How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer – Getting the Best Photography to Suit Your Needs
Wedding Photography and its Mind-Boggling Options…
Your photographer will be the person who will be around you most during your day (except, perhaps, for your intended!). From the preparations through until the first dance and beyond, they will be there to capture all those special moments that you may or may not have been aware were happening.
You may only require time limited coverage of the ceremony or a full day of 8 hours+. Whichever option you choose, your photographer will be one of the first wedding vendors you approach and most likely be the very last you will have contact with as you are presented with your photographs after the day.
For this reason alone, it is most important that you feel comfortable and relaxed to have your chosen wedding photographer around. There are several important points to consider when wondering, “Which wedding photographer should I choose?”…
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Photographic Style & Approach
Do you require natural shots of the day as it unfolds or a more traditional approach with an emphasis on posed shots?
Think about what wedding photography style appeals to you, then Google it for examples:
Black & white, colour or a mixture?
Bright colours or muted tones?
Vintage or contemporary?
Dreamy soft focus or a more high contrast, gritty look? Personally, I don’t do soft focus… But if you like it, there are plenty of photographers that do it and do it well…
I specialise in taking documentary shots of the wedding day, fly on the wall style. Interference is minimal. I don’t ask for unnatural poses. Couples that book me tend to prefer natural, reportage photographs that tell their pictorial story through observation. I hear many stories of photographers taking over the day – that is not my style at all…
Remember: Your wedding day is yours and this should be respected at all times.
Budgeting is key when planning a wedding. But what happens if you find your perfect photographer but discover they’re quite a lot over the fee that you’ve set aside for photography?
You don’t have to choose the best wedding photographer but good photography isn’t cheap. The photographs are the one thing from your day that you’ll take with you to look back on for years to come. They’re an investment in memories and should be well worth the extra money that in the future you’ll be thankful you spent.
If you like a more expensive photographer, revisit your budget. You’ll likely have a lot of time between booking them and your wedding day to save a bit extra. You can’t put a price on memories!
A Brief Word About What You are Actually Paying For:
Many people think that the wedding photographer attends the wedding, takes some (hopefully) nice pictures and supplies the JPEGS. If that were only true, good photographers would be a lot cheaper, their workload a lot less and they could take on many more wedding clients a year. Your photographer is the vendor who will invest most time (weeks sometimes) both before and after your day.
This is typically the service that your wedding photographer provides:
- Preliminary emails/phone calls and meeting.
- Paperwork (contract, questionnaire, invoice).
- Close liaison with the couple and prompt responses to their queries right up to the day itself with another meeting if necessary.
- Full photography coverage (full days are often 9-10 hours or more).
- Editing all photo files – usually takes up to 1 week (I take 15-1800 on a full wedding day and sorting and editing the very best takes time).
- Design of photo album (if applicable) – another few days plus time it takes for further drafts.
- Supply of all media – (files, album printing and delivery).
- Debrief – to check the couple are happy with their photos and the service received.
Long after the reception tables have been cleared, the band has packed up and other vendors have moved on, you photographer will still be thinking about and working on the photographs of your day.
Research, Research, Research!
So you’ll be likely to spend a fair whack on the photography for your wedding – be sure to get it right when choosing your wedding photographer. Use the WWW and search keywords that reflect the style that you’re looking for. At this stage, the photographers’ location isn’t important. But do get an idea of the different options and styles that appeal to you most. Only then can you start to narrow down the various photographers in your area.
At the start, your photography is an abstract concept. You can’t touch it, smell it or even see it like the flowers, food or your dress. But browsing photographers’ websites should give you a good idea. The work that you see on their site should be similar to what you’ll end up with to look back on for years to come.
Read reviews of how other couples have found the service and results. Many of my past clients are happy to be contacted if you require further assurances.
Short-list a few that resonate well with you and arrange to meet them. Personality and photographic flair are equally important so ultimately choose who you both like the work of and feel you can work with. If meeting isn’t possible then ask about arranging a SKYPE chat or phone call. I work between London and Cardiff/South Wales, so meeting up somewhere mutually convenient in either area shouldn’t be a problem.
When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer Ask Yourself:
Do I like the photographic style?
Can I see myself in similar styled photos?
Would I feel comfortable with the photographer being around throughout our wedding day?
Use Your Photographer
Once you’ve chosen them, use them. They’ll be experienced in all aspects of the wedding day so ask questions, listen to their suggestions and value their opinion.
Remember they are the professional…
Ask them for recommendations if you need them. I have worked with many wedding vendors over the years from videographers to bands to venues to florists. Most photographers have built up a list of suppliers that they are happy to recommend so do feel free to benefit from this.
I like to help the couple as much as possible. I encourage them to contact me whenever they have the slightest query or concern about anything wedding photography related or not. Wedding days are complex and if I can help take off the pressure in any way at all, then I’m very happy to do so.
Know What You are Getting
Will you get all the edited image files? High-res or low-res? Will you own them (what about copyright)? How many (roughly) will be provided? Write down questions and ask them when you meet your potential wedding photographers. If meeting isn’t possible then ask on the phone.
Get it in writing: If they quote a fee for particular services on the phone, ensure they send this through by email as well, then there can be no dispute further down the line…
Communication and Information
Know what you want and ensure that your photographer is on the same page. Make sure they know where to be and when. Provide an itinerary and list of required shots. I give my clients a questionnaire to fill in to make things easier. If there is anything else you believe they need to know, tell them. Don’t leave anything to chance…
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Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
This seems like obvious advice. Sometimes there is a situation where you love the photographs, but have a less than pleasing feeling about the photographer. In this case, go with your gut and move on. You will find someone that resonates with you both professionally and personally and whose work you just adore. So save yourself potential problems later on and walk away if you’re not 100% happy…
If You Like My Wedding Photography Style, What Happens Next?
I like to help out wherever I can and have a wealth of experience having documented nearly 200 wedding days. I love to pass on my knowledge to help out brides and grooms during what can be a stressful time.
So if you like the sound of me and my style of photography, pick up the phone or drop me a line – contact details below… I’m always more than happy to chat through your options and give you advice and ideas if needed. I primarily cover London and Cardiff but will consider national weddings too.
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