Hiring a Wedding Photographer

September 26, 2017
Words by Ioana Grecu of Dreamstime
Photos courtesy of

Having the “perfect” wedding is not just about crafting a day that feels magical in the moment – it’s also about the memories. All the time and money (and stress) that goes into finding a location, bringing friends and family together, picking out a dress and personalizing decorations is about creating memories that last a lifetime. That’s why it’s so important to put just as much thought into hiring a wedding photographer as picking out your flower arrangements or cake.

For many brides, your wedding is the first time you are hiring a professional photographer and it can be tough to know what to look for and ask about. Dreamstime chatted with dozens of photographers for their top tips on how to get incredible wedding day photos.

1. Ask to See A Portfolio 

There is a ton of variation under the umbrella of “wedding photography.” Some photographers may take incredible candids while another may be brilliant at creative staged photos. One photographer might specialize in romantic black-and-white photos while another specializes in outdoor weddings. Beyond ensuring you like a photographer’s work, looking at a portfolio ensures you like the type of work they do and that they have the skills you are looking for. It can also help you know what to ask for. If you see a photo you love, you can say to your photographer, “That’s the mood I am going for.”

2. Do Your Research

Even if you love the first portfolio you see, it’s still a good idea to do research. A photographer that was good for your friend may not be good for you. Research allows you to not only find a photographer who is an aesthetic fit, but also one you mesh with personally. You are entrusting your wedding photographer with a huge responsibility and shopping around gives you the chance to find someone who feels right as part of the special day. And of course, research allows you to compare prices.

3. Negotiate 

Once you have settled on your choice of photographer, take the time to negotiate through all the nitty gritty details. This protects both you and the photographer and keeps everyone happy. Negotiations should involve the price, as well as what you get at the end of the shooting session – hard copies, CDs, photo album, etc. You don’t want to think you are paying for something and then find out after the fact it wasn’t included. Settle on the price and what their exact attributions will be. And negotiations should include the amount of time it will take them after to finish editing the images and albums.

4. Set Clear Expectations Ahead of Time

It’s essential that both you and your photographer go into the wedding with a clear idea of exactly what types of photos they need to get. Be sure you know what you want. Photographs that were shot in color can be turned into black and white, but a black and white film shot wedding will not be turned to color.

And if you want “backstage” shots of wedding preparations, sunset images or a trash the dress session after the party is over, the photographer needs to know that in advance for scheduling purposes. They may need to bring along specific types of equipment for specific shots. Expectations should also include agreements around breaks and other details, like when and where they will eat.

5. Overshare

The more information your photographer has, the better. For someone who doesn’t know a lot about professional photography, details that seem irrelevant might actually be super important. For example, if you are putting disposable cameras on all the tables for guests to play with, your photographer may want to know that going in. Or if there is going to be a disco ball, that could have an impact on the lenses they bring.

While every wedding is different, there are threads that tend to be consistent. One, the couple always wants to look their best. Two, the best wedding albums include a mix of posed and candid shots, which capture genuine and unaware moments. Three, the best photographers recede into the background and don’t interrupt what’s going on. Beyond those principles, there is incredible variation in what wedding photographs can look like. When planning your wedding, remember that your photographer will be a huge role in how you remember your wedding for the rest of your lives.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): LenanetYevgen RychkoMarsia16MaffboyChristinlola & ishootRAW

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