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How Far Ahead Should You Book a Photographer?

Documenting life's most important events is often something we don't fully appreciate until the day is over and the memories are all that remains. Whether it's a wedding, graduation, or yearly holiday photos, having beautiful photographs to look back on can be priceless. However, finding the right photographer can be a daunting task and knowing when to start looking can be overwhelming.

In this blog post, we'll explore when you should start searching for a photographer depending on what type of photography you're looking for. Whether you're an event planning newbie or a seasoned pro, this guide will help you navigate the process and get amazing photos you'll treasure forever.


1. General Portraiture (headshot, personal, family, boudoir, etc)

There are general portraiture photographers that will be able to accommodate walk-in appointments at their studios but more often than not, in-demand photographers will be booked anywhere from weeks to months in advance. If you're on a strict timeline, I would recommend trying to find and book your photographer 1-2 months ahead of your deadline. Be sure to discuss any deadlines with your photographer to ensure that they are able to finish editing your files on time.

2. Wedding

Most established wedding photographers book anywhere from 9-18+ months in advance (seriously!). There are of course some that book more or less in advance but this is definitely one of the first vendors you should be looking for when you begin your wedding planning.

3. Other Event

General event photographers can definitely book out a few months but usually not as far out as weddings. Again, when planning your event the photographer should be one of the first vendors you contact.

4. High School Senior/Grad

There are two schools of thought on senior portraits. The first is that they should be taken the summer before or at the very beginning of senior year. The advantage of this is that there are often yearbook deadlines in the fall that need to be met if you want your senior portrait to make it into the yearbook.

The second school of thought is that grad photos should be taken a ways into or near the end of senior year. My only caution with this approach other than the usual yearbook deadlines is that you should plan to have your finished photos in hand no later than mid/late May if you plan to send out grad announcements.

Neither of these approaches is right or wrong, it's just whatever your personal preference calls for! Senior portrait photographers can book weeks to months in advance but it would be a good idea to start searching in your junior year so you have time to find a photographer whose work you really love!

5. Holiday photos

I think people are often surprised at how early you need to schedule your holiday photos. For example, if you want them sent out by December 1st and it takes your photographer 3-4 weeks to edit/retouch and they book out 1-2 months in advance, you may have to book as early as September! It's helpful to mark your calendar or set a reminder so you're not left scrambling in late November.

6. Maternity/Birth/Newborns

Let's start with maternity. Most moms-to-be aim to have their photos taken around 28-36 weeks. The idea is to wait long enough to capture your beautiful baby bump but not so long that you're uncomfortable or too close to your delivery date. I recommend that moms-to-be book their photographers as soon as they can but no later than the second trimester.

For birth photography, I again recommend trying to book as soon as possible! Many of these photographers are highly specialized and can book 6-7 months in advance so it's important to start your search early.

For newborns, "Fresh 48" sessions are popular and refer to newborn sessions with babies under 48hrs old. In contrast, general newborn photography usually refers to babies under 3 weeks of age. For both of these, you'll want to book as far in advance as possible (no later than the 2nd trimester). Because the window for birth/fresh 48/newborn sessions is so small, it's imperative to find a reputable photographer who focuses on those types of sessions.


Planning ahead and selecting the right photographer can make all the difference in capturing beautiful and memorable images for your special occasions. Now that you know when to start your search, don't hesitate to start early and take the time to find the perfect photographer for your needs!

Want to know how to find the best photographer for you? Check out this post!


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