How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

Peggy Farren 2014-01-21

As a wedding photographer for over 15 years, I have quite a bit of advice for brides trying to choose a photographer for their wedding. I'll share mine and also advice from other seasoned professional wedding photographers.

1. Choose a wedding photographer! All photographers are not alike! If someone specializes in portraiture, landscapes, commercial or concerts, don't hire them to photograph your wedding! Experience really, really matters when it comes to weddings. There are too many crazy things that happen at weddings. You will want someone with the experience to handle whatever is thrown at them!

Here is a couple scenarios that happened to me: One bride was very late. We had 45 minutes scheduled to take formal portraits before the ceremony. She showed up 45 minutes late. I did her formal bridal portraits in the bathroom of the church. I climbed up on the sink, opened my aperture to 2.8 to blur the background and got some beautiful closeups of the bride – all in about two minutes!

Another time, it was raining. After the ceremony, the bridal party took a limo ride. I was waiting at the reception and noticed the rain had stopped and the sunset was gorgeous! As soon as that limo showed up, I took several portraits in the PARKING LOT! I darkened the background so the cars wouldn't show for the group shots and shot up at the sky on the bride and groom portraits.

I crouched down and shot up at the bride and groom.
I crouched down and shot up at the bride and groom.

Parking lot sunset Peggy Farren NaplesPortraits
Here is the finished image.

Photographers inexperienced in weddings may make excuses later as to why they didn't get the beautiful images you hoped for. A wedding photographer will get those shots no matter what!

2. Make sure they have real experience: Almost all wedding photographers will have full weddings from start to finish online that you can view. Melissa Thompson 2013 Montana and Wyoming Photographer of the Year suggests looking at least three COMPLETE weddings to be sure you are interviewing an experienced wedding photographer.

Critically look at the images. Lisa Leavell Ritchey, a wedding photographer in Bridgeville, PA, recommends asking yourself if you can see yourself in the photographer's images. IMG_9643

3. Understand all the terms and get it all in writing! Photographers Valentin Gheorghe from Philadelphia and Shay Bunch in Florida suggest finding out about cancellation terms, change of date, what exactly is included and how much the total cost is. Make sure everything is spelled out in writing.

4. Ask the photographer; What happens if you are sick? This happened to me! In 2004 I had emergency surgery for appendicitis. I was out for 6 weeks and missed five weddings. At that time my company was much smaller, so I didn't have a backup photographer on staff. Fortunately, I have always networked with the other professional photographers in the area. Several stepped up and photographed my weddings. This is an important question to ask.

5. Here is a question to ask a wedding photographer: If you were teaching a new photographer how to photograph weddings, what advice would you give them? Their answers will tell you where their values are. If they have a lot of advice on telling the client what to do, steer clear. You want a photographer who is client centered, not self-centered! Favorite0013

My advice to new wedding photographers: 1. Learning to manage people and their expectations is the most important skill you need in photographing weddings. 2. Have lots of back up equipment. 3. Go in with the attitude that you will blow them away with the images you take at this wedding! You need to create gorgeous images – no matter what! 4. Give great customer service. Back your images up that night, edit quickly, get the album done. Communicate with your client often.

Narrow your search to three to five photographers. Ask friends for referrals and search via the internet. Once you find the ones with styles you like, call them. Starting with a phone interview will help you decide if you like their personality. You will spend a lot of time with your photographer, before, during and after your wedding. Make sure you like their personality. You can also find out pricing and ask the important questions.

In my opinion, your wedding photographer and your DJ or band are the two most important vendors at your wedding. Your photographer will make sure you have fabulous memories through photographs and your DJ will keep the party hopping at the reception. Take the time to choose these two vendors with the most care.

And of course, check out my wedding sites:

Peggy Farren has been a portrait and wedding photographer in Naples, Florida for over 15 years. She is the founder of Understand Photography Training Center and the "Four Weeks to Proficiency in Photography online bootcamp.

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About Peggy

Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, instructor, writer and speaker.

With over 17 years as a full-time professional photographer, Peggy offers photography training through her training center, “Understand Photography”.

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