It's about more than hiring someone to hold a camera and snap a few pics. Wedding photography is about carefully crafting and capturing the moments of your big day in a way that beautifully tells the story of your love.
Choosing vendors for your special day takes a lot more than just finding someone and booking! Your vendors help make your day the day you’ve been waiting for! So, here is how to pick a wedding photographer to capture your BEST DAY EVER!
1. Know the costs.
Photographers can vastly range in pricing! Photographers are worth every penny you spend and sometimes the saying is true: You get what you pay for! Your photographer is not just a day of vendor. They are there and helping you plan from the moment you connect! From vendor suggestions to your engagement session to timeline assistance, they are truly there every step of the way. Your photographer is also one of the only vendors who works after your day has been completed. They likely have hours of editing your memories ahead of them!
So what costs so much? SO many things! Let’s look into just a few:
Gear! You want your photographer to have reliable gear right? Equipment that will do its job and not crap out on your day? The average camera body for professional use is $2500. A professional photographer will have two of these bodies to either dual shoot or to have a backup in case their main body fails. They will also need at least two lenses. These lenses will range from $600- $3000++ depending on the gear and kit. Then there are batteries, SD cards, and lighting equipment. It definitely all adds up and adds up fast!
Alllll the legal things. You will want to hire a legal business that can provide contracts and is insured. These are must-haves when hiring any vendor for your wedding. These will protect you and your photographer in any situation and a contract ensures you get exactly what you are paying for.
Education. Your photographer needs to know how to use their camera, understand lighting, know how to pose in a way that is complementary and so much more! Continuing education is a must-have for photographers to better serve their clients!
Their time. I LOVE what I do. It truly brings me so much happiness and joy. But this is my job and how I help provide for my family. Your photographer works so hard and spends so much time on you and your timeless images. They deserve to be compensated for it!
So how much can you expect to spend on a wedding photographer?
This will vary on what you’re looking for and your area! For instance, a California wedding might be a little pricier than a Western Kentucky wedding day! Here are a couple of averages for any area:
Beginner photographer: These photographers are just starting out and have shot between 0-5 weddings. $500-$1000
Amateur photographer: These photographers are a little more experienced but still learning and have shot between 10-25 weddings. $1500-$2000
Professional Photographer: This is what they do! Professional wedding photographers have the training, equipment, and understanding that you need for your day! They shoot on average 20-30 weddings a year! $3000-$6000
Luxury Photographer: These photographers are known for their work and KICK butt at what they do. They provide more than just pretty pictures but a luxury experience. $7000+++
2.Their style/ Vibes
Every wedding day is different and every wedding photographer is different! Figure out what kind of style you prefer and find a photographer that fits that style. I am a light and airy photographer so if you prefer a dark and moody style, I am not for you! Just like a dark and moody photographer is not a fit for a bride who loves light and airy photography! A photographer’s style is what they excel at and asking your photographer to edit differently for your day might not end up in the way you want. It is important to find a photographer that matches the style you like and will capture your day in the way you love.
The way you mesh with your photographer is also SO important. If you do not vibe with your photographer, you will not feel comfortable with them taking your picture. Your photographer can take the prettiest pictures in the world but if you do not mesh with them, you will have that in the back of your head when looking at your images. When looking for a photographer, check out their about me page, ask questions and take time to talk to them, and follow them on IG! These are the best ways to know if you will feel comfortable with them while getting your pictures taken.
3. Ask Questions
There are so many photographers and so many brides! Like I mentioned its super important to make sure your photographer is the best fit for your day. A great way to figure this out is to ask specific questions. A few questions you should ask your photographers and why :
Q : Do you have backup equipment? Why it’s important: What happens if a camera randomly stops working? What happens if your photographer trips on a cord while the DJ is being set up and breaks drops the camera? Your photographer needs to have backup equipment just to be sure they can still capture your day even if something happens! Not that it will, but it’s always good to be safe! I have backup equipment and so does my second shooter!
Q : What is your system for keeping my images safe? Why it’s important: Your images from your wedding day cannot be replicated. It is important that your photographer has things in place to ensure that your images stay safe from beginning to end! We always shoot on two SD cards to make sure that if one corrupts, we have the same images on a second SD card. Those things are so little and can break easily! We need to make sure that a little break doesn’t ruin the day. We also backup the images as soon as the wedding is over on an external hard drive, our computers and an online cloud. This ensures that if my computer corrupts, I still have your images in two other spots. Keep those images SAFE!
Q: Who is your second shooter? Why it’s important: For me, my second shooter is my right-hand man! She is essentially a copy of me and allows me to be in two places at once. She is a professional photographer who not only has her own equipment but knows how to use it. You do not want your photographer showing up with uncle Joe who just got a camera over the holidays! If something was to happen to me, my second shooter can step up and handle the day without missing a beat. They are invaluable for your day!
Q: When do I get my images? Why it’s important: Uh cause you want to know when you get to see the pictures from your best day! But it is also important to make sure that you know what to expect from your photographer and make sure that is in the contract. We guarantee engagement sessions in two weeks and full wedding galleries in 6 weeks and that is in the contract. Not only does it give you a timeline, but it holds us to the fact that you will receive those images in a timely manner. I know we have all heard the horror stories of brides waiting months on months for their images. Trust me, you don’t want to have to deal with that.
Q: Can I see a full gallery? Why it’s important: Just seeing IG highlights do not show the full wedding day. Asking for a full gallery will give you insight on how your photographer handles the day. I also recommend looking at full engagement galleries to see their style with that as well. If the photographer you are chatting with will not send a full gallery: Red Flag. Another thing to realize when looking at full galleries is that every wedding is different and the things to matter to one bride might not to another. For instance, one bride might have a heavy emphasis on bridal party portraits while another just wants the basics. What you’re looking for is their style and how they handle light on a wedding day. A professional photographer can handle lighting situations at any venue. ( It may be tricky, but they can still produce pretty images)
I hope this helped! Take your time and choose your photographer wisely. Make sure you can trust them and feel comfortable and confident in them!
Natalie is a Louisville wedding photographer specializing in Joyful, Romantic and Timeless images that tell the story of your day. We photograph weddings in Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati and beyond!