Discover the essential questions to ask your wedding photographer for breathtaking photos on your special day—valuable insights tailored for New Zealand wedding couples. Expert tips and from budget to lighting.
Tips for Choosing the Perfect Wedding Photographer | Budget, Style, Research, Lighting, Engagement Shoot & More
Choosing a wedding photographer can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. From setting a budget to researching and evaluating portfolios, this guide covers everything you need to know to choose the perfect wedding photographer.
Learn how to determine your preferred style, consider lighting at your venues, and what questions to ask. What you need to know before you read a contract and understand the rights to the photos before signing any agreements. With so many photographers to choose from, deciding on the right one can take time. I have compiled a list of tips to help you choose the perfect photographer for your big day.
Set a Budget
The first step in choosing a wedding photographer is to set a budget. It will help narrow your options and ensure you can afford your services. Start by researching wedding photographers in your area and checking their rates.
Doing this will give you an idea of what to expect and a realistic jumping-off point. When considering your budget, consider factors such as the hours the photographer is needed, whether you want a second photographer, and which parts of the day are most important to you.
In Timaru, South Canterbury, quality wedding photography can range from $1000 to $10,000. Remember that the price includes the photographer's creative talent, equipment costs, travel time, editing, and the time spent photographing your wedding.
What is Your Style?
Before choosing a wedding photographer, it's essential to determine your preferred style. It will help you find a photographer who matches your vision and aesthetic. Consider creating a collection of your favourite wedding photos and ask yourself why you like them.
Photography styles vary widely, so decide which one you prefer.
Choose the style that resonates with you and save images into a collection for reference. Once you've determined your style, find a photographer who does that well, and show them your collection to ensure you're both aligned.
Research and shortlist
Ask friends for recommendations and read reviews. Browse Instagram and use location-based hashtags to your advantage. Narrow your list to 3-6 photographers, and peruse their websites and social media to get a sense of their personalities. Contact them and ask about their packages and what's included. It's OK to request a look at a gallery and an in-person or zoom meeting is a must!
Check out the whole gallery
When reviewing a photographer's portfolio, looking beyond their highlights is essential. Viewing a gallery or two of real weddings they've shot will give you a more comprehensive understanding of their work. Look for honesty, truth, and emotional connection in their work. Consider the defining moments in your life captured by a series of images in motion. Do you want a photographer that captures only staged or posed shots or one that captures raw, authentic moments?
Consider the Lighting at Your Venue and Time of Year Lighting is one of the most important aspects of wedding photography. Assess the amount, source, and timing of light in your venue to make proper arrangements with your photographer.
Ask your photographer about different lighting situations and outcomes and how they can help you structure a wedding timeline to ensure the best lighting possible throughout the day.
Remember that a autumn or winter wedding will look different than a sunny summer wedding, and having a ceremony in the late afternoon can be much better for lighting purposes over a midday ceremony. Is your photographer experienced in the rain or with stormy clouds?
Have an Engagement Shoot
Use the engagement photo session as a trial run. An engagement session can be an excellent opportunity to get to know your photographer and their style. It lets you meet each other in person, gauge chemistry, and see their work firsthand. Most couples aren't used to being in front of the camera, so having a little practice session before the big day gives you time to get used to it.
It also helps the photographer see how best to encourage you, find out what you are comfortable with, and make you feel more like a friend on the wedding day. Engagement sessions give people confidence—once they get the photos back and see they are beautiful and take a damn good picture, they are typically less anxious about the images on the wedding day!
Questions to ask
There are many questions to ask, but to get a good feel for your photographer, here's one you shouldn't skip:
"What is your approach to wedding day photography?"
It is essential to know the photographer's style of images and how they shoot to get those images.
Your experience with the photographer on your wedding day can be just as important as the final images you receive, and this question should lend some crucial insight.
Read the contract carefully.
Once you've chosen a photographer, read the agreement thoroughly and clarify any questions you have. Find out what happens in case of rescheduling, illness, or travel. It should be clear when payments are due, how much, and when you should expect to have all the images.
Understand the rights to the photos.
The permissions and legal intricacies around rights to wedding photos can often be blurry, so any clarification you can get before signing off will benefit you and the photographer. Ensure you understand who owns the pictures and what you can do with them. It's essential to clearly understand these details before signing any contracts.
It's also good to clarify the number of images you can expect and in what format they will be delivered. (This can sometimes be up to four months in peak wedding season - you don't have to continually message your photographer if you know the estimated date.)
Make sure you gel together.
Looking for an honest, organised, friendly photographer is important because that's who will spend the day by your side. Your wedding photographer will be with you throughout the day, capturing all the important moments, so choosing someone you feel comfortable with is essential.
Photo list and clear communication
Make a list of the people in the photos you want. Just saying "Family" is too vague. Write down their names: Couple with Aunty Tash, Uncle Dave, Kelly, Samara and Leah. Even better if you have your MC or trusted person with a loud voice round everyone up. I can do this for you in my Ultimate Wedding Package!
You would have already discussed with your photographer which shots are most important to you, such as details, candids, family photos, or portraits. Remember to inform your photographer of any potential family dynamics that may be awkward.
Look for a photographer who is easy to communicate with and makes you feel at ease. When you genuinely connect with your photographer, they'll better capture your emotions—your love, joy, and closeness. Years from now, your photos will be all you have to relive and reflect on this whirlwind, and you'll thank yourself again for investing in them.
Lastly - don't forget to feed and water them if they are with you for the whole day. Often they start in the morning and put in a 6, 8, 10 or 12 hour day. They may have to travel distance to get home. Book them a seat (and your videographer and MC) in for a meal. Some venues offer 50% discount for vendors.
I hope this helps- if you want some recommendations for photographers in the South Island. I can help - you can check them out here
Love, Jade x
My Celebrant journey began in 2017, and I now have had over 600 beautiful weddings, funerals, naming, MC and special occasion events.
END OF LIFE
Jade is a Registered Independent Marriage + Funeral Celebrant in New Zealand
Validated Member of CANZ - Celebrants Aotearoa of New Zealand
Diploma in Celebrant Studies 2017 (NZ) from the Celebrant School
Appointed by the DIA to conduct Registry Weddings for $90
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