How to Hire a Wedding Photographer 101

Motion blur of bride and groom walking

February 16, 2024

Tips & Insight, Weddings

Hey there! So, you’re diving into the world of wedding photography—exciting, right? Let’s chat about how to find that perfect photographer who’ll capture your day just the way you’ve always imagined. It’s like embarking on this cool adventure together, filled with laughter, tears, and all those amazing moments you’ll want to remember forever. So, grab a coffee (or tea, if that’s your thing), and let’s dish out some tips and friendly advice to make sure you find the wedding photographer who gets you and your vibe. Sound good?

I highly recommend creating a separate wedding email account if you haven’t done this already.

Something like

It will help keep all of your vendor emails from flooding your inbox!

When should you find your wedding photographer?

Before you dive into this- the one requirement you need is to have your venue and date booked! For many photographers, they can’t commit to you until you are certain where and when your wedding is going to be held. It is possible if you have a photographer in mind from the get-go to ask what days they are available. You could work around a specific photographer’s calendar if it is really important to you. But for most couples, it’s common to get your venue booked first and then hunt around for who’s available after. It’s hard to predict what dates your dream venue may be open so working with photographers (or other vendors) calendars before you have anything set in stone may cause issues if you have to go back and forth on the date.

Once you have a date and location set you can start looking for photographers! I would suggest looking immediately and not waiting to start the process. Many couples will book their photographers 12 to 18 months in advance. Some photographers may not accept bookings as early as 2 years in advance but it’s possible if they are high in demand. Trying to book less than a year out starts to get a bit more challenging to find a photographer with availability and with the requirements you might be looking for. Be aware that any popular dates will also make it more challenging. Popular dates are usually during the fall (up north) and winter (down south).

Where to find wedding photographers

If Budget & Date Is Your Priority

Look in your local wedding-specific Facebook groups! Join a few different groups that are specific to your state or region (New Hampshire or New England for example).

Make a post saying “I’m looking for a wedding photographer for [date] for about x hours. We have a budget of $x”. Go ahead and mention if you want any particular add-ons like an engagement session or having a second shooter. The amount of responses may vary depending on the group size and your specifics.

Giving all of those specific details is important to ensure you get responses matching your needs! If you want to include more details on what style you are looking for, that is helpful also (light and airy style vs. dark and moody, for example). Or if you even go as far as to share some examples photos of the style you are looking for that would help you also!

What’s helpful about this route is you will have responses from photographers that you can be confident who are available for your date! If you have your wedding during a popular day this can help narrow down the options.

I do want to note that if you are looking to spend more than the average person, or if quality is more important to you, I wouldn’t rely on posting on Facebook alone. Many photographers are not even part of these Facebook groups! Read on to find some other places you can look.

If you are wondering what your budget should be – Check out my post about wedding photographer costs here!

If Quality Is Your Priority


Search for “(Your state) wedding photographer”. You won’t be able to filter by anyone’s availability but you’ll be able to quickly view their work and get a sense of their personality!

Tip: Go to your venues’s page and switch to their tagged posts. Browse through and see if you can find photographers who have tagged your venue before!

Google & Google Maps

Try searching “photographers near me” and poke around Google Maps to see who’s local!


You would probably have similar results on TikTok as you would have on Instagram.

Zola, The Knot, & Wedding Wire

Try looking on Zola first, and then the knot/wedding wire as a last option (some vendors don’t like TK/WW- but you still might be able to find someone regardless). As a vendor, I prefer Zola since they are more trustworthy for both bride/grooms and vendors but they are newer to the wedding lead scene so they don’t have nearly as many vendors available to browse through. TK/WW (which are both the same company) have been known to meddle with reviews that would disfavor a vendor (and be misleading for any unknowing couples looking to book).

A quick note on who not to hire

Please, do not hire anyone from a country-wide company. They will randomly assign whoever is available for your day. I’ve heard so many horror stories. It’s not worth the cheaper prices, be sure to find someone who runs a small business who is invested in being there for your day!

The Wedding Photographer Hiring Process

Here’s a walkthrough of the hiring process!

1. Reaching Out

Reach out to everyone you’d like to receive their availability and pricing.
If they aren’t available, ask them who they might know who could help you out! They might be able to refer you to someone else who’s local and fits the style you are looking for.

2. Checking Reviews

Look up the reviews for any photographers you are interested in! Look on Google, Facebook, Zola, Wedding Wire & The Knot. This will give you insight into the amount of experience they have and how they take care of their clients!

3. Reviewing Portfolios

If your budget, style, and availability align, Ask to see a FULL wedding gallery. Not Instagram or their website. What you’d like is an online gallery that has everything that they delivered from the beginning of a wedding day to the exit of the same wedding day. The key thing to look for is how they handle flash photography, usually during the dark reception or the getting-ready spaces. Flash knowledge is the trickiest thing for newbies and is easy to mess up. You’ll also want to look for images culled down to the best images (not many duplicates of the same photos or images that may be unflattering or out of focus) and check if things are cropped correctly (no crooked photos!). Ideally, you’d ask for this to be sent to you before agreeing to get onto a video call. This way, you can be certain that you love their work before you agree to talk more with them.

4. Video Chat

Set up video calls with everyone who you are interested in potentially having for your day! Take the time to get to know about your potential wedding photographer and ask them questions. They will be following you around on one of the most important days of your life, so you’ll want to make sure they have a personality and style you like! As for what questions to ask them, I’ll list some questions to ask them in the next section below.

5. Following Up With The Photographers You Decide Not To Go With

At this point, I want to mention, that for those who you wish to reject- please follow up with the photographer to let them know! All you have to do is thank them for their time and let them know that you’ve decided to go in another direction. No hard feelings! They will appreciate knowing so they aren’t left wondering.

6. Reviewing The Contract

After talking with a few different photographers, they usually send a contract for you to review. Some may not send one immediately unless you follow up and express that you’d like to move forward. If they do send one immediately, it doesn’t mean anything is set in stone yet! It’s okay to let them know if you are still talking to other photographers and making a decision, let them know when you expect to know for sure. It’s also important to note that a wedding photographer must have a contract for you to sign. Even if you found someone to do it for free – you NEED a contract. It’s beneficial for everyone as it outlines things like payment, cancellations, exact services, turnaround times for editing, etc. If anything should go awry it will help resolve any issues or questions.

7. Making Your Wedding Photographer Offical!

Once you’ve decided which wedding photographer is the best for you pay their retainer fee up front and sign the contract. After that, you will have officially booked your wedding photographer, how exciting!!

Questions To Ask When Talking To Wedding Photographers

1. Experience

How many weddings have you photographed, and how long have you been in the industry?

Red flags to watch for: Someone who might have too little experience or try to pass second shooting or styled shoots as lead shooting experience.

2. Photo Style & Prompting Style

How would you describe your photography style? What about your capturing or directing style?

Will they pose you or prompt you to do things? Or will they let things happen and only capture “candids” (also known as documentary style?).

3. Editing Process

What is your editing process like? How much retouching do you do?

4. Portfolio

Skip this step if you already viewed a few full galleries before getting on the video call. If you haven’t already asked for them to send you a couple of full wedding galleries, make sure to ask them to send you some links after your call!

Can you share a couple of full wedding galleries with us after our call is over?

5. Hours of Coverage

How many hours do you think would best fit our day?

This depends a bit on how much info you have already given them about what you envision them capturing! If you want to capture the full day they will probably recommend at least 8 hours.

6. Packages and Pricing

What package would best match our needs and what does it include? Are there any additional fees we should be aware of?

Sometimes travel fees or sales tax will need to be added.

7. Number of Photos

How many photos can we expect?

Most wedding photographers average 50-70 photos per hour of shooting but some photographers are different! I also want to note that more photos isn’t always better. That’s a lot of photos for you to sort through and you don’t necessarily want a lot of duplicates either!

8. Editing Turnaround

How long after the wedding can we expect to receive our photos? Do you do sneak peeks?

9. Backup Equipment & File Backups

Do you have backup camera gear in case of technical issues? Are your cameras dual-slot cameras? Do you have multiple hard drives and cloud storage for file safekeeping at home?

They should have multiple cameras or lenses as it’s protection if one were to get dropped, broken, etc. Dual slot cameras, if you don’t know what that means, are cameras that write onto 2 SD cards at once. This is best practice in case one card were to suddenly get corrupted or lost! Cloud storage for files is important at home in case of flooding, fire, or any other sort of physical damage were to happen to the physical hard drive storing your files.

10. Insurance

Are you insured?

Many new wedding photographers don’t know that they need to have insurance! Also, some wedding venues require all vendors to have proof of insurance so it’s good to make sure they do have it!

11. Emergency Circumstances

What happens if you’re unable to photograph our wedding due to unforeseen circumstances?

12. Planning Process

What happens between booking and the wedding? Will you help us with planning the photo timeline?

Most professionals have a timeline of how they will check in with you and eventually help you plan your photography timeline before your wedding. It’s their job to assist you since they should be the experts on how long certain photos should take! If a photographer is acting they expect to be told when to show up and just shoot whatever happens, that’s a red flag to me. They should be working with you to plan and educate you on the best timing for certain photos! I usually send a questionnaire to my couples around 3 months before, draft a photography timeline around 2 months, and then set up a final call about 1 month before the wedding to discuss and make adjustments to the timeline.

13. Booking Process

What is the booking process like if we decide to work with you?

I hope this guide has provided you confidence in navigating this important decision! It’s been such a pleasure sharing all those details about finding your dream wedding photographer with you. I hope you feel inspired and ready to embark on this incredible journey of capturing your love story!

Now that you’ve got all this awesome info swimming around in your heads, why not reach out and let’s chat? I’d love to be the one behind the lens, capturing those magical moments on your big day. Shoot me a message here, and let’s make some photo magic together!



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I've been photographing weddings since 2021 and I'm loving every minute! When I'm not behind the camera, you can find me spending time with my family and friends, reading a fantasy book, or watching Modern Family with my husband Josiah of Josiah Does Videos.

Hi! i'm Sierra

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