Choosing the perfect Wedding Photographer
So, you're getting married, what next?!
Once you've got your date and venue where do you start?? So many things to do, so little time!!
Photography is often one of the things which follows on from choosing a venue and this does make sense for one very simple reason
We can only do one wedding per day!!
But how do you choose? There are SO many wedding photographers out there!!!
Well here are my 5 tips for choosing the perfect photographer for you and also 5 reasons not to use for making your decsion
1. What's your style
Now by that I don't mean where do you buy your clothes and what music you listen to, although these could both be related to it! It's about the style of wedding photography that you like and you think will best record your day.
At a recent wedding fayre there were 10 different photographers exhibiting and I remember speaking to a Bride about how overwhelming the choice was. I asked her what style of photography she liked and she looked at me blankly. "What different styles are there?" she asked.
Now that's a very good question
If you look at your parents wedding album the chances are that it's full of formal photographs, normally posed in exactly the same place. This is best described as a traditional style of photography.
Now times have changed and the advent of digital cameras gives us photographers a lot more freedom when it comes to how we work but there are still photographers who's style is very formal with lots of posed shots of people.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is much more natural, candid style that is variously called documentary, reportage or photo-journalistic. What it means in simple terms is that very little of the photography is posed, it's about still producing beautiful images but ones that also capture genuine emotion. Sitting alongside these two approaches you get people that take more of a fine art/high fashion approach and are perhaps quite creative with their imagery.
My advice is to look at a few photographers websites and think about what you see. Are there lots of shots where people look posed, perhaps standing in front of the venue? Or are the shots more about showing emotion with a more candid feel
What style of photography is going to give you the record to your day that you want?
Do you look at a photographers portfolio and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their images?!
Getting married is a big deal and choosing the right person to photograph it is another big decision so it's not one to take lightly
The internet is a wonderful resource and you'll probably find hundreds or even thousands of results when you Google 'wedding photographers in my area'. It's really worth taking the time to look at their website, look at their images, read about their approach. Do you feel a connection?
Personally I am always happy to come and meet prospective clients before they make a decision. If that's not practical then technology can help with a Skype or Facebook video call so you actually get chance to chat.Recommendations from friends and family is another great resource as well.
If someone you know has given this person their hard earned money and they're happy to recommend them to you then you're probably on to a winner!Also look at their Facebook page, Instagram feed, etc. You get a real feel for the consistency of their imagery the more you look at their work
Meeting or chatting with a photographer you're considering brings me on to the next thing to consider, do you hit it off with them?!?
Typically I'm at a wedding for about 10 hours of the day and probably see more of the couple than most members of their family! Although I tend to take more of a back sit and try to blend into the background (easier said than done when you're 6' 3" and have a couple of cameras slung around my neck!) I'm still there all day. It really helps if you feel a connection with them.
I remember talking to a couple recently at a wedding fayre and they said one of the reasons they booked me is because I was as excited about their choice of wedding venue as they were!!
So have a think if the photographer you're choosing really seems to 'get' your wedding plans? Do they seem to buy into your vision and have the enthusiasm to do it justice?
These days it's the easiest thing in the world for someone with a camera to create a Facebook page and call themselves a photographer. But when it comes to capturing the biggest day of your life I think there is more to it than this
Do they use contracts? Do they have insurance? Do they have back-up equipment? Do they respond to correspondence in a timely manner and in a professional way?
One of my Brides from next year contacted me recently because her future Sister-in-law had experienced a huge problem with her wedding photographer where he had lost all of her images due to some equipment malfunction. It had made her suddenly worry that the same thing might happen to her so she wanted to know what safeguards I have in place. She was totally reassured by my detailed reply highlighting:-
Cameras with dual card slots so every image is recorded twice
Always using two cameras during the wedding with other equipment close at hand
Immediate back up to both an internal and external hard drive as soon as I get home
Back up storage of the images in the cloud plus a copy on a USB stored elsewhere until after I've delivered the images to the client
Professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance
Now I know that I'm not alone in having these safe guards in place and I think anyone calling themselves a professional photographer should have something similar in place....but there's no harm in asking!
5. Money, money, money!!
Now I know that the cost of your photographer can take a chunk out of your budget but cheap doesn't always mean great value
This is such an important investment it's vital to ensure that you're getting what you want. I've seen photographers quoting a price for photographing a wedding but then couples having to pay extra to receive some of the images?? Or I speak to people that say they've been told they'll receive only watermarked images, i.e. ones with the photographers logo on them
I like to keep things simple and have just one price that covers any meetings required prior to the wedding, coverage of all the key elements of the day, editing of all the images that tell the story of your wedding which you receive (without a watermark!) with 'print release' which means you can print them as you wish
I do offer extras like a pre-wedding shoot, a second photographer and albums and these are also clearly priced. If they appeal then great, add them on, if not , no worries :)
The price of a wedding photographer can vary from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds and as with other big wedding purchases, like the dress, it's sometimes hard to know how much to spend.
Well taking the dress analogy, quite often you'll try on a dress and you just know it's THE DRESS. It FEELS RIGHT. You simply LOVE IT
Perhaps apply the same approach to choosing your photographer?
Some reasons NOT to use when deciding who to choose!!
1. The venue recommends them
Now, this isn't necessarily a reason not to choose a photographer, or other vendor come to that. But did you know that quite often venues charge vendors to be a 'preferred suppler'?
So sometimes it can be more about which photographer is prepared to pay to be listed rather than who the venue actually think is the best.
My advice would be to ask the venue if they take a commission or cut from their listed vendors and still to look around for yourselves
2. they're cheap!
This comes back to my 5th point on my list of reasons to choose someone. Cheap doesn't always mean bad but ask yourselves why are they cheap?
What people don't see is the huge amount of work that goes on in the background in addition to the actual photography on the day
As well as meetings with clients there is web hosting, software licences, equipment, ongoing training, insurance, transport costs, plus time to edit the images which can often be several days.
So when I see someone offering their services to photograph a wedding for £200 I do wonder which of the things on the list they're missing out?!?!
3. Uncle Bob has got a new camera....
One of the things about being a photographer is that quite often people will look at my camera equipment and say 'ooh, nice camera, you must be able to get some lovely shots with that!'
To which my answer would be 'I hope so!'
But I like to think there's a it more to it than that.
You could say that the reason why Lewis Hamilton is the current Formula One world champion is because he has the best car, which he does.But you could put me in his car and I doubt that I'd even be able to get it off the grid! Likewise, you could put Lewis in my humble road car and I'm pretty sure he'd be able to get a much faster lap time than me in it
So I'd say it's the same with photography, having good quality equipment does of course help, but you need to know how to use it, how to get the best out of it for any given situation and, most importantly, to be able to 'see' a shot.
4. What stunning photos.....of Brides
There's a 'thing' in the world of weddings called a 'styled shoot'. This is where different wedding vendors get together to show off their wares with a photographer to take some beautiful photographs that everyone can use to promote their business.
With wedding dresses being so key you need someone to wear it for the shoot so invariably this is a model, sometimes with a male model to show off the suits. Now I think that styled shoots can be a wonderful thing to give you inspiration, to show you perhaps some unusual items that you might want to feature at your wedding. If planned well they can bring together lots of complimentary ideas to give you some themes to consider for your big day
But one thing they can't show you is real emotion, real people, real Brides and Grooms
So, if the portfolio seems to consist largely of beautiful images that show just a bride or bride and groom then ask yourself 'Where are the guests? Is this real wedding?!?!'
5. My Father-in-Law wants us to use him!!
Now, this is a tricky one.
I had an enquiry for a Bride a few months ago where her Dad had 'sort of' booked someone to photograph their wedding, but it wasn't the person they wanted.
It's not uncommon for parents or prospective in-laws to offer to pay for one of the big ticket items, like photography. So, perhaps understandably, they feel that they should have say in who is booked
Well.......is the person they'd choose the one that you would choose?? After all, it's YOUR wedding day that is being photographed, not theirs.
So awkward as it might be to have the conversation I think it really should come down to who YOU want to photograph your wedding day
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