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  • Writer's pictureSTP Weddings

Hiring a Wedding Photographer

Besides your wedding planner, your photographer is one of the only vendors that is with you your entire day. They are doing their best to bring out your true personalities and capture you, your friends and family on your wedding day. Until I started working in the wedding industry, I didn't realize there were so many different styles of photography and things to consider when selecting a photographer.

We asked a few very talented photographers in the Jersey Shore area for their advice on the process of selecting your wedding photographer. It's a long article, but in our opinion, very much worth reading through as there is a ton of valuable information provided by these veteran photographers- Idalia Photography, Off Beet Productions, Heyn Photography and Jac & Jules Photography.

Idalia Photography (Alex Peterson)


I document couples who love sweet genuine moments at the ceremony just as much as they love romantic portraits and dance-fueled parties at the reception. I believe in capturing every moment of your day authentically

Style & Philosophy

My photography style can be described as a perfect blend of classic, romantic portraiture and authentic, candid moments.

I believe that capturing love stories for my couples and their future generations is the first step in creating the legacy of a fulfilling marriage. Every couple deserves to have their love story told through beautiful images and classic heirloom albums that last a lifetime. My wish for you is that, years from now, your grandchildren will look at your wedding images, fall in love with your story, and feel like they were there on one of the days that mattered most in your lives.

Tip for choosing a photographer

  • When considering hiring a photographer, always ask to see a complete wedding gallery to get a true sense of their style and coverage during all parts of a wedding day.

  • Look for consistency in terms of their editing style

  • Definitely make sure they are getting a variety of images, from unplanned moments such as grandma shedding a tear during your ceremony, to that must-have family portrait for the mantle, to stunning portraits of you and your groom, to crazy Uncle Bob’s dance moves on the dance floor!

Off Beet Productions (Kate Testa)

About & Style

I love to use soft, natural light whenever I can, but I also appreciate a more editorial look from time to time. I shoot all digital but edit to emulate film photography keeping everything natural and organic. The soft color pallet of a natural setting is always my go-to, but I also appreciate old buildings and funky urban settings. I love laughter and surround myself with people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Some of my favorite things are a warm cup of morning coffee, catching the sunrise, snowy ski towns,  and spending time with my husband, son, and 2 Pomeranians.

Tip for choosing a Photographer

  • My biggest tip for choosing a photographer is to ask to see a full gallery for a wedding, It does not have to be from the same venue as that is not important, but ideally around the same time of year. 

  • I think its easy to fall in love with a perfectly curated instagram feed or website but It's important to understand that those are portfolios representing a photographers very best work.

  • I think you can truly get a feel for what a photographer will produce on your wedding day by seeing an entire event form A to Z.  And if you really want to see what a photographer can do in unideal situations ask to see a rainy day wedding.

  • You want to choose someone that will create consistent imagery no matter the location, situation, or weather. Also, make sure you love their personality because you spend your entire day with your photographer ! 

Heyn Photography (Marissa Rybalov)


I am the owner and lead photographer at Heyn Photography, a Jersey Shore-based boutique wedding photography studio. I have had the privilege to be photographing weddings for over 20 years. We have built our portfolio to encompass three stylistic principles; photography that is romantic, modern, and timeless. We believe in working with our clients to make their wedding vision come to life.

Tips for choosing a Photographer

  • Remember when your magical day is over, photography is what you will have left to last you a lifetime.

  • You want to be able to look at your photographs for years to come and be immediately transported back to your wedding day.

  • You want to be sure that your photographer will capture the memories that are most important to you and will meet your specific needs. This is why I like meeting with all my clients and discussing their wedding day at great length. By the end of our meeting, we have gotten to know each other pretty well, and have started a new relationship.

  • I think it is very important to pick a photographer who will take the time to truly listen to you, and offer advice on how to get the most out of your day.

  • You want a seasoned photographer who has worked enough weddings to be able to deal with any situation that comes up. 

  • Wedding days can cause what we call ‘good chaos’.  The photographer you choose to work with should be able to minimize any stress and keep you grounded.

  • You should trust your photographer to help guide you. Wedding days can go by so quickly. Having a great relationship with your photographer allows you to enjoy and be fully present on your wedding day.

Jac & Jules (Jacqui and Julia)

About & Tips for choosing a Photographer

Choosing a photographer is definitely one of the big decisions when it comes to wedding planning and it usually happens pretty early in the process.  If you have your heart set on someone specific, the earlier you reach out, the better, since they can only photograph one wedding on any given day! Remember that a skilled photographer can highlight the simplest of affairs to result in magazine worthy images, where an amateur can take something from elegant and grand to just ordinary.  Here are a few things that are important to consider when searching for your perfect photographer.

  • Style.  Are you more drawn to light and airy?  Timeless and true-to-life colors?  Vibrant?  Dark and moody?  Someone with a documentary/photojournalistic approach o r someone who will give direction and perfect poses for portraits? These are all things to consider, and you’ll notice you’re repeatedly drawn to certain things, so follow your gut!

We prefer to use natural light as much as possible to create photos that are timeless, authentic and true to life.  

  • Personality.  Your photographer is one of the only vendors that you’ll be spending all day with.  You should like them!  We encourage a face to face meeting, whether it be in person or via online chat.  Phone calls can be a little stiff, and email communication isn’t personal.  

Here are some questions to ask yourself when the meeting is over: How interested were they in you?  Did they talk a lot about themselves?  Did they ask questions?  Were they trying to get to know you and your vision for your wedding day?

  • Consistency.  Ask to see a few full client galleries to see how they photograph a full wedding day.  A portfolio can be misleading!  Someone might be strong in outdoor portraits, but they lack the skills in off camera flash for reception, or they don’t photograph guests, or they don’t declutter a getting ready room (or find ways to block out distractions).  Figure out what matters to you in this area

We are all about sharing full galleries to potential clients.  I think it’s important for couples to see how we photograph a full day, from getting ready in small hotel rooms to rented beach houses, from church ceremonies to outdoor ceremonies, and from natural light portraits to a rainy day wedding.  Although we prefer to use natural light, we are strong in off camera flash, and prefer our reception photos to be a bit “dark and moody” to reflect the ambience of the reception lighting.  

  • Backup Gear.  The LAST thing anyone wants is camera failure, or a broken lens, or battery to die.  This is why having backups is essential!  Ask what their process is for backing up and storing your images should a hard drive fail.  Are they shooting with dual card slots in their cameras?  This offers added security.  If a memory card should fail, the camera has been writing all images to a second card and is kind of an ‘instant’ backup.

Our cameras have dual card slots, backing up images as we photograph.  If there is downtime during the evening or a second photographer isn’t needed (during dinner, cocktail hour, etc.) we begin our backup process.  Images are uploaded to a main hard drive, and once we get home they are uploaded to a secondary hard drive to work off of.  Once the editing process is complete, the images are uploaded to your online gallery for a third backup.

  • Experience.  How long have they been in business?  How may weddings do they photograph a year and why?  Experience often lends itself to price.  You will likely pay a lot less for someone who is less experienced, but you also may do without backup equipment, insurance, and/or consistency among other things.  Experience always shines when things don’t go according to plan.

We have been in business photographing weddings for 10 years and only take on about 20 weddings a year.  Not only do we want to save some weekends for our families, but the work load is a lot and we want to make sure each couple gets the full experience!  When we book a wedding, we are invested.  We help with planning the timeline of the day, the when, the where, the who, engagement sessions, all they way down to final delivery.  

  • Budget.  Of course this is important!  Most photographers have at least a starting price on their website.  See if you are at least within range.  It’s ok to meet with someone who is a little out of your budget.  If photography is one of the most important things to you, it would be smart to assess your budget and see if money can be moved around to have your dream photographer who is going to give you the best memories to look back on.  Compare photographer A who is within budget and photographer B who is a bit higher.  Is photographer A missing anything on your checklist?  Can photographer B get you closer to your budget?  Sometimes it’s going be “no” but it doesn’t hurt to ask!  And sometimes, things can be taken out of a package to save you money while still being able to get the photographer of your dreams. Our prices currently start at $5,000. 


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