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How To Choose A Wedding Photographer


Wendy K. (Professional Fashion Writer)

Wendy is a published freelance writer and editor with extensive experience in beauty, fashion, and travel.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and while many brides and grooms put a lot of thought into their wedding venue, flowers, bridal attire, and wedding rings, they often overlook something as important as choosing the right wedding photographer.

Once your wedding day has passed, your wedding photos are likely to be one of your most cherished possessions. If you want a wedding album full of memories that you can share with future generations, you should choose your wedding photographer wisely to ensure every special moment, no matter how fleeting, is captured on film.

In this complete guide to choosing a wedding photographer, we’ll help you find the perfect one to document your big day and tell your love story in style.



#1 Choose Your Style

Much like musicians, wedding photographers have their own unique style, and so it is important to decide what style you are going for before you start shopping around for photographers. Are you looking for something traditional with formal posed portraits, or do you want something more modern and on-trend? Do you want a classic wedding album with page upon page of black and white and coloured images, or something sharp and dramatic with a photojournalistic feel?  These are all questions you should be asking yourself, and each other, before researching for a photographer who can translate your ideas into a beautiful pictorial of your wedding day.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to stick to one specific style of photography, you can still mix it up if you would like to bring in different elements, but it will help you narrow down your choices and find the right photographer for the job.


#2 Set Your Wedding Photography Budget

Budgeting is essential in wedding planning, and while it can be tempting to save costs by enlisting a friend or family member to take your wedding photos, you should never cut corners when it comes to your wedding photographer.

So what should you expect to pay for a wedding photographer that you love? The average cost of wedding photography in Canada is between $2,500 and $4,000 for the day. This typically includes 8 to 12 hours of coverage, and one or two photographers depending on the package you choose.

If you want a photographer to take ‘getting ready’ pictures and late-night party images, you may need to stretch your budget further. You could save money by sacrificing a few hours between your ceremony and reception, but are you sure you won’t end up regretting it?


#3 Draw Up A Shortlist

Now you know the style you are going for, and how much you have to spend on your wedding photographer, you can start shopping around for the right person for the job. Recommendations are a good place to start, as are online reviews, so browse your local listings, make a shortlist of those you like most, and get down to the nitty-gritty of reading their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Pages, checking-out their customer feedback reviews, and viewing their online portfolios.

You should narrow your list down to at least three photographers. Those in high demand may be booked out years in advance, particularly if you are getting married during the height of summer, so having at least two or three as a back-up will help you avoid disappointment if your preferred photographer is unavailable.


#4 Set Up Interviews

You might not have thought of interviewing your wedding photographer, but it’s a good idea to meet them in person before employing their services. They may have an amazing portfolio, but if your personalities are not compatible, you might not get the wedding album you are hoping for.

Set up interviews with at least three wedding photographers who are:

1. Available on your wedding date​

2. Able to cover your wedding venue

3. Priced within your ballpark range

Create a list of things you would like to discuss with them, such as:

1. Can they stay longer if required for an additional fee?

2. Will you receive digital copies of all your photographs?

3. Are there any hidden costs you should know about?

4. When will they deliver your wedding photos?

The more information you give your wedding photographer, the better your wedding pictures will be, so provide them with details of your venue(s), show them favourite photos that you’ve found online, and discuss every part of your day so that both parties understand what is expected from the other.



#5 Ask To See Full Wedding Albums

Most artists showcase their best pieces, and wedding photographers are no different. In addition to viewing your photographer's portfolio, ask them to show you full wedding albums that they have recently completed. 

Take time to view their work and do so with a critical eye. Are the photos clear, focused, and framed? Did they capture those special moments such as the first time the bride and groom locked eyes, shared their first kiss? Did they use the right lighting? Did they capture the wedding theme on film?

It can be hard to critique someone’s work, especially if you do not have experience in their field of expertise, but when it comes to investing in wedding photos, you need to shop around if you are to find the perfect match.


#6 Choose Your Wedding Photography Package

Most wedding photographers offer a choice of packages to suit every budget, but this is where things can get confusing. Standard ‘off-the-rack’ packages may work for some brides and grooms, but they do not work for everyone, and so it is a good idea to ask for a personalised quote for the type of service and wedding album you want.

Standard wedding photography packages include a ‘shooting fee’ for one or two photographers, a set number of hours, and a certain number of images, which you will typically receive in both print and digital form. Anything extra comes at a price, and photographers usually charge overtime at a higher rate, so pay for the coverage you need upfront to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you collect your wedding album.

If you are hosting a larger wedding with 100 guests and more, you should consider having two photographers for your wedding day to capture your event from all angles. With two shooters behind the scenes, you’ll get twice as much coverage and those all-important photojournalistic images that will capture the essence of your wedding day.

The more wedding photographers you have, the better your wedding album will be, but again, it all comes down to budget. Full day wedding photography packages including two shooters could cost anything up to $10,000, so you may need to work on that guest list!


#7 Pre-Wedding Shoot

With your wedding photographer secured, it’s time to start working on an action plan for your wedding day, and this is where the pre-wedding shoot comes. It’s an additional expense, and you may think it unnecessary, but if you want your wedding day photography to run smoothly, it is essential.

During your pre-wedding shoot, you’ll get to know your photographer better, you’ll have the opportunity to show him/her your wedding venues, and it will help you capture those images that you’ve got your heart set on, such as the first glance, the first kiss, and the exchanging of wedding rings.

Most wedding photographers charge an additional fee for a pre-wedding shoot unless it’s included in your package, but you can use the photos to create a pre-wedding album, or better still, the thank-you cards that you will send out after your big day.


#8 Know Your Rights

Will you own the rights to your wedding photos after production? You may be surprised to know that most wedding photography contracts stipulate that the photographer retains the rights to all your images, even ones of you and that they can use them for advertising and promotions.

It is important to find out how and where you can use your photos before signing on the dotted line. Do you want to own the rights to your digital images? You will likely have to buy them, so discuss this in detail with your wedding photographer to make sure you both know exactly where you stand.


#9 Final Preparations

Arrange a final meeting with your wedding photographer two weeks before your big day to go over your wedding day timeline. Remind them of any special images you want to capture (don't forget the wedding rings!) and let them know of any strained relationships between divorced parents etc. to avoid any unpleasantries on the day. Are you sending your beloved a letter to read on the morning of your wedding? Should your photographer be there to capture the moment? Let them know so that they can plan their schedule.


#10 Smile!

Finally, take a deep breath, let the nerves go, and showcase your radiant smile! Your hard work is done, the rest is up to your wedding photographer!


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