Patton Photography | Calgary Wedding Photographers | The 10 Steps To Find Your Perfect Wedding Photographer
Bride and groom walking at Saskatoon FarmBride and groom walking at Saskatoon Farm

The 10 Steps To Find Your Perfect Wedding Photographer

December 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

10 Steps to Find Your Perfect Wedding Photographer


Your wedding photographs are how you’ll be able to remember your wedding day and to see all the candid moments that happen throughout the day.  Therefore it is important to find a wedding photographer who will be able to create incredible images that takes you back to the special moments. We know how overwhelming it can be, so we have put together this list of 10 steps to find your perfect wedding photographer to help.

1. Start Looking As Soon As Possible

Many wedding photographers, Patton Photography included, book a year to a year and a half in advance. A good time to start looking for your wedding photographer is as soon as you get engaged and have selected the city you will be getting married in. The sooner you start to look, the better chance you have of securing the professional, experienced photographer you’ve been dreaming of!  Your photographers will have worked with many different vendors and at a multitude of venues and can often be a wealth of information when trying to find your perfect venue or other vendors.

2. How Much Should You Budget?

Everyone has a different wedding budget, and places a different level of importance on various aspects of their wedding.   For myself, we budgeted the largest amounts towards our photography and DJ as they were the important parts for us.  Remember though that these are the only memories that you will have of your wedding day in 30 years and may be the only chance you get to see the other person getting ready and some of the candid moments that happen through the day.  For these reasons I believe it’s important to invest wisely in this area.  Once you have decided on a budget, start looking at various wedding photographers in your region, having a budget already decided upon will help eliminate those that are drastically out of your pricing. 

In Calgary, pricing can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to over $11,000 and all levels in between.  When you talk to your prospective photographer, ensure that they are licensed and insured, find out if you receive your edited photos in high resolution and without watermarks, and find ask if a ‘second shooter’ is included with the pricing.  We strongly believe in second shooters, you can read about the reasons here on our website.

3. What Is Your Style?

Before you really start to narrow down your list of photographers, you and your fiancé should sit down and decide what kind images represent you both.  Many photographers will have a combination of styles, so don’t worry about having to pick only one.

Candid / Documentary

The candid / documentary style is the style that most photographers work in (including myself). This style is exactly as the name suggests, it means capturing those raw, in the moment emotions and events as they unfold with minimal posing. Rather than posing, photographers will provide a level of direction for some of the shots during your formals together. This style showcases your personalities and highlights the romance of the day without looking staged or over-done.

Fine art

Fine art is a pretty broad term and can be likened to a documentary style, but it is a little different. These photos will typically be very “cinematic” looking. Hard studio lighting (whether used indoors or outdoors) dramatic, bold colours or very muted and perhaps grainy. The Fine art genre gives the photographer license to infuse your imagery with their very unique and interesting take. These are also typically more posed since artificial lighting (strobes) are typically used.


The Edgy style typically uses wider lenses, very tilted angles such as shots from far above looking down. Typically, artificial lighting is used for a harder look. The composition can be unique and different too. Maybe just shots of your feet standing side by side, or the background taking up the majority of the photo with bright graffiti in the background.

 Studio Portraiture

If you are more traditional, you may choose to have your portraits formally posed and staged in a studio with professional lighting. This gives a very different look to your photos. Think back to when your parents got married, very classic and staged, typically in front of a variety of backdrops.

With Patton Photography, we have a combination style made up of all the above.  We spend a lot of time simply capturing moments as they happen, however will provide some level of staging to capture specific photos.  During your formals, we will direct you into a pose and then allow you to make it comfortable for you.

4. Reviews

Regardless of your profession, we all start somewhere, but if you are looking for a seasoned professional you will want to make sure other people have had a great experience with the photographers you are interested in. One place to look is Google (available in Google Maps or Google searches). Another option is Wedding Wire Canada where many vendors will have listing and reviews. Many photographers will also have a Facebook page that you can use to see recent work as well as to read additional reviews.

5. Do Your Personalities Connect?

Photographers are people too, and our personalities are all different.  This is one of the biggest aspects of finding the right wedding photographer for you.   Think about it, this is a person you are going to be spending the majority of your day with. You want this person to connect with you and your family and guests in order to capture those beautiful images and moments. Your wedding formals should be a fun experience to look back fondly on. Therefore, be sure to meet with your photographer before hiring them to ensure that you get along.  Are they willing to listen to your ideas and work with you to capture the perfect photos or are they rigid in how they work.  Will they get along with your friends and family or will your photos be lots of awkward smiles and poses?

 6. Photographer Consultation

The consultation is when you really find out about personalities. It’s a great chance to not only see if you all connect but to ask any questions that you might have.  The consultation is typically a great chance to book your photographer with a retainer.  Be cautious of photographers who push you to book or offer deep discounts or incentives to book on the spot.  Booking your wedding photographer should be an easy decision, without pressure.

7. What If You Have Questions

The ability of your photographer to answer your questions in person at your consultation, or in a timely manner by email is important. If your short-listed photographer covers everything and you don’t have many questions, consider that a great hint that they know what they are talking about and will take the best care of you.  If there are any questions that you have, always talk with your photographer to help any last minute wedding stress.

8. Wedding Portfolio

Your wedding photographer’s portfolio is a great way to get a better feeling about a photographer. Photographers can’t showcase every wedding they’ve ever shot however they should however have a sampling of weddings to look at online. Do they show one or two images on their website only? Or is there at least a few from a wedding? A variety of weddings, lighting and locations will give you a better idea of their style and experience.  Be sure to look to make sure that there are many different couples in the wedding portfolio and that the portfolio isn’t made up of only one wedding

9. Comparing Styles and Photography Packages

Photographers all value their work and time differently. You and your fiancé should determine together what is important to you. Does the photographer offer anything above and beyond what others offer that can be reflected in their pricing? Engagement sessions, planning sessions, prints or digital files? Do they edit all of your photos or only a portion? How many photos will you receive? Determining these things will help you to narrow down what you value most in your wedding photographer and what you are willing to pay for.

10. Your Photos Arrival

Find a photographer who is forthcoming about what you will receive the day of your wedding and in the final package. Photographers all shoot a different number of weddings per year, so timelines for delivery can vary. It’s important to know approximately when you will receive your sneak peeks and final images, and how they will be delivered to you, as well as what your printing rights are.

 Finally....Go with your gut!

Lastly, go with your gut instinct! If you felt ‘off’ about someone despite their portfolio looking great, perhaps it’s best to go in another direction. If you feel excited, connected and love the photographers work, chat with your fiancé and see if they feel the same. Typically your instincts are on the money and if you act quickly, you could have the wedding photographer of your dreams!


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