So the dates for your wedding/ engagement are fixed and you’re ready to start researching (read: looking at profiles of zillions of) vendors and finalising them one by one.

One of the most important services you’ll be availing of for your special event would be the candid photographer/ contemporary photographer. This person would be responsible for not just documenting your event in the most beautiful way possible, but will also be someone with whom you’ll be establishing a pretty long term relationship. You’ll be hiring her/him probably 4 months to a year in advance, and then will continue to work with them (for your images and albums) for at least 1.5 months after your wedding.

I’ve made a list of factors which you should consider and think through before zeroing in on a photographer.

1. Basic Style – Candid and Contemporary or Traditional Studio

This point is really not an either/or question, but more of knowing exactly what each does and what’s the value that each adds.

A traditional/ studio photographer usually comes with a team of about 2-5 people (2 cameramen, 1 videographer, a couple of assistants). They focus on “covering” the day in the sense, their cameras will be constantly clicking without a lot of thought or creativity going into the aesthetic and artistic elements that go into photography. So they’ll be sure to cover almost every person who is in attendance at the wedding (many of them may be of people eating!) and each step of the ceremony. Their ‘packages’ will sound super reasonable as they often include albums in their package.

Note here that studio photographers rarely put in much work after the image is shot, i.e. in post-production. You’d end up getting most images as is, unedited, straight from their memory card. They’d be quick to deliver because of this. The advantage here is that you don’t have to wait for a long time to see your images – hey, you are obviously most excited right after your function to take a peek at the magic that your photographer has created! Second advantage of a studio photographer is that they cover the stand-in-line-for-your-turn photographs really well and you’ll have a ton of images to remember all the lovely people who attended your wedding… in an organised fashion.

Candid photographers or contemporary photographers capture moments, emotions and things as they happen in a documentary style and don’t direct much or ask for rigid poses. Most will also take shots of the details at your wedding (such as the decor, the beautiful work on your lehenga, your shoes and cute little details like that which you’ve spent months planning and procuring). For me, in addition to the above I love taking a lot of shots of the bride getting ready and portrait shots of the bride, the groom and people who are close to them in a natural, effortless style. This is important as these are the images which end up getting framed, the ones which go up on your walls. Natural, documentary style of taking portraits is something which adds real value to your photographs.

I had earlier said that you may not necessarily have to choose between a studio photographer and a candid photographer because usually the parents end up hiring a studio photographer for sure out of the lure of awesome sounding packages. And the couple ends up hiring their candid photographer as well. But if you have to choose, you know I would recommend choosing the candid photographer because then you’d get memories to cherish and these memories would last generations. What would you rather be sitting with your children, flipping through – an album full of gorgeous images where each image tells a story (which prompts your memory and you nicely narrate that), or an album full of images where you’ve posed strangely till your back hurt and of people eating?

2. Secondary Style – Tones and Hues

Once you’ve jumped into the research zone for candid photographers, you need to first observe the style of the candid photographer in the photographs in their website/ facebook page. Do they choose warmer tones generally? Do they choose cooler tones generally? Do they choose neutral tones? Is their style of editing absolutely set (i.e. the same for all weddings they cover) or do they choose different styles for different weddings but within a similar theme?

This is important because remember, your photos will look similar to what you see in their past work. So make sure you notice these tiny details because this goes a long way in making photographs!

3. Secondary Style – More People or More Things?

Notice what do they choose to display more of in their portfolio – more people or more things (detail shots)? A photographer chooses and displays those photographs which she/he feels are their best, are close to their heart and is something they want to shoot more of. Make sure that their approach is coherent with the kind of photographs you want to get out of your wedding. A photographer will not be changing their style or method (though most, if not all, will definitely tweak it and incorporate your requests to their best) for one wedding. It’s something very unique and intrinsic to the artist and that’s the prism they choose to tell their story through. So make sure you notice this element and choose accordingly!

4. Secondary Style – Emphasis on what: people looking nice or things looking nice?

This point is in the same vein as the previous point – are the images in the portfolio particularly those in which there are things looking gorgeous or are people looking gorgeous? Would the people in those photographs consider them to be flattering pictures of themselves? This last question is very important. You are going to be getting similar images. Would you be happy with this if it were you in it? Do you think that’s a flattering angle? If the answer to this is No! for many of the pictures on the portfolio, then the photographer is probably not a good fit for you. You’re hiring them to create memories of your special day, and while all the details and decor elements at your wedding will be super important and will be covered by every candid photographer you hire, the most treasured photographs will be those of people creating moments. So make sure you pick a photographer who sees value in creating gorgeous, flattering images of people in any circumstance.

5. WHO is going to be shooting at YOUR wedding?

A lot of photographers have second shooters and small teams (some have a number of photographers working under them). It’s important to understand from them before you hire them and pay that deposit on who exactly would be shooting your wedding – and look up their images. The label name photographer should be the one shooting at your event or at best she/he should be supported by a second shooter or a team. The primary images should be taken by the person who’s images are up on display on the portfolio – because that’s what you liked, and that’s what you’re basing your decision on. This is super important so that you’re not disappointed later with the newbies that your ‘photographer’ sent to shoot your special, once-in-a-lifetime day even though you’d booked him/her months in advance. Make sure you get this down clear up front.

6. Responsiveness 

Is this photographer easy to contact/ approach? Do they respond to emails, messages and call in a timely manner? This is critical because you’ll be dealing with them for quite a bit. It’s better to make sure about this upfront than regret later! Make sure you pick someone who takes their clients seriously, communicates in a timely fashion and is proactive!

7. Communication

Now that you’ve gotten chatting, do you feel you can explain yourself to your photographer? If you have a vision for your wedding and the kind of photographs you want, do you think you can work with this person and that you can communicate your vision to the photographer?

Communication is key. This can be a tiny thing but a huge factor between absolutely amazing photographs which blow your socks out and disappointment. You want to be clear with your photographer on what’s your priority for the wedding. Yes, you’ve seen their style, you’ve seen the kind of photographs they usually create, but this is your wedding. So it’s better for you if you in any case let them know upfront about any special requests or priorities that you may have.

For instance, you may want to indicate that while you’d like a good number of pictures of yourselves (the couple), you’d also like to see a,b,c,d,e,f,g in photographs especially because they’re super close to you. I have a process where I remotely familiarise myself with the close family members and friends so that I capture them as well as they are important figures in family history. But that may not be the style adopted by some other photographers. Some may choose to focus more on friends, than family (which also works really well for a lot of couples). So you should in any case just mention to your photographer about your priorities. It’ll help them do a fantastic job at your wedding and you’ll be 150% sure to get the kind of images you want!


This is broadly it.

You’ll notice here that I didn’t include a point on ‘budget’. That’s very obviously a factor and would narrow down your options. Be sure to consider a photographer’s unique talent while zeroing in on them.

I hope these points help you choose the right person for your wedding!