Category Archives: Wedding Photography Tips

Cory’s Top 5 Tips :: How to Find & Choose Your Austin Wedding Photographer!

Congratulations, you’re engaged!!! After you finish doing the happy dance, it’s time to get down to the business of starting your wedding planning! And finding the perfect wedding photographer should be on the top of your list. (Here are my other Austin wedding vendor recommendations.) The best photographers will typically book 6-12 months in advance, and the busiest months of the year will go fast. In Texas, the four most popular months for weddings are April, May, October, and November because of the wonderful outdoor weather. So if you plan on getting married in those months, it’s never too early to start! Once you start getting your Google on, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the numerous pages of links and options. How to narrow it down? Follow my top 5 tips below to find the perfect photography match for you on your wedding day. I’ve been at this for a while and feel like I can give pretty good advice! :)

ring shot with confetti

1. DO THEIR PHOTOS RESONATE WITH YOU? This is a no-brainer, so start by trying to define the photography style that you like best. Search wedding magazines and blogs, and make note of the photography styles that really speak to you, both emotionally and visually. Now try to put an adjective to that look. Romantic? Vintage? Modern? Quirky? Colorful? Creative? Do the research, look at as many wedding photos as you can, and see what you like! It is important to judge the quality of the photos in photographer’s portfolios as well. Are they well-lit? Sharp and in focus? Would you want to hang one of their portraits on your wall someday? Does the photographer shoot photos that are adventurous and unique or are they standard and traditional? Be sure you’ve thoroughly viewed your favorite photographers websites and blogs to narrow the selection before you start making appointments. When you contact the photographer, don’t hesitate to ask them if you can see a whole wedding in it’s entirety, so you can really see a solid example of what you would be getting from start to finish. That’s a lot more important than seeing a selection of curated highlights (from many different weddings) on their website.

capturing moments

2. DO THEY COME HIGHLY RECOMMENDED? The best wedding photographers have reputations in the wedding world, and therefore are relatively well known by other top wedding vendors. So start by asking for recommendations from recently married friends, and also ask at meetings with other wedding vendors. If your wedding planner, caterer, or florist is willing to stake their reputation on  a photographer, that’s a really good sign! Then consult their online reviews at such sites at The Knot, Yelp, Google Business Listings or WeddingWire and confirm their ratings are top notch. Once you have narrowed it down to your favorites from research, ratings, and photography style, now it’s time to reach out with an inquiry email or phone call. Note how long is takes them to return your email or phone call? Do they ask a lot of questions about your day, and express a genuine interest? Do they pay attention to the little details, or do they seem scatterbrained? If a photographer takes care of the small details, chances are very good they will handle the bigger details of excellent customer service well, too. If you have the bad luck of finding out that your favorite photographer is already booked on your wedding date, be sure to ask them who they recommend!

austin wedding photographer

3. ARE THEY IN YOUR BUDGET? This is as big a part of the equation, obviously! Every photographer should list a “starting price” somewhere on their website. Be sure that they are roughly within the budget you can realistically afford before reaching out. If you aren’t sure, most photographers will happily email you a complete price list to look over prior to scheduling a meeting. Just like most things in life, you really do get what you pay for. There are only so many weekends in the year, so the number of weddings a single photographer can book is limited. So as a photographer comes into greater demand, their prices will certainly go up. The end result is that the best photographers are more expensive than others.  You want someone who invests a lot of time and energy into perfecting their craft, and that comes at a price.

When photographers are significantly cheaper, that likely means one of two things. 1) The photographer is just starting out in the industry, or 2) you are getting a cheaper end product. Cheaper photographers may not have insurance, may use album companies without lifetime guarantees, get their printing done at drug stores, or simply just don’t deliver what they promised. If you have a limited budget for wedding photography, invest the money in the best photographer you can afford, and remember you don’t have to book the biggest package. You can always add on extra hours as your big day gets closer, and you can always buy wedding albums and other products after the wedding. In fact, some of my couples get on a payment program where they pay monthly installments for 12 months to get an album for their 1st anniversary. You’re probably going to spend more than you originally planned, but you’ll be doing it because you like the pictures so much that you WANT to buy the extras.  Every professional should have a contract to legally bind your agreement, so read the fine print and make sure all your questions are answered about what is included in the packages. Do you get printing rights to your images? Will your photos be hosted in an online gallery? Do they require a hot meal for themselves and an assistant?

bar mansion venue

4. DO YOU CLICK WITH THEIR PERSONALITY? Personality is a really big deal when making your final choice! Your wedding photographer is literally the ONLY vendor who will be by your side from the start to the finish of the big day. You may spend an entire year in correspondence with your photographer, from your first engagement session to the delivery of your heirloom wedding album. If you find your photographer annoying, brusk, cheesy, or they just plain rub you the wrong way, then keep looking!  The most beautiful wedding photo of all time will just make you cringe if the photography experience sours it! So ask yourself… can you picture the photographer by your side all day at your wedding? Will they handle your crazy family with care and professionalism? Will they help you calm down if you feel stressed and ready to cry? Will they fit in seamlessly to your day? Trust your gut intuition on this one.

wedding photographer austin

5. ARE THEY TRULY A PROFESSIONAL? The best way to ensure you receive quality wedding photography is to hire a seasoned professional with many years of solid experience. Sure, an amateur can shoot some nice natural light photos, but weddings are extremely fast paced and require technical knowledge of both the camera and lighting gear that can only come from experience. The wedding day will require the “best of the best” equipment, multiple fast lenses, back-up camera bodies, and a plethora of lighting equipment that most newbies don’t even know they need. Wedding photography is the most challenging type of photography, combining the skill sets of portrait photographer, photojournalist, and product photographer all in one! Dealing with every detail of a wedding, interacting with the bride & groom, their families, and at times… hundreds of people, AND still maintaining the highest level of technical excellence… well, that just plain takes experience. Don’t skimp by choosing a “friend of a friend” who recently got into wedding photography, or you will inevitably be sorely disappointed for years to come. After your wedding day has come and gone, the pictures are the ONLY thing you’ll have to look back on.  It would be heartbreaking to not have wedding photos you LOVE to look back on.


I wish all of you a happy 2013, full of love and perfect weddings! Please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below!


908 East 5th St. Suite 112 Austin, TX 78702
(512) 293.7212

Best of the Knot: 2010, 2011, 2012 + 2013
Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice: 2011 + 2012


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  • Joseph Fylan - Good info. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book-marked it for later!

  • Kamalesh Kiyoh - I am in deep love towards Austin wedding photography. I really wanted to hire an Austin wedding photographer for my daughter’s wedding. This post provided me some valuable inputs on choosing the best Austin wedding photographer for the big day. I really love the photos posted above taken by a skilled Austin photographer.

Wedding Day Photography tips from Austin, TX wedding photographer Cory Ryan!

Congratulations for booking Cory Ryan Photography for your big day! I am thrilled to be a part of such a special day, and I want you to get the most from your photography on your wedding day. Not every wedding has the circumstances for me to go above and beyond my couple’s expectations, but by using the tips below, I can deliver photos more outstanding than you ever imagined!

Tip #1: See each other before the wedding!

On first thought, almost everyone says to themselves “No way!”… But by setting up a “first look”, we’ll truly be able to capture that special moment of seeing each other privately (or with loved ones) for the first time.  It works like this…the bride and the groom get ready separately, like usual. While your hair and make-up are still fresh, we basically stage an opportunity for the bride and groom to see each other for the first time.  At the exact moment that you see each other for the first time, you’ll completely forget we’re there snapping away some very special and intimate moments!

If you’re having a winter or sunset wedding,  there’s a good chance that there won’t be any daylight remaining after the ceremony for photos. By doing a first look, we’ll be able to do your “formal” photos and couple session BEFORE your ceremony in the gorgeous natural light! You will get MORE photos and BETTER photos when you give us the time to go above and beyond. Most coordinators will have you on a strict timeline after the ceremony, so taking them before can often be so much more relaxing as well. And I’ve never met a couple that wasn’t in a hurry to get to their party! :) You’ll also be giving yourselves some extra time right after the ceremony to join  your guests at cocktail hour or  spend a few alone minutes together to take in the special moment you just shared!

wedding photography tips

Tip #2: Make sure everyone is ready when the photographer is scheduled to arrive!

Make sure ALL of the bridal party, and any immediately family in your photos, are dressed and ready prior to the photographer’s arrival. When we get there, everyone can just concentrate on your finishing touches and getting your dress on! It’s usually a good idea to to tell everyone to arrive 15 minutes prior to when we really need them there just to assure everything stays on time.

Make sure the flowers have been delivered to your “getting ready” location with plenty of time to spare, and everyone knows which bouquet is theirs. All the boutonniere should be pinned on the groomsmen as well!

wedding photography shot list

Tip #3: Hire professional Hair and Make-up artists

Ask your photographer if you need recommendations – we’ve worked with a lot of them and can refer you to the best! Inexperienced hair and make-up people can cause your whole wedding day schedule to be off, delaying your wedding coverage by valuable hours. Professionals know how to allot their time correctly, work efficiently, and rarely go over on time while still making you look like a million bucks!

wedding photography tips and tricks

Tip #4: A Room with a View

Pick a “getting ready” location that has plenty of natural light! If you are provided a room without adequate room to move around, or without adequate window light by your venue, consider renting a room at a hotel with large windows. Or we can start at your home, salon, or honeymoon suite!

documentary wedding photography

Tip #5: Scout your ceremony location to see what the light looks like at that particular time of day!

If you wish for an outdoor ceremony location, do your research and scope out the area.  Choose a location with sufficient shade to cover all the bridal party. If you’re wedding is scheduled for 2 hours before sunset, be sure you go look 2 hours before sunset and make sure everything is fully shaded. Direct light during your wedding ceremony can make for extremely harsh shadows, and lots of squinting facial expressions that are not flattering. You can check the sunset time here and work your timeline backwards. If you’re not sure, ask your photographer what time is best!

wedding photography checklist

Tip #6: Brainstorm some ideas ahead of time!

If you have ideas of your own about specific photos you want, tell your photographer ahead of time! Bring props and get creative for one-of-a-kind wall art that none of your friends will have! We will go anywhere you want, you don’t have to just limit it to your wedding venue. You’ve hired me, so now take advantage of it, and let’s do something truly unique on your wedding day.

professional wedding photographers

Tip #7: Let them eat!

If you are unable to do photos before the ceremony for whatever reason, and we have plenty of natural light afterwards, it’s OK to let your guests go ahead and eat. And I mean the full meal – not just appetizers. Trust me – they will love it, you won’t feel as pressured on time for your photos, and the party can get started earlier in the evening.

And while we’re talking about dinner, don’t forget the photographers have to eat as well (preferably at the same time as the couple so we don’t miss any photo opps). We’ll never survive a long day on our feet unless we eat too!

wedding catering austin

Tip #8: Let there be light!

And this time, I’m not talking about natural light! If your reception venue is lacking in the light department, consider bringing in a lighting package. Coordinators know that this is the cheapest way to bring a major *WOW* factor to your reception. Splashes of color, gobos in cool shapes, and even your names on the dance floor can really bring a room from zero to fabulous is no time… and make the HUGEST difference in how good your photos look! Don’t be afraid to hire a company to light your reception professionally!

If you are having an outdoor reception, placing your dance floor under a tent will make a world of difference. That allows us to bounce the flash up into the tent roof, and provide more beautiful balanced photos. A tent also gives you a structure to hang the small lights in the roof which create a warm romantic background.

tips on wedding photography

Tip #9: Videographers

Little know fact…before I was a wedding photographer, I was a wedding videographer! I worked some very high profile weddings, with some very high profile photographers, for MANY years so I know how this should be done. Unfortunately some inexperienced videographers DO NOT and will occasionally get right up in the middle of the altar area during the ceremony. If you don’t want their backside to show up in all your pictures, or worse yet, smack in the MIDDLE of your vows, please tell them to stay at least 20 feet away during the ceremony. I’ve actually seen videographers standing right between the bride and groom during the whole ceremony with a wide angle lens. They could get the same shot from 20 feet if they used a telephoto lens.  And if you don’t want to worry about this at all, ask your photographer to recommend a videographer that he/she has worked well with in the past! It will save everyone a lot of grief.

wedding photography packages

Tip #10: Breathe, soak it all in, and HAVE FUN! Your awesome photographer will do the rest to ensure you have photos you’ll cherish FOREVER!

sunset wedding photo

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