how to choose a wedding photographer

A Wedding Photographer is an absolute essential for your Wedding and is without a doubt the most important investment that you will make to ensure that your day is captured for you to remember and enjoy time and time again for the years that follow.


But like many things you invest in for your Wedding, unlike other things you’ll purchase and invest in in your life; couples have never been here before – they’ve never had to choose a Wedding Photographer so they have no idea where to start with making that decision.


But it's new territory for couples getting married - after all, you tend to only do it once - so when couples reach this important stage in the planning (and it's often the second thing that they book after their venue) they're overwhelmed with options without really knowing how to choose a Wedding photographer.


Luckily….. I’m a Wedding photographer and I’ve written this honest and candid guidance on just how you can choose a Wedding Photographer that is perfect for you both and not only delivers Wedding Photography that you’ll love, but also delivers an experience before, during and after your Wedding Day that you wouldn't be without.


When I speak to anyone about how they should choose a Wedding photographer I tell them to consider and explore these key things.

  1. The look and aesthetic
  2. The style or approach
  3. Personality
  4. Budget
  5. Insurances and assurances

groom does tie
groom prep
Groom gets dressed

Their wedding photography look & aesthetic

Very simply, you have to like the look and aesthetic that a photographer produces. Otherwise what’s the point?! You're simply not going to be attracted to the work of Wedding photographers who don't float your boat.


But think about everything in the frames that you look at from the colours and tones, to whether or not people look relaxed and at ease or like they’re enjoying themselves. Ask yourself...Is there quite a static vibe to their imagery or does it look and feel organic? And which of these appeals to you? Also though, you want to see as much of their imagery as you can to build yourself a picture of how a whole wedding day might come together.

Photographers are all business people with a marketing head. It’s common to tease with just a few (maybe 30-50 pictures) on a website to entice into wanting to see more so that you enquire. So don’t be afraid to enquire and ask about seeing more work and getting to know them a bit and see how they approach you.


What do I do?

For showcasing imagery I have a fair amount on my website ( and I also have a little Wedding preview gallery available that shows a scaled down version of a Wedding gallery to begin to give prospective couples a feel for how I can tell their Wedding day story.

For engaging with couples, I conduct a zoom call or in person meeting with all of my prospective couples, during which I present them a full Wedding gallery (you should ask this of any photographer that you speak to) to give them a full and rich idea of how a full Wedding Day looks and presents itself. Not only for the purpose of the story telling of the photos, but to also introduce them to the professional gallery software where they, their friends and family will be able to view their Wedding collection. It not only gives them some basis to judge whether I am the photographer for them, but also build excitement for their day!  


Planning your Wedding is an exciting chapter, so I urge you to lean in and get excited by these interaction with your suppliers. These are the fun parts!

wedding photographer

STYLE & APPROACH to wedding photography


You'll hear about 3 main styles in the industry in 2023. Reportage (also known as Candid or documentary), Editorial and Traditional.


Reportage, documentary or Candid Wedding Photography


Reportage wedding photography, documentary wedding photography and candid wedding photography are all, more or less the same. Different photographers will use the terms differently depending on what fits with their business branding.


Essentially though, this is the process of documenting your day and allowing it to flow naturally whilst the photographer artistically captures the essence of your Wedding day as it unfolds. Some terms you’ll hear associated with this will be ‘fly on the wall’ , ‘unobtrusive’, ‘natural’ way.  


This style lends itself typically to natural light so that they can capture as much of the day as they can without the need for setting up additional lighting, which is sometime necessary but isn’t for the most part.


This style is a great choice for couples who don't always feel super comfortable in front of the camera and particularly for Weddings with lots of guests that are  fun and likely to really embrace the celebrations.  You'll get great photos rich with activity and emotion. (But make sure you check out the personality section below too!)


I myself mostly work in this style, with hints of Editorial.



Editorial Wedding Photography


Not entirely dissimilar to the above, but this style is inspired by fashion and magazines. It's a somewhat more planned and curated approach and is often, but not exclusively accompanied by lighter, airier aesthetics.


Combinations of natural light and flash and light are used to satisfy the conditions and create Wedding imagery that presents itself like it would in a magazine or news article.


It's great for couples whose personal values and style are influences by fashion and modern trends.



Traditional Wedding Photography


A style and approach that is much more directed and orchestrated and somewhat more time consuming It's style that involves more photographer input and direction on the day to satisfy a quite a specific vision with less organic images. You’ll find a lot less of this in the age of the digital picture the volume and variety that is achievable with the previous mentioned styles proves more popular.


It’s a great style for couples who hold traditional visions for the Wedding photography and are less interested in variety that reportage and editorial photography provides.

groom cries
bride and mother down aisle
wedding rings exchanged



I've put this further down the list, but to me it's the MOST important thing, so I'll write it in big f**king letters.




Budget is a thing and some people will have more options than others when it comes to booking their Wedding Photographer.  But…. I don't care how cheap your photographer is. Their personality and whether you like them or not will have a MASSIVE impact on how you experience your own wedding day.


You have to like them, as a person. What people don't realise when they're looking at how to choose a Wedding Photographer is that You will spend a LOT of time around them on the most important and intimate day of your life. So, it's absolutely vital that you like them and want them at your Wedding.


Not only that, but they’re also going to have to interact with you guests, your friends, your family.


Make sure you get the opportunity to meet them - either in person or in zoom like I do with all of my clients. If not - huge red flag! Avoid!


Consultation meetings are the best way for you to get the measure of them and ask questions to and fully understand everything that they offer and how they achieve your Wedding photography. Before you commit to booking (because non-refundable deposits are usually at least a couple of hundred quid) You have to get an idea of what the end product and overall experience will look and feel like.


But to play devil's advocate - imagine this…..


Booking online with someone you've only spoken to via email or IM only for them to arrive on your Wedding day and they're either absolute bell-end or even that the way that they work makes you feel uncomfortable or cringey.


And that will mean different things to different people - each to their own. Some will love the retired old geezer in his with the creepy uncle vibe and find it charming while others won't. The same as some will love the super 'vogue' photographer chick that calls everyone 'daaahling' and that will piss others right off.


You have the power to explore the market and find the one that fits you. There is no shortage of photographers in the market. FIND ONE THAT YOU LIKE.


One (of many) good litmus tests is this… most couples feed their photographer. If you've met them and don't feel like you’re happy to do that - like genuinely happy to feed them when they're a part of your day - then they probably aren't right for you. 

groom in the air



You have to be able to afford it, obviously. Most advice will say to budget about 10-15% of your overall Wedding budget for photography. And photography really is priceless. But what does budget really get you? And how can you be sure that some is really capable of delivering what you need?


Everything I've said above pertains to all budgets but to provide some industry insight and context I tend to think of the photography market like this…


(and each of these is a spectrum of its own- Cheaper doesn't necessarily mean worse, the same as expensive doesn’t mean good. It's art - it's subjective- people pay millions for a Picasso when it's just some paint chucked on a canvas with his eyes closed… each to their own.)




You have to be able to afford it, obviously.


Like anything though, you do get what you pay for and myself, past couples and other photographers would recommend investing as much as you can afford. 10-15% of your budget is a great guide and will give you a figure to work with. 


There are many ways to save money for your Wedding (and I’m obviously incredibly biased) but I don’t recommend reducing that 10-15% to say 5% to save money here. Your photography is the thing that will last, the thing that will allow you to enjoy the day again in memories, the thing that you will cherish the most, I promise you.  It’s the only part of your Wedding (unless you book video too) that you will be able to enjoy time and time again.


I speak to so many married couples at Weddings and none of them ever regret having a photographer or investing in a good one. But do you know that they do regret…? They regret not spending a bit more, or not having prep covered, or not having a second photographer, or not booking video.


You’re in the position if you’re reading this to not be one of those people.


Saving cost on your photography is where you are most likely to enter the risky part of the market where lower cost photographers are developing their business and portfolio and whilst you could end up with someone who is great (we were all there once) you’re also likely to come across someone who is less experienced and whilst they take a great photo type may not have the experience, calmness and resourcefulness to adapt or deal with a real living Wedding day where anything can happen.


Can they handle bad weather? Where will you do your couples and family photos if the weather is bad? If it’s inside will they need flash? Can they even use flash? (not all photographers are good with it) What if there’s a drunk person there? Can they handle that? Or challenging vicars and registrars? If they’re less experienced, will they keep your day running on time? 


All of these considerations can impact your day and your own experience of your day. The best photographers will provide you all of the amazing imagery that you dream of without breaking a sweat over the above. In fact, they’ll be a calming presence.




Insurances and assurances


Whilst these things don't necessarily make for a good photographer - they are synonymous with people who are serious about their business, their brand, reputation and giving their clients assurance. So, you should definitely ask or consider these things when you have your in person meeting, if they don't mention them anyway…


  • Do they have public liability insurance – It’s not essential for you that they do. But some venues request that they provide it. This insurances really covers any damage that they might do.  So whilst they can still freely operate without it, it is a good hallmark of their professionalism.

  • Professional indemnity insurance – If you need to dispute the quality of their work, are they insured? Again it’s more important for the photographer that they have this and it is another hallmark of someone taking their business seriously that you might not see from a low budget photographer.

  • Do they provide a contract and what is in their T&Cs - If they don't - red flag! T&Cs should usually contain some generic stuff around booking fees, payment terms etc etc but a big, big BIG one for me is - what happens if they're solo photographer and for some reason they can't make your Wedding day? Things happen. They should have a contingency in their T&Cs that says to you, the client, "I have got you covered'! The simple answer is that they should be able to provide someone of an equivalent personality and style to deliver you the imagery that you have invested in.

Imagine this again…. They don't have this in their T&Cs, and they get COVID. You're going to be one of those couples in the Facebook Wedding group freaking out because their photographer has let them down last minute.


Being able to assure you that they will not let you down, come what may, not only demonstrates that they are a diligent business person, but inspires confidence that they have a good network of peers who can help them out in the unlikely event that they need it.


  • Equipment and back-ups - Cameras should have dual memory cards and your images should exist in two place the very second that they are taken. Ask this of the photographer about their equipment. If their cameras don't have dual memory - red flag! They need the dual memory in the unlikely event of a memory card failure.


Imagine it - the lost your images because they had a damaged memory card on your wedding day and they weren’t shooting on dual memory. Your day – gone.


Personally - I always shoot dual memory and the minute I'm done one copy of the cards goes into a memory card wallet and is kept on my person until I am home. Just in case I get car jacked, or I stop at a garage for a break on the way home and someone steals my bag, or my car spontaneously combusts. My single biggest fear in life is not spiders, or snakes, it's losing someone's wedding pictures. Dual memory makes me sleep easy at night.


But also - multiple cameras and lenses - they should have more than on camera and more than one lens. No joke, a videographer friend of mine once fell in a pond at a wedding. He was probably doing what videographers do and not looking where he was going and just following the photographer around…. But imagine if he didn't have spare gear… that’s your photography done for the day. Sure enough you could be refunded, but that’s not the point. The point is that they day happens once. There are no re-dos! People who fail to prepare prepare to fail – Amateurs practice until they get it right but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.


Everything should have a spare - cameras, lenses, flashes.


  • Can you pay by card? - A smaller detail but another mark of a well-established business. Should something happen to their business (unlikely) it is easier for you to recover your money if you have paid by card.


bride and groom first dance
bride dances

I really hope this has been a useful read for you. If you're getting married and have any questions about finding a Wedding photographer please feel free to email me on or IM me on one of my social channels (@jwarrphoto)

If you're in the South West, within 2 hours of Somerset, I cover your area. So if you'd love to find out more about how I can help you on your Wedding day please complete the form below and yo'll get a brochure direct to your email!