It might seem like your wedding is forever away, but it will come and go faster than you think. It's surreal. All of the planning, dreaming, prepping, and all of the sudden it's over. Your wedding day will be the fastest day of your life. That's why choosing the right photographer is SO. DANG. IMPORTANT.
There are approximately 1 billion wedding photographers (I'm rounding here), so here is a guide to help you choose the right one for you. Hopefully I will blow your mind with all the aspects that go into this decision, but also make your life easier because you now know what to consider and ask!
1. Plan your budget.
You could pay anywhere from $2.5k-$10k on a full-time professional wedding photographer. So now is the time to ask yourself what is important to you on your wedding day? After the party is over, the champagne is gone, the food has been eaten, the dress has been worn, all you will have left are your photos. Plan your budget accordingly. It is worth it to invest in wedding photos. When you pay for one of the best, you're not just paying for someone to click a button on a nice camera. You're paying for the experience they've gained over the years. Strategies. Knowledge (lighting, angles, lenses). Gear. Backup gear. Backup plans. Trustworthiness. Client experience. Art. The list could go on forever, but I think you get the point. You can DEFINITELY get a good deal with someone who is new to the industry, but please keep in mind that you get what you pay for. The cheapest photographer is usually the one least qualified. These days literally anyone can buy a fancy camera and make a website. Don't trust just anyone with the most important day of your life.
2. Choose an editing style that speaks to you.
There are all kinds of editing styles. Moody. Light and airy. True To Color. Warm. Cool. Bold and colorful. What do you love? And will their photos stand the test of time? To figure out your preference, go to Pinterest and search "True to color wedding photography" etc. We are true to color with a mix of moody when requested.
3. Choose a shooting style that speaks to you.
Some photographers pose their clients. Some prompt. Some coach. Some take a backseat to your day and shoot purely photojournalism style. Some do a combo of the above. Again, Pinterest is your friend here. Figure out what you love! We pose during formal family and wedding party pictures. We shoot photojournalism style during reception events. The rest of the day we are all about coaching our couples. We help them find a tidy area to stand in front of when they're getting ready. We put them in good light. We give them tips so we're seeing all the right angles. And most importantly, we help them relax and interact so that we can get authentic and emotional photos.
4. Look at whole galleries, not just the highlights.
At the beginning of my career I was a master of only posting my best work so that people would hire me. (Honestly, I still do this. Everyone does. Obviously we want you to like us and hire us.) But I want my clients to have a clear expectation of what they will receive, and I am happy to show anyone a full gallery! This is the only way to know if a photographer is providing what you're dreaming of. When you look at a gallery be critical as if it were your own. Look for wide angles of the ceremony and reception so you can remember what it all looked like. Look for close-ups of the details. Look for double chins, blur, a variety of "poses", emotion, connection, unflattering tummy angles, straight horizons, different perspectives. Did they pay attention to mom's hand during family photos? Do you see awkwardness or joy? Ask yourself which photos are important to you, then look at that gallery and ask yourself if this is it.
5. Check out reviews.
Read reviews and Google their business name to make sure they're legit and not scamming you. I have heard so many horror stories of people either completely posing as a photographer just to make money (like a fake website with stolen photos and everything, then once you pay them they disappear), or people with nice cameras who decided to be wedding photographers and started booking clients, but are not equipped or qualified to take on a wedding yet. Some photographers are legit, but are notoriously bad at delivering photos by the date on the contract. You need deep trust in your photographer if you're going to be able to be yourselves in front of them and get those real, authentic photos, so basic trust that they're going to show up, have what they need, and deliver photos is pretty essential. Do your research ahead of time to avoid a nightmare later.
6. Make sure you get along!
You are going to be spending so much time with this person over the next year, not to mention they will be with you your WHOLE WEDDING DAY! Don't hire someone who seems grumpy, unfocused, arrogant, etc. Hire someone who genuinely cares about you. Make sure you actually like them and want to be around them. Personalities matter! With that said, the other things matter more! Do not hire a hype-man with an amazing camera. Hire an amazing photographer, who happens to have a great personality. You don't need someone with a camera dancing on the dance floor (although we do have some good moves over here). You need someone paying attention to the dance floor and not missing your moves.
7. Ask them these questions before booking!
Make sure you understand what you're getting by asking these more technical questions about their process and service. After that, you'll know if they're who you're looking for and you can book that date!!
Good luck! We hope you find someone amazing!!
If you want to see if we're available for your date, click here!
Based in good ol' Omaha, Nebraska, we are Jack + Chelsea Archer, a husband and wife wedding photography team. We love to tease each other, explore nature, drink coffee, and raise kind, adorable tiny people (Liam, Nora, and Zoe). We also love being wedding photographers. We are so thrilled to be the Best of Omaha Wedding Photographers 3 years in a row.
We believe in marriage and we love to celebrate the beginning with our couples. We believe that photography shouldn't just be stiff and manufactured. We are all about the candids and capturing the connection between our couples and their family and friends. That means knowing and loving each of our clients so we know exactly how to photograph them. The best photos are when you're just authentically having fun and enjoying each other, doing whatever you do.