Adventure elopement in Mesquite Valley Sand Dunes at sunset

How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer in 6 Steps by Oregon Wedding Photographer Black Salt Photography

“How to choose your wedding photographer in 6 steps” by Oregon wedding photographer Black Salt Photography

Figuring out how to choose your wedding photographer can feel overwhelming in the beginning. There are thousands of wedding photographers out there, hoping you’ll stumble across their website and choose them for your wedding day. That can get overwhelming fast, especially when you aren’t really sure what distinguishes one photographer from the next. Yes, you’re going to have to do some research, but if done correctly, it’ll pay off in the end. Besides, it’s fun research, not like the research you attempted to do at 2 am before a final paper was due in college. Ah, memories.

Many of the other blogs I’ve read on this topic treat the wedding photographer like some money-hungry mogul who is just waiting to screw you over. Your wedding photographer is a human (surprise!) just like you. They want to make sure you’re happy with the whole process and outcome. You’re going to spend so much time with your photographer, you want to at minimum like who they are, and if the stars align, maybe you’ll become friends for life.

A photographer isn’t just any other vendor. Hopefully, this quick little guide on how to choose your wedding photographer will help show you the correct steps to take to find the photographer that will make all of your dreams come true. Cue Cinderella, please.

1. Your Style Of Wedding Photography

As I’m sure you’ve been able to tell with just a quick scroll through Pinterest, there are many different styles of wedding photography. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure which style is the one you want – that’s what this first step is for! Many wedding photographers blend multiples styles together to create a personalized, one-of-a-kind style that fits their own quirks and traits. I personally blend photojournalistic, editorial, moody and dark, with a sprinkle of adventurous. This blend of style is what originally attracts you to a particular photographer’s work, especially when it’s done well. Be aware, when reading a photographer’s website (because yes, they better have a website and not just a Facebook page) and they talk about loving to capture the “real moments” of your wedding day, but all you see in the photos are fake, posed images, you may want to send them this gif:

or just move on cuz girl, they ain’t for you!

Photography Styles

Take a moment to read about each of the different photography styles and see which one calls to you. It can also be helpful to collect some photographs in your mood board and see if you notice any common threads. Pinterest is great for this! Once you’ve decided on a style or two, you can use that to help you find more decor ideas later!

Fine Art Wedding Photography

Fine art wedding photographers have a very distinct style. The photos often play around with interesting uses of “white space” and angles. These photos are typically staged and thoroughly planned, and the final product tends to have a highly edited look.

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography

AKA fly on the wall. This style of wedding photography is meant for capturing the little details and candid moments throughout the day and not just the planned, posed photos. Your wedding photographer will likely be lurking around you throughout the day, and a photojournalist will use these moments to craft special photos you wouldn’t have thought you needed. Plus, they make for a more interesting portfolio to hang on your wall – just sayin’.

Traditional Wedding Photography

A traditional wedding photographer will capture the posed photos and family portraits like a pro. They will document your ceremony from the standard vantage points, and the portfolio you receive should be easily predictable. Traditional photographers will happily capture the moments and details special to you. However, it’s likely they won’t stray too far from your shot list.

Editorial Wedding Photography

If you think of Vogue or GQ when you picture your wedding photos then this is the style for you. These photos tend to be dramatic and over the top with an edgy sex appeal. Photographers who shoot in this style love to get creative with their camera angles and focal points.

Moody and Dark Photography

Moody and dark wedding photography is my JAM. Shooting in this style brings forth a multi-media feel by mimicking some of your favorite directors like Wes Anderson or Stanley Kubrick. This style is mainly in the edits but also allows your photographer to take a new perspective on their photographic storytelling. If your photographer is really cool, they may even shoot in both digital and film!

Adventurous Wedding Photography

An adventure photographer is always down for just that – an adventure! These photographers won’t bat an eye when you tell them you want to hike 6 miles to a hidden waterfall for your elopement. This is less of a style and more of a personality trait on your photographer’s tinder profile. The photographer may edit their photos in a multitude of ways. How to choose your wedding photographer comes down to personal preference in style.

2. Wedding Photographer Budget –

It’s important to decide and stay within your budget when it comes to planning your wedding, but I would urge you to be the most flexible when it comes to your photography $$$ allotment. If you choose your wedding photographer based solely on staying within a budget it might be hard.

Photos are expensive, and your photographer has thousands of dollars invested in their business to make your day come to life. You have to keep in mind that after your photographer spends 8 to 10 hours shooting your wedding, they will then spend countless more culling and editing your photos before they deliver them to you. Your sister’s friend’s co-worker simply is not going to give you the level of care, expertise, or artistry that a professional wedding photographer will. Photos (and videos!!!) are what will last. Not the food, booze, or outfits. Make sure you’re dedicating a significant portion of your wedding budget to capturing those memories. Do your research to see what wedding photographers in your area are charging at the beginning of your planning stages so you’re not surprised later.

3. How To Research Wedding Photographers

While you’re researching the costs of wedding photography, you should also be researching those photographers! Read their reviews and comb through the galleries they have online. Pay attention to how they are capturing the wedding day: do they seem to photograph the same moments you would want? Is the style consistent so you know what to expect with your photos? And do the couples seem relaxed and happy? If a photographer can’t get the couple to relax, it might be a sign that they aren’t the one for you! See if you can picture yourself in any of their weddings by looking through their blog posts. You want to make sure you choose the right wedding photographer.

You’ll want to note if the photographer is posting recently and regularly. Blog posts are a great way to get to know your photographer’s personality. Once you’ve found a few photographers you think you’re in love with, ask to see full wedding day galleries, not just the highlights. These galleries will show you how they actually captured the entire day rather than just the best of the best from every session. Try not to get stuck on a certain bride’s killer decorations or a to-die-for bridal party line up. While those are definitely cool to look at, these items aren’t necessarily a product of the photographer. You’ll want to pay attention to the moments, the messy in-betweens, and the connections.

4. Know your venue –

Your photographer, as much as they would like, can not make magic happen if the lighting does not exist. Choose your wedding photographer that compliments the rest of the day. Make sure you’re paying attention to the lighting and space in your chosen venue when you think about which wedding photographer you would like. Don’t fall in love with the sunset photos by the beach if you plan on having your wedding in a church. Likewise, keep in mind that if you want to have your wedding at sunset it’ll leave the photographer very little time, if any, to capture those idyllic golden hour shots. Your venue should have some example photos from other weddings they have hosted that you can request to see. Use this as an example of what might be in the realm of possibility for your own day.

5. Wedding Photographer Communication

Send a detailed email to your prospective wedding photographer when it’s time to get more information. Make sure you send information that will help them get to know you! Choose your wedding photographer with intention. It is SO IMPORTANT to build a relationship with your photographer. It’s not just a business transaction to most of us, and the better you know each other, the better your photos will be (I promise). Ask them questions about your date and the types of packages they offer that might fit your wedding. Use this time to discuss pricing, hopes, ideas, and concerns. See what your photographer has to say and if they can help you remove any of your fears.

Before you send the first email, make sure you know which items of your day are the most important to you. These will be good things for the photographer to know, but it can also help you out later if you’re trying to save some money by cutting down on the hours and have already decided what you’re willing to skip having photographed.

6. Wedding Photographer Contract

Seal the deal with a contract! When you choose your wedding photographer your contract should benefit both you and the photographer, so read through it and make sure you understand everything in there. Most contracts are going to cover a multitude of what-if scenarios that hopefully won’t ever happen, but it’s good to be prepared beforehand. Once you’ve both completed the contract, it’s likely you won’t need to do much else until closer to your scheduled day, but it’s also okay to keep in contact. Remember, we want to build that relationship! Many photographers may want to do an engagement shoot with the two of you before your actual wedding day to start the process of getting comfortable with each other in front of the camera.

And that’s it! It really isn’t as difficult as it all may seem to figure out how to choose your wedding photographer, and if you do your research and know what you’re getting into, you should be able to find that perfect match. Swipe right, my friends.

Click here to book me for your elopement or wedding!

Black Salt Photography is an elopement photographer and intimate wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Photographing in the surrounding PNW areas and traveling often for destination love stories. Specializing in intimate candids and editorial portraits to craft a one-of-a-kind wedding day for every couple. Her moody photography style plays with natural light and shadow, laced with raw emotional moments, to create an authentic narrative experience. She photographs you as you so you’ll love your photos authentically.

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