Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
A Professional’s Advice
Your wedding images and album are one of the few things you have left after your special day, so it’s essential to find the perfect wedding photographer for you that suits your style and budget.
With these top tips, I want to help you make an informed decision.
My experience of photographing many weddings over the last 12 years, and the fact that photographers are often the only professional to be a part of the whole day from start to finish, gives me a unique knowledge of what you are about to go through from the planning stage right through your special day and beyond. Therefore, I’ve decided to write an article for you about what I think is really important about a wedding photography.
In no particular order:
Experience, personality, style and budget.
There are other considerations too, but I feel these are key to help you making the right decisions and booking the perfect photographer for you.
This shouldn’t be too difficult – do you like the type of work of the photographer?
Nowadays, wedding photographers use many styles of marketing to market themselves. From traditional to contemporary; documentary to fine art.
Personally, I don’t think it matters if you know how these styles are differentiated.
What does matter is that you find a photographer that shoots in the style you find most appealing. Is there a best style to choose?
I don’t think so, but I will offer words of advice.
Style is subjective, so what attracts you to one photographer may not work for someone else and as confusing as it may sound, the photographer who produces work you love may still not be right for you.
An important thing to consider whilst looking over a photographer’s portfolio is can you see yourself in the images you are viewing?
Some photographs may be stunning, but do you like the idea of you and your fiancé being in that type of image?
Something else to consider is the time investment that these various styles require.
For example, a pure documentary photographer will require very little time from you during the day which leaves you to enjoy your time with guests and drink all the champagne you want.
However, there is a trade-off.
You will get a beautiful set of natural moments, but you won’t get set up group shots that your traditional photographer gets or indeed the beautiful couple portraits taken away from your guests.
All of these styles require different approaches, skill sets and on some occasions, different equipment.
Photography is no different to many professions in that you have specialists and the generalists.
If you want documentary style, then only talk to those who specialise in that style.
For myself as the next example, I shoot in what could be classed as ‘portrait journalism’. It’s a modern approach but includes the more traditional aspects too.
My style has been described as “beautiful and evocative candid imagery with a touch of wow”.
To make a good decision on a photographer’s style and to make sure it’s consistent, make sure you can see full wedding albums or maybe full sets of images from a day, not just a selection of favourites.
I make a point of showing copies of past client’s albums to prospective clients to view. It goes a long way to help with the decision.
I show samples on my website too. If your photographer is a little shy with samples, there could be a reason why.
A final point, the style also extends to the albums. I’ve mentioned that I like to show my albums so you can see that mine tell a story and offer a timeless design.
Be careful with layouts that seem over-designed and busy, and other elements that may be out of fashion before you get to your first anniversary.
You can find wedding photographers for every budget these days, from £150 to over £10,000 for the rock stars of the industry.
For some, it’s not always clear why one photographer is way more expensive than another, however, just like anything we buy these days you need to be careful of photographers offering the world for very little.
Yes, there’s lots of great value to be found, but please remember that photography is a massive and important part of your wedding day with a lot of responsibility.
If you have the budget, and for your own piece of mind, its more than worth investing more for someone with experience and a track record they can prove with testimonials.
As they say, once the day has passed, the cake has been eaten and the dress hung up, your album will be there for your grandchildren; a family heirloom.
Put everything you need to buy in a list and them move them around in order of priority and see how high up your photography comes.
Then, if you’ve already shortlisted a photographer that is over your budget have a look lower on your list to see if you can trim anything down to help.
High-end wedding albums are designed and built to last a lifetime, cheap albums will discolour and fade over time.
Obviously, you’re going to be in the company of your photographer for a large part of your wedding day, so you want someone who you’re going to get along with, who you feel comfortable with.
A wedding consultation is an important way to gauge this and essential before you book.
If you get a feeling that the photographer could be overbearing or just talks about themselves, it may be a good idea to move on and meet with someone else.
You need to be confident in them and their ability to deliver too.
Their personality will also have an impact on how at ease you are; ideally, you want a calming influence especially during the getting ready stage.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of photographers barking orders and shouting, make sure you try to avoid one of those; you’re not in the army, on your wedding day at least.
Any good photographer has the ability to bring out the best in people, especially when they are naturally unsure in front of a camera. This, in turn, has a positive effect and will bring a naturalness to the images.
Something I’ve already mentioned. Any experienced photographer should bring elements of calmness with them to the wedding.
They will know how to make people feel at ease and deal with many situations that arise that a novice may struggle with.
They’ve had plenty of time to perfect the skills required whilst getting to know their equipment like the back of their hand and know how a wedding day runs and develops.
An experienced photographer will also have developed a sense of timing and an ability to see opportunities develop that a less experienced amateur may miss.
They will know where to position themselves for important moments and learn to be more creative with them.
Yes, the experience can be expensive but could prove to be priceless.
All too often I’ve heard stories of ‘oh the weather was really bad, so the pictures we got were not so good’. This shouldn’t happen, a good photographer should be able to create and capture beautiful images anywhere and in any weather.
Yes, I know, we all have to start somewhere, every wedding photographer has to shoot their first wedding at some point but should that wedding be yours?
I don’t think there is a photographer worth their money that would walk into a wedding unprepared and risk upsetting a bride and groom. If you do want to ask a friend or relative, or indeed go for a photographer with little or no experience, here’s what you should do:
- Make sure you discuss your expectations thoroughly.
- Make a list of the shots you really want, especially the groups. Mum and Dad, bridesmaids, groomsmen, hen night girls etc.
- Make sure you give this list to your photographer a couple of weeks in advance and discuss it with them to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
- You may want to visit your wedding venue with them and even have a pre-wedding shoot.
If you get the feeling it may be too much for them, then do speak with them honestly. Remember, it’s a big responsibility to be photographing someone’s special day.
Good luck & happy wedding planning,