Finding the Right Wedding Photographer for You, Part 1

A photographer can be an amazing photographer, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for you and your wedding.

When Robert and I started a search for our wedding photographer online, we looked at photographers’ portfolios, blogs and Facebook pages and assessed their strength in capturing the wedding elements that were most important to us. I cover those below — this should give you a starting point to determine what’s important to you — and find examples of the different types of photos in the photo gallery above. (You can find even more photo examples on our Awesome Wedding Photos Pinterest board.)


I’ve always favored candid shots instead of posed shots. Both of us wanted someone who could capture those little moments when we weren’t smiling directly at the camera. It’s a special sort of skill.

Detail Shots

I was surprised to realize that some photographers who took amazing people shots weren’t so great at detail shots — and vice versa. So I made a point to see whether photos of the decor were appealing. Were they blown out, too close, too far away? Did the photographer appear to stand directly over a tabletop for table decor shots, take a photo and that’s about it? The latter indicates a lack of care to me — after all, tabletop decor is never designed to be viewed directly from above. Did the photographer capture a variety of details shots — not only the centerpieces, but the programs, the escort cards, the food, the drinks?

Low Lighting Photography

If you’re having your wedding in the evening, you definitely need to look at a photographer’s low light photos. Low light photography is far more challenging than daytime photography. If a photographer has a bunch of gorgeous daytime photos in his or her portfolio and you’re having an indoor evening wedding, don’t assume the photographs will be of the same quality — ask to see nighttime examples if they aren’t readily available.

The three types of photos above were our focus, but we also considered the following to a lesser degree.

Posed shots

Are the posed shots innovative or do they feel like the same old same old? And a biggie: Do subjects look comfortable or stiff while posing? Part of a photographer’s job is to ease any anxiety you feel about having your photo taken.

Shots other than the couple and the decor

One image that struck me while considering wedding photos was, strangely enough, a photo of a horse. There were no people in it and you couldn’t tell this horse was at a wedding — it was just a great photo. When I see a photographer taking photos at a wedding beyond the typical shots, that indicates that they are always thinking. They will see a great shot even if it’s not the one they’re looking for.

This type of a photographer may not be for you. You may want a photographer who’s very focused on your wedding — that’s fair after all, they were hired to shoot it.  But I prefer the idea of someone who will see everything around it, too.

You may also want to see if he or she gravitates toward taking guest shots, if that’s important to you. I’ve had more than one friend say that they loved their photographer — they just wish they had gotten more photos of the guests.

Style of photography

Different photographers have different specialties. If you want a photographer whose good at candid shots, consider a photographer who refers to himself/herself as a photojournalist. Or perhaps you prefer the style of photography that lets in a lot of light and gives a gauzy look to photos. Or do you prefer dramatic photography, saturated images, filters? It’s all about personal preference — you just need to pinpoint yours.

When I assessed photographers according to these criteria, it narrowed down the very large pool I was considering to four. That’s when I started reaching out to photographers and interviewing, which I will cover in the next installment of this series.

If you have suggestions on what to look for in your online photographer search, please share them! And check out below the original posts that some of the photos come from.

Photos by/courtesy Jason Messick (1), Jen Huang (2), Simply Bloom (3), Frank Amodo (4), Bold American Catering (5, details on this tablescape here), Devin Whetstone (6, helpful DJ tips here), Ashlee Rene Photography (7, the bride from this photo discusses her photographer selection here), Emin Kuliyev Photography (8), 5 Rings Photo (9), Rebecca Wilkowski (10, check out the real wedding this photo comes from here), Kristel Wyman (11), Renai Photography  (12), David Bracho (13), Maile Lani (14, check out all of Maile’s shots with different cameras in this New Orleans wedding), Heidi Lappe (15, check out this playful New York wedding)

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