A little article I wrote, published recently by the lovely ladies at Polka Dot Bride...
1. Ask Your Friends and Family For Referrals
Despite the rise of social media, and the abundance of wedding photographers that can now be found online, personal referrals are still (and always will be) the best way to find a photographer who will produce amazing images, and gel with you on the day. If your friends were happy with them, there's a good chance you will be too.
Plus you can ask them lots of questions that you might not feel like asking the photographer directly, like whether they were cool and easy going, or loud and overbearing on the day! And if you've found someone whose work you love, but you don't know anyone who has used them previously, try asking around in Facebook group forums, or searching for testimonials online - you'll soon find out what they are like to work with!
2. Get To Know Them
This doesn't necessarily mean meeting in person - I get it, we're all time poor! But there are a number of ways you can get to know the photographer you are considering booking, before you part with that hard earned cash. Follow their work on social media. Read the comments and any reviews and testimonials. Give them a call, or Skype them for a chat. Or send them an email - all will give you an idea of what they are like both personally and professionally. And then if it's possible, arrange to meet up for a coffee and chat in person.
3. View Their Work
Most photographers will have a portfolio full of gorgeous images on their website, as well as individual client galleries, which show a larger number of images from recent weddings. Have a good look through their work, and ask yourself if the images look consistent (in both shooting and editing style), if they appear sharp and correctly exposed, and if the colour and overall toning appeals to you.
Then when you contact them, ask to see a couple of full wedding galleries, showing all images which were delivered to the client. This is the best way to see how they shoot a wedding from start to finish, and to get a feel for the storytelling aspect of their wedding photography. It's also a good way to get a feel for what 'x' number of images delivered looks like - you'll soon realise that 300 beautifully edited images covering all aspects of the day, is way better than 1000 poorly edited images with parts missing!
Viewing their images online will often be enough to help you decide whether or not they are for you, but if you do meet in person, ask them to bring some example albums and/or prints along, so you can see what their work looks like in print.
4. Check Their Level of Experience
A glance at the portfolio on their website should give you an idea of whether or not they've shot many weddings, but if it doesn't, ask them. Weddings are fast paced, and often throw curveballs, like rain (and sometimes lots of it!). Wedding photographers need to know their gear, and they need to be able to work quickly and effectively in stressful situations. They also need to know how to direct and pose non-models like yourselves, so ask them how long they have been shooting weddings for, and roughly how many they've done.
5. Check What Equipment They Use
This is a great way to start an argument amongst photographers, who generally fall into one of two camps - either Canon vs Nikon, mirrorless vs DSLR, full frame vs cropped sensor, or whatever. I firmly believe that it is the photographer who creates the image, not the camera, so I don't really think this is a big one for you to worry about. Whatever their choice of equipment, they are producing the beautiful images you have just seen on their website.
But what is important, is that they bring a backup of every piece of equipment they'll be using to capture your gorgeous wedding images, on the day. This means at least two camera bodies (I prefer three), two flashes, or lighting systems if they use lights, multiple lenses, batteries and memory cards.
And their camera bodies should most definately have dual card slots. This allows your photographer to write to one card, and backup to the other, so if a card fails, your images will be safely stored on the other card. It also allows them to keep one card in the camera, and one elsewhere once they have finished the job, which reduces the risk of loss through theft or fire. Which means your images will always be safe - phew!
So there you go, my five tips to get you started on the hunt for the perfect wedding photographer. Have a totally awesome day, and enjoy those photos, both on the day and in years to come!