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How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

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Photography: CJK Visuals

There are many important things to consider before jumping into any kind of relationship, and we believe the same principle rings true when starting a relationship with your wedding vendors. Wedding photographers are especially important, as they are responsible for making your special moments last forever. Just like choosing a partner, choosing your wedding photographer is a once-in-a-lifetime decision and you will have to live with the consequences long after the wedding day ends.

There's no need to worry too much, because we're here to help! Just follow our five-step guide below to find the perfect wedding photographer.

Step 1: Decide on a photography style

Before you start looking for a photographer, you need to answer this question: What does a good wedding photograph look like to you? Photographers have many different styles and tones, and no two photographers are truly alike. Do you like documentary-style photography or carefully posed shots? Do you prefer muted colors or highly saturated colors? There is no right or wrong answer, as it all depends on your taste and preferences.

Before hiring a photographer, you need to see their portfolio and decide whether you like their work or not. One common thing to avoid is to hire a wedding photographer and tell them to emulate the signature style of another photographer. If you're not quite sure about the photography style that you like, check out four of the most popular photography styles below. Remember that there are no set rules, and many photographers combine different styles or can even have completely different styles altogether.


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Photography: Mademoiselle Fiona - Caroline Tran

1. Classic
The classic style is the most well-known and timeless photography style, which was most likely used for your parents' or even grandparents' wedding album. A classic wedding album usually has clean, carefully composed photos with perfect lighting. If you just love those classic wedding moments—like the first look, wedding kiss, and bouquet toss—and would like yours captured in the same way, then you should look for photographers with this style.

The downside of this style is that it can make your wedding album look "too similar" to other wedding albums. To tackle this, you can ask your photographer to add a certain twist to the pictures, so the photos can look more modern and less predictable. Another thing you can do is to let loose and have fun. Let your positive radiance shine through every frame.


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Photography: Jessica Loren Organic Photography - Jose Villa

2. Photojournalistic or documentary
These types of photographers are inspired by photojournalism and capture moments as they happen. They usually shoot pictures from a slightly different perspective than traditional wedding photographers, focusing on candid and spontaneous moments instead of posed portraits. If you don't enjoy posing in front of a camera, this style might be a good fit for you. The photos also give you documentary coverage, which will make you relive them easily in the future. However, this style might not be suitable if you want to take perfectly posed portraits.


How to Choose a Wedding Photographer Image 8Photography: Davy Linggar

3. Fine art or artistic
Fine art wedding photography is actually a bit hard to define, as the definition of art lies in the eyes of the beholder. The easiest way to tell a fine art wedding photograph is to take it out of the wedding context. Would the photo still be beautiful as a stand-alone piece of art? A fine art photographer usually has an artistic background and applies elements such as blurring or silhouettes into the pictures. With this kind of style, your wedding photos will surely be beautiful and won't look like anyone else's. The downside of this style is how it can get too artsy and abstract that it doesn't tell a wedding story like a wedding album normally would. One way to tackle this is to hire another, more conventional wedding photographer as backup.


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Photography: Coco Tran - Andrew Mark

4. Lifestyle
Lifestyle photography is more or less a mixture between documentary and classic wedding photography. Candid moments are mixed with of direction and styling. As a result, you can get relaxed and relatable photos. This style is increasingly popular these days, as a lot of couples wants to have candid pictures but also want the assurance that their photos will look good. Another important thing to consider is the format. Film photography is having a comeback in the wedding world thanks to its beautiful tone and colors, but it's not for everyone as it can be costly and more time-consuming to edit. Carefully research the perks of both digital and film photography before you make a decision.


Step 2: Find potential photographers
Once you have an idea of the photography style you like, you can start looking for a suitable photographer. An easy way to do this is to search for wedding photographers based on your location and budget through Bridestory, making sure to check their portfolio and reviews before you make any major decisions. You can also reach out to friends or relatives who just got married recently and ask for recommendations.

If you're planning to get married in Indonesia, you're in luck! We've compiled 25 affordable yet highly professional wedding photographers in Jakarta, Bandung, Bali, and Surabaya for you below.

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Photography: Apel Photography

Apel Photography, Bali

Pande Kadek Heryana, the founder, has always been passionate in capturing moments because it’s a privilege for him to witness such spectacular views and events. He’s also widely known as a Visual Storyteller and has won numerous prestigious awards.

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Photography: turtle and sea

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Photography: Gregorius Suhartoyo Photography

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Photography: REZA PRABOWO PHOTOGRAPHY

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Photography: StayBright

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Photography: Flipmax Photography

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Photography: Punyan Photography

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Photography: GODIVA

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Photography: zerosix photography

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Photography: Luciole Photography

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Photography: Polar Poplar

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Photography: Bondan Photoworks

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Photography: NAMORA PICTURES

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Photography: Finch Story

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Photography: Antero Mahendra

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Photography: Fusia Pictures

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Photography: David Hartadi Photography

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Photography: Aliy Photography

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Photography: Brivi Photo Project

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Photography: SINYOPHOTOGRAPHY

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Photography: Dhiemaz Saputra Photography

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Photography: Kirana Photography

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Photography: ALVIN PHOTOGRAPHY

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Photography: PadiPhotography

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Photography: STORIA

Step 3: Weed out the amateurs
Don't get us wrong, we're all about supporting up-and-coming photographers. We don't think it necessarily takes decades of experience to be a good photographer, but that doesn't mean you can entrust your precious wedding photos to just about anyone with a DSLR camera.

A lot of vendors offer low prices these days, but do they always come together with professionally taken pictures? Without extra care and attention, your wedding photographer can turn out to be an amateur instead of a hidden gem. Don't risk the best day in your life in the hands of a newbie who hasn't reached a professional level in taking wedding photos. Remember, you'll have to live with the consequences forever.

Check out these signs to spot professional photographer wannabes and avoid hiring them.

1. No clear subjects
A professional photographer will always try to capture their subjects "in the moment". Although alfresco weddings are often held amid breathtaking scenery, the primary focus should still be on the couple instead of the picturesque view. Amateurs might not think about taking the couple's perfect moments and just rely on the beautiful backdrop to distract viewers from what they actually should have captured.

2. Unbalanced composition
Look out for uninspired and repetitive photo compositions. A professional will understand that placing a photo subject in the center can create a boring image. Most pros use the rule of thirds, a concept in which the frame is divided into nine imaginary sections to guide them in framing images. Amateurs probably don't understand this rule, so you might end up with a series of unimaginative wedding documentation.

3. Unnatural colors
Amateur photographers often don't understand how to manage their camera's white balance settings, or to put it simply, they don't know how to adjust colors. Different environments, indoor or outdoor settings, require different color settings as the subject will be exposed to different lighting as well. One thing to look out for is the subject's skin tone. Try to check the photographer's portfolio and observe the subject's skin color. Does it look too blue-ish? Or too pink-ish, maybe? Well, it might be a sign, as a good quality photo should show natural skin color.

4. Pixelated photos
Photographers will need to zoom in or crop out certain image portions to focus on a particular subject, such as the couple. Amateurs' photos tend to have rough pixels and grains for multiple reasons, such as not being able to take a focused image, having to crop out too much because the image wasn't framed well, poor photo editing, or even using unsuitable photo equipment.

5. Too much filter
We're talking about filtered photos and poses suggested by the photographers. Instagram filters have helped many shutterbugs effortlessly hide their real results and make their photos look more attractive. In fact, without the filter set, the picture can actually be kind of ordinary. As for the poses, Pinterest is definitely resourceful for a wedding, but when you see too much gimmick-y photos in the photographer's portfolio, this might be a warning to consider.

6. Few local reviews
A good photographer doesn't have to be expensive. There are so many affordable wedding photographers that won't drain your pockets yet can still give you high quality pictures. To find hidden gems, don't forget to read their reviews. Don't simply trust international wedding photographers if they don't have an established reputation where they are based. Wouldn't you feel that something's wrong when a photographer is not known at all locally? You can ask around for some reviews or just ask them directly why they don't take on many local projects and decide on your own afterwards.


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Step 4: Interview potential photographers
In any good relationship, chemistry is a must. The same applies to your relationship with your wedding photographer. When you meet them for the first time, what is their first impression like? Are they actively engaging in the conversation? Did they give good ideas and suggestions for your wedding? Most importantly, are you comfortable being around and with them?

Also, are you comfortable with posing and having your photos taken? If you like your photographer personally, you will be more relaxed and at ease when they take lot of pictures of you on the wedding day. And since you're going to be contacting them constantly throughout the wedding planning process, it wouldn't hurt to choose someone you can actually get along well with.

To make sure that there won't be any photography-related technical issues on and after the wedding day, always ask these questions to every potential photographer.

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Click here to download the image


Step 5: Trim your photography budget
Last but definitely not the least, are budget-related concerns. While we think it's okay to splurge on wedding photography, having your whole wedding budget skyrocket just because of one element would not be a wise move. Remember, you still have to pay for many other things like your venue, wedding dress, and invitations. But there's no need to worry, you don't need to sacrifice quality to stick to your budget. Follow these tips to get the right price for your wedding photography.

1. Opt for a smaller package
Most wedding photographers will have two or more packages for you to choose from. It's not based on the quality and service they offer; the difference is the number of shoots and photographers you'll have on the day. So, choosing the lowest price doesn't mean you'll get the lowest quality.

2. Book your date earlier
Some photographers might have promotions on certain dates, or they might happen to be in the same country where you're planning a destination wedding. You can save on their transport fees as they'll just need to extend their stay until your wedding day. An early booking will also help you secure the date so you wouldn't have to compete with other couples.

3. Keep it local
If you choose to get married in a place other than where you live, it's better to hire a local wedding photographer at the particular wedding place instead of bringing one from your city as you have to pay for all their transport and accommodation expenses.

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Photography: Kyle John

4. Always try to negotiate
It's totally okay to try negotiating with your wedding photographer on what extra deals you can get. They understand that every bride has a budget to stick to. You can ask for more shots or extra printed photos by offering them a written review on their website, for instance. Whatever it is, just ask so you'll know for sure.

5. Ask for an associate photographer
According to Antijitters, a professional wedding photographer based in Jakarta, photographers understand that every couple has a limited budget for wedding photography. If a couple approaches them only to find that their service doesn't fit the budget, photographers will try their best to makes adjustments to accommodate the couple's needs.

But if the budget if far below the required service fee, they would happily suggest another photographer that would suit the couple's criteria well as they want to make sure the couple gets good service, regardless of their budget. Another thing you can ask them is to assign only one photographer instead of two or three. Not hiring a second or even third photographer can cut up to 20% of the service fee.

6. Ask around
If you have friends who recently got married, reach out to them and ask questions. They would know exactly what you're going through as a bride-to-be and they can also be a great source of references when it comes to vendors. Speaking of vendors, you can also ask for wedding photography recommendations from the other vendors that you've booked already.

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Photography: Kati Mallory

7. Skip the pre-wedding photo session
We know, everybody's doing it, but there's no certain rule that requires you to have a whole set of elaborately-taken engagement pictures. By skipping the engagement session, you can save a significant amount of money to spend on the wedding day instead. You can always have romantic photos taken on your anniversary later on after you've recovered your wallet from the overwhelming wedding bills.

If you really must have pre-wedding photography, you don't have to splurge on intricate dresses or travel across continents to get great pictures. With the right photographer, you and your partner can look effortlessly cool wearing casual clothes, even if you're just strolling around town together.

8. Edit and print yourself
Ask your photographer if they can cut the expenses if you print the photos yourself. So, rather than having a customized wedding album that is quite costly, you can simply ask for the digital files. If you happen to have the skill and talent in photo editing, you can also ask them to edit some photos you love the most and edit the rest yourself, but make your photographer is fine with having their work edited by someone else.

9. Cut the coverage time
Negotiate a lower fee by cutting your photographer's coverage time. For example, you might not need to have them coming in early to take your getting-ready pictures. Assign one of your bridesmaids and equip her with a digital camera to capture the pre-wedding moments a few hours before the festivities.

A tip, you can schedule coverage up to the cake-cutting and bouquet toss. Normally, after that point, the shots will revolve around dancing shots and photos of your guests. If everything will happen at one location, you can go with only an 6–8 hour plan to cover your wedding processions. You can also provide disposable cameras on the reception tables and ask the guests to take candid pictures of the event, like this couple did. You might be surprised by the results!

Do you have any other tips for finding the right wedding photographer? Let us know in the comments section below!

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