You are going to put a lot of time, effort, and money into your wedding. When it’s all over, you will only have two things left: your memories, and your photos. Hiring the right photographer is a super important part of wedding planning. Luckily, it’s easier than ever before to research wedding photographers!
Instagram is your best friend when it comes to looking for a wedding photographer. It’s like having access to everyone’s portfolio all at once. Just search #weddingphotography or #weddingphotographer to get started. If you want to geographically refine your search, add your city name or region to the hashtag. For example #sacramentoweddingphotographer or #norcalweddingphotographer. You will find a bounty of accounts.
After you’ve glanced through a few portfolios, you will start to get a sense of the different styles of shooting and editing. Some photographers use a photojournalism style of photography. They are there to capture the story of the day as it unfolds. They are masters of seeing those candid moments that might be missed in the hustle and bustle. When you look at your photos after the wedding, you’ll be grateful they were there to capture those moments.
Other photographers have a more classical portrait style. These photographers often have lighting setups that they bring with them (sometimes, rather elaborate setups). If you look at enough wedding photos, you’ll start to be able to recognize the difference between the portrait photographers and the photojournalists. One style will probably resonate more with you than another, so pay attention to how the photos make you feel.
Most photographers will also talk about their style and philosophy in the About Me section of their website, so if you find a photographer on Instagram that you like, be sure to stalk their website a little bit to see even more of their work. Many photographers also have visual blogs where they’ll post 20-50 images from the same wedding. This gives you a great sense of how they shoot over the course of the day, and not just the one or two photos they post to their IG account.
Another area where photographers really vary is in their editing style. If you spend enough time on Instagram, you may have noticed a trend over the past few years toward very light, bright, airy images. Maybe you love that style, or maybe you prefer more vivid, high contrast photos with rich colors and the interplay between shadows and light. Again, pay attention to which photos capture your eye the most.
While most photographers could vary their editing style to fit your request, many of them will not. They’ve spent years developing their style and their brand. They want people to recognize that style as theirs, so they are usually unwilling to alter it. If you like a particular photographer’s style, you should try to hire that photographer and not try to get some other photographer to imitate their style.
Don’t forget about your budget! Photography should account for about 10 percent of your overall budget (and that includes videography, if you’re doing that as well). Some photographers put package and pricing information on their websites; some don’t. If you find a photographer you like who is out of your price range, you have two options: 1) Find another photographer you like whose prices are lower, or 2) find another budget item that you can cut in order to allocate those funds to your photography line item.
When you inquire with a photographer, be honest about your budget. There are a lot of talented photographers out there. I assure you that you can find one whose style you like and whose services you can afford!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. I read them all, and I’m happy to respond and give you advice! And if you prefer video over reading, here’s a link to my YouTube video where I discuss most of what I wrote above.
Further reading: A Guide for Hiring a Photographer for Your Wedding
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