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© Have and To Hold Photography, 2020

How to Pick a Wedding Photographer | The Ultimate Guide

There are a lot of wedding photographers out there. So we know it can be difficult to choose. And once you have chosen, how do you set up a contract? Why are the prices so different? How do you know you can trust them?


That’s why we put together a comprehensive guide on how to find the right wedding photographer!



What’s the difference between a $700 photographer and a $4,000 photographer?


If you’ve already started your search for a wedding photographer, you’ve probably noticed a big difference in how much they charge. So what’s the deal? Should you be worried if you found a photographer who has a good portfolio, but only charges $1,000? Not necessarily.


For one, the expensive photographer might be offering a package that includes more benefits, like two photographers on site. Two photographers can be really helpful to make sure you capture all the important moments of your wedding. Imagine your new husband turns and dips you for your first kiss. With just one photographer, that turn might have ruined the shot. But with one photographer on each side, you know you’ll get that moment.



The expensive package might also include engagement photos. And that engagement photo shoot might be in a unique location. For example, Colorado provides a long list of gorgeous photo locations. Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the most beautiful spots, but there are also spots like Mt. Falcon Park that are much closer to the city.


Mt. Falcon Park at sunset.

A really skillful photographer will have these locations in their back pocket and will already know how to navigate them. It’s not as simple as finding a trail and snapping a photo. A good photographer will know the right spots on the trail and how to utilize them to get the best sunset photos.


The expensive photographer might also have some special techniques. Some of our favorites from 2019 are double exposure, panoramic, and drone photography.


An example of a double exposure shot.

A panoramic photo from Denver Botanic Gardens.

Drone photography from Arrowhead Golf Course in Littleton, Colorado.

It’s also very possible that the cheap photographer is just starting out and is offering lower prices in order to attract more clients. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with a cheaper photographer, as long as you do your research. If you look at their reviews, are there any bad reviews?



Look at Their Worst Reviews


People who write reviews for wedding vendors are generally nice. So most wedding photographers will have a 4.8 rating or above on The Knot or Wedding Wire. This is why we suggest looking at their worst reviews. Do they have a 1-star review where someone said they didn’t show up? Or did someone write that they took 4 months to deliver the final photos?


Again, a decent photographer can do a good job most of the time. But you really want someone who delivers 100% of the time. You especially want someone who’s reliable. You can’t reschedule your wedding just because your photographer got a flat tire. A good photographer has a back-up plan, even if that means taking an Uber to your wedding.


See our list of wedding photography horror stories and how to avoid them.



Pick Through Their Portfolio


Once you’ve picked a photographer you’d like to book, look through at least 50 photos in their portfolio. Or if you’re looking to hire them for videography, watch 2-3 of their video reels. For all of those photos and videos, do you like the style? Is there anything that sticks out, or that you don’t like?


This can help you understand the consistency of your photographer. You want someone who can deliver good looking content, no matter what the situation. And if you see a style you don’t like, you can ask them about it! Communication is key. If they have some black and white photos, but you hate black and white, mention it. They could still deliver on everything you want, as long as they know what that is.



An example of a bright, colorful style.

An example of a darker, more dramatic style.

An example of black and white style.


Be Clear About What You Want


When thinking about what kind of package you want, ask yourself these questions.


Do you want engagement photos? Engagement photos can helpful for save the date cards, Facebook events, and decorations at your wedding.


Do you want full wedding day coverage? Meaning, do you want your photographer to be at your bridal/groom prep? Do you have a special send-off with sparklers or glow sticks that you’d like them to cover? If not, you might be able to save money by limiting hours.


Do you want videography? This is really a matter of personal preference. But there are definitely moments that work better on photo, and some that work better on video. With a video, you can hear your vows again. Or watch your new husband dip you for the first kiss. Or watch your father give you away.


What about drone videography? It’s a new trend that can result in some beautiful shots. It’s the best way to capture the entirety of your ceremony space, considering how much thought you put into decorating it.


Do you want prints? These days, it’s more common for photographers to offer printing options at an additional charge than to include prints in a photography package. This is because a lot of couples are satisfied with digital versions.


Speaking of digital versions, how does your photographer deliver those photos? A flash drive in the mail? Google Drive? A separate website for your photos? Is there any additional charge for the final photos? The last thing you want is to find out after your wedding that it costs money to remove a watermark from your photos.



An example of a wedding photo website.



Make Sure Photography Fits in Your Schedule


Once you have a schedule for your wedding day, review it with your photographer. Make sure there’s enough time to achieve everything on your list. You might even want to write out all the family photo groupings you want.


Do you get the feeling that photographer could fit more in the schedule than they’re saying they can? Or does it sound like they’re just saying “yes” to make you happy, even if they can’t actually fit it in the schedule? Feel free to reach out to us and we can give you an idea of what a reasonable schedule looks like.


Email: haveandtoholdphotography@gmail.com

Phone: (727) 735-4472



Set Up the Right Contract


Setting up a contract with your photographer is often the last step, so it tends to get overlooked. But it’s very important. The contract is the legal document that ensures that you get everything you paid for.


First, you want to make sure you have a good payment timeline. It’s standard for a photographer to require a deposit, somewhere between 25-50% of the full fee. This is what ensures that your photographer is committed and has booked your wedding date on his or her calendar. Without a deposit, you can’t assume that your photographer will show up.


You also want to make sure that the deadline for finished photos/videos is written explicitly into your contract. It’s a common horror story that couples will wait for months for their final photos, especially when the couple hired a friend or an amateur photographer.


It’s also a good idea to make sure your photographer is finished editing the photos/videos before you pay the final payment. Sneak peek photos can be proof that at least some photos have been completed. But it is common for photographers to require that you pay the full remainder of the fee before they turn over the final product. Unfortunately, there are couples out there who try to dodge payments.


If you have the right contract in place, that means you have the legal authority to take your photographer to small claims court if they don’t deliver on their promises. If it’s past the due date for final photos, you could possibly get your money back. Even just the mention of small claims court can keep your photographer honest!



Want to know if your contract is comprehensive? Worried you might be overpaying for photography? Feel free to message us and we can help!


Email: haveandtoholdphotography@gmail.com

Phone: (727) 735-4472