TOP TIPS FOR CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
You said yes, you’ve booked the venue and are now starting to think of the next step in planning your wedding day. One of the first will hopefully be your wedding photography and choosing the right photographer to ensure those once in a lifetime memories are captured and preserved forever.
Your wedding photographs and album will be one of the few tangible items you’ll have left to remind you of your wedding day so choosing the right wedding photographer to capture those details and brief moments in time is an important and big step in the planning process.
Did you know that one of our stunning storybook wedding albums with 120 photographs would account for freezing less than 1 second of real time from your full wedding day. 1 second of brief expressions, glances, love and memories captured in what could easily be 12 hours.
Top Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
- Style – What style of wedding photographs would you like
- Portfolio – View their Portfolio and check fro consistency
- Coverage – How long would you like the photographer to be at your wedding
- Recommendations – Look for recommendations from venues, friends and family.
- Experience – It may come at a cost but an experienced wedding photographer will ensure you have the highest quality photos regardless.
- Wedding Albums – A wedding album will be treasured for years to come, don’t overlook the value of a quality wedding album as part of your package
- Personality – Ensuring you get on with your wedding photographer is crucial to creating amazing photos.
- Venue Knowledge – If the photographer doesn’t know your venue well will they research and visit before your wedding day?
- Budget and Cost – Ensure you plan ahead and know the costs
- Drones – A new opportunity for wedding photographers to increase their creativity
- Engagement Shoots – Does the photographer offer Engagement shoots? The ideal opportunity to become comfortable in front of the camera, get to know your photographer and practise those poses!
Read on for more details and my guide to help you choose the right wedding photographer…..
Does their style equal your style?
What style of wedding photos have you enjoyed looking at over the past weeks of wedding planning? You may not have realised there was a style to the images but as you delve deeper into wedding photography you’ll come across words such as Traditional, Contemporary Documentary and Reportage.
- Documentary and Reportage – Wedding photographers labelling their style as documentary or reportage will only offer the minimum number of posed and formal images, minimal, if any group photographs and will usually only offer minimal guidance and direction for posing with just the two of you instead concentrating on capturing the moments as they happen, photographing from the shadows to catch key moments.
- Traditional – As the name suggests, a wedding photographer calling themselves traditional, or classic will usually have a more formal approach to their wedding photographs and work more from lists and routines running through what can be a well rehearsed routine of poses. The classic style is timeless and often perceived as being a little more stuffy and contrived.
- Contemporary – Contemporary wedding photography is a little more dynamic and a mix of the two styles above with a little extra skill in dynamic and dramatic lighting and editing. Switching seamlessly from reportage and documentary wedding photography to a more refined and posed look to deliver the best of both, the key moments as they happen and then the photographs worthy of hanging on your wall or looking amazing as a double page spread in your wedding album.
- Editing – I take great pride in creating a lot of my images and dramatic looks in the camera through knowledge of lighting and the technical aspects of photography. (I actually teach this on a regular basis in my training courses and workshops) but I still edit the photographs to create my distinctive look. As well as style of photography, look at the editing style, look at consistency of editing and how these would sit together in a wedding album.
What’s My style? I’d label my style as being contemporary, mixing the documentary and classic look with my distinct lighting and editing style. Working with a second shooter we are able to deliver even more of the documentary images and include multiple angles for all the key moments.
View their Portfolio
By now you will probably have read that you need to ask to see at least one full wedding album, ideally more. A website will show you the highlights, the signature shots that demonstrate their style and competency in creating such images, but these only tell part of the story of the wedding day. A wedding album will tell the whole story and demonstrate how the wedding photographer has managed to tell a story through stunning photos, a consistent level of quality and each photograph from the candid to the posed look exceptional.
A blog on a website like this one will usually include a number of photographs from the whole day and let you see the variety of images and creativity of the photographer, the album will usually feature more photographs and also let you see up close the quality of not only the photographs but also the book itself.
Coverage - all day, part day or just a few hours?
You wedding day will be over so quickly, from waking up to finally going to sleep in the early hours the day will fly by as a blur. Photographs throughout the day will help trigger those memories and will tell the story of the whole day.
Preparation photos – This may seem like your worse nightmare but it’s such an important and fun part of the day it’s got to be included in your photography coverage. I usually try and wait to start photographing close ups only when make up is complete, before this I concentrate on the details and the wider scene setting photographs. It may also be possible to photograph the two of you getting ready, working at either multiple locations or with a second photographer to capture the action and images in both locations.
Ceremony and Drinks reception – This is the bare bones of coverage and will be included in all wedding photographers packages but offers little opportunity for real story telling and documenting your day.
Speeches – Seeing the whole picture and not just concentrating on the speaker, speeches are a superb opportunity to create candid and natural photographs as you and your wedding guests enjoy the speeches. These can often fill between 4 and 6 pages in your wedding album and a key part of the day not to be missed.
First Dance and evening party – The day doesn’t end when the toasts are finished, extending coverage into the evening will allow several more opportunities to create amazing wedding photographs, there’s a chance between the end of the meal and first dance you’ll have the opportunity for some relaxed couple photographs, the pressure is off and it’s a great opportunity to capture further relaxed photographs of you and your wedding guests before you take to the dance floor.
Twilight and evening photographs – I love photographing after dark, creating signature wedding photographs at night allows me to become even more creative, often we’ll use sparklers, champagne and even smoke bombs. If you have fireworks these can be included too. Twilight photographs are the perfect end to your wedding album and story of your day.
Recommendations and Word of Mouth
Always a good place to start. Your wedding venue will have a list of recommended suppliers they have built up a working relationship with over time and who they trust to work at a high standard. As a wedding photographer in a saturated market, being on a recommended supplier list is a privileged position and I’m fortunate to be recommended by some of the regions most exclusive wedding venues.
Being a recommended supplier means you have shown yourself to be trustworthy, professional and most importantly of course, the ability to create amazing wedding photos. I would suggest having a look at, but not limiting your choice to, the wedding venue’s recommended supplier list first.
You may have a friend or a sibling that has recently married and choosing their photographer maybe a safe and easy option, you’ve seen the quality of work and seen them at work so it may seem an obvious choice? It is, but again don’t be limiting your choice and options, look around and choose the photographer that’s right for you.
Most photographers will also have a review or testimonial section on their website, I pride myself on my level of service and the end product, both the photographs and the wedding albums. My reviews and testimonials reflect this. As should your chosen photographers.
Your wedding day is a once in a lifetime day, a series of brief moments and opportunities that can’t be repeated. Choosing an experienced wedding photographer will help ensure these crucial moments are not missed and regardless of the the situations, weather, lighting, locations your wedding photographer will be able to overcome the issues and deliver album worthy images in any situation.
There are many, many unknowns about weddings. Church ceremonies are very different to civil ceremonies, and different Churches have very different rules. Experience of the different scenarios and the ability to think on your feet when you’re told you can’t use a flash is the difference between having photos or not.
Are they going to stay calm through the pressure of capturing your big day? If something goes wrong, the timings slip or the weather takes a turn for the worse, will they have the coping mechanisms and experience to deal with it, Will they have the flexibility to change and not panic? Will they be assertive enough to get the attention of your guests and manoeuvre them in position without taking forever and annoying them? Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and you definitely don’t want to waste time worrying about your photographer.
Albums and Products
A well made wedding album is a family heirloom, something to look at and share with future generations. On this page I’ve talked about memories and how precious they are, I’ve been married for over 15 years and our wedding album brings back so many memories, not just how we looked and what we were wearing but also of family members and friends and sadly people no longer with us. Had we have had the option of just digital files would we still have those memories, would we have a quality wedding album to look back upon? Probably not.
Wedding Photograph Albums vary in quality. We take pride in using what is probably the highest quality album producer in the world. The albums are hand finished and quality checked before leaving the production process and shipped to the UK from northern Italy. They even come with a genuine lifetime guarantee for the binding process.
Your wedding photographer will spend more time with you on your wedding day than anyone else.You also need someone who loves what they do, someone who will expand on your ideas to make them truly unique. You don’t have to meet up, you should be able to garner enthusiasm over the phone by zoom and even an email should make you feel like you’re the only person in the world that the photographer is interested in right now.
Also think of your wedding guests and the experience they’ll have on the day, will the photographer be friendly, approachable and able to get the best from the guests and ultimately your wedding photographs, creating more relaxed smiles rather than forced and staid images.
Knowledge of your wedding venue
This isn’t, and don’t let it be, a deal breaker. Having extensive knowledge of a wedding venue is a great and certainly can make it a little easier to pan for all eventualities but at the same time I love working at new venues. I am out of my comfort zone but this will make me more creative, make me work harder and challenge myself to create amazing wedding photographs that are much better than the examples that I found during my research into the new venue.
On average each year I photograph weddings at between 4 and 10 new wedding venues, some of these quickly go on to become favourites and they are often used in the display albums I have here in my office for couples to view.
If I am booked for a venue which is new to me I usually try and include a complimentary pre-wedding shoot so we can explore the venue together.
One or Two Photographers?
You may not enjoy having your photograph taken so the idea of two photographers could be the stuff of nightmares, however think of the possibilities having a second photographer can bring.
Extra coverage and extra photos aside, the second photographer will be able to work in different locations, capture events and moments you’d didn’t even see and of course offer an alternative angle to those key moments. Where typically the main photographer will be near the front for the ceremony and be able to photograph you walking down the aisle, the second photographer located near the back will catch the first look backwards and so together create photographs of this first looks of you both.
Adding a second photographer will increase the cost of the package but will add more value than the cost alone as those extra images, extra angles and brief moments captured will live on forever. – That sounds really cheesy but it’s so, so true.
Insurance and the other boring stuff
Sometimes during the initial meeting I’ll be asked ” What happens if you’re ill?” It’s not something I’ve had to worry about but just incase I always have a back up plan, any self respecting wedding photographer will have the same and a number of professional they can call on should the worse case scenario happen.
Your wedding photographer should also have back up cameras, lenses and lighting, it’s not uncommon for cameras to fail or be damaged on the day and a photographer working with just one camera (or even two) is just asking for trouble. Back ups for the back up are key to ensuring you get the full coverage you have booked and the photographer isn’t distracted by worries about their kit breaking down.
An established professional photographer will also have insurance, both liability and indemnity, if they have a second photographer working with them they should even have employer liability insurance too, don’t be afraid to ask and often your wedding venue may even ask for a copies of the photographers public liability insurance and if they intend on using. drone a copy of their drone insurance maybe asked for.
Budget and Cost
Although the photographs and memories will be priceless, almost everyone has a budget and there’s no point falling in love with your dream photographer if you can’t afford them or manoeuvre your budget to accommodate their prices.
Experience and quality does come at a cost and whilst you will easily find a photographer for £500 offering the world and more the quality of work, products and experience will almost certainly be lacking. There’s a reason why I’ve left budget so far down the tips, it’s because although yes it’s important, you need to look beyond the actual price and focus on the photographer, their style, their experience, editing, and quality of both photographs and albums.
The old adage is true…You get what you pay for.
When choosing your photographer look for all inclusive pricing and check for extras such as album design, additional photos in the album, travel expenses and VAT.
Drones have become the latest must have tool for wedding photographers and open up a whole new level of creativity and opportunities for new angles and photographs that otherwise wouldn’t have been feasible. Professional drones now carry high quality cameras and we regularly use drone photographs as double page spreads in our wedding albums.
There are some legislations in operating a [professional drone and insurance cover is a must, check these details and also remember that in adverse weather, strong winds and rain, drones can’t operate safely.
Nervous in front of the camera or perhaps you’d just like a practise run through before your wedding day, a pre-wedding or engagement shoot is a great way to get to know your wedding photographer, build confidence and practice those poses and smiles. It can also be a great way of exploring your wedding venue with the photographer, looking for your favourite locations and creating a must have location shot list for the day.
Check if the photographer offers a pre-wedding shoot and the cost for this with what is included. If it’s new wedding venue for the photographer they may even offer this as part of their package for you, I do just this with all my new wedding venues, a great way to explore a new location.