Before you begin researching photographers, you'll need to first decide what type of photography style you prefer, as that will help determine which kind of photographer you'll want shooting your wedding. Do any of the following appeal to you?
Here are the different types of Photographers:
Documentary: Instead of a series of posed photos, these are candid or spontaneous pictures (read: not styled) of people, décor and the action. Typical shots might include the lavish raw bar before guests start digging in, your motley crew of cousins dancing, or you and your bridesmaids laughing, champagne in hand. With a purely photojournalistic photographer, you'll very rarely see people staring at the camera—the photos capture the moments exactly as they happened, and together they tell a story.
Portraiture: If you prefer classic portraits (think: your parents' wedding album), go with a traditional photographer who specializes in portraiture. These are posed shots of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops. That's not to say there isn't room for creativity in this category. While some photographers will pose subjects in more traditional spots (like at the ceremony altar or out on the lawn of the country club) and in more formal poses (standing as a group together), others take portraiture further into the creative realm with a more dramatic composition (the couple sitting on a lounge chair at their hip hotel reception venue, or holding hands in the middle of a nearby dirt road with the mountains in the background).
Fine Art: Though it's similar to documentary photography, this style gives the shooter greater artistic license to infuse their particular point of view and style into your photographs. So while the shots reflect reality, it's the photographer's reality. The photos are dramatic and gorgeous, but are—or look as though they were—shot on film with a grainier, dreamier, more muted appearance. Usually the object (or couple) is in focus and the background appears to blur. Motion also looks very natural in this style of photography. The few wedding photographers who shoot only on film tend to fall into this category, and typically they shoot in black and white, though some will do a mix of both. That said, a photographer using a digital camera can still capture this style with the right gear and camera lens. And some photographers will alternate between digital and film. Not all photographers who take a fine-art approach shoot portraits, so if it's really important to your mom to have posed family shots, look for someone who does both, or consider hiring a second shooter for the portrait sessions.
Edgy and Bold: This style of photography, an offshoot of fine art, is marked by outside-the-box, tilted angles (called Dutch angles) and unconventional framing. So instead of a straight-on shot of the couple exchanging vows at the altar, the photo might look tilted, with an object like an altar arrangement or a candle in the foreground. Or the photo of the bride having her makeup done might be shot from above, with an emphasis on the eye shadow brush rather than on her face. Even a single portrait of a bridesmaid might be shot so her face takes over only the bottom right of the photo and the rest of the space is filled with the wall or whatever's behind her.
Many wedding photographers can do a blend of portraiture and documentary-style shots, and will do a mix of black-and-white and color images, but if there's a special style you love, make sure to focus on photographers who specialize in it.
Do your home work!!!!!
Start your search by reading reviews from recent newlyweds and browsing hundreds of local listings. Carefully review potential photographers' websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they've shot, which will give you an idea of their style. The design of the website may also have clues about the photographer's personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if possible. Is the feedback from clients positive? How does the photographer respond?
Set up interviews!!!
This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their site—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they're available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, wedding style and what you envision for your photos.
See a few FULL view wedding albums!
Don't base your decision solely on what you see in a photographer's highlights gallery or album. For good reason, photographers show prospective clients a portfolio of their best pictures, all from different weddings, so you're seeing the best of the best. The problem with that is you won't get a well-rounded idea of their work. Ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they've shot (not someone else at their company) so you can get a better idea of what your complete collection of photos might look like after the wedding. If you see that the full gallery photos are just about as good as the ones chosen in the highlight gallery (that is, they're all so good it's impossible to choose!), you're on the right track. And ask to see at least one or two complete albums of weddings that are in similar settings to yours. For example, if you're planning an indoor affair with dark lighting, don't just look at weddings shot outdoors in natural sunlight. And if you're planning to say "I do" on a beach at sunset, you'll want to see examples of that.
Review Albums with a Critical Eye!
When reviewing a photographer's album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that's the style you're after). It's also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people's emotions; make sure the photographer's subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are, of course, important, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.
Make sure you Mesh with your photographer!
I say it time and time again! Take the time to get to know your photographer. It's a lengthy process, but remember this most important point. This person will be collecting priceless images that can never be created! Make sure you can communicate with your photographer and they know EXACTLY what you are wanting.
You Found your Photographer!
What do I do now? Sign a contract! This not only protects the photographer, but also protects your interests as well. Make sure everything you expect is in the contract. Remember, there are no redo's!
Price is important but how important?
You know exactly what you want. Every photographer is unique and has a very distinct style. A lot of the money you are spending is the guarantee that the photographer is professional, will deliver when promised your images the way you want them, and they work with professional equipment. A typically professional photographer will come to your wedding with over 18,000 dollars in cameras and glass. Not to mention other items of need.
Know what your contract says!
Many photographers have a no professional photos clause in their contract that states no one can take pictures during your event. Most will give you printing rights but will retain overall rights and marketing rights to your imagines. Know exactly what you are getting!
How much time will it take to get my imagines?
Depending on how many pictures are taken and how many have to be edited, typically you can bet it will generally take 4 to 8 weeks to get back your images. Ask if the photographer will do a sneak peak or 2 so you can show everyone that could not make it, how the evening went!
We are Jenni P Photography! If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to sit down and get to know us, please don't hesitate to give us a call at 803-528-9482. We would love the opportunity to capture your most important day of your life! God bless!