In 2016, half of Americans age 18 and older were married. That’s a lot of weddings. Wedding photos are more than pictures. They’re a truly timeless memento of one of the most important days of your life, so choosing a wedding photographer is a big decision. Photographers come at different price levels with various degrees of service and a number of different styles. You’ll need to put careful thought into what kind of pictures you want to remember your special day. Follow these tips and you’re sure to come up with a photographer you’ll love.

Decide What Style You Want

Different photographers, like professional Andrea Matone, specialize in different styles of photos. There are four main styles to choose from, so read up on the different types and decide which one best suits you and your fiancé.

  • Fashion – this dramatic style makes the bridal party look styled and glamorous.
  • Classic or Traditional – for this style, the photographer will take photos in traditional wedding poses as well as poses requested by the couple while working off a short list.
  • Photojournalism – this style is more natural than the previously posed varieties. The photographer will capture more candid photos by following you throughout the wedding and reception.
  • Illustrative – this is a style that combines the posed looks of traditional photography with the documentary-type photography of photojournalism style. The photographer will use more informal and relaxed poses while still paying careful attention to composition.

Book Your Photographer Early

After booking your venue, hiring a photographer should be your next task, especially if you’re getting married during the traditional wedding season. Every wedding needs a photographer, so the best ones may be booked as far as a year in advance. Keep the following things in mind:

  • For Sunday weddings or weddings that take place out-of-season, you’ll have better luck finding a photographer on short notice.
  • For weddings that take place at unpopular times, you may be able to book a photographer within six months.
  • For weddings that take place during the traditional wedding season, you’re probably looking at a year to book a photographer.

Get Recommendations

A good wedding photographer will build up a local reputation, so always start your search by asking people you trust for recommendations. Ask people who have gotten married within the last few years what their experience with their photographer was like.

If you do have a friend who recommends their photographer, always look at their photo album before giving the photographer a call, so you know they’ll be a good fit. Remember that everybody has different ideas and tastes when it comes to good wedding photography. Another excellent place to get recommendations is from a wedding planner or other professional that’s working on your wedding.

Take Note of a Photographer’s Presence Online

When researching photographers online, pay careful attention to how they present themselves and whether most of their customer reviews are positive. While you shouldn’t base your decision solely on reviews, it’s best to have as much information as possible.

Also, don’t rely too heavily on the photos on a photographer’s website. While pictures can be a great way to see what type of work a photographer does, some sleazy conmen will steal or buy photos taken by somebody else and portray them as their own. Always fully research your photography candidates to avoid any potential tricks or scams.

Interview Photographers

After the research stage, you’re ready to interview and hire your photographer. Make a short list of photographers you’re interested in and prepare questions with your partner. Talk to the photographer about his or her style and experience, and whether they work with an assistant. Also find out whether they do post-production on the photos, how long you’ll have to wait for the results, and what format you’ll receive them in.

Make a Decision

When you’ve fully researched and interviewed the candidates, you’re ready to choose the best photographer for the job. Look at each potential photographer’s portfolio, go over your interview notes, weigh the cost against the value these photos will hold for you, and consider the photographer’s personality and whether it’s a match for your big day. One photographer will stand out above the others. They will most likely be the best person for the job.Wedding traditions date back thousands of years. While photography is fairly new in comparison, capturing your big day with photos that are beautiful and will last a lifetime is just as important as the dress and the rings. Use these tips to put critical thought into hiring the best photographer, and you’re sure to end up with mementos of your day that you will love.