How to choose a Wedding Photographer?
Your wedding photographer is the one important supplier that you will be in touch with before the day, at your side during the day and will be working tirelessly after the day to deliver your memories. Don’t underestimate how important it is to book the right person who will live up to your expectations, be a rock you can rely on throughout and produce the professional results you desire.
So how do you choose this mythical beast? Does a perfect wedding photographer actually exist? Here’s a few hints and tips to help you make a well informed decision and not get burned by the many out there that are ‘not so professional’ photographers.
Set a realistic budget.
· It’s said that average full day UK wedding photography cost is £1,500 - £2,000. It doesn’t have to cost that much but set your budget as high as you can afford. Remember, the photographer’s rate also includes the time spent editing, retouching and backing up your images as well as collating them into your online gallery and into albums (if required). This generally takes three to four the amount of time spent at your wedding to complete so don’t think of the photographer's fee as a ‘day rate’. - it is more like a whole weeks work.
· However expensive is not always good so carry on reading!
· This mostly happens online these days but also check with friends for other recommendations.
· Decide on a style you like – bright and colourful, candid, creative, light and airy, contemporary, etc. – and find photographers you like. Note that some of today’s styles will date easily so it’s often best not to go with a heavily edited style.
· Create a shortlist, check their availability and general pricing structure.
See their work
· You’ve checked the photographer’s website and social media by now and liked what they do. However ask to see a whole wedding gallery, not just a few of the best photos that they posted. See for yourself what all your wedding photos could look like.
· Ask for testimonials or even ask to be put in touch with previous clients and contact them directly for their thoughts. A good photographer will have no problem with this.
· Does the photographer know your venue and worked there (or somewhere similar) before? It’s not necessarily a deal breaker but an outdoor summer wedding is very very different to photograph than a winter church wedding with a reception in a dark and moody hotel.
· Your photographer should be experienced and competent with all light conditions at different locations, during the day and evening.
· Most venues will require your photographer to have their own Public Liability Insurance. Check this.
· Does the photographer have a back-up plan in case things go wrong?
Equipment and Technical know how
· You are trusting your photos to a professional who has knowledge, experience and the right equipment.
· Experience is a necessity. A good wedding photographer will have worked on many weddings and can help and guide you through yours. They will be confident in capturing the most important and impromptu moments throughout the day as well as staged shots using the best light and backgrounds.
· Good photography equipment doesn’t come cheap either and the minimum a wedding photographer should have in their bag is – two cameras, several interchangeable high quality lenses to capture you close up and at a distance, and two or three off camera flash lights. This is a bare minimum – most good photographers will bring much more to ensure they can capture moments in any light conditions. Uncle Bob with his off the shelf £500 camera and who hasn't been to a wedding for 20 years just won't cut it!
Arrange a meeting or video call
· You’ve narrowed it down, so now arrange a video call or a face to face meeting with your photographer to check he/she knows their stuff but also that you feel they are a good fit for you.
· They should have a confident and friendly personality but not be overbearing. Remember, it is your wedding and the photographer should fit into your plans – not vice versa.
· This is a good time to discuss the various packages and prices and make sure you know what you will receive afterwards too (how many images, costs of printed books or albums, how long to wait for your photos, etc.). Some photographers will take 6 months or more to send you your photos (not me by the way - 4 weeks maximum)!
Money and Contracts
· You’ve chosen the right person, now ensure the legalities are firmed up. The photographer should draw up a contract for you detailing what hours are agreed, what service you will receive (before the day, on the day and afterwards) and how much it will cost. Read it carefully and suggest amendments if necessary before signing.
· Check that the photographer you have booked is the one who will turn up on the day. Sounds silly but a few larger companies will take your money and just send anyone who is available that day. This risks huge disappointment and a lot of wasted money.
· Booking fee / deposit. All photographers will ask for this so that the date is fixed in stone in their diary. Until you pay a booking fee, the date could be taken by someone else!
· A good way to get to know your photographer and how they operate before the day is to have an engagement shoot. Often this will be done at a discounted rate – so ask! You will feel more comfortable once the big day arrives, knowing the photographer has the skills and reassured they have it covered.
Bear in mind that once the ceremony is over, the food eaten, the prosecco drunk, the after party wrapped up and the dress and flowers put away, the only thing you have left are your rings and the memories. The photographs will last a lifetime and are the memories you will cherish longest. You wouldn’t have your expensive car serviced by the apprentice or your knee operated on by a novice – so don’t put the biggest day of your life in the hands of an inexperienced photographer. A wedding is not the time to be cutting corners!
Compiled by Simon Goodwin, Platinum Photography UK.