How to Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Bride-to-be and bridesmaids popping champagne at the Arcade in downtown Cleveland Ohio

Engagement Season is Here

As we all make a fresh start and enter into 2024 with a renewed sense of excitement and optimism, “engagement season” is well underway. Traditionally, the period between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day is referred to as engagement season, because the majority of all wedding engagements take place in this timeframe.

Over the next 12-18 months (on average), you will be discussing, planning, and making all the major decisions regarding your wedding day, and that includes how to find the perfect wedding photographers. So, the question is – how do you choose the perfect wedding photographers to capture one of the most important days of your life?

Below is an extensive list of things that we think every couple should thoroughly consider when choosing your wedding photographers. We will break each of them down for you from a professional photographers perspective, as well as from a married couples perspective.

Keep in mind, although this list is generally in a logical order, it is not necessarily in an order of priority. Every couple have priorities that are different and unique. One of the most important things to consider when you begin wedding planning is that each couples list of priorities vary. Remember, there is no right or wrong priority list. Be true to yourselves and to what is most important to YOU.

Bride and bridesmaids excitedly popping champagne in robes at Sapphire Creek Winery
Ecstatic bride popping champagne with her bridesmaids before her wedding at Sapphire Creek Winery

List of Things to Consider:

Jump to any section below by tapping on the list item you’d like to learn more about.

Gorgeous young bride sitting down in her wedding dress putting on her high heels in front of a mirror
Beautiful bride-to-be putting on her wedding day shoes

Priority List

As professional wedding photographers, when we have the opportunity to speak with newly engaged couples, the best advice we can give is to sit down and come up with a priority list. A priority list will allow you, as a couple, to decide what is most important to you both when it comes to your wedding day and will help you during your wedding planning process.

Once you get engaged, take some time to simply enjoy being engaged. Once you’re ready, sit down by yourself, or sit down with your partner, and come up with your priority list. This list will then act as a guide when it comes time to set your wedding date, book your venue, hire your vendor team, and all of the other pieces that will make up your wedding day. Start with the things that are MOST important to you first, and work your way down to the things that are least important.

As the months go by and you get further and further into your wedding planning, and deeper into your budget, you will be glad you have a visual, trackable list of the things that are of the utmost importance to you.

Budget

Now that you’ve put together your priority list, one of the first things most couples generally discuss and decide on is their overall wedding budget. Depending on your financial situation and what you plan to spend on your priority list, this can change and adjust based on your wants and needs. Maybe you meet a photographer whose work you absolutely fall in love with and you decide that you HAVE to hire them, or you find the most breathtaking venue that is your dream venue – that’s ok! At least give yourself a starting point, and then start focusing on the things on your priority list. 

As you work your way through your priority list, you most likely will work through your budget as well, As you get to the bottom of your list and your budget becomes less and less, that’s ok too. As long as you’ve secured the things that were most important to you, and hired the most important vendors, you can rest assured knowing that your wedding day will be amazing, and any item that was at the bottom of your priority list won’t have a significant effect on the day itself because it simply wasn’t that important to begin with.

Style

When you’re looking for the perfect wedding photographers to capture your wedding day, finding a photography style that you love and that you resonate with are vital.

Art and style are subjective. There is no right and wrong. If you come across a particular wedding photographer and you see examples of their work that you absolutely adore, trust your gut. Perhaps you like “light and airy”. Perhaps you like the more cinematic, magazine style photography that is true to color and that utilizes both on-camera flash as well as natural light, like ours. Everyone’s taste is different, and that is perfectly fine.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to them, or dig a little deeper to learn more about them, or to see as much of their work as you can. Familiarize yourself with as much of their style as you can. Your wedding day is a once in a lifetime experience, and who you choose capture it for you is equally as important. 

Portfolio

Once you’ve found a photographer whose style you gravitate towards, you should try to consume as much of their work as you can. Many photographers showcase their very best work on their social media platforms and their website, but those are usually very curated and only show what they consider to be the best of the best. If you’d like to see an example of our portfolio, check it out HERE.

Confident, truly professional photographers are more than happy to provide you with full wedding day gallery examples. A full wedding day gallery will show you how each photographer handles every aspect of a wedding day – from getting ready to the ceremony to the reception and everything in between. You can also see different lighting situations, different times of day, and even different seasons represented.

The more you know, the more confident you can be when you are narrowing your list of potential wedding photographers to choose from. At Kropp Photography, we are always happy to share full wedding galleries with potential clients.

Recommendations

Getting recommendations from previous couples/clients of the photographers you are considering can be a great way of finding out what kind of experience you can expect. Getting the chance to hear from couples just like you that have already gone through the entire wedding photography experience can be very powerful, and can give much needed insight into the behind the scenes process of the wedding photographers you are considering.

Experienced, professional wedding photographers with a long history of great working (and personal)  relationships with their previous clients are more than happy to reach out to a handful of couples in order to have them share a sample of what their experience was like. We don’t expect this of our couples, but many of them are happy to do it in order to help other couples have the best wedding photography experience possible, and to share how wonderful their experience was.

Online Research

Doing online research into potential wedding photographers is a great place to begin looking for the perfect wedding photographers to capture your wedding day. With social media and the availability of the internet, you can find many different photographers with all kinds of different styles, backgrounds, approaches, services, products, and experience levels very easily.

Doing simple searches for styles that appeal to you, or doing searches based on your local area and the surrounding areas are going to provide you with the most options to choose from. If you live in or around a large city, searching for wedding photographers from that city will most likely generate a long list of potential options. Take your time. Look at multiple photographers websites and social media accounts. Instagram is still a great place to do this kind of research. For example, you can check out our Instagram account HERE.

When you come across images or styles that resonate with you, or if you’ve gotten recommendations from close friends and family who have had great personal experiences with wedding photographers in the recent past, write down their names and make yourself a list. This will help you to keep track of the different photographers that you may be reaching out to for more information – such as reviews and testimonials – or to set up interviews as you move through the planning process.

Reviews & Testimonials

Online reviews are a great way to find out what other couples have to say about the photographers that you are considering for your wedding day. Reading the reviews and testimonials of actual couples who have already worked with the photographers that you are considering can give you a lot of insight as to what you can expect from your experience with the photographers that you ultimately choose to capture your wedding day.

Reviews and testimonials are a great way of learning what is was like for other couples to actually work with the photographers that you are considering. They are not just based on the photographs that they captured and delivered. Interested in reading some of our reviews? You can check them out HERE.

Communication

Once you’ve come up with a list of potential photographers to choose from that have a style and aesthetic you love, and have multiple strong reviews and beautiful portfolios, it’s time to reach out to each of them to get some more information. This is also a great way to see how well each photographer handles communicating with new couples and potential future clients.

When you email them, do they respond promptly and professionally? If you attempt to call them, do they answer the phone? Do they have an email address or working phone number available on their website or social media accounts for you to easily reach out to them? Do they have a form that allows you to contact them easily and conveniently?

Professional wedding photographers that value their clients and that value your time and effort to contact them are going to go out of their way to get back to you quickly, in a professional manner, and will be happy to answer your questions to set your mind at ease.

Consider this – if the photographers that you reach out to don’t respond to your emails or phone calls when you’re potentially trying to hire them to photograph your wedding, how will they behave in the days and weeks and months leading up to one of the biggest, most important days of your life?

Availability

Once you have found a few photographers that you are interested in reaching out to, it is very important to establish whether or not they are available on your wedding day. Many photographers have limited availability due to offering limited dates, or because they are in high demand and have already booked clients for popular dates – such as Saturday’s in September/October in Northeast Ohio. These months in Ohio are very popular. These types of premium dates are in high demand, and well established professional wedding photographers tend to book these dates well in advance – and once they are booked, they are no longer available.

If you come across a photographer whose work you absolutely love, don’t wait to reach out and inquire with them about their availability. At Kropp Photography, we only photograph between 20-30 weddings per year, and once our open dates are booked, we are no longer available. Also, unlike a lot of photography companies or “one-stop-shops”, we don’t have associate photographers on staff, so if/when you hire us, you get us. You’re not going to have some random person showing up on your wedding day, or someone who may have just been hired by the company a couple weeks before your wedding day. You can be confident that the quality of our work and the professionalism, knowledge, and experience that we bring to the table will be exactly what you can expect.

We will be there for you every step of the way, during the entire wedding planning process, as well as on your wedding day. We can offer guidance and be a resource for you, and we will make sure that your wedding photography experience is up to our extremely high standards.

Interview

Once you’ve determined that the photographers you’ve contacted are still available for your wedding date, setting up an in interview is something we highly recommend. Having the opportunity to sit down face to face with the photographers you are considering is a great way to get to know more about them, ask any questions you may have, and learn more about their process, their services and what’s included in their wedding packages. It’s a nice way to just spend a little bit of time together with no pressure and no obligations.

Most photographers are happy to do over the phone interviews, or FaceTime, or even a Zoom meeting – but we always suggest an in person, face to face sit down interview in our private studio. It’s much more personal, relaxed, and gives both you and the photographers a chance to get to know each other better.

Personal Connection

The personal connection you have with your wedding photographer can be just as important as the photographs that they capture or the experience they provide. Most couples overlook the fact that your wedding photographers, on average, are going to be spending more time with you than any other vendors that you may hire.

We are typically with you all day long on your wedding day, from the morning of your wedding day until the end of your reception and even beyond. This doesn’t even take into account the amount of time spent together during the initial phone call, interviews, engagement session (if your photographer offers this service), and any other times that you may be together. 

Having a good relationship and feeling comfortable and relaxed with your photographers will undoubtedly lead to a much more enjoyable experience overall, and will also lead to the best possible outcome when it comes to the photographs that are ultimately delivered to you, and that you will cherish for a lifetime.

Products & Services

Products and services offered by wedding photographers are as unique and varying as the many styles you may come across during your search. Many photographers will provide some type of general list of what they offer, or what they include in their wedding packages. You can oftentimes find these on their websites. If not, be sure to find out exactly what each photographer includes with their wedding packages.

You will most likely find a wide range of included products and services. Examples of these might include different hour limits for wedding day coverage, ranging from 6 hours to 12 hours, print products such as albums and/or wall art options, the ability to add on an engagement session prior to your wedding day, and many other options.

At Kropp Photography, we offer one all-inclusive package that we believe provides our couples with all the things they could ever want from a wedding photography experience, while also allowing them to customize and add on additional items, if they so choose.

A few examples of what we offer are two professional photographers, all-day wedding coverage with no hour limit, a custom designed wedding album, a complimentary engagement session, wedding day timeline assistance, and much more.

If you’d like to see what our wedding package looks like, you can view it on our Wedding Photography page HERE.

Contracts & Pricing

When it comes to hiring professional wedding photographers to capture your wedding day and to guide you on your wedding journey, understanding the differences in contract language and the pricing of products and services that will be rendered are extremely important. For many newly engaged couples, reading and understanding contract language is not something they have extensive experience with, but is something that is necessary when you’re making such an important investment. Protecting yourself and your wedding photography investment is not something that should be taken lightly. The last thing you want to do is get taken advantage of by fly-by-night photographers that do not have your best interests in mind. You don’t want to hire unprofessional wedding photographers, because the results can be devastating – especially if you aren’t legally protected and give yourself no legal recourse.

When you sit down and interview different photographers, don’t be afraid to ask to see an example of the contract that they offer BEFORE you decide to hire them. A contract should be written in a way that protects both parties, and professional photographers should not hesitate to provide you with their contract language so that you can look it over in private to make sure that it is fairly written. A well written contract includes protection clauses for both you and the photographers.

Once you’ve had a chance to look over each contract for the photographers that you interview, don’t be afraid to ask further questions about what is included in the contract as well as what is NOT included in the contract. Oftentimes, contracts can be negotiated. If you feel that something in a contract is not agreeable, do not be afraid to speak to the photographer to try and work something out, especially if it is a photographer that you absolutely want to work with. 

The pricing of both products and services should also be discussed at length, included in the contract itself, clearly spelled out and understood by both parties BEFORE a contracted agreement is made. 

What is included with the package(s) that you are interested in? Are there physical products included? How long will it take to receive your deliverables, such as your wedding photos or wedding album? What if either party decides to cancel for an unknown reason – what happens? When are payments due? Is there a deposit or a down-payment or a retainer required? What happens if either party fails to honor the agreed upon contract?

These are all viable questions that you should asking your potential wedding photographers, and all questions that professional photographers should be able to answer.

Insurance

Being insured is another absolute necessity when it comes to hiring your wedding photographers. True professional wedding photography businesses will carry business insurance just like any other business. Making sure the photographers that you choose to work with have business insurance is a great way to weed out non-professionals and newbies, and ensuring that they are operating legitimately. Many wedding venues require that the vendors that you hire – including but not limited to wedding photographers – carry their own insurance and provide proof of insurance to work on their property.

During the interview process, it is totally normal and acceptable to inquire whether or not the photographers have insurance for their business. If they do not, or they hesitate with their answer, that should be a red flag and you should be wary of moving forward or hiring them. You may be opening yourself up to issues in the future, and the venue that you choose could prevent them from working at their location if they are not insured.

Gallery Delivery

Hiring the perfect wedding photographers to capture your wedding day ultimately culminates in the final delivery of your wedding photographs in one form or several, all depending on what your photographer offers with their wedding packages. Most professional photographers today offer some sort of digital gallery option that allows you to log into an account online and view your photographs and/or download them. Many photographers will also offer some form of physical gallery, in the form of a USB or some other medium that you can transport or store for safekeeping.

The amount of time between your wedding day and the delivery of your complete wedding gallery varies greatly with each photographer. The amount of time between your wedding date and the final delivery of your complete wedding day gallery should be clearly explained in the photographers contract, and should NOT be a wide, open-ended range. Professional photographers are willing and capable of delivering their clients galleries in a relatively short amount of time, as they should. No couple should be forced to wait 6 months or more to receive their complete wedding gallery. A reasonable amount of time for full wedding day gallery delivery would be several weeks to a maximum of 90 days during the busiest portions of the wedding season – typically the fall season in Northeast Ohio (September-November).

For example, at Kropp Photography, the turn-around time for our wedding galleries is approximately 4 weeks from the day of your wedding. We recognize that our couples are excited to see their photos, and we go out of our way to make sure they have them as quickly as possible so that they can have them and enjoy them and share them with friends and family and loved ones. Your wedding day gallery should be a way for you to relive your wedding day over and over again, for years and years to come, and you shouldn’t have to wait forever to be able to do that.

In Conclusion

We truly hope this list will help you as you begin your search as you’re trying to figure out how to find the perfect wedding photographers to capture your wedding day. Knowing what to look for, what to ask, and what to expect will empower you to confidently make smart, informed decisions when you are ready to hire your professional wedding photographers.

To all the newly engaged couples out there, congratulations. No matter where you are, no matter what your wedding plans are, we wish you all the happiness and joy as you move forward together, as a couple. Marriage is such a beautiful, worthwhile endeavor, and we wish you nothing but the best. Enjoy every moment, the good and the bad, and realize that true happiness is about sharing all of that life has to offer with the ones you love the most.

If you have any questions about the items on this list, or if you’d like to offer feedback, feel free to contact us HERE. We would love to hear from you, and we would love to hear about your experience with your wedding photographer, good and bad. Even as professionals that have been photographing weddings and engagements for years and years, we are always looking to learn and grow to improve our skillset and understanding of what couples want and need, and to offer exactly what they are looking for to provide them with the most amazing wedding photography experience possible.

Portfolio
Lovely new bride on the stairs of the Cleveland Art Museum

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