5 Steps to Choosing Your Ideal Wedding Photographer

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in BLOG, Redford News | 3 comments

I get to work with many wedding photographers while I spend my summers as a wedding DJ. Despite the 30 plus weddings I have the honor of entertaining each year, I am actually quite surprised when I run into the same photographer twice in one wedding season. The professional photography landscape has changed dramatically over the past 20 years with the improvement of amateur equipment. This influx of less expensive photographic tools made the transition to the ‘big leagues’ of photography easy and cost-friendly. In fact, the supply of cameras is high while the demand for photography has dropped. Yet, as sure as waves crashing upon a beach, there will always be guys getting down on one knee and blushing brides-to-be answering in the affirmative. This makes for a multi-billion dollar wedding industry and a fertile soil for new photographers looking for their first paying gig. This change in the marketplace has its pitfalls, however, and it does not take the eye of this 20 year professional portrait photographer (not wedding) to see the danger in this transformation of professional photography.

Weddings, while notorious for their sameness, can bring a variety of unforeseen challenges to the fresh faced photog, the timing of the wedding’s meticulously scheduled agenda stops for no one. There can be no simulation for accommodating the rapid pace, inclement weather, unmanageable groomsmen, emotional bridesmaids, demanding parents, and grueling experience that is being a wedding photographer. A wedding encompasses all aspects of photography. One must be a capable commercial, children, family, action, and model photographer operating at the speed of light.

There are reasons that for many, many years the nation’s greatest wedding photographers spent time learning under mentor photographers at weddings. There is no room for error as this day only happens once. Today’s wedding photographers, just getting into the business, feel this is perfect place to ‘hone their skills’ while the bride is expecting enduring art of the most important day of her life. These two groups, persnickety brides and recreational photographers, are doomed for a dangerous collision. I watch it happen every Saturday night.

Having spent my life as a portrait photographer, first as a wedding photographer assistant then full time in the studio, I have found five ways to tell a professional from a newbie. This day is far too important to leave to a rookie; I truly believe that every bride deserves the best.  Here are the five qualities that discerning brides should inquire about before hiring your wedding photographer.


1. How do they Handle Your Time.

Your wedding day from start to finish is an 8 to 10 hour marathon. You are going from hotels to salons to churches to scenic landscapes for portraits to limos to the reception. Every step along the way you are expecting this day to be documented in the best possible imagery. Your photographer will dictate how just about every minute of your day is broken up by his or her speed and efficiency. Being able to capture creative images and classic portraits while keeping you on schedule requires a few years of experience. Every great wedding culminates in a great party. If your schedule is held up by your photographer you will start to lose time at the biggest party you’ll ever throw yourself. A photographer who respects your time while still providing exceptional and enduring images is essential. Be sure to sit down and discuss the importance of time with your photographer, see how important he or she sees that timing of every shoot.


2. Personality goes a long way.

As a bride, you are with your photographer longer than you are with almost anyone else on your wedding day, even your husband. Make sure you like his or her personality and demeanor. If there is no personality chemistry, it could make for a very long day. Be sure to sit down and talk with your photographer about more than his or her favorite pictures that he or she has taken. Just as with any vendor you will hire for your wedding, you are entrusting the most important day of your life to this person. Get to know them.


3. Look Over the Entire Body of Work

A photographer is about so much more than the portraits he or she presents. This being said, you should really take the time to study and understand his or her style of shooting and design. You will get tired of looking at brides in various settings and happy people dancing the night away, but your effort will not go unrewarded. Be sure to review the images close enough to see if the photographer is showing a body of experience and artistry or a few clever shots from the same handful of weddings. Some photographers take 2 or 3 great photographs at a cousins wedding then build an entire website around these portraits. It can be deceiving. I ran in two 5k charity races, but after reviewing a deceiving presentation of the photographs from those two days one could assume I have spent a lifetime running.  Subtle unpredictable clues will tip you off if you put the proper effort in. I promise it will pay off.


4. Post Wedding Procedures

I honestly do not know if I can stomach another horror story from a bride who has not heard back from her photographer six or nine months after her wedding. Unfortunately,

many photographers are great at the first meeting, good on the wedding day, then disappear for 6-9 months after the wedding. It’s a shame. Finding an artist who can handle the business side of things is so rare. Observe the reviews of your potential photographers along these lines. Check on local bridal forums, ask the photographer for testimonials or references.  You will find that happy brides love talking about their photographers almost as much as unhappy brides do. Don’t be afraid to ask around.

 5. Wedding Albums

Does your prospective photographer push you to cherish and properly present your wedding imagery or are they obviously into making a quick profit off of you?  Wedding photography of late has been watered down from a mutli-album presentation to a cd in a jewel case that could easily be mistaken for your burned copy of a Maroon 5 album. For years the best wedding artists were known for their ‘white glove’ treatment of wedding albums filled with masterpiece portraiture. Today brides are trained to expect a cd with wedding pics. It’s a shame. True wedding artists, who take pride in the work they deliver, will likely suggest an album as the proper final product. An album is something that can be cherished and passed down for generations. A cd with photos sized perfectly for facebook is not a family herloom. Even though I completely agree that a mix of these two products is necessary in 2013.


These suggestions are built around the idea of protecting you, the bride, from the nightmare wedding scenario of bad photography and/or an incompetent photographer. With such an influx of unprofessional, amateurish, and undeveloped photographers jumping into every wedding vendor search engine or website, brides need help navigating the pros from the newbies. These steps should help but your instincts can certainly guide you the rest of the way.


  1. Very thoughtful accurate article!

  2. A lot of people say ‘look at their work and decide which is better’. How am I supposed to know? I’m not a photographer or an artist. I look at pictures of other people’s weddings and they all look the same, ‘ok’. What kind of subtle differences am I looking for? I want to make sure I love my pictures, but I find myself deciding which bride picked the nicest spots to have pictures taken- not which pictures are better. Please help.

  3. Having had three weddings in the last ten years in my family alone and another four with extended family I can see the wisdom of your info. As a bride 37 years ago, who felt that we could save money by having no photographer (and we did it’s true) I have always regretted it. We have nothing but a few bad photographs to remember our day. Big mistake, but when trimming a budget it is a big consideration. Having used Redford’s for two of the three weddings and been very satisfied I feel like the most important point is that of timing. Brad has it down perfectly. All parties knew when and where to be. He was unobtrusive but got all the shots, including great candids and family groups.
    The advent of the cd has its good and bad points. We have yet to pick pictures from our last wedding 2 1/2 years later. That is not good.
    Interesting reading. You need to pass this along to a wedding mag or two, don’t you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *