Tips for Finding Your Wedding Photographer

He finally popped the big question…and you said yes! Congratulations!!! Before you start any wedding planning, take a deep breath. Enjoy each other and the rest of your family and friends during this super exciting and romantic time in your life.

Ok, but don’t procrastinate forever! There are lots of decisions to make. One of which is selecting your wedding photographer. As a woman who was a bride five years ago and has been in numerous weddings before and after my own, I know there is a lot to think about to make your special day just right. I am all too aware of the tidal wave of information that rushes at you every time you walk into a bridal expo or begin a new search online.

For this reason I would really like to share with you my top five tips for finding your perfect wedding photographer. Even if it means you find I am not the best photographer for your wedding!

1// Personality

When you select your wedding photographer, you are not just selecting them for their photography skills. While skills and abilities as a wedding photographer are hugely important, you are also selecting someone who will be working with you, your family and your friends on one of the biggest days of your life. You will be coordinating with this wedding photographer for a year or more and you want to make sure you can communicate easily with them, they work well with others, and they are responsive to your needs. Not to mention you want someone will put you at ease in front of the camera allowing you to enjoy being photographed!


2// Price

While price is always a factor when selecting your wedding photographer, this should not be the sole factor in your decision. All too often brides loose out on amazing imagery because their bargain base photographer did not know how to use their equipment or was not experienced enough with weddings to know where to be during all those important moments of your big day.

True story: I recently teamed up with Parks & Rec to photograph their beautiful Santa Barbara Wedding Venues. When I arrived at one ceremony I approached the head photographer, as I always did, to introduce myself and explain why I was there. The first words out of his mouth were “I have no idea what I’m doing and am scared to death”. He was a very sweet Brooks Photography Institute student who offered to photograph this wedding at a bargain price and was obviously in over his head.

You have exactly one opportunity to capture your wedding day, why leave that to chance?


 3// Albums

What will you do with all of your photographs from your wedding? Say you select to work with a photographer who does not offer albums, only the disk of images. I know, I KNOW you are telling yourself, ‘no problem I’ll put one together for myself on Shutterfly’. I’ve been there!

True Story: A good friend selected a photographer who only offered her basic edit images on a disk, as she was confident she would create her own album. Several years later she came to me totally frustrated. She had procrastinated creating her album for years and now tried to throw one together on Shutterfly. While the product was ok, it was not do justice to her amazing wedding (which was a breathtaking event). She hired me to design and print her a professional album, and within a month, she had her high quality, professionally designed album in her hands and it brought her to tears.

This is your first family heirloom and will be treasured by generations to come. Quality is imperative.

What questions should you ask your wedding photographer about their albums?

1) How many pages are included in your base album? How many images can be used in these pages?
2) Do I have the option to add more pages with additional images?
3) What types of paper will my album pages be printed on? What are my cover options?
4) Do you retouch the images prior to printing?


4// Coverage

Sometimes coverage is overlooked when booking your wedding photographer. Often times cheaper photographers will book multiple events in one day not allowing sufficient time to cover your entire day. When you consider everything you would like photographed, from getting ready to your big exit at the end of the night, your package should include at least 8 to 10 hours of photography coverage.


5// Who Will be Your Photographer & How Many Photographers?

Be sure to ask how many photographers will be at your wedding and if the photographer you hired will be the head photographer. All too often photography studios will outsource their wedding to a third party photographer and you give little to no notice prior to your wedding.

True Story: This happened to me!!! Photography was very important to me, so I signed with one of the bigger photographers in town (who, mind you, had a great reputation). The week before my wedding, I was informed by phone the studio owner would not be my photographer. WHAT?!?! I was mortified, but I was stuck in a contract. Our wedding photographer turned out of be a nice guy (at least we had the personality match), but was not the photographer I had hoped for technically. I don’t want to bore you with details, but I must say I have made a vow I will NEVER do that to a client. Barring me being in a full body cast for some reason, when you hire me, you get ME!

Furthermore, two photographers is also a major advantage to consider. The head photographer can focus on the extremely important elements of your wedding, while the second photographer can assist as well as capture scenes from a different point of view. For instance, two photographers can capture your face and your fiancés’ face simultaneously the second you first catch each other’s eyes at the ceremony. An awe-inspiring moment.


Holy cow, I that is a lot of info. I hoped I helped you in some way and did not just confuse you to death. Feel free to post questions here or email me at

I wish every couple all the best in their wedding planning. Above all remember you are there because you love each other and want to spend the rest of your lives together. The rest will fall into place. With that in mind, I leave you with a photo that quite honestly has little to do with a wedding planning. Except everyone loves a puppy, and I thought he was a good reminder to get lots of rest during all of your planning!

Leah Valentine Photography - weddings and portraits

L~ F~:

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