with any other vendor on the day of your wedding (and many brides spend more time with their photographer than with any other person). Knowing this, it's important that you LIKE your photographer. Not just his or her work, but him or her as a person. Make sure your personalities mesh.
See a FULL Wedding Album
Most photographers have a portfolio of their very best work set up for you to see. This is the highlight reel of their photography. It makes sense that photographers (myself included) want to show off their best work! However, before you hire a wedding photographer you should see a wedding album from start to finish. Are the important moments all there? Are the lighting conditions similar to what you are planning for your wedding? If you're getting married in a gorgeous theater with twinkle lights as your lighting and the photographer has only done outdoor weddings you could have a problem. Feel free to ask your photographer for full albums if they're not readily available. (Full album here)
Review Photos with a Critical Eye
When looking at the photos, imagine that they are YOUR wedding pictures. What do you notice? Do you like the lighting? How about how the photos are framed? Are the images crisp and sharp or are they slightly blurry? Do you like the colors? Do the colors pop or are they washed out? The photos they take will be your memories for the rest of your life of this amazing day. Make sure you LOVE what you see.
Compare Packages and Prices
Make sure to get a quote from the photographer for exactly what you are looking for. How much for the day of coverage? Does the package include engagement sessions, proofs (digital or print), prints...? If the package does not include prints how much are the prints or albums you will want? What all does the price include and what is NOT included? (See basic prices for Seiber Photography here)
Keep Your Budget in Mind
I'm a photographer and as a photographer I will tell you that you should NEVER skimp on photos of your big day. With that said, keep your budget in mind when hiring a photographer. Feel free to ask for payment plans and/or other ways to help you afford your ideal photographer. I believe 100% that good photographs are important. I also believe 100% that a budget is important as well. Wedding photographers range in price from $500-$15,000. Find one that fits YOUR needs and fits in YOUR budget.
Know Your Rights
Photographers own the rights to all of the photos they take, even the ones they take of you. Determine what you can do with digital images given to you. If given digital proofs, ask if you can post them to social media, and if so, what restrictions are there? Also, confirm that digital images are given with a print release so that you can print them without restriction.
Get Post-Production Details
Wedding photographers take a great deal of photographs at each wedding. The photos they take are shot in RAW which are much larger than the JPEG photos you will receive. They do this so that there is more information saved with each image that will make the editing process easier. Photographers have to go through all of the images, choose the best ones, and then determine the best edits for each photo. This process takes time and a great deal of attention to details. Keeping these things in mind, it is not unrealistic for photographers to take 4-6 weeks minimum to get your photos back to you. It is important to double check with the photographer what the typical turn around time is for them.