20 Jan How To Choose Your Wedding Photographer
Choose a wedding photographer that’s a perfect fit for you
Planning a wedding is an exciting time, but it’s often the first time, and probably the only time, that you’ll be planning an event on this scale. There are so many things to organise that it can be stressful and finding the right photographer for your wedding is one of the biggest decisions after choosing your venue. So how do you choose a wedding photographer when you may never have used a professional photographer before? Well hopefully this guide can help you get find your perfect wedding photographer.
I am a wedding photographer based in Hertfordshire and I shoot amazing weddings in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and London. If you think I’m the right photographer for you then I’d love to hear from you.
This is the obvious starting point for most people getting married, not just for choosing a wedding photographer, but in the whole planning of the day. There are very few couples who have unlimited budget so it’s worth taking time to allocate a percentage of your total budget to wedding photography that you’re comfortable with. What that percentage is, is up to you and based on what you can afford and how important the photographs are to you. I would say though, don’t be afraid to stretch the budget if you’ve found a photographer whose photos you love.
Wedding photographers prices can range hugely, and it’s often a good indicator of the quality of the photography and service that you will receive, but not always. Most wedding photographers offer either set packages or a la carte pricing where you build your own packages. I offer both, but the bundled package prices are discounted from the bespoke packages.
Think you’ve found the right photographer but can’t stretch the budget. Don’t strike them off the list straight away. For out of season or midweek weddings we’re often likely to be more flexible, so do ask, but you’re more likely to get an offer if you’re up front about your budget and not getting married on a Saturday in June.
For me, this is one of the most important considerations when choosing your wedding photographer. If you don’t like the style of photography then it’s probably best to discount them at the start. It’s really important to check their portfolio, and if possible meet face to face and see sample albums and if possible a full set of images from a recent wedding. I’m happy to provide this to you but please make an appointment to see a full wedding as I have to respect my clients’ privacy so don’t make this freely available on my website.
So where to start…well I’ve seen people list many different styles, for me there are really only two: natural, sometimes referred to as documentary, where the photographer captures the day without interference or directing anything. The other style is where the images are set up and the photographer will direct you on how to stand, which way to look and where to put your hands.
Most photographers will fit somewhere in between these two extremes. My style is to be very much more on the natural end of the scale with a few posed images from a short session with the bride and groom and a small selection of family group photos. Why do I shoot this way? Well for me, and this is only a personal view, a wedding shouldn’t be about a photographer turning the day into a photoshoot. We’ve all been to weddings where there are endless groups and then the bride and groom disappear for a couple of hours taking photos. I think it must be tedious for all those involved, and the bride and groom miss out an a big chunk of the day that they spent months and a considerable amount of money on. I’d rather tell a much more authentic story of the day through my pictures. I take some posed images too, but usually for only around 20 minutes. These are the images couples will often choose to go on the wall and I quite enjoy these mini-shoots too. It also gives the couple a little time to themselves for the first time in the day to talk about the wedding.
As well as the shooting style, the processing style can vary massively between photographers. Some go for a heavily processed look, some go for a vintage look, while others go for a cleaner more classic look. Personally I usually edit images without filters or fads that will look dated in a few years time. I make some subtle contrast and colour boosts with a few other tweaks along the way to make them ‘sparkle’ without it being obvious that they’ve been heavily processed.
After setting your budget and deciding on the type of photography you want for your wedding the next logical question to ask is what you get for your money. You’re not just paying for the photographer to turn up on the day, go home and put the images on a USB. There are some wedding photographers out there that do this, without wishing to be critical, they’re usually not very good and will very likely be at the bargain basement end of the scale with a poor end product.
Any good photographer will spend a considerable amount of time editing the photos after the day, and will probably spend more time processing them than taking them. This process lifts them from being good photos to great wedding photos that really makes them ‘pop’. Part of the processing will also involve a cull, removing images that are duplicates, or where people are blinking or not looking their best. It will get the final delivered amount down to a manageable level too so you only receive the best from the day. I overshoot when I’m photographing a wedding to ensure that you only get the best of the best.
As well as the shooting and editing time, you also need to consider what end products the photographer is supplying. Most photographers now include the digital images so you can make your own prints. I provide a personalised USB with the high resolution images with all my packages, but I would really encourage you to consider an album or framed printed products as well. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, we’ve all done it, we put the photos on the computer, stick the USB in a drawer and then never look at them again. Wall art or an album will always be there to look at and in 20 years time who knows what technology will be like, the digital images may not even be compatible with computers in the future. If looked after well, an album will still be there in 100 years time in perfect condition. It’s something that future generations can look back and marvel at the ridiculous clothes and hairstyles we all had. The 2nd reason is that professional photographers have access to a range of pro-labs providing top quality printed products that just aren’t available to consumers. We also have experience of designing albums and will be able to create a coherent design to really show the images at their best.
As well as the end product professional wedding photographers have all the usual business costs to take care of such as equipment (usually running to many thousands of pounds), insurance, marketing, travel, running a website, training and software. Plus, like everyone else, we need to make a living out of our work. I have two hungry cats to feed!
Experience & Professionalism
Another important consideration is the level of experience a wedding photographer has. You don’t want a photographer who isn’t 100% familiar with his kit or how a wedding day unfolds. A wedding can be a fast moving and sometimes stressful event but an experienced photographer will be able to deal with all of that calmly while still getting great shots.
With experience comes (hopefully!) happy past clients and your photographer should be able to show you some past testimonials. A good set of reviews from happy couples should give you reassurance that they are experienced and can cope with the pressures of a wedding day time after time.
Being a professional wedding photographer also means that they have properly prepared for the wedding day. You should ask them if they carry back up equipment so they can carry on working in the event of kit failure. I use professional quality cameras and lenses and in 8 years of photographing weddings I haven’t had a single failure, but I still carry a variety of spare lenses and bring a minimum of three cameras to every wedding.
Looking after your images is vitally important too. I use cameras that record to multiple memory cards. That means if one fails I’ve still got them saved on another card. When I get back I have a comprehensive backup procedure that stores your images in three separate locations, including an off site storage location.
While personality won’t really make a difference to the quality of your wedding photos, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your photographer on your wedding day. You want to make sure you get on well and get a good feeling about them. That’s why I really like to meet couples before they book me and find out a little more about them and their plans for the wedding. It’s also why I offer free consultations. When you meet your wedding photographer for the first time make sure you have lots of questions. I’ve tried to answer the most common ones in my FAQ page but I’d be happy to answer any others you have.
At the end of the day it really comes down to who you feel is right for you and your wedding. Check out their website, social media pages, look at their blog, read reviews and if you think they’re a great fit then get in touch and arrange a time to meet up.
If you’ve found these tips helpful and would like to check my availability, ask me some questions and find out more about how I like to photograph weddings then just fill in the form below or give me a call on 01442 506 331. I look forward to hearing from you.