How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer – Getting the Best Photography to Suit Your Needs
Wedding Photography and its Mind-Boggling Options
Your photographer is the person who will be around you most during your day (except, perhaps, for your intended!). From the preparations until the first dance and beyond, they are there to capture all those special moments you may not have even been aware of.
You may only require time-limited coverage of the ceremony or a full day of 8 hours+. Whichever option you choose, your photographer is one of the first wedding vendors you will approach and most likely be the very last you will have contact with when you are presented with your beautiful photographs after your day.
For this reason alone, it is essential that you feel comfortable and relaxed having your chosen wedding photographer around. However, there are several critical points to consider when wondering, “Which wedding photographer should I choose?” Read on for some hints & tips on how to pick yours…
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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 photos?
Think about which 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?
Soft focus or a more high contrast, gritty look? I don’t do soft focus, but plenty of photographers do it well if that’s your thing.
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. Ensure that your photographer respects that and works with you.
Wedding Photography Investment – Notes on Budgeting
Budgeting is vital when planning a wedding. But what happens if you find your perfect photographer but discover they’re much over the fee 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 you’ll be thankful you spent in the future.
If you like a more expensive photographer, revisit your budget. You’ll likely have time between booking them and your wedding day to save a bit extra.
Don’t settle for second best – You can’t put a price on memories!
A Brief Word About What You are Paying For
Many people think that the wedding photographer attends the wedding, takes some (hopefully) nice pictures and supplies the JPEGS. If only that were true, good photographers would be 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.
A typical service that your wedding photographer provides:
- Preliminary emails/phone calls and meetings – answering couples’ many questions. See my Wedding Photography FAQs Page, where I answer many of these.
- Paperwork (preparing the contract, questionnaire, invoice etc.).
- Close liaison with the couple and prompt responses to their queries right up to the day 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 a week (I take 15000-2000 on a wedding day, and sorting and editing the very best takes time).
- Design of photo album (if applicable) – another few days plus the time it takes for other 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 are cleared, the band has packed up, and other vendors have moved on, your photographer will still be thinking about and working on editing the photographs of your day.
Research, Research, Research!
So you’ll likely 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. Or not… I live in Wales but cover weddings in London and the southeast too. If you love the work of a photographer who lives further afield, then speak to them.
At the start, your photography is an abstract concept. You can’t touch, smell, or see it like flowers, food or your dress. But browsing photographers’ websites should give you a good idea. The work you see on their site should be similar to what you’ll end up looking 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 further assurances are required.
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 a meeting isn’t possible, ask about arranging a SKYPE chat or phone call. As I work between London and Cardiff/South Wales, 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 this photographer being around throughout our wedding day?
Use Your Photographer
Once you’ve chosen your photographer, use them. They’re 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, from videographers to bands to venues to florists. Most photographers have built up a list of suppliers they are happy to recommend, so feel free to benefit from this.
I like to help the couple as much as possible. Therefore, 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, I’m delighted to do so.
10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer
- Will we get all the edited image files?
- High-res or low-res?
- Will we own them (what about copyright)?
- Have you worked at our venue before?
- How many (roughly) will be provided?
- Is travel included in the price – will there be any additional costs?
- Are you fully insured?
- What about if you are ill or can’t attend?
- When is the balance due?
- How do we book you?
Write down questions and ask them when you meet your potential wedding photographers. If a meeting isn’t possible, then ask on the phone. It’s so important to put your mind at rest.
I like to answer as many questions as possible on my site, so couples get a feel for who I am and what I can provide before contacting me. But many photographers have scant information on their site, so that you may have many questions for them.
Get Everything in Writing
If they quote a fee for particular services on the phone, ensure they send this through by email. Ask for an itemised list of what they include in your chosen package. 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. If something is important to you, do tell them. For example, sometimes a poignant moment is planned, such as placing a rose to remember a relative no longer around. Ensure your photographer knows about this so they can spend time capturing it.
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. Tell them if there is anything else you believe they need to know. 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 who resonates with you professionally and personally and whose work you 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 over 200 wedding days. I love to pass on my knowledge to help out brides and grooms during what can be a stressful time. I’ve laid out my website as a resource for engaged couples to look through for tips and ideas. I do hope you find it helpful.
If you like the sound of me and my photography style, 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 photograph weddings in Cardiff (& South Wales), London, and Bristol but will consider national weddings too.
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