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Wedding Planning: Wedding Photography Hiring and Scheduling

Wedding photography holds supreme importance in immortalizing the most special moments in an engaged couple's life. It's not just about capturing smiles and emotions, but every intricate detail - from the grand décor to the authentic expressions - that tell the beautiful narrative of love and union. An ineffaceable part of weddings, photography encapsulates the soulful journey of your love story into lasting memories. This blog post provides an engaging wedding photography guide for those couples who are on the threshold of starting a new chapter in their romantic journey.


Planning for wedding photography can appear overwhelming, considering all the elements that come into play. However, this shouldn't hamper the joy and excitement surrounding your big day. Approaching this task with a well-informed perspective can make your journey a lot smoother and more enjoyable. And that's where we step in. With this comprehensive guide, we aim to empower engaged couples with ample knowledge and practical tips about wedding photography, ranging from choosing the right photographer, and discussing your expectations, to understanding different photography styles suitable for your big day. So let's dive in to simplify the process and make your wedding photography a reflection of your love and happiness.



STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

Once you've set your wedding date and booked your wedding venue, your very next step should be to hire an experienced professional wedding photographer. To secure a top photographer, try to book his or her services about nine months before the wedding (or a year or more if your photographer is in high demand).


Choosing a wedding or engagement photographer comes down to two things: shooting style and personality. Whether you’re scouring Instagram for a local professional, binge-reading about local wedding photographers, or your friends’ referrals, it’s important to take a step back and brainstorm the photo style you want captured. While all photographers do a mix of portraits, candids, and formal poses, their unique editing and shooting style remains consistent—it’s their brand.

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If you’re having trouble choosing your favorite photo style, think about the types of images you’re drawn to on Instagram. Or, consider which styles would look best on the walls of your home.


The next important step in choosing your wedding or engagement photographer is studying their personality. Sure, you’re not hiring the photographer to be your friend, but you’re spending the majority of your big day with this person. You want to vibe with them and be comfortable communicating with them! Check out the photographer’s about page and Instagram bio first. But you should also meet them. I like scheduling quick and informal meetups, or at least FaceTime calls, to get to know the couple outside of email.


Tip: Hit up your social network for recommendations.

Ask your recently married friends whose wedding photos you loved and solicit recommendations from your wedding planner or the manager of your reception site.


Tip: Figure out the style of photography you like.

Do your homework and spend some time getting a sense of the style of photography you like. Once you've found a handful of photographers whose aesthetic jives with yours, email each person and inquire about if they're available on your wedding date and their photography rates. If the ones you're interested in are available on your date and if their fees are within your budget, then you can schedule initial meetings.



TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY STYLES


  • Traditional Classic and traditional photography is similar to what many couples’ parents have from their weddings. These straightforward photographs may not be highly creative—they’re typically shot at eye level and posed—but they stand the test of time. Most photographers incorporate at least some traditional photography into their mix, particularly for family portraits after the ceremony.

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  • Photojournalistic Candid and documentary-style photographs make for some of the most heartfelt and memorable images, which is why many photographers have adopted a photojournalistic style. These photographers treat the wedding day almost like a feature or news story. They let the moments unfold naturally, then snap away, recording the magic as it happens.

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  • Editorial On the opposite end of the spectrum, editorial images are much more posed, almost like a fashion magazine. This style is rarer in the wedding photography industry, but Kershner says many photographers have perfected this style. They’ve grown their businesses by specializing in it.

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  • Dark and Moody Not surprisingly, dark-and-moody photographs are just like they sound: dark, moody, and dramatic. In this style, the photographer is looking to photograph the couple with shadows or harsh lines that create unusual and creative patterns or lighting.

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  • Aerial You probably wouldn’t want your entire wedding day captured through aerial photography, but drone photographs are a great add-on that more and more photographers now offer. Aerial photography works well for photo sessions, ceremony exits, and if it’s outside, a reception. Make sure to ask your photographer if they offer drone photography before signing the contract. Some offer it for an upcharge because they have to hire a separate photographer. Others won’t offer it at all.

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  • Fine Art Fine-art photography is most commonly associated with film, Kershner says, but it’s become more of a hybrid these days—particularly as it grows in popularity. This style is known for being light, bright, and airy.

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  • Black and White Black-and-white wedding images are more about editing than photography style, although some photographers do use solely black-and-white cameras. Kershner says nearly all wedding photographers, like her, offer at least several images in black and white.

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  • Landscape Landscape photography is an established and popular photo style outside the wedding industry, but it’s become a popular add-on for photographers shooting weddings in highly scenic destinations, such as the mountains or the beach. In this case, the photographer works with the couple ahead of time to scout out the area. The landscape wedding photographer then captures an adventurous scene with the couple as part of the landscape image for scale and epic beauty.

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PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE QUESTIONS TO ASK

How would you describe your photography style?

What would you compare your work to?

How would you describe your working style?

Do you prefer to blend into the background to capture candid moments, or do you like to be more visible and take charge to choreograph images?

Do you shoot digitally? With film? Or both?



Interview the photographers. Most photographers will link a portfolio of wedding images before your first meeting. Be sure the collection includes recent weddings he or she has shot from start to finish, not just a "best of" highlight reel from dozens of different weddings. This is a more accurate way to gauge the photographer's work. Also, ask if the photographer has shot at your venue and if so, request to see those photos.

During the meeting, find out who exactly will shoot on your wedding day. Some larger studios employ several photographers, and even with single-person operations, it's not unusual for the photographer to have an assistant handle shots of the groom getting ready while he focuses on the bride and bridesmaids. In all cases, request to see the work of the photographer (or photographers) who will be handling your wedding.

PHOTOGRAPHER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO ASK

How long have you been shooting weddings?

How many weddings have you photographed?

Do you often shoot weddings that have a similar size and style to the one we are planning?

Can we see the full galleries of a few of your recent weddings?

Have you ever shot a wedding at our ceremony and reception venues? If not, do you plan to check the venues out in advance?

Have you ever worked with our planner? Videographer? Florist? DJ?



Discuss the fee. Some photographers' wedding fees include everything including albums, prints, and high-resolution images (saved on a disc or thumb drive); others have a flat or hourly rate, then charge you à la carte for any pictures or albums you want. Many photographers offer a price list that details several different packages they offer at different price points. Make sure that you understand what's included. Ask how long the photographer will spend with you (seven to nine hours is ideal) and whether there will be a second shooter, as you'll get more detailed shots this way. Also inquire about when you can expect to receive everything, from a sneak peek of images (some photographers can give you a handful within a few days) to prints (usually up to three months) to your album (up to a year).


WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY FEES QUESTIONS TO ASK

What is included in your standard package?

What add-ons do the more expensive packages include?

Can I customize a package to fit my needs?

Do you include engagement photos in your packages?

What about pre-wedding events like rehearsal dinners?

How many hours are included in each package?

How much do extra hours cost?

Do you offer a photo booth?

Do you offer retouching, color adjustment, or other corrective services?

Are those included or an additional charge?

Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?



Go with your gut. Once you've evaluated each photographer's work and fees, and narrowed down the options, it's time to make your decision. Don't forget that you'll be spending the entire wedding day with this person, so you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable with the photographer. Do you and your fiancé genuinely like this person? Do you feel like the three of you click?


OTHER WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS TO ASK

Can we order prints or albums directly from you?

What type of album do you offer?

Do you provide assistance in selecting images and designing the album?

Are albums or prints included in your packages?

How many pages or prints are included, and what is the turnaround time?

How long after the wedding will we receive the images?

How will they be delivered?

Will we have the rights to the images?

Will we receive the negatives and/or high-resolution digital images? Is there a fee for that?

Will the images be accessible online? For how long?

When will we receive the contract?

How much of a deposit do you require? When is it due?

Do you accept payments in installations?

What is your refund or cancellation policy?

Do you have liability insurance? Does it cover your assistants, as well?

Do you carry backup equipment?

What is the backup plan if you are unable to shoot my wedding for an unexpected reason?

How will you and your assistants be dressed?

Can we request a list of specific shots we would like?

Will you be posting about our wedding on your website and social media?

Will you be submitting our photos to magazines or blogs?



STEP 2: SCHEDULE AN ENGAGEMENT SHOOT


Schedule a test run. An engagement photoshoot is always a good idea—it's a great opportunity to get to know your photographer and begin to feel comfortable having your photo taken, especially if you or your groom are camera-shy.


Nationally, wedding photographers estimate the costs to be between $400 to $700 in 2024 for a 2-hour session if you hire a photographer solely for engagement photos. However, engagement photos are typically built into many wedding photographer’s packages. The photographer wants that time to get to know you and your significant other; it helps them create more meaningful and personal images and a more diversified portfolio.


When to Take Your Engagement Photos

Once you’ve hired your photographer, it’s time to schedule your engagement shoot. If you’re planning to use these photos for save-the-dates (which go out six to eight months before your wedding), you need to book a session around 10 months or more in advance. That way, your photographer has time to edit the images, and you still have time to get those invitations designed. If you have a longer engagement or are not planning to use photos for save-the-dates, you have more flexibility.


In terms of season, we recommend avoiding the dead of summer given those all-too-common humidity hiccups. Spring and fall are the best times because you avoid extreme temperatures and still have pretty, colorful foliage—while avoiding dormant and bare trees in the winter


For the time of day, most photographers will recommend the evening or early morning for soft, warm sunrise and sunset hues.


Where to Take Your Engagement Photos

When choosing the perfect engagement photo spot, you can either pick a meaningful location or rely on your photographer’s expertise. If you have a special spot in mind—a first-date location, your favorite café, or a local park on your go-to walking route—run it by your photographer first. Then, they can scope it out, get some ideas, and figure out any necessary permissions for photographing.


While it’s fun to have engagement shots from a nostalgic location, photographers equally love when couples lean on them for inspiration.


If you and your significant other love to travel, you can also opt to get your engagement photos on vacation. Yes, this means you likely won’t be working with your wedding photographer, but it’s hard to beat engagement photos from, say, the waterfalls in Iceland or the colorful canals of Venice—especially if travel is your "thing" as a couple.


What to Wear for Engagement Photos

Less is more when it comes to selecting the perfect engagement photo outfit. King recommends soft, subtle, and neutral colors for a classic, timeless look: “Muted tones like beiges, taupes, blacks, and whites are the most flattering. Avoid deeply saturated or bright colors like a vibrant red or orange; those colors will reflect back on your face, especially in the sun.”


That said, reds and oranges aren’t totally off-limits for engagement shoots—you just have to get creative. “If couples have a favorite color, say red, I’ll suggest they incorporate it in a different way that’s not so close to the face, such as a skirt or shoes,” adds King.


While it may be tempting to wear a brand new outfit, comfort should be your first priority—but that doesn’t mean yoga pants and baggy sweatshirts. “You can still buy a fun new outfit, but don’t have your engagement-shoot day be the first day you wear it,” recommends King. “Wear it to dinner, get a few iPhone photos in it, and see if you truly like how it looks. Nothing’s worse than realizing during the shoot that your shirt wrinkles terribly, your pants stretch out after 30 minutes, or you just don’t like how it looks.”


Engagement photo sessions are a great time to experiment with wedding-day makeup, too. If you have a vendor in mind for day-of beauty, use your engagement shoot as a trial run. “It’s great to see how makeup reads in professional photographs,” says King. “What feels like a lot of makeup often doesn’t show up as dramatically on camera as it does in the mirror. It’s helpful to be able to make any makeup tweaks after the engagement session. That way, your big day will be flawless!”




In conclusion, planning your wedding photography should be a fun process that allows you to express yourself and set the scene for the best day of your life. Being engaged is an exciting journey and when it comes to capturing those thrilling moments, you have to ensure that every detail is carefully planned. Implementing these suggestions provided could make a significant difference in photographing your big day. From selecting the right photographer, understanding your photography budget, setting a realistic timeline, and more – taking these steps will help you better navigate the sometimes overwhelming realm of wedding photography and ensure you get those spectacular photos that will live on long after your wedding day.


The essence of wedding photography planning for couples is about creating timeless memories that reflect the authenticity and warmth of your special day. As you embark on this planning process, remember that it's your day and your unique love story that's being captured. By doing your research, communicating clearly with your photographer, and staying organized, you'll be one step closer to that fairy tale wedding you've always dreamed about. In the end, the most important thing is to enjoy the day and let your love shine through as it's ultimately this love that will make those candid, heartfelt images truly remarkable.






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