Congratulations you’re engaged, you have set a date and you have booked your dream venue. Along with the many suppliers you will need for your wedding one of the most important is a wedding photographer and blimey there are a lot of us! It could certainly be one of the hardest decisions you make in the whole wedding planning process and it can be one of the most expensive. If you have visited a wedding fair or just browsed on the internet there are hundreds of photographers with many styles to suit different budgets. So how on earth do you choose the right wedding photographer for you?
As a wedding photographer myself, I’ve photographed many weddings throughout the UK and I’ve attended many weddings also as a guest. One thing I decided to do early on as a photographer was to decide on what style of photography I wanted to do. As a guest at many weddings, I remember the photographer telling everybody what to do, where to stand when to smile and also them taking the married couple away from all their guests for long periods for posed photos and all the other guests asking where the bride and groom were.
This just didn’t interest me in the least so I decided to choose a style where couples and their guests can just forget about their photographer and enjoy their day the way they want.
The list below is not the definitive guide and in no particular order, but my hints and tips on how to choose a Wedding Photographer.
1. WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER STYLE
Apart from budget one of the main things you need to think about when choosing a photographer is the style of wedding photography. Yes, if you didn’t know it already there are many styles with the most common being reportage or documentary, creative and traditional style. You must find a photography style that matches what you want and a style that you want your photos to follow. Once you have chosen a style, make a shortlist of photographers who shoot that way.
Here’s a brief description of the styles –
PHOTOJOURNALISTIC, DOCUMENTARY OR REPORTAGE – All these terms are the same style. Photographers who shoot in this style including myself will generally have no intervention during the wedding apart from a few group photos of the couple with family and guests and a few unposed couples only photos. They will capture everything as it happens to document the day and telling a story. Some of the serious photojournalistic wedding photographers will not do any group photos whatsoever so bear that in mind when enquiring. The best photographers in this category can react quickly, anticipate moments, capture fleeting emotions and generally create a beautiful story of your day with their images. This style is great if you don’t like being in front of the camera or don’t want to be taken away for long periods for posed photos but just want a photographer to capture your day as it unfolds.
CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY– Here you’ve got the photographers who aren’t purely documentary. They are creative, use natural light or flash in amazing ways and they may have a real emphasis on posed couple portraits. They can find the beauty of your wedding and they use their photography skills to capture it. They will manipulate the setting, find the perfect light or backdrop, or create the situation to get that beautiful image.
THE TRADITIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – This is what a lot of people, probably your parents or grandparents initially think of when you say ‘wedding photographer’. Think a lot of posed formal images. The photographer has a lot of control over the setting and the poses. You may find that you can be taken away from all your guests for some time too.
Yes, weddings are expensive and apart from the venue and food a photographer can be one of the most expensive suppliers on your day. There can be a huge variation on pricing which can range from several £100’s up to several £1000’s and let’s face it, for the most part, the cheap photographers are cheap for a reason – they are not very good, they are not very experienced, possibly just starting out or they are not running a legitimate business.
The reason some photographers can seem expensive is that running a photography business is very expensive especially if you are doing properly. From investing in professional cameras and lenses and back up equipment, computers, software, training and mentoring, insurance and sometimes an accountant there is a lot of outlay to run a photography business.
A lot of wedding blogs and magazines will recommend that you spend at least 10% of your total wedding budget on a photographer. Yes, you can get a family member or friend who has an expensive camera to photograph your day but will they have experience of shooting weddings and all the pressure that comes with the job?
If you find a photographer that you absolutely and completely love but they are above your budget then sit down and figure out a way to afford them. I promise you that in 10 years when you are looking at your images you will not regret the decision you made to scrap the chair covers or candy cart.
Budget can often be a deciding factor for a lot of brides and grooms and although it is a vital element, it should not be the basis for your decision. A photographer should be open about their pricing structures and in turn, you should be clear on your budget. Neither one of you wants to waste any time so a clear dialogue right from the beginning will resolve this.
When a couple is getting married, it’s generally for the first time therefore an experienced photographer can play a huge part in your day. From not only giving general advice to couples on how the day can run better timings wise but sometimes when required playing other roles too from the coordinator, children’s entertainer to even the first aider. Taking the photos is just a small part of being a wedding photographer and without the necessary experience and the ability to perform under constant pressure, important moments can be easily missed.
Also, ask how many weddings they have covered since they began trading and how long they have been in the business. This doesn’t mean that they are any less capable if they have only been trading for a short period, but will give you a good idea of experience gained. Similarly, if a photographer has been in the business for years and has experience in abundance, you may want to check that their style has moved with the times and will meet the expectations of a modern-day couple.
And yes you can get a family member or friend who has a big flashy camera to photograph your day but will they have experience of shooting weddings? Will they have back up equipment in case anything goes wrong? Probably not. If you value photography to be an important part of your day then getting uncle Joe to photograph your wedding is, in my opinion, a massive no, no!
4. TESTIMONIALS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Apart from people finding me on Google a lot of my bookings come through recommendations from previous couples. If you know anybody happy with the service and work of a particular photographer then chances are, you will be too. A good photographer will always be able to show you testimonials from previous couples upon request or even have a reviews page on their website or provide you with contact details should you wish to hear from them directly.
Also check out their Facebook and Google pages for testimonials as these can only be written by previous couples and not what a photographer has made up.
5. MEET THEM
If possible try and meet a photographer. Here you will get to know them and their personality better. Remember they will be the one supplier spending most of the day with you so you need to like each other and get on. If meeting up is not possible have a FaceTime/Skype call or at least even a telephone conversation.
When meeting a photographer, ask them questions, make a list beforehand so you don’t forget what to ask. Go through their work, ask to see sample albums if you want them too. How do they come across? Do you feel at ease with them? Do they answer all your questions with confidence? Make sure you feel at ease and you can trust them to capture the biggest day of your life.
6. BACKUP PLAN
This relates a little to the next point about trust, but also confidence in the photographer. What is their back up plan if they are unwell, equipment fails on the day, if there is an emergency or they cannot make it? Ask the question, they should have a network of contacts they trust that may be able to fill in for them. Make sure they have a Plan B, just in case. If they don’t or don’t give you much confidence that they do, then walk away.
7. GET A CONTRACT IN PLACE
Ok so you have found your perfect photographer and you’re ready to book. My final word of advice is to get everything in writing. Any good photographer should have a contract in place for you to sign. This is to protect you and them and will outline exactly what you will receive from your wedding photographer and how much it will cost. Read it, understand it and make sure you are happy with it before you sign it.
8. GO WITH YOUR GUT
Finally, go with your gut. If you love their work and if everything feels right, then just go for it and book them but don’t leave it too long before you do. Imagine how you would feel if you left it a week or two before you decide to book them and you find out somebody else has. I receive around 250-300 enquiries every year and a lot of these are for the same date.
Get in Touch
If you value great photography and are looking for a friendly, relaxed and no-nonsense approach to your wedding photography then get in touch by completing the contact form below and I’ll get back to you very soon!