How to Choose a Wedding Photographer / Part I

You’re Engaged! You’re Excited! And the choices begin… Before everyone starts telling you what YOU want, take a few tips below to get educated on who’s out there so you can choose the BEST photographer for you.

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(Psst… if you haven’t already, this would be the right time to read “I’m Engaged! Now What?” Blog-post to set your heart well, before starting your planning…)

Now, this is the most important and exciting part of your wedding planning! You have a date and you know where you’re getting married, now you can choose your wedding photographer! You’re SO excited because photography is the most important part to you… though perhaps you’re not exactly sure why…

You’re not terribly or particularly impressed with your girl-friend’s images that fill your social media feed… you want something a little different, something unique and special.


The first step is to know who’s out there.
When you go shopping for clothes, You can go to Target, the Mall, the Boutique, or your store (like Anthropologie). You know that Target sells clothes that get the reaction, “Oh I love that!” Or the dreaded, “Oh I have that exact same dress!” Beach street boutiques give you style and class that perfectly (but narrowly) match the swagger of that town.

Then there’s Anthropologie – that’s your gig. They give you self-expression. One unique piece looks different (and better) on you than it could on her, so you feel safe and well-represented.

Translate to wedding photography. Who is going to represent you and how do you know you will like it?



The first step is to know the shops on the block. Meet the six categories of Photographer:

>The Enthusiast
>The Amateur
>The Proficient
>The Expert
>The Story Teller
>The Master

Each type of photographer below fits a certain time, season, and certain person. They each have their place so get to know them just a bit!

The Enthusiast
This photographer just discovered the sound of his own voice through photography. What he will produce for you is his enthusiasm for capturing his memories on your wedding day. The Enthusiast lacks technical skills, has not yet worked out the use of light, and usually does not have the eye to notice other people’s special moments in action.  He will, however, be one of the most enthusiastic attenders and supporters of your wedding, and will cost your wallet next to nothing.

Wedding Photography Cost: Typically free or under $100

Where to Find Him: He is a friend, cousin, or acquaintance

His Wedding Photography Offer Will Sound Like:
“You know what?! I have a new great camera, why don’t I just do the photos for you! I would be happy to help and to save you all that money!”



The Amateur
The Amateur is much like a high school second year foreign language student. He has learned the vocabulary of a language that has brought him into a new world.  He does lacks technical knowledge and experience, but he will be the first to volunteer for you. He typically can only produce for you on your wedding day descriptive images: What you wore. Who was there. Most of what happened. There will be many moments un-captured due to technical error or lack of attentiveness, and emotions in the images will probably be void or boxed into his newly-learned poses. He will spread the excitement of your day and will work hard to create very stylish and fashionable images with the most popular poses online. Amateurs flood the industry more than any other category, and they are the first level of professional photographer out there. Occasionally you can find a really-really great beginner artist! Hope Taylor is an example of one who entered the scene early as a high school student, but had incredible social and technical talent. In her Amateur stage she was downplayed, but she was a steal for all the clients who put trust in her.

Wedding Photography Cost: Typically $500-$1,500

Where to Find Him: He is a high schooler, friend, or acquaintance

His Wedding Photography Offer Will Sound Like:
“I’m a photographer! That’s my job! I’ve done tons of work with families, babies, seniors, and studied photography in a little in school. Check out my website and Instagram. You can see all of my work there. I’ve just been getting into wedding photography so I would be able to give you a great deal!”



The Proficient
Unlike the enthusiast and amateur, the proficient lacks inspiration and creativity. He has simply discovered that people pay for photography services, and has “McDonald-ized” the processes for you. He has a good bit of experience in every scenario of photography, but has never taken an emotionally impacting image…yet. He fires the shutter proficiently. You can identify him by his broad and expansive portfolio, but you will have the same emotional reaction to the images in his pet-photography section, as you do in his landscapes, weddings, real-estate, and head-shot photography. I’m afraid I have not spoken very graciously of the Proficient. I do not have much respect for him, :/ THOUGH for those of you who do not have too much concern for the artistry of your wedding-day story, and simply want the day captured with ease and consistency, this photographer is a good fit for you! He will get the job done fast, and you will know what to expect.

Wedding Photography Cost: Typically $1,000-$2,500

Where to Find Them: Wedding shows, Facebook pop-ups, wedding websites, and through your venue

His Wedding Photography Offer Will Sound Like:
“You can see all of my work on my website. Just fill out the form there to check my availability for your wedding. I’ve shot at your wedding venue dozens of times so I would be a good pick for you.”


The Expert
This photographer has a distinct style. Hire him and you will be a part of his “artistic club.” He will efficiently put you into his personally crafted art. You will get exactly what he offers you because your wedding will look consistently like every other wedding he has photographed. The Expert is straight forward, easy to work with, and what you see from past weddings is what you will get. He has skill with his camera, and he knows how to use light to make a pretty picture. When I was in this category, I was most proud of the style of my work, it was unique and desirable at the time, and I worked hard at making “my art” identifiable. So if you want your wedding date to be dated by the current styles, than the Expert will serve you well.

Wedding Photography Cost: Typically $3,000-$5,000

Where to Find Them:
Google-search “______(city) photographer” or “______(venue) Photographer”, by walk-in storefront studio, or word-of-mouth from that one girl who constantly talked about her wedding.

His Wedding Photography Offer Will Sound Like:
“Hire _________ for your wedding and get epic images that make all of your friends jealous. Offer includes everything you ever hoped for on your wedding day.”


The Story-Teller
Story-tellers are most aware and perceptive about the participants in a wedding day. They come with confidence in their technical abilities (which they must have for their particular art). They use available light and adjust their equipment to suit the natural environment of the event as to not disturb the story, but to capture it (not just as it looks,  but how it is perceived in memory and emotions). The story-teller is an editorial artist and usually a bit of a visionary. Inspiration comes from a love for light and a love for people. You can expect your wedding day story to be told by this photographer with emotion and beauty. The goal of the story-teller is to create beautiful and emotion-filled images without personal thumbprints covering the art. This is whom I most highly recommend and strive to be like. The downside of a Story-teller is that he… or she 😉 … will not always be the most popular photographer on the block because the work is not about them, but about YOU. So if you’re absolutely looking for glam and bragging rights, you will need to upgrade to Master. Also, in order to really acquire gorgeous photography by the story-teller, you need to have a beautiful story. Hire the story-teller if your wedding day for you is about your love, and your care for your families, friends, and guests. She will capture the emotion of your relationships best of all :).

Wedding Cost: Typically $3,500-$10,000

Where to Find Them: 
Word of Mouth, featured in magazines and/or wedding inspiration blogs and websites, from wedding coordinators

Her Wedding Photography Offer Will Sound Like:
“I would be honored to capture your wedding for you! Tell me about yourself and your fiancé. Describe your dreams about your wedding day and I will tell you if I would be a good fit for you.”



Story-telling is the category that I would describe myself in and that I am always aspiring to. Though I will confess that I did travel through most of the other categories before story-telling, except the “Proficient.” I have always had passion and excitement in my work. You can, of course, read about my passion in story-telling Here


The Master
The Master photographer has built a prestigious name. He doesn’t own a wedding-photography business; he is the professional artist of his wedding photography company. When talking to him you will feel no urge to describe what you want out of your wedding photography, but will be inclined to ask what you need to do for him. There is often a twinge of star-struck nerves because you have seen his work amidst celebrities, vogue-type magazines, and on Wall Street billboards.

Wedding Cost: Typically $15,000-$60,000

Where to Find Him:
In New York, Paris, or Hollywood, in top wedding magazines, in wedding dress designer black-address-books, with world-famous wedding coordinators, and at the academy award ceremony sitting by Meryl Streep .


The MASTER I admire most and follow: Christian Oth / New York


Now that you have met all the different types of photographers, how do you proceed from here? It can be overwhelming to sort through the options. How do you pick one that will fit your style and your needs? Find out next week when we look at part two of ‘How to Choose a Wedding Photographer!’ It will help you with the questions that you should ask when choosing a wedding photographer. Sign up for my email list or like Lux Aeterna on Facebook to get notified of new posts!


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