In my (potentially slightly biased) opinion, wedding photography is one of the most important services on the day to make sure that you get it right. Once the cake has gone, the dress is stained, the disco is a distant memory and the wedding cards have been read.. your wedding photographs are one of the few memories that will remind you of your day for the rest of your life.
There are so many wedding photographers all fighting for your work, the big question is what should you research to make sure they are the correct photographer for you?
Below I am going to write what I believe are the most important things you should find from any photographer that you are considering in hiring for your big day. Also, tips on what to look out for to make sure the photographer is the right fit for you. So here is my top tips on choosing the right wedding photographer for your big day…
The photographers style and portfolio of work is a really important place to start. There are many ranges in styles such as documentary, fine art, traditional, timeless, you need to work out which of these you want. Search on line through photographers portfolios, and there are also plenty of useful social media websites such as Instagram and Pinterest too. Make a short list of the photographers work that you like, and now you can start your research into these.
One of the most important traits for a photographer to have, is a good personality which suits you and your wedding day. The photographer is going to be spending a lot of time with you leading up to the day, on the day itself and even after the day; so it is a must that you like them. Get in contact with them, possibly via a phone call if you can to be able to assess if they are some one you can work with. Just think, this person needs to make you feel relaxed and comfortable, otherwise in all your photos they will look unnatural and too posed. Arrange a consultation to meet them… is it just a hard sale and awkward, or do you feel relaxed and the conversation is flowing fine?
Lots of photographers on-line portfolio are sometimes made up of only 10-15 images. Although unless the photographer is cheating these will be their work, however they might have photographed 500 weddings to get those 10-15 good shots. Another cheeky thing some photographers do are share images from bridal shoots (not a real wedding day and with professional paid models). It is unlikely shots like these can be reproduced on a real wedding, as the days fly by in the blink of an eye, some of these shots can take a long time to set up. Ask to see full weddings, so that you can see the level of work they are consistently shooting throughout the 10-16 hour day. This will give you a much better idea of the images you are likely to get provided back to you.
Social media has connected people at the click of the button from around the country. Ask friends and on-line associates for recommendations. Search your wedding venues Facebook or Twitter page and see if they have a photographers images shared on their page. There are also plenty of wedding groups within Facebook. Find a local group and ask for recommendations in there!
When you have a photographer/s in mind, ask them if they have real printed albums for you to see. Not only will this allow you to see their range in wedding products, it will also make viewing their images so much easier than looking at your mobile or laptop screen. You will really be able to see the quality of the work! Do those colours pop and burst off of the page?
Make sure you arrange a meeting / consultation with any photographer you are considering in using. Any good photographer will actually suggest a pre meeting, as this will allow you to see if you both “match”. Sometimes, it may be that even if you like their work, you can just get that gut feeling that they are not “the one”. This is exactly what these meetings are for, as sometimes this cannot be decided over an email.
Start searching early to avoid disappointment
Professional photographers can sometimes get booked very early. I for example often take bookings for weddings as much as 3 to 4 years in advance. Do not leave searching for the right photographer too late. The last thing you want to do is spend hours finding the right one, only to contact them and find that they are already fully booked.
Part time vs full time
Find out if it’s their full time or part time career. A full time photographer makes their living photographing weddings, which means that we can presume that they have vast experience in the wedding photography industry. Photographers can often act as wedding planners/ organisers, helping you with timings and details of your day. A full time wedding photographer would have the knowledge to be able to help. Part time photographers (or as we call them in the industry “Weekend Warriors”) may not quite have the experience that the full time pros do. If they are working Monday – Friday it can also lead to slow communication as during the week they are busy with their other job.
Back up equipment
An important question to ask a photographer you are considering is if they have spare back up equipment. What’s going to happen if their camera should fail on your wedding day? I have taught start up wedding photographers in the past, and cringed when they have told me that they take just a single camera and lens to someone’s wedding day. I certainly would not want to be having that conversation with the bride and groom when the camera failed just as she entered the ceremony room!
Back ups of photos
Once your wedding has been photographed, what is their back up plan for the photographs themselves? Are they safe should they have a computer failure. Any good professional should be using external hard drives as well as an on line cloud back up (this protects the images should their office burn down along with their computers and hard drives).
Any professional photographer should also carry insurance. Both professional indemnity and public liability to be precise. Some venues may even actually request for the insurance details from your suppliers, so it’s vital that they have it!
Turn around time
Find out what sort of turn around times your photographer is working towards. Whilst you do not want to rush their edit, it is also important to be kept in the loop when you are likely to receive your images back. I aim for around a 14 day turn around time, however I have heard other photographers keeping clients waiting for up to 6-8 months to see their wedding images!
Confirm your shooter
Make sure you confirm who is going to be photographing your wedding. I know this sounds like an obvious thing, if you are hiring Bob’s wedding photography, then surely Bob is photographing your day? However this may not be the case. Lot’s of studios have photographers that work along side them photographing weddings on their behalf. Not that their is anything wrong with this, just make sure you are aware exactly who you are getting, that you are happy with their work, and your personalities are a good match.
Compare packages (cheap isn’t always best)
There is a reason I have mentioned prices and packages towards the end of the post. Just like everything in life, cheapest certainly isn’t the best. Now I am not denying that it is important to compare what is included in each photographers package, as one might offer better value than the other, however their price will also be based on experience, their photography level, their equipment and their travel to your wedding day. According to www.planyourperfectwedding.com the average cost of a wedding photographer at the time of me writing this blog is £1,500.
It is important to find out where you stand with regards to your use of the photographs once the wedding has been completed. Will the images be watermarked? Will the images be a low resolution proof copy? The photographers package may seem cheaper, but it could be because you are only actually paying for proof images, and should you wish to have high resolution images you have to pay an additional fee. Also, are you limited to a certain number of files? These are all vital questions to ask!
Recommendations/Word of mouth
Listen to recommendations from friends and family. They have taken the risk by hiring a photographer before you, and if they were happy with the service and the photographs they received, that’s a big step forward. If you have a photographer in mind, head over to social media and see if any of your on line friends have seen the photographer in question in action at a wedding. What did they think? Were they friendly? More importantly, how did the photos look?
Experience? How many weddings?
Each wedding can throw different obstacles at a wedding photographer. From bad weather to lack of time. A professional wedding photographer with good experience will be able to deal with these things in a blink of an eye without even breaking into a sweat. This is what you want for your wedding day, to know that everything is going to go smoothly for you and you do not have to worry about a thing.
If you find a photographer with constant sales and discounts, ask yourself is this something that should be ringing alarm bells? Why do they need to constantly offer “Free this” / 25% off / Half price. If they are so desperate for work, maybe there is a reason?
Family / Friend – Uncle Bob
In my opinion I would not advise you to consider hiring anyone but a professional photographer for your wedding day. Yes, Uncle Bob might have a nice camera and has done a photography course at the local college, however does he really have the experience. He will need to work in all sorts of different lighting environments throughout the day, has he got the thousands of pounds worth of equipment to capture the different moments of the day, does he have the people skills to control your 100+ wedding guests without getting on their nerves and coming across like a sergeant major! Also I am sure you want your Uncle Bob to enjoy your wedding day and not be slaving away behind a camera all day. Lastly, what if he does mess it up? How awkward is that going to make your relationship with him?
I hope the above post has helped you a little to make the right decision for your wedding photographer. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below or contact me using one of the following methods. firstname.lastname@example.org or 07852 457661