“How on earth do you start to choose a wedding photographer? As the wife of a photographer I know, it’s not easy, that’s for sure. You might want to grab a cuppa and settle down to read this for a few ideas and tips that we often share with couples trying to navigate their way through all the photographers out there.
If you’re recently engaged and decide to start planning your special day, you’ll probably take a look at a local wedding fair. And discover between 10-30% of the people exhibiting are photographers. You’ll also have realised that the price can vary massively. From somewhere in the £250 ballpark to upwards of £3000. So, is price the way to choose? Probably not, or else the £250 ones would have all the business.
First of all, take a step back. Ask yourself what you’re going to do with your wedding photos. Are you a family with awesome memories filling a wall or two in your home? Do you have lots of family or some very special friends who can’t get to your wedding and would love to see the pictures? Do you want to be able to re-live your amazing wedding day over and over again? Or do you simply want an accurate yet mind-blowing set of images to remind you of your day? Chances are you won’t wear your dress again, or have that meal? Nor see your Great-Aunt Mary sat having a chat with your new husband’s school friends in any other setting. These are the moments that a great wedding photographer can capture for you.
Next is to choose your style. Are you after some carefully positioned and crafted work that would look stunning on the cover of a bridal magazine, the traditional set shots that have been used for generations, or just a real-life representation of whatever happens on the day?
Once you’ve got these bits nailed, it’s time to think about the dreaded budget. For many people, photography (and of course videography – Mike) is the only part of the day that remains once the venue is cleared away and you’ve headed off on your honeymoon which is why it makes sense to allocate funds wisely. Now that you’ve got an idea of both style and budget, it’s time to sort through the many names you’ll have acquired by now!
A great place to start is with friends and family who’ve recently been married. Ask to take a look at their wedding photos and begin to form a view of those you like, those you’re not so keen and those magical images that just, well, blow you away! It’s also worth visiting some wedding fairs and doing a good job of searching online. Also, ask other suppliers for recommendations – they’re going to recommend genuine people who they’ve worked alongside many times before. Also, check reviews online – it’s easy enough to see if reviews on social media are from genuinely happy couples. An active social media account with up to date weddings also shows you that they are committed to their couples and delivering fabulous images.
Every wedding photographer will happily set aside time to meet you and show you their work, talk about your plans for the day and get a feel for how you could work together. Some things you may want to cover include:
- Always ask to see full galleries at these meetings – most people could walk away from a wedding with one or two fabulous shots but 200, 500, or even 1000 is a whole different story.
- Ask to see weddings at the time of year you plan on getting married. Someone with a website full of gorgeous summer fields and tipi weddings isn’t necessarily going to be comfortable shooting on a grey day in December in a darkened room. Others will relish the challenge and creativity that allows them. Find out what you get for your money.
- Look at galleries for your venue if they’ve shot there before. Do they all look similar or do they capture each wedding’s individual style?
- Do you get a fixed number of images or do you get all the finished images? Are these delivered online or via a USB stick?
- Does your photographer automatically included an album, and do you want an album? Increasingly, requests for albums are dwindling due to online access and if you’re never going to look at it, why have it bundled in?
- Do they offer engagement or pre-wed shoots (this is a great way to find your comfort zone in front of the camera, but again if you don’t want it, don’t have it!).
- What times will your photographer be with you? If you’ve seen the most awesome shots of a wedding party that you adore, but your photographer leaves as soon as the speeches are over, then those shots won’t be in your gallery.
- Does your photographer carry appropriate spare kit and have full insurance? Things break and go wrong, if they’ve got one camera then that’s your day lost. It’s happened, we’ve had cameras break on the day, but that’s fine, we simply swap the lens to another body and off you go.
- How many photographers will be with you on the day? Many offer a second person as standard, but are they as good? Do they offer the full skills of the main photographer or are they simply pointing and shooting under instruction? Do you actually need a second? (Most people sell this as necessary to capture the groom’s party getting ready. In our experience, it takes the guys less than 15 mins to pop on a shirt and waistcoat and every bride needs a little space during their preparations to gather their thoughts which allows for this!)
- Find out what’s involved when it comes to getting couples shots. Some spend 15-30 minutes on this, others a couple of hours. How does this work into the vision of your day?
- If you’re opting for a large number of group shots, how will this fit into timings (usually 3-4 minutes per group) and does your photographer work this into their plan?
- Are they interested in your day, or is it more about how they work? Do you want someone to just walk in and do their thing or do you want someone to work with you, listen to your plans and make sure the images captured look awesome?
Most importantly, however, you will spend between 6 and 16 hours of your wedding day with this person. They will be there for hair and makeup, the ceremony, the reception, the party and so much more. You simply have to feel comfortable in their company and happy to have them spend that day with you. Without that, you’ll never look truly happy and relaxed in your photos. Whatever happens, when it comes to your big day, let your photographer worry about the photos and simply enjoy marrying the love of your life, while wearing a fabulous smile on your special day!”
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