How to Find the Right Photographer for You

A professional photographer shares her tips for selecting the right person to capture your special day.

How to Find the Right Photographer for You

Photo: Kimberly Jarman Photography

Bride in Tiara Laughing at Reception

You took care to plan an event that will reflect who you are, but who will be the one to capture the story of your big day? Pictures are all you have once the wedding day is over, so photography isn’t an area you want to be blasé about. With so many photographers out there to choose from, making a choice can feel overwhelming. However, if you conduct the proper research, you can feel confident about choosing the right photographer for you.

Seek Introductions
Personal referrals are probably the best way to narrow your search. Ask your friends to show you their wedding images and, if you see a style you like, inquire if they had a good rapport with their photographer. Moreover, friends can give you an idea of their photographer’s price points, so you’ll know if a particular vendor is within your spending limit. A professional referral is also a valuable resource, as wedding vendors tend to work with people they trust and whose services are respected in their field of expertise. For example, look at your catering manager’s recommendation lists, as they will likely include photographers with whom they’ve worked with in the past. Those photographers will often have recent images of weddings that took place at the venue you’ve chosen, a great way to envision how your event may look and get ideas for photo opportunities. The internet is another great way to look at portfolios and see photography styles you like (
the carefully curated members of Inside Weddings Editors Circle offers a valuable starting point). You can get a quick feel for the photographer’s approach and personality from their website, and it can be a good place to narrow down the work you really connect with. Many bridal magazines and websites feature Real Weddings, which allow you to see how a professional photographs a single event from start to finish – rather than viewing a variety of their best shots from multiple weddings.

Make Contact
Once you’ve narrowed your choices based on style and recommendations, you can begin reaching out to prospective photographers. Phone interviews are essential, so you don’t waste time meeting with someone who may not be able to fulfill your requirements. You can easily determine each professional’s availability, price range, team size, and process (film vs. digital) by phone, and weed out anyone who is not a good match. 
When meeting candidates in person after the initial phone interview, there are several key questions it would benefit you to ask:

• What is included in your photo session?
• Will the person you’re meeting with (and whose work you have seen) be the person photographing your big day?
• Is there a minimum number of hours for which they contract, or do they provide “complete” coverage of the day? A typical day includes eight to 10 hours of work.
• What is their backup plan in case they fall ill or can’t do the work for any other reason?
• What happens to your deposit in the unlikely event you need to postpone or cancel your wedding?
• Will the photographer contact you before the wedding to go over details like last-minute changes to the schedule (i.e., a rain plan for doing your formal portraits indoors)?
• Do they offer both photo albums and proof books?
• Are high-resolution images (also known as “digital negatives”) included in the contracted coverage?
• What are their travel fees, if applicable?
• What is the cost for exceeding the contracted time period?

If you’re planning a destination wedding, you may not be able to meet with the photographer in person. However, some photographers have an interview video to give you a virtual feel of their personality and services. Scheduling a phone interview or Skyping is a great way to see if you connect personality-wise.

Sign on the Dotted Line
When you’ve completed the interview process, you should have a pretty clear idea of which professional is a good match for you. Style, talent, and price are all important considerations, but personality is significant, too. Next to your consultant, your photographer is the wedding professional you will be most intimate with during and after your wedding, so it’s important to feel really comfortable with your choice. Pick an experienced, seasoned professional who instills you with confidence, and check their references before committing. Commissioning a photographer is like commissioning an artist to create a unique and personal work of art, so be very selective about the quality of their portfolio, personality, and services. Make sure everything you’ve discussed and agreed upon is carefully spelled out in your contract, and then look forward to having your big day beautifully captured forever.

Opening photograph by Kimberly Jarman Photography