11 Steps to Achieve Great Wedding Photos

Winter Mountain Elopement

Step 1: Settle on a Budget

Before you begin researching photographers and styles, you need to set a budget on how much you are going to spend in photography and or videography.  

Step 2: Settle on a Style

Then after you set your budget, you will need to decide on what type of photography style you prefer.

Documentary: This is candid or spontaneous pictures of people, decor and the action. Documentary photos capture the moments exactly as they happened and together they tell a story.

Portraiture: This is Traditional photography where shots are posed of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops.

Fine Art: This style is similar to documentary photography and is very artistic. The photos are dramatic and gorgeous, but are shot on film with a grainier, dreamier, more muted appearance. Some Fine Art photographers will alternate between digital and film.

Edgy and Bold: This style of photography is known as outside the box, tilted angles and unconventional framing. The photos might look tilted due to the angle that it was taken.

Step 3: Research Photographers in your area

Start your search by reading reviews from recent newlyweds and browsing hundreds of local listings and wedding blogs. Review potential photographers’ websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they have shot, which will give you an idea of their style. Check out the photographers Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too.

Georgia Elopement

Step 4: Reach out to Photographers in your area

Looks can deceive you so make sure you meet your potential photographers in person. Call the potential photographers and see if they are available on your wedding day. Then, set up in-person meeting  with three to six potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities go together. Have a list ready so you can talk about what you envision for your photos, about your venue, wedding style.

Step 5: Meet with photographers and ask all the questions possible

When interviewing candidates, ask for a general range based on the photographer’s standard “shooting fee” and package, plus their standard rates for the type of album you think you will want to buy and the amount of coverage you are hoping to book them for. Make sure you find out what is included in each package that they offer. Do the photographers offer a free engagement session, bridal session? Do you have to pay for the extra session? Ask all the questions possible so you can compare rates and get a good feel at how much you are going to pay. Make sure you find out exactly how many hours of coverage are included in each package. Most couples want the photographer to be there for the full wedding day but some only want a certain part of the day so make sure you ask for the specifics

Step 6: Ask to look at full albums of their work

When reviewing a photographer’s album, look for the moments you want to be captured for your wedding day. Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time?  Look for the composition of the images and the emotion that has been captured by the photographer. Did they catch some looking relaxed or someone who was not ready to have a photo taken of them?  It is also very important to look at family photos in the galleries so you can tell what style the photographer used to take the photos so you have great photos to give your family members.  You also want to look at examples of the wedding you are going to have so if your wedding is inside ask to look at inside wedding photos. Lastly, do not base your decision on the album because photographers mainly show their best work and you want to make sure you see a well-rounded album.

Step 7: Make sure your personalities do not conflict

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself about the photographer.  Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? Are they pushy in selling you albums or are they understanding with your choices? In order to get the best wedding photos, go with a photographer who has a firm grasp of social graces, puts you at ease and does not irritate you in any way. The photographer will be there for every move, make sure you are comfortable so the photos will turn out great.

Raleigh Wedding

Step 8: Confirm your rights with each photographer

Most contracts state that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even place them in ads). This means you cannot just post the digital proofs they send you on social media without having proper credit. Many photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them to social media. If you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you will have to buy the rights to the images.

Step 9:  Book the wedding photographer and vendors for your day

Confirm the date of your wedding with the photographer and sign the contract stating that they will be the photographer for your wedding. You need to get down to the nitty-gritty of finances towards the end of the conversation with the photographer. Find out when the deposit is due so that you do not risk the chance of losing the photographer to another couple who is getting married on the same date. ALWAYS make sure you get it in writing. Do not deal with any vendor who does not offer you a written contract!

Step 10: Get the Post-production Details

It usually takes at 4 to 6 weeks to receive all those photo proofs back from your photographer. It varies, but many photographers say they spend an additional 40 hours editing images from a single wedding, so it can possibly take up to six to eight weeks  to get proofs back. Here are questions that you need to ask the photographer:  How many images should I expect? Will they be high-resolution or low resolution? Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images? Will the proofs I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want? Lastly, make sure you have this done no later than 3 weeks out from the wedding so you are not stressing about all the images and whether you will have the rights or not.

Step 11: Get married and have a great day

FINALLY it is your wedding day! This is one of the biggest days of your life and you have done everything possible to achieve great photos. Do not stress about photos because you have already taken care of all the questions that you had and all of the package cost. Take the time to enjoy your day with your family and friends!

Georgia Wedding

Wild Onyx Photography is an adventurous wedding and portrait photographer based out of Boone, North Carolina but travels worldwide. She lives for outdoor adventures and raw intimate emotions.  She believes in chasing sunsets & lighthouses and most importantly: capturing moments that are not perfectly posed.