Bride’s Guide to Picking the Perfect Photographer

When shopping around for your photography an important aspect to consider is having a wedding photographer checklist so you know what to ask a wedding photographer to determine if they are a perfect fit for you as the consumer.  Often, brides are so overwhelmed by their budget, timeline, and details of their wedding day that it becomes difficult and stressful to find the perfect photographer.  Add to the mix that the wedding photography industry is over saturated with all talent levels and it can make for an extremely hard time finding a good photographer.  Some of the best wedding photographers in the business may be the perfect fit for one couple, and not for another.  Its all based on pricing, personality, and style.

But in an over saturated market like wedding photography, its become extremely easy for anyone to pick up a camera and begin taking on clientele and charging for services.  Its important to know that you’ll be working with a true professional and sometimes seeing portfolio work may not be enough to let a consumer know if someone is a true professional.  A recent case seen on Judge Joe Brown regarding a cheap wedding photographer comes to mind of a company advertising themselves as professional and using subpar equipment to do the job resulting in a horrible final product and completely dissatisfied clients which is heartbreaking as it was their wedding day.

It was with this video in mind that I decided to put together a few wedding photographer tips in the form of a guideline to help brides find a photographer.  At the bottom of this post I’ve included a PDF download of the checklist and explanation of what is included on the guideline for folks to print to make their lives a little easier!

Wedding Photographer Checklist

*This isn’t a legal document, nor does it constitute any legal advice. It is meant as a subjective guideline to assist clients seeking professional photography.

Does Photographer have a written contract that covers:

1. Deposit

2. Digital Negatives and/or Copyrights

3. Package Details

4. Publication information/permissions

5. Quality of work/image Disclosures

6. Deliverable Timeline

Does Photographer have a quality portfolio exhibiting consistent work?

Photographer’s Equipment is of Professional Grade:

Canon Bodies:

Best bodies:



Acceptable bodies:




Nikon Bodies:

Best bodies:




Acceptable Bodies:



*Not all bodies are listed, just some of the most common

Photographer has multiple lenses & no “kit” lenses?  y    or     n

Does Photographer shoot in RAW format?

 Does the Photographer use second shooters/assistants?

 Is Photographer willing to show you samples of a complete wedding?

Checklist Explained:

Does the Photographer have a written contract that covers your deposit, digital negatives, copyrights, package details, publication information and permissions, their quality of work and consistency, and image disclosures, as well as deliverables time lines?

Every true professional photographer will have a written contract.  It is so important to protect you as the client, as well as the photographer.  It will clearly outline what to expect and aid the photographer in setting proper expectations for your wedding day.

I chose these six topics within a contract because I think they’re very important.  Here’s why:

Deposit – Its important to know what kind of deposit the photographer requires, as well as timeline for the deposit.  Often the deposit will be non-refundable and will secure your wedding date on the photographer’s calendar.

Digital Negatives/Copyrights – Most professional photographers will not hand over their image copyrights.  They generally charge extra or only include them when a client purchases an entire wedding package with the photographer.  Digital Negatives are different from copyrights in that the photographer can still retain the image copyrights while still giving their client all of the digital negatives.  Most often photographers will only give their digital negatives within a wedding package.  This is good for the client because it means the client is free to make prints of any of their images at any time while the photographer still holds the copyright.

Package Details – A detailed list of everything the client is purchasing from the photographer

Publication Information and Permissions – This  generally covers what the client should expect from the photographer retaining the copyrights.  It allows the photographer to use the clients images for personal or commercial use as well as advertising and gives the client permission to reproduce the images for any personal, NON-commercial use.

Quality of work – This should be covered both verbally as well as written between the client and photographer.  Its important to note that no photographer, no matter how long they’ve been in the professional field, can predict every complication, problem, or unforeseen circumstance within a Photo Coverage Day (like a wedding day).  Its important to recognize the quality and consistency of a photographer’s work BEFORE you hire them so that in the event a disagreement arises regarding the quality and consistency of the photographer’s work, it can be compared to previous work by the photographer.

Deliverables Timeline – This is important because it will give you a timeline to expect your photos to be delivered.  This is assuming the photographer has whats called a “Post Process Workflow” wherein after the Coverage Day has passed the photographer spends a considerable amount of time color correcting, manipulating, cropping, proofing, and printing the client’s images. The time that this process takes is dependent upon the photographer’s current workflow and how many simultaneous clients and projects the photographer may be working on concurrently.

Does Photographer have a quality portfolio exhibiting consistent work?

Its important to be familiar with the work of the photographer you’re considering hiring.  Often times, clients find potential photographers from family, friends, or coworkers who’ve used the photographer in the past.  And while contracting a photographer that has worked for someone the client knows and trusts is good, its also very important to become familiar with the work of the photographer because everyone’s taste is different and no two photographers are the same.

Does the Photographer have Professional Grade Equipment?

While this is important, its not necessarily a requirement.  However, the type of camera equipment that the photographer has can limit what environments the photographer can comfortably work in and adversely effect the quality of the images taken.  For example, if the photographer has a camera that can’t handle low light well, or a lens that is not capable of allowing enough light into the camera’s sensor in low light the images may be blurry, not sharp, or extremely grainy.

Does the Photographer have multiple lenses & no “kit” lenses?

This ties into the last question.  The quality of lens can be equally as important, if not MORE important at times than the camera body.  A good starting point is asking the photographer what “apertures” or “f stops” the lenses they use have.  Numbers like 1.2, 1.4,1.8, and 2.8 are great indicators of GOOD quality lenses.  Numbers like 3.5-5.6 are indicators of lower quality lenses.  The higher the number of the lowest aperture on a lens is telling of the lens’ quality.

Does Photographer shoot in RAW format?

Now we’re getting into heavy photographer slang.  Its not really important for you to understand what RAW format is, but it is important to know if your photographer will be shooting in it.  Suffice it to say that shooting in RAW allows the photographer to have a much more editable image which can result in a better final product for the client.

Does the Photographer use second shooters/assistants?

Its important to know if the package you’re purchasing from your photographer includes second shooters and/or assistants or if it will cost you, the client, extra.  Having more than one photographer at your event is great because it allows for better coverage of your event, and better coverage means more images for the client.

Is Photographer willing to show you samples of a complete wedding?

Every photographer can find 1 or 2 good images after they’ve taken 1,000.  But a professional photographer will be willing to share an entire wedding with prospective clients to give them a better idea of how their images and wedding day will turn out.  This also gives the client an opportunity to further compare the quality and consistency of the photographer’s work.

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