Beautiful wedding photographs are one of the most important keepsakes from your wedding day, which is why figuring out how to choose a wedding photographer is so important. Your wedding photographer and wedding videographer (if you choose to have one) will be the people to capture special, candid moments you'll cherish forever, so picking the right one is important.
Choosing a wedding photographer who understands your style and vision is a crucial part of your wedding day. There are several things to keep in mind when thinking about how to pick a wedding photographer, from wedding budget to wedding photography style. No matter your stylistic preferences or the size of your budget, you're sure to find a wedding photographer who can make your dream snaps a reality.
With more than 3,800 wedding photographers on the Hitched directory, it's no surprise you may be finding it hard to pick a wedding photographer, but fear not as we have some expert advice from the shooters themselves on how you can ensure you pick the perfect wedding photographer for you.
How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer in 9 Simple Steps
With the help of some wedding photography pros, we've gathered some top tips to help you choose your wedding photographer and make a decision you're completely happy with. Read on for trustworthy advice on how to choose a wedding photographer in the UK and further afield.
1. Know Your Budget
There's no point finding a photographer you love and then discovering they’re well beyond your budget. We’ve got our complete guide to wedding photography prices to give you a good idea of what you can get for your money, but for full transparency, the average is between £1,600 - £3,200.
Your first step is to discuss how much you can legitimately spend and always keep that in mind as you continue your search. Lots of photographers have starting prices on their website, as well as wedding photography packages that give you great value for money. Alternatively, you could ask a few in your area for a quick quote to see what the going rate is.
Emily from Emily Montay Photography agrees, "Budget is important. Sometimes photographers are willing to be slightly flexible, so there’s no harm in asking if there’s some flexibility with the packages, but there’s no point reaching out to a photographer that is double what you budgeted for."
2. Decide Your Vision
Now for the fun part of starting your search. Your preferred end result really is one of the most important things to consider. If you're not sure of your tastes, start looking through various wedding photographers' portfolios and make a note of what jumps out to you. Do you want candid, classic, a mix of colour and black-and-white, creative or contemporary?
Start creating a shortlist of the wedding photographers you like and research a little more about them. Weddings are unique in the scale and speed of the action so you’ll want to pick a photographer with a few years of wedding photography experience under their belt.
Emily says, "Pick a photographer whose work stands out to you and that you personally love. It’s never a great idea to hire a 'light and airy' wedding photographer and ask them to do 'dark and moody'."
3. Consider Their Style
Similarly to your vision, it's also important to consider the style of wedding photography you want.
Most wedding photographers will be able to adapt to a range of tastes, but many will specialise in a certain style of shooting and also have different approaches to how they photograph. Some prefer a behind-the-scenes and non-intrusive approach, whereas others may prefer a traditional and more organised structure to the pictures.
Though we have a whole article on wedding photography styles, here are the three main types:
- Reportage Photography
Reportage photography is also known as photojournalistic or documentary photography. Your photographer will stand among and around you and your guests capturing candid and spontaneous shots. Reportage style is all about reactions and emotions, so you can expect your photos to tell the real story of your day. It has a very authentic feel as it doesn't involve any posing.
- Traditional Photography
Traditional or formal wedding photography is the classic posed look you'll see in conventional group shots of the couple and the wedding party. This used to be the most popular style and involves plenty of direction from the photographer, but it's also more time-consuming than reportage. However, your finished photographs will be beautifully shot and well-lit.
- Contemporary Photography
Contemporary photography involves more dramatic and unique shots, and will feel more like fashion or editorial photography, combined with reportage. This style is ideal if you want fashion-led couple photos and an artistic approach to your shots. You’ll need to find a photographer with the same creative vision as you, whether that’s street style, portraits, conceptual or nature-focused.
4. Get Recommendations and Read Reviews
One of the best ways to choose a photographer is to ask friends for recommendations. If any of your friends or family members have got married recently and you loved their shots, find out who their photographer was. Other places to get recommendations from are your wedding venue, social media and online reviews. Is there a forum for your county? What about asking in Hitched’s forum?
A reputable photographer will have lots of testimonials and reviews from clients they’re happy to share with you and can put you in touch with previous clients. Once you have a shortlist, get in touch with the photographer and ask if they have any reviews or testimonials, or if they can put you in touch with a previous couple they've photographed.
We cannot stress the importance of customer and couple reviews when it comes to booking wedding suppliers and especially when choosing a wedding photographer.
Every year, we award the most reputable wedding venues and suppliers a Hitched Wedding Award for outstanding and excellent customer reviews. You can view our award-winning photographers here, as well as all of the award winners here. Who better to put your mind at ease than another couple who had an excellent experience with their photographer?
5. See a Portfolio
Seeing your wedding photographer's portfolio is essential to choosing the right one. Your photographer's website will showcase a highlight reel, but what you need to see is a full wedding album - three or four photos don’t tell you the whole story. Hitched wedding photographers often have dozens, sometimes even hundreds of wedding pictures that really represent their style and finish,
This is important as the photographs should tell the story of the day, all flow and all be equally as beautiful. You want each photo to be consistent in quality and look. You may realise that you don’t like the way the photographer shoots in low-light or their style when it comes to group photos doesn’t fit yours.
6. Arrange a Meeting
Your photographer is going to be spending a whole day with you, so you need to make sure that you gel with them. Meet them face-to-face, ask questions, go through their portfolio and see how you feel around them. Do they put you at ease? Do you feel they understand what you want? The more relaxed you are around your wedding photographer, the more natural and at ease your photos will look.
Emily says, "Make sure you get along with your photographer. You’ll be spending the most important day of your life with this person, so make sure you like each other. Grab a coffee and meet beforehand, or schedule a zoom call to have a chat.
"Write a list of questions you want to ask before an initial chat with a photographer. This could be anything from how they approach capturing the day, to how the payment process works, to how long the turnaround time is for the photos themselves. This way your mind won’t go blank as soon as you start chatting."
If you're not sure what to ask, check out our definitive guide of questions to ask your wedding photographer.
READ MORE: Do You Need a Wedding Videographer?
7. Do They Know Your Venue?
This is by no means a deal-breaker, but it always helps if your photographer has shot at your wedding venue before. It means they’ll have experience of the best locations and know the lighting conditions. Your venue will happily provide a list of recommended photographers and most photographer have blogs featuring their real weddings. The Hitched Real Weddings section can help you, too.
If local, some wedding photographers will also offer to visit your venue early in the morning or the day before to scope out the best places and lighting to shoot.
Emma-Jane, owner of Emma-Jane Photography says, "We love to make sure we are getting the most out of the day for couples - we can recommend best times for things and lighting to work the space."
8. Narrow Down Your Shortlist
You’ll probably meet with several wedding photographers before choosing the one. As well as feeling comfortable, the right photographer will likely come down to price and package options. Consider what is included in the contract (number of hours of coverage on the day, a second shooter, prints or albums, extras like an engagement shoot), how long the proofs will take to get back and retouching options.
Once you've considered all these factors, you'll be ready to make your decision. Don't forget to trust your gut!
We have a roundup of wedding supplier mistakes couples make when booking - this will help you avoid any big nos.
9. Book an Engagement Shoot
Again, this isn't an essential, but you’ll be so much more comfortable on the day if you’ve had some experience of being directed and posing beforehand. An engagement shoot is a great way to get to know your wedding photographer and see if your personalities mesh - this is important as your photographer will be shadowing you for a whole day.
The right photographer should be respectful and have the social know-how to blend into your wedding, yet still be bold enough to seek out the shots they need. They should ask you lots of questions and, most importantly, be excited about your day.
Engagement shoots are a great way of gathering even more beautiful photos of you and your partner's relationship, as well as getting you both hyped for your wedding day. You'll also get to try out all your fun and creative engagement photo ideas.
How to Choose a Good Wedding Photographer?
Following our advice above is a great way to get on the right path with choosing your wedding photographer, and pro photographer Emma-Jane offers further tips, explaining, "A good photographer should have a diverse portfolio.
"It shouldn't just be filled with super stylish couple photos - there should be a healthy mix of photos of the day; examples of preparations, ceremony, candids at drinks reception and speeches. Make sure your photographer knows how to cover all aspects."
James Grist Photography also offers some advice, "Experience is key - wedding photographers need to know how to deal with and work in different scenarios (e.g. wet weddings, hot weddings) and have a back up plan to deal with any potential obstacles. Hiring a wedding photographer means that there has to be so much trust and faith in one individual. The main thing is that you see eye to eye."
How to Choose Between Two Wedding Photographers?
Finding two professional photographers that you trust and admire enough for them to photograph your big day probably isn't the worst problem you could have, but it has to be dealt with nonetheless. Drawing up a pros and cons list is a great way to make a tricky decision - remember to take all of our previous advice into consideration.
James says, "This has to be a one of the most difficult decisions to make as there are so many talented photographers out there. My number one tip would be their personality - make sure you click (excuse the pun!) as most photographers are with you for up to 12 hours. Also, experience is always a great decider as you need someone who can adapt to multiple situations."
Emma-Jane also offers her advice. "Choosing between two photographers often comes down to two things. Can you see yourself as one of their couples based on the portfolio they've create? And do you get on with them? You will be spending a whole day, as well as the before and after, speaking to them," she says.
Now you know how to choose a wedding photographer, it's time to browse. Take a look at our incredible wedding photography suppliers and read up on the questions to ask your wedding photographer so you know what to ask before you book!