Wedding shots with bride's shoes, vow book, and rings at The Highland Manor, Apopka

How to choose the right wedding photographer

Advice from a St. Augustine Wedding Photographer

When I got engaged, I was so excited to start planning my dream wedding. But I quickly realized that choosing vendors, especially the photographer, was way more complicated than I expected. I was a wedding photographer myself, so picking the right one was important to me. I want to share the biggest lessons I learned about selecting someone whose personality, portfolio and packages are the ideal fit for you and your fiancé.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Photographer

When it comes to your wedding photography, choosing the right photographer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Here are a few key factors I recommend considering:

All wedding photographers have different photography and editing styles

Bride at The White Room in St. Augustine before the wedding ceremony
Bride at The White Room in St. Augustine before the wedding ceremony

Photography Style

Do you prefer a more traditional, posed style or a casual, photojournalistic look? Review photographers’ online portfolios and full wedding galleries to find someone whose style matches your vision. Quality wedding photography is an investment, so make sure their style is what you want.

Editing Style

Photographers have different end products based on their editing style. Some examples of editing styles are:

  • Light and airy photos with bright colors that pop
  • True-to-color shots that accurately represent the hues and tones as the photographer saw them
  • Moody photos with dramatic lighting and shadows

Photographers typically don’t alter their editing style upon request, so it’s important to ensure the wedding photographer you choose already edits photos in the style that matches your vision.

Wedding Photographers Budget and Pricing

Consider your budget for wedding photography early on. Photographers charge anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 or even more for a full-day wedding package. Get quotes from multiple photographers so you could compare pricing for similar packages as well as quality of work. Look for any additional fees, and ask about engagement sessions, albums, prints and digital downloads. Clarify what’s included in their base package versus any add-on costs. While having a set budget is important, also keep some flexibility to accommodate must-have requests and your photographer’s recommendations.

The difference between hiring a $2000 photographer and a $10,000 photographer may come down to several factors:

  • Experience levels: More experienced photographers have shot many more weddings and have refined their skills over time. They tend to have fewer issues during the wedding day and can anticipate complications.
  • Equipment: Lower end photographers can also produce great work. However, higher-end photographers often have better camera bodies, lenses, and lighting equipment that allow them to capture sharper and more professional-looking photos.
  • The experience they provide: Luxury wedding photographers tend to spend more time with clients before and during the wedding day, provide more direction and coaching during the shoot, and have larger support staff to assist.
  • Additional services: Costlier photographers frequently offer more add-ons like engagement sessions, albums, personalized recommendations, and quick turnaround times for photos.
  • Creativity: More established photographers have likely developed a unique creative style and vision over the years that some clients find worth paying extra for.
  • Flexibility: Luxury photographers are often able to accommodate more custom requests and tailor their services to a client’s specific vision.
  • Confidence: A wedding photographer charging more is confident they could deliver, and will always be ready if something goes wrong (such as having backup when an equipment fails).

I do want to state that I have met lower-end photographers that is able to provide just as much as a higher-end photographer. However, they are a diamond in the rough!

Ultimately, the value provided should match the budget and needs of the particular couple getting married.

Bride writing a letter to the groom before the wedding ceremony at the White Room, St. Augustine, Florida
Bride writing a letter to the groom before the wedding ceremony at the White Room, St. Augustine, Florida

Personality and Professionalism

Your photographer will be with you all day as you get ready and during the ceremony and reception, so choose someone you click with on a personal level. Make sure to meet in person before booking to see if you have similar personalities and communication styles. They should be professional, reliable, flexible and calm under pressure when working on your big day.

Trust your instincts and choose a photographer you feel comfortable with and excited to work with on your wedding day. Because when you know, you know!

Personal Connection with your Wedding Photographer

One of the best ways to assess a photographer’s personality and professionalism is through an in-person consultation or zoom/video call. During the consultation, pay close attention to how the photographer interacts with you and your partner. Do they listen actively and ask questions to get to know you as a couple? Are they friendly, easy to talk to and make you feel comfortable? Or do they seem distracted, in a rush or overly salesy?

Ask them questions about their process on the wedding day from start to finish. How do they work with the wedding party and family? Do they have assistants that will be present? What is their style of directing formal group photos – do they give clear, calm instructions or do they seem impatient?

Their responses will give you insights into their personality, patience and flexibility. A good wedding photographer understands that wedding photography is about being personable as much as capturing emotions, stories and special moments. They will work to create a calm, relaxing environment where you feel free to be yourself on your wedding day.

The White Room Wedding Venue

Experience and Skill

An experienced wedding photographer has the necessary abilities, expertise, knowledge and equipment required to handle the challenges that may arise on your wedding day. They can capture all the essential photos you desire while avoiding unwanted surprises and issues. Inquire about their experience photographing weddings similar in style and size to your own. Find out how long they have been photographing weddings professionally full time. Ask for examples of their recent wedding photography work to evaluate the technical and creative quality of their photos.

An experienced wedding photographer:

  • Has photographed enough weddings to know how to handle stressful or unpredictable situations that may occur, from unpredictable weather to uncooperative wedding party members.
  • Has a wide repertoire of technical and compositional skills to capture different types of wedding photos, from formal group shots to candid moments, in different lighting conditions.
  • Has the right equipment, as well as back-ups, including multiple camera bodies, a variety of lenses and lighting tools, to ensure they can get the shots you want on your wedding day.
  • Has creative vision and expertise in directing formal group shots, family photos and portraits to bring out the best in your wedding party and create beautiful, natural-looking photos that you will treasure for years.

A Professional Wedding Photographer Will Be Able to Provide Insurance

….No matter what! Choose a photographer who is properly insured. Liability insurance covers damage to people, property and equipment that may occur during your wedding day.

Insurance gives you peace of mind in case something unforeseen happens on your wedding day. It also protects the photographer from financial ruin if a serious incident occurs.

Make sure any photographers you’re considering can provide a certificate of insurance (COI) because most wedding venue require photographers to list the venue as an additional insured party.

Bride and groom wedding photos at The White Room, St. Augustine Florida

A Professional Wedding Photographer will ALWAYS provide a Contract

A solid contract ensures transparency about expectations and avoids surprises. A good contract will spell out:

  • The photographer’s general information
  • The photography and editing services included
  • The expected formats of images provided
  • Any retouching or special effect services included
  • Rights to use or print the photos
  • Payment terms including any required deposits
  • Cancellation and rescheduling policies
  • What happens in event of equipment failure or photographer illness

Questions to Ask Potential Wedding Photographers

Request wedding galleries

Request to see full wedding albums or galleries so you could see the the quality of the photos. When viewing the galleries, you will also be able to have a feel if the style matches your vision or not.

Backup Plan

Another key question is to ask for a backup plan in case of illness or equipment issues. As a bride, the last thing you want worry about was the photographer not showing up! Reputable photographers will have a network of trusted colleagues they can call on as backups.

Packages and Pricing

Of course, pricing and available packages is one of the most important things to discuss. Packages typically include a set number of hours of coverage, 1 or 2 photographers, and online gallery and/or wedding album. Ask what is included in the wedding packages and pricing and inquire about any additional costs for add-ons like an engagement session, additional shooters, album upgrades, or prints over the package limit.

Understanding the details of each package, from start to finish, ensures the level of coverage and quality desired.

Post-Wedding Services

How long will it take for the wedding gallery to be delivered? And when will you get the physical album and prints? Normally, a professional photographer will tell you this without you having to ask.

Bride and groom toasting at their wedding reception at the White Room, St. Augustine
Bride and groom in front of the iconic stairway at the White Room, St. Augustine Florida

Red Flags to Watch Out for With Wedding Photography

No Digital Portfolio

As a bride, I want to make sure any photographer I’m considering hiring has a robust digital portfolio I can review. If a photographer can’t show me examples of full wedding galleries they’ve shot, that’s a major red flag in my book. I need to see their work to determine if I like their style and skills before I commit to hiring them.

Refusal to Share Work

If a photographer is cagey about sharing their work with me or refuses altogether, I’d move on as a bride. Any reputable photographer should be willing to share full galleries, not just their “greatest hits.” I want to see a range of shots to get a sense of their abilities. If they’re unwilling to share for any reason, I have to assume they have something to hide regarding their talent or experience.

Not having a COI (or knowing what it is)

One of the biggest horror stories I hear is “I have to find a photographer last minute because my photographer didn’t have insurance to provide the venue.” Arguably, this could distinguish a photographer who just provides wedding photography from a professional wedding photographer who could execute a wedding day flawlessly. A professional understands its more than just taking great photos so she/have done all their homework to find out what’s needed to run their business and service their client.

Cost: Low VS. High-End Wedding Photographer

Low-Cost Wedding PhotographerPhotographer

A very low-cost photographer might be too good to be true. Although this may not always be the case, Low pricing could mean the photographer lacks experience, proper equipment or backup support. They may not have enough staffing to provide full coverage or proper post-wedding editing and print services. You may end up with poor quality images, limited coverage of your big day, or an experience you were not expecting.

For these reasons, I recommend choosing a photographer based on their experience, portfolio and service offerings rather than price alone. Look for a photographer who has shot many weddings successfully, has high quality photos in their portfolio and provides the level of coverage, prints and post-wedding support you desire. A reputable photographer will be transparent about their packages and pricing upfront.

Reasonable pricing varies based on your area and the photographer’s experience and offerings. Get quotes from multiple photographers to compare packages and pricing. Look for a fair price that matches the level of service you want to ensure you’ll be happy with your photos for years to come. Don’t choose the lowest cost photographer without considering the value you’ll receive in return for your investment.

High-End Wedding Photographer:

Alternatively, there are high-end photographers. Make sure the high-end photographer can deliver on their promises. Check that they have:

  • The necessary skills and experience to shoot a wedding at that level. Review their portfolio carefully for high-quality wedding photos.
  • The right equipment and resources to provide the level of coverage and photo quality you desire.
  • A large enough team of photographers and assistants to cover all important wedding events and provide you with non-stop photo coverage on your big day. Clarify how many photographers will be present.
  • The ability to produce all the prints, albums and special products they promise within your requested timeframe. Get a timeline for when you’ll receive your wedding photos.
  • A reputation for excellent customer service and responsive communication to address any issues that come up. Ask for references from past clients.

Get everything in writing so there are no miscommunications. A contract should spell out exactly what you’re paying for, including the number of photographers, types of prints, turnaround time for photos and more.

If the high-end photographer checks all these boxes and you love their portfolio, they’re likely worth the investment. But if any doubts remain, keep searching until you find a photographer that gives you complete peace of mind. Your wedding photos deserve nothing less.

Conclusion in choosing the right wedding photographer

Choosing your wedding photographer is an important decision that will capture memories of your special day to last a lifetime. Take time to review portfolios and get a sense of each photographer’s style. Meet in person if possible to make sure your personalities click. Ask about packages and options to find one in your budget. Read reviews and get recommendations from friends. Trust your gut feeling and choose someone who understands your vision and can artistically capture it. With careful consideration, you’ll find the perfect fit to commemorate your wedding journey. Let your photographer’s creative eye guide you on your path to “I do!”

Who I Am

HI, I am Phavy, a St. Augustine wedding photographer. I hope you find this information helpful and continue to follow my blog for more things weddings!

Phavy Photography (
Wedding Photographer in St. Augustine, Florida
Phone: 904-228-1350
Instagram: 904photographer

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