How Do I Find the Right Wedding Photographer (without losing my mind)?

Planning a wedding can be wonderfully exciting and fun, but it can also be a bit of a stress inducing nightmare. I know, I’ve been there. For some of you, finding a wedding photographer is stress no. 1.

black and white documentary photgraph of page boy at a wedding

Andrew and I married about ten years ago now and choosing a wedding photographer was one of the easier decisions we made. In fact we kind of chose to get married in Prague mainly because the amazing Kurt Vinion linky to website is based there. We love you Kurt! 

However so many other aspects of wedding planning were totally out of my comfort zone. Flowers for instance – I found myself thinking “Are these good flowers?! I have literally no frame of reference”.

That’s when it hit me. When choosing your wedding suppliers, you’re probably commissioning work from a number of professionals without any real experience or much understanding.

I can’t help you with floristry (although I CAN point you in the direction of some AMAZING florists) but I hope I can demystify the process of choosing a wedding photographer a bit.

The Perfect Wedding Photographer

OK, I am going to be as unbiased as possible and give you good, honest advice. Obviously, I AM a wedding photographer so there may be an element of “well you would say that”, but I’m not going tell you that the perfect wedding photographer is a short, blonde woman who tells terrible jokes. Tempting though that may be.

funny natural reportage wedding photographat the Pumping House Ollerton

The truth is that there is no perfect wedding photographer – just the perfect photographer for you and your wedding. I’m here to help you find them.

quirky and funny wedding photograph and bride and groom with binoculars

So let’s get started. I’ve broken this down into the questions I get asked most:

  1. Where can I find a good wedding photographer?
  2. What the hell is documentary/candid/fine art/photojournalistic wedding photography and how do I know what style is right for me?
  3. What should I look for in a photographer’s portfolio and how important is their approach and personality?
  4. Does it matter how well they know my venue? Or if they are local?
  5. What questions should I ask a wedding photographer?
  6. How much should I pay for wedding photography?

and for a finale, I’m going to some it all up in:

The FIVE key aspects of your perfect wedding photographer.

natural wedding photography of bride and groom leaving venue in confetti

Let’s dive in to…

Where can I find my wedding photographer?

The good news is that there are so many places to look for good wedding photography these days. Here are the places to go and my honest opinion of the pros and cons of each:

Google and other Search Engines

Typing “wedding photographer” or “wedding photography” into Google is the easiest way to see a long list of wedding photographers’ sites to visit.

However, the order you see the photographers listed has much more to do with their SEO skills than their photography skills. Your perfect snapper may be on page 10 or 12, do you really want to wade through hundreds of websites to find The One?

To my mind it’s much better to have a targeted approach, because life is just too short to wade through a lot of what you don’t like before you find anything that you do.

moody wedding photograph of bride and groom on the beach at sunset

Recommendations

Did your friend have an awesome photographer who was fun to be with and produced epic pictures? Then get their info.

Do take time to check out their website though. You want to find weddings that are more like the day you have planned. For instance: if a photographer did an outstanding job of photographing your friend’s tipi wedding on a glorious August day, but you’re getting married in a manor house in December, you need to know how they’d handle things like low light and lousy weather.

contemporary fine art wedding photography of bride and grom at Hazel Gap Barn

Your Venue

Most venues have a list of recommended wedding photographers and some will even make stronger recommendations of photographers they really like working with.

Whilst I would not suggest you limit your research to this list, especially if none of these folks really match your style or budget, it is a good place to find photographers who know your venue well (more on this later).

documentary and fine art wedding photography of bride arriving for Kelham Hall wedding

Social Media

Social media, and in particular Instagram, is a great place to get a snapshot of lots of photographers’ work.

The great thing about instagram is the way in which you can target your research, narrowing the results to those photographers most likely to suit your needs.

You can start with your venue’s feed and see if there are any photos there that jump out at you.

You can also search using hashtags.

 #yourvenue #yourvenueweddings #yourvenueweddingphotographer

will show you wedding photographs taken at your venue. A great way to see how a variety of photographers have captured different weddings there. It also lets you snoop at previous weddings. This is great if you’re nosey, like me, or are looking for amazing ideas to steal. No shame in that game.

That’s not the only way you can narrow your search using hashtags. Hashtags can be used to narrow your search in terms of style or approach:

 #naturalweddingphotography #funweddingphotography #fineartweddingphotography #creativeweddingphotography #quirkyweddingphotography #candidweddingphotography #laidbackweddingphotographer #alternativeweddingphotographer #documentaryweddingphotographer #fineartweddingphotographer

There are also more general wedding hashtags, although these are less targeted they will give you a LOT to posts to look at:

#weddinginspo #weddinginspiration #weddingphotography #weddingday

contemporary wedding photography of bride and groom in Venice

Blogs and Magazines

Is there a wedding blog or magazine that’s a bit of you? You may find that they attract advertisers that are a good fit, so your perfect wedding photographer may just be there. That said, there will be probably quite a limited number to choose from and the ads tend not to be in any way curated.

Wedding magazines and blogs also feature real weddings and styled shoots, a great source of inspiration and a good introduction to a photographer’s work and style. Just remember to take the time to visit any photographer’s website and check out more of their work, especially the real weddings they have shot. More on that later.

Blogs and magazines also have social media feeds, often featuring even more wedding photography from even more photographers!

quirky  wedding photography of steam punk couple in vintage railway station

Wedding Shows and Fairs

A bit like blogs and magazines, wedding shows will only put in front of you those photographers who have chosen to advertise with them This means a limited number and there is often no curation in terms of style, budget and so on.

The difference between a wedding show and a print or on-line ad is that, at a show, you get to meet the real, living breathing photographer. This is great as you can ask them all your burning questions and get a real feel for what they are like.

Venues often host their own wedding shows and these can be more targeted as they often will invite the suppliers they recommend and that they feel are a good fit. In theory, if you like the venue, you’re more likely to like the suppliers they favour.

However, some venues host wedding shows produced by external companies. At these you may find photographers who are unknown to the venue and have never worked there before. Is this important?… more on that later! I know, I’m such a tease.

happy couple leaving their church wedding

So, which method would I recommend?

All of them! Each one has its pros and cons and each one has the potential to lead you to your ideal photographer.

What next? Perhaps you’ve been to all the wedding shows, perused the venue’s list of preferred suppliers, looked at about a thousand styled shoots and real weddings and now have a list of 60-odd photographers that you’re considering? How on earth do you find the right one for you?

Roll on the next blog post…

contemporary fine art wedding photograph of bride and groom

NEXT UP :

What the hell is documentary/candid/fine art/photojournalistic photography and how do I know what style is right for me?

What should I look for in a photographer’s portfolio and how important is their approach and personality?