How to Choose a Wedding Photographer – Advice From The Owner of a Wedding Event Venue


Few tangible items will be kept after your wedding day. Sure, if you subscribe to tradition, you may keep part of your wedding cake to eat it on your first anniversary, but how many brides and grooms rave about the taste of one-year-old freezer-burned wedding cake!

You may keep some of the invitations and actually have one framed, but how many times can you read it and see something on it that you did not see before.

You may keep your wedding gown, but do you really think your daughter will wear it in 20-30 years? And do you really plan to actually take it out of the hermetically sealed cleaner’s box to try it on? How about the favors, bubble bottles, candles, decorations, etc?

If you think about it, the only really important tangible items from your wedding will be the photographs and the video. And this is born out in my personal experience!

I was married nearly 40 years ago Photographer Cairns. My wife and I look at our wedding photos every year on our anniversary and sometimes in between! I also have seen my wife sneak a look at them after each of our four children were engaged and again once they received their wedding photos. We have had times where groups of our friends all got together to “show off” their wedding photos. We even had a time when the pastor of our church asked for each couple to submit one of the photos to show on a screen when preaching on a passage about marriage…. Interesting how many people could not identify me now that I have grown bald!

So how do you choose a wedding photographer? What should you expect from a wedding photographer? How do you grade a wedding photographer?

I suggest you consider the following general factors when choosing a photographer:

Technical quality




Business aspects

Actual products he offers


Remember that photography is an art as well as a science. There is no official ranking system for photographers like there is for lets say, a physician where you can choose a family doc versus a specialist. There is no mandatory licensing or formal training required to label yourself as a photographer as is required for a hair dresser or for that matter even people who do your finger and toenails! There is no inspection such as what your caterer is subject to. So how do you choose a photographer?

You must do due diligence and you must be the judge.

The training that an individual photographer has can vary widely. The training can range from informal self taught to college degrees such as a Masters of Art in photography. In fact there are actually a few PhD level degree photography programs in the US.

Training programs cover the technical aspects of photography such as depth of field, types of images (film or digital), perspective, type of lens used, ISO or image quality factors, etc. They also include digital image manipulation and printing techniques that can be applied to the final product.

Not having a college degree or a master’s degree does not necessarily make a photographer a “bad” photographer, but it does give a bit of credibility and should be at least one factor you consider in your quest.

Training programs also teach the “art” of photography. This aspect of wedding photography is much more subjective from the viewer’s perspective but very important to brides as that is what they see. The art of photograph factors highly into how you make your first “cut” on your long list of attributes a photographer must exhibit.

Therefore, first and foremost, you must like the images that the photographer exhibits from other brides. You will know what you like after you have seen a number of photographers but make sure you are looking for some of the following in the images:

Look at his style, the colors, the black and white images (if applicable), the sharpness and softness of the photographs. Look at how he poses the people in the mandatory photos of immediate family, grandparents etc. Are the poses too formal or too relaxed? Are the people smiling and can you see their faces? Does he capture the groups in a manner that you would like to exhibit mounted on your walls?

There are numerous distinct styles of wedding photographers and photographs, informal, natural, journalistic and formal to name a few. Most brides will want some of each of these styles for different purposes. Can the photographer actually capture your wedding in a manner that you dream of? Can he/she capture the emotion, the joy, the trepidation, the beauty, the scope, the color, the feeling that you have planned into your wedding?

Does he have varying types of lighting or is every photograph the same; with a flash on his camera? Does he incorporate natural light, windows, shadows, candle light, side lighting, back lighting, silhouettes? Does he incorporate low light images that offer dramatic lighting? Does he capture the bride and groom in the fading sunlight and sunset?

You must look at numerous photographs for each photographer you consider to make sure you are comfortable with the actual final product and choose accordingly.

Experience is also important! No two weddings are identical. Since no two weddings are identical, it is important that your photographer have sufficient training and/or experience to handle any contingency. Obviously experienced photographers can adapt to the exact circumstances you have planned into your wedding. They can handle the fading light of an early evening wedding, the unique lighting of a large old church where the pastor forbids flash photography, the large family groups that you may wish to have photographed. The reluctant 3 year-old ring bearer. There is no substitute for experience.

Personality also comes into play! I have watched many, many photographers over my lifetime. I have noticed that some of them have the personality of a turtle; others could be on a talk show or have their own comedy club, others instantly confirm confidence. Although I have not done a formal assessment of the end product, I suspect that establishing a good rapport with the bride, groom, and bridal party in a wedding creates better images!

Business aspects are also of interest! Does the photographer have a good web site? Is the pricing transparent? Are the terms clear? Does the contract clearly state the time the photographer will arrive and how long he will stay? Are the deliverable s clearly outlined? For instance, many brides want the digital images and most photographers have packages where they will give up their ownership of them. Others wish a slide show with the music of their choice. This needs to be clearly described in your contract. Is the actual contact clearly written and understandable?

Cost? Probably no other single line item has as much variability as the cost of a photographer with no guarantee of what you are getting! Since much of photography is “art”, the price can vary from hundreds of dollars to many thousands of dollars for the same time commitment.

Your wedding photographs are VERY important. Be very careful when you look for a photographer. Look at hundreds of photos and interview several. Talk to other brides, check out ratings on various web sites, ask other vendors. Above all, make sure you are comfortable with the photographer who captures the most important event of your life!

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