Choosing your wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions that you will make for your wedding day.  Flowers will wilt.  The music will fade.  But, your photos will last a lifetime.  Therefore, it is imperative that you find a photographer who will produce photographs that you will be proud to one day show your children and grandchildren. 

 Where do you start? 

To begin the search for your photographer, you must first understand your budget and what style of photographs you want.  Read through the guide below to help answer these questions. 

 Determine the Budget for Your Photographer

As a general rule, ten percent of your overall wedding budget should be allocated for your photographer.   This may wind up being a rather large number that is difficult to stomach, but you must realize that these photos will be one of the few physical artifacts left from your wedding day.  Uncle Bob may have a great digital camera, but does he have the experience necessary to capture those special moments you will have on your wedding day? 

If your wedding is on a tight budget, you can oftentimes negotiate price and packages with professional photographers.  Ask the photographer if he or she could decrease the price if they only take photos during the ceremony and for some of the reception.  Do you need that extra print credit or wedding album that the photographer includes in their package?  Ask if you can get a better rate if you take those things out of your wedding package. 

Recently in the photography world, it has become increasingly popular for photographers to offer high-resolution files to their clients for an additional fee.  If you include the files with your photography package, you could potentially print out the pictures on your own and opt out of any extra albums or print credit.  This can also save you a good deal more money. 

 Remember, the photos that your photographer take are going to last a lifetime.  Accept no substitutes or cutting corners—a professional photographer is going to give you the product you want.  For something as important as this, Uncle Bob just will not do. 

 What style of photographs do you want? 

In the world of wedding photography, there are three different types of photographers—traditional, photojournalist, and portrait journalist.  Each grouping is unique, but above all you must pick your style. 


The traditional wedding photographer is the most common style used in the market today.  These photographers will take many carefully posed photographs throughout your day.  Formal shots taken before or after the ceremony are “typical” photos of the traditional style photographer. 

These photographers work very methodically and oftentimes have elaborate setups involving a lot of lighting gear.  During dancing, cake cutting, and other events throughout the day, many traditional photographers will ask the wedding couple to look towards the camera for photographs.  This may seem a little obtrusive, but this is the style of the traditional wedding photographer. 

With this style of photographer, selling portraits makes them most of their money.   This means that you will get lower package pricing.  However, these photographers will generally only shoot photos that they think will sell.  Telling the story of your wedding day is not their ultimate goal. 

 PhotojournalistWedding Photo Journalist ShotCredit: Garrett Adrian Photo

The photojournalist photographer wants to fade into the background and not be seen.  He or she wants to capture moments as they happen, not as they are manufactured.  Many of the photos produced by these photographers are very artistic and look like they could be on the cover of a magazine. 

The major drawback of the photojournalist is that they may not get the formal shots you of grandma and grandpa (or whoever) that you want from your wedding.  Their style is much more “organic” and free flowing.  Formal portraits are not their thing. 

Portrait Journalist

Portrait journalist photographers are somewhat of a blend of the traditional and photojournalist photographers.  This style of wedding photography is quickly becoming the style of choice for most modern day couples.  Photographers will capture everything from detail shots to formal portraits.  Oftentimes, the formals from a portrait journalist will not be as "formal" as a traditional photographer will produce. 

Above all else, the portrait journalist wants to tell the story of your wedding day in their photos.  They want to capture that special moment of laughter from your wedding guests and take detail photos of your shoes, flowers, and rings.  These photos might not sell well and be plastered on your bedroom walls, but they tell the story of your wedding day. 

Portrait journalists tend to charge a little more for their base package price since they will not make as much money from selling prints.  Most portrait journalists will also offer high-resolution files for you to purchase. 

Other Considerations

After you have found a few photographers who are within your budget and shoot in the style that you want, be sure to meet one-on-one with each photographer.  Make sure you are comfortable with them and generally like the person.  Remember, this person will be with you for your entire wedding day. 

Most photographers will be delighted to meet with you to discuss pricing and to show off some of their work.  Let them impress you and really sell themselves to you.

Before you officially "chose" a photographer by signing a contract, it is also a good idea to have your number one choice take your engagement photos.  This will give you a sense of how he or she works, and it will also make you more comfortable in front of their camera.  If you do not like your photographer or their photos afterwards, you can leave them to find someone who is a better fit for you. 

In Summary

  • Determine your photography budget, which should generally be about 10% of your total wedding budget.
  • Do not skimp on your photographer.  Accept no substitutes for a professional.
  • Determine what style of photography you like--traditional, photojournalist, or portrait journalist.
  • Meet with many photographers.  Let them sell you on their product. 
  • Pick a photographer you are comfortable with and who you like. 
  • Take your photographer for a "test drive" and have them take your engagement photos.