Plus 5 reasons not to use for making your decision!!
This is an edited version of a full article I wrote about how to choose your wedding photographer
1) What's your style?
Traditional? Contemporary? Formal? Artistic? Creative? Natural?
There are so many different approaches to taking photographs and each will suit different people. I often ask couples what sort of photographs they like the best when they look back at all the ones they already have or perhaps from a friends wedding
If you hanker after the sort of shots that you might find in your parents or grandparents wedding album then you like the more formal or traditional approach
Should you be taken with the idea of wedding photographs that appear to show you fighting off space aliens or dinosaurs then you're definitely after a creative photographer (It happens!)
If the images you love are the ones where people look relaxed and where there is genuine emotion then you want a reportage photographer, someone who takes a documentary approach to capturing natural images
The most important thing is to take your time to look at a photographers portfolio and decide if the images you see are ones that you love and would want at your own wedding
2) Do your research
A 2017 survey of 4000 recently married couples said that nearly 60% of people planning their wedding look at reviews and testimonials to help them make a decision about their choice of vendors
I've noticed that sometimes after I've met people at wedding fayres they start to pay attention to my Instagram feed or Facebook page and I think this is a great way to get a really good feel for a photographers work. As well as the images on their website you're also getting to see more recent work too to give you an idea about their style
Meeting a prospective photographer before you book is also a good idea. 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
There are also some great websites out there that allow you to find wedding photographers in your local area that offer the style that you want
One of the best is Find a Wedding Photographer, well worth checking out
This is all about if they're going to be a fit into your day?
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!
I try to be unobtrusive during the wedding but I'm still there all day and I think it really helps when everyone hits it off. I remember talking to a couple 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?
There's no getting away from it, people spend a lot of money on getting married.
When you book your venue you'd expect there to be someone with experience to co-ordinate everything for you with chefs that know what they're doing to cook the food.
So just because someone has bought a camera, set up a Facebook page and called themselves a wedding photographer does this mean that they're going to do a professional job?
Do they use contracts so it's crystal clear exactly what is being delivered?
Do they have insurance and back-up equipment to protect against unforeseen circumstances?
One of my Brides from later on this 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 reassured by my detailed reply highlighting cameras with dual card slots so every image is recorded twice and always using two cameras during the wedding with other equipment close at hand. I immediately back up to both an internal and external hard drive as soon as I get home and start to back up the images into the cloud.
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
Sometimes the cost can actually end up being a lot higher than you expected. I've seen photographers quoting a price for photographing a wedding but then couples having to pay extra to receive all of the images or to get high resolution copies
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
Personally, I include all of the edited images from the wedding, with no watermark, in high resolution. They're given with 'print release' which means you can print them as you wish
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?
So there you are, my 5 top tips for how to go about choosing your wedding photographer. Now here are 5 things which I'd say were NOT good reasons for making your choice!!
1) The Venue recommends them
But hang on a minute, wasn't I saying earlier that testimonials are a good thing to look at? If the venue recommends them then isn't that a sort of testimonial??
Well, yes....and sometimes no!!
I'm sure that there are lots of suppliers recommended by venues which do a fantastic job, but did you know that sometimes venues charge vendors to be a 'preferred suppler' or take a commission from each referral
Well of course the cost of that commission has to come from somewhere, and it's going to be added on to the price you pay! So my advice would be look around yourselves and whilst experience at a venue is not to be ignored it's by no means essential
2) They're cheap!!
There's that old adage about if something is too good to be true then it often is
If you're being quoted a really low price for wedding photography then perhaps ask yourselves why it's so cheap?
I easily spend over a week working on every single wedding that I shoot when you allow for consultations, pre-wedding meetings, correspondance, time on the day and editing.
Plus there is web hosting, software licences, equipment, ongoing training, insurance, transport costs, the list goes on and on
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.... (other Uncles are available!)
Now I've got a car, but that doesn't mean I could drive a Formula One car like Lewis Hamilton
I've got a saucepan, but that doesn't mean I can cook like Heston Blumenthal!!
So just because someone has a decent camera that doesn't mean they are going to be able to photograph an entire wedding day.
Take it from me, it's a big responsibility and it's not one that I take lightly. People are trusting me to capture their memories for them and you don't get a second chance to photograph a first kiss
So whether it's Uncle Bob, someone from work or a student from the local college who has a camera. Before entrusting them with documenting one of the most important days of your life surely it's worth asking them if they've done it before?!?
4) What stunning photos.....of Brides....that look suspiciously like models
There are hundreds of wedding blogs out there looking to give you inspiration for your wedding and there's a 'thing' called a 'styled shoot' which plays a part in this. 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.
So as a way to show you different ideas for your wedding they're a great idea
But.......when you look at a photographer's website is it real weddings that you're seeing or a styled shoot?
Are you seeing real Brides, real Grooms, real guests and real emotion? Or are you seeing beautiful photographs of a model wearing a dress?!!
So whilst styled shoots most certainly have a place, make sure that the portfolios you look at also include some real weddings!!
5) My Father-in-law wants me to use him/her!!
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 a 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
There you have it, my hints and tips about how to choose your wedding photographer
I hope it's been of some use and if you'd like to know more about my approach to wedding photography then please don't hesitate to get in touch