Flowers fade and cake gets eaten, but wedding photos live on. Sure, corralling a friend or relative to take pictures can be an inexpensive way to record your big day, but a professional wedding photographer can bring years of experience and special equipment to the task.
The average U.S. bride spends more than $2,000 on photography, according to the annual Real Weddings Survey. It’s worth taking these seven steps to find the right professional:
- Choose your style. Decide what style of wedding photography you want. Some brides and grooms like traditional, formal shots; others prefer candid or photojournalistic images. Wedding photographers tend to specialize, so find one whose work you really like.
- Review their work. Spent time reviewing local wedding photographers’ websites and sample images.
- Talk to prospects. Arrange interviews with several photographers. Ask to see a few complete wedding albums taken in circumstances similar to those of your wedding. Also, request to see an entire wedding series from start to finish, not just a few choice favorites. Pay attention to the types of weddings the photographer normally shoots. Some photographers do better with indoor shots, while others excel at outdoor images.
- Know your pro. Make sure you’re interviewing the person who will photograph your wedding. Or, if you meet with the company owner or a senior photographer, ask to meet the person who would work with you.
- Check references. When you’ve narrowed your choices to one or two photographers, ask for references. Actually call them. Previous customers are your only source for knowing how the professional actually performs on the job.
- Plan test shots. Schedule a test shoot at your wedding venue or a similar site. Give the photographer a list of essential shots for your test run. This will help you determine the photographer’s personality on the job and his or her attention to your wishes.
- Put details in contract. When you’re ready to book a particular photographer, make sure the contract stipulates how long he or she will be present, whether there’ll be a second shooter or assistant, and how many pictures you’ll receive and in what form and arrangement.