How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer - Bristol Contemporary Photography

How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer

05 May 2020

I know it must be completely overwhelming where to even begin when it comes to wedding photography. There are so many websites to trawl through and so many social media accounts to follow…how do you even start to narrow it down? I’ve written a quick guide which will hopefully be useful to help you narrow it down!

Decide budget

First of all, it’s important to decide how much you want to spend on your wedding photographer. To give you an idea, in the South West of England I would expect to pay between £1000-£3000 for a full day wedding photography package with an experienced photographer. If you’re looking for something a bit more budget, prices are often reduced for a winter or a mid-week wedding and often a photographer will offer a half day package. My half day package covers 6 hours so you might find something like that is enough coverage for you. I would really think hard about how much you want to spend on your wedding photographer as the photos are the permanent document of your day and it’s not something you can go back and re-do! If it’s not so important to you, a lot of local wedding photography Facebook group will have affordable offers from people starting out and looking to build a portfolio. 

Decide how you want your day captured

Secondly, think about what style of photography you are after, and this will really help narrow down your search. This will be the way in which your day is captured. Do you want someone to blend in or be a bit more in charge of your day? I’ll give you a few buzz words and what they mean to help you decide!

1. Documentary Wedding Photographer (Also know as candid or reportage photographers). This is a photographer who, for the most part of your day, will try and stay out of your way and capture your day totally naturally. Lots of candid snaps of you and your guests laughing. This doesn’t mean they won’t do more traditional formal photos as well, but this won’t be the main focus of the day. Most documentary photographers will use natural light rather than flash or lighting rigs.

2. Traditional Wedding Photographer (also known as classic or formal wedding photographers). A more traditional photographer will generally focus more on posed and family portraits, generally using off camera flash or lighting rigs to achieve balanced, evenly lit photos. Normally more time is given to the group photos and portraits are arrange in a more formal way. These photographers tend to be a bit more in charge of your day and will happily arrange groups and advise on timings.

3. Fine Art Photographer (Also artistic wedding photographers, sometimes fashion or editorial). These photographers tend to be highly creative and capture your day in a way that might more be considered art than photographs. They will focus on a lot of modern techniques such as the use of prisms, double exposure, dramatic lighting and interesting angles. A lot of the work will be done in the editing as well. Generally the results will be beautiful and dramatic.

Decide how you want your photos edited

Third, you have to think about how you want your photos to be edited. There are a few styles to choose between, but generally just looking through a photographer’s portfolio will give you a good idea if you like their work. Editing styles worth checking out to see if you like are:

1. Classic – With a slightly less edited feel, the colours and exposure will be true to life without a stylised feel.

2. Light & Airy – Generally slightly overexposed photos give a really romantic and dreamlike quality. The photos tend to have pastel tones and be very soft focus.

3. Dark & Moody – The opposite of light and airy! These photos are shot underexposed and and tend to be high contrast with a focus on darker tones. They tend to be dramatic and wild.

4. Black & White – Usually a photographer will deliver a few photos in black and white as well but you can think about if this is something you would like more or less of. I generally find photos with dramatic lighting or a lot of emotion tend to work well edited this way.

5. Vintage & Sepia – Imagine a Victorian portrait. Normally with vignette, this is a very stylised way to create a vintage feel.

Check Reviews

So you’ve found a photographer who’s style ticks all the boxes above. Now, before you get too invested, CHECK THEIR REVIEWS! Bad reviews are surprisingly hard to be taken down from Facebook or Google so the photographer may have disabled the review function to hide negative feedback. Beware! If the reviews are mostly positive (and there’s more than just one person who might be their friend) that’s all you need to know.

Check out ALL their galleries

Have a look through as many galleries as you can on your chosen wedding photographer’s website! Check that the style is consistent throughout so it won’t be a surprise when you get your wedding photos. You can even ask the photographer if you can see a full wedding gallery (every photo that was delivered to another couple). This would give you a really good idea of the full scope of their work.

Ask to meet them

I think it’s so important that you “click” with your wedding photographer.  Even if you love their work, you really don’t want someone there with you on your wedding day that you don’t see eye to eye with. I always think it’s best to meet in person if you have the time and live close enough. Grab a coffee or a drink! A relaxed environment is best to get to know each other a bit and check you’re a good fit. The photographer will probably bring along a couple of albums for you to look through as well. Remember they probably have a lot of insight in to the wedding industry so it’s worth chatting through your plans with them!


Remember to start looking for a wedding photographer far enough in advance before the wedding day to ensure not everyone is getting booked up and you have your pick of the best! If you’re looking at a peak summer date, I’d recommend to start getting in touch with people 12-18 months before your wedding day. If it’s a super off-peak date 6-12 months is probably plenty of time and you might even be OK to get in touch if it’s last minute – most photographers won’t be booked for a Tuesday wedding in December for example!

I hope this helps you out a bit, and if you have any questions I’d be happy to help!

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