What to look for in a Wedding Photographer and Videographer

Part 1—Initial Tips

There are so many details to think about when you plan your wedding. The budget. The date. The venue. The number of guests. The time of day. The invitations. The tone. The flowers. The cake. And of course, hiring a photographer and a videographer to forever capture the love, the emotion, the celebration.

We’re going to help you do just that with a 2-part series of posts we’re looking at what to look for in a wedding photographer and videographer. We’ve combined the selection of photography and videography in these posts, because many of the steps are similar. This first post delivers initial tips so you know about:

  • Where to start
  • Choosing a style
  • Deciding on budding vs seasoned shooters
  • Getting to know your photographer and videographer

No matter how large or small your wedding, taking the right steps to research and select the picture-perfect wedding photographer and videographer will be well worth the effort to make sure the images of your celebration are ones you cherish, want to hold on to, and continue enjoying forever.

Be sure to take as much serious time and effort with selecting a videographer as selecting a photographer. With so many creative and talented people in both of these industries, narrowing down a photographer and a videographer will be challenging.

What to look for in a Wedding Photographer and Videographer

  • Do your homework—Start your search by reading reviews from recent newlyweds, getting personal referrals, receiving professional referrals for a videographer from your photographer or wedding planner, and browsing local or bridal show listings. Carefully review websites, social media and blogs of potential photographers and video people, to check out photos and videos of other weddings they’ve shot, which will give you an idea of their style. (In the case of videographers, subscribe to video websites (like Vimeo and Love Stories TV). Website may also have clues about their personality and sensibility.

Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if possible. Is the feedback positive? How does the photographer and videographer respond? How do they interact with their Instagram followers? Do they seem friendly, knowledgeable and personable?

  • Set Up Interviews—This decision can’t be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential shooters in person. If you like what you see on their sites—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they’re available for your wedding date. If available, go ahead and send an introductory email with a bit about you and your soon-to-be spouse, your event and the vision for your day, and feel free to attach five or so of your very favorite photos or links to videos from your research so they know what you love. 
  • Recommendations—If the photographer or videographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers and videographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, wedding style and what you envision for your photos and videos.

Choose a style

There are a lot of talented shooters out there, each with a particular style and panache. Start the search by browsing portfolios and videos from professionals in your chosen area. Save ones whose shots and videos you love and that stand out to you and your fiancé.

What are you immediately drawn to? Do you like how they tell stories? This will greatly help narrow down your style choices.

Here are a few examples of photography styles:

  • Traditional—Emphasizes posed photos with a pre-planned shot list. This few-surprises style is good for large parties and when you want to count on logical organization. If you are attracted to posed images and pretty smiles starting at the camera, then traditional is for you.
  • Photojournalistic­—Emphasizes fleeting moments, energy, and emotion for a record of the day with little to no pre-planning. Keep in mind that the focus is on the couple at the occasional sacrifice of the wedding party as a whole, which means that rituals like cake-cutting, sometimes get skipped in favor of capturing a candid smile. If you are attracted to a documentary feel with few posed images and more candid shots, then this style may be your preference.
  • Artistic/Illustrative—Emphasizes an approach that is similar to traditional photographers as far as coverage goes but with updated, more artistic shooting styles. Results can include dramatic lighting, unorthodox posing, unusual backgrounds, and extreme, creative angles.

You want to be sure the videographer you’re working with has a well-developed look and feel to their work. Here are some examples of video style and feel to consider:

  • Do you want to have your entire day captured on video or just the ceremony?
  • Are you hoping for a chronological look at your nuptials or do you prefer a more cinematic film with different parts of the day all mixed together?
  • Do they just point and shoot (which can look cheesy ad cheap)? Or do they shoot documentary style or more cinematic (which usually cost more)?
  • Do you want gimmicky animated graphics and sound effects or prefer a more toned-down treatment?
  • What kind of music do you want on the soundtrack?

Decide on budding vs seasoned shooters

We’ve all heard nightmares about photography and/or videos gone wrong, because someone based their choices solely on price or impulse rather than style, compatibility and experience. Sure, it’s a good idea to look for people who fit a price point. However, it’s crucial not to underestimate the importance of wedding photography and videography when determining your budget in the first place.

  • Seasoned shooters—Photographers and videographers price themselves based on their experience, whether they’ve built a strong personal style, and have a number of client testimonials with samples. The shooters should have confidence in what shots to take, know how to handle a wedding, deal with any lighting situation, and are able to put you at ease during the big day. You can count on experienced pros to capture the wonderful moments of your distinctive day with all the passion and emotion. They rarely need guidance, and they definitely do not need constant supervision or micromanagement.
  • Newbies—Betting on a fresh, new shooter who is trying to build a business can save you a ton of money and is a good alternative if you are on a shoestring budget. People with less experience means that they’re eager to go above and beyond for their clients, because they want to encourage word-of-mouth marketing as well as create vibrant imagery to expand their portfolios.

    However, there are a few things to be aware of if you do go this route: newbies sometimes make mistakes that are necessary for growth. There will most likely be a few missed photo or video opportunities and some poorly executed shots. If you go into this with eyes wide open then this is a great money saving option.

Whatever route you choose, look for shooters whose photos and videos you love with samples that are mostly wedding-related and not just a bunch of other subjects with a small sampling of wedding shots.

Get to know your photographer and videographer

Once you’ve found shooters whose look, style and experience fit you, it’s time to learn if your personalities mesh with them and with each other. Getting to know each of them better creates a rapport which is important when creating shots jam-packed with real passion.

Ask your photographer and videographer to see an actual live wedding. Don’t be shy. Remember, it’s easy to post the crème de la crème on social media or share amazing images or footage from a stylized shoot, but what about those real moments and real couples

Now that you know the first steps in selecting a photographer and videographer, where do you go from here? We’ll be back soon with Part 2 of our wedding photography-videography series soon, which deals with The Details!