Choosing a photographer is one of the most important wedding details. The day you’ve waited for will be over before you know it, and after the day the only thing you’ll have is the memories and your photographs to enjoy forever, not forgetting your lovely other half of course! Your photos will transport you back to each special moment of your wedding day so you can relive your happiness again and again. In the digital age we live in it often feels like there is a never-ending list of options. This means that selecting a photographer can be a bit overwhelming, so how can you choose? Hopefully I can help with some handy tips and useful things to think about before booking someone.
Whilst this isn’t number one on the to do list - in my view it is the number one thing to consider when you start searching for your wedding photographer - their photography style. If you have no clue what I’m referring to don’t be alarmed, I’ll explain.
Every wedding photographer will have their own style of shooting, be it Fine Art; Editorial; Traditional; Alternative; Reportage/Documentary; and Vintage, to name a few. Style is not just true in the look of the resulting photographs, but their approach to capturing them in the first place. Whilst many styles cross over to an extent it’s important to go with someones style and approach to the day you feel is totally you.
My style of shooting is, for the most part, documentary. I tell the story of your day, just as it was, shooting candidly and unobtrusively. I’m certainly influenced by other styles though. I love setting aside what I like to call ‘couple time’. This is essentially 10 - 20 minutes where the three of us take some time out from the party to get some gorgeous photos of the two of you. We go for a little walk, I’ll follow along and take some photographs as we go. I like to watch my couples natural interactions before I get involved, but I do like to keep chatting to you throughout. Towards the end I may direct you a bit more, asking questions and shooting your reactions, if you are happy with that, I always tailor my approach to the couple.
I approach couple shoots this way because I want to capture you, just as you are. I don’t like to force you into a pose that feels unnatural, I want to capture your wonderfully natural interactions. I‘m also happy to co-ordinate some group shots if you’d like some, again this is something I take a bit more of a informal approach to. You can find out more about my approach to this in the FAQ section. There’s loads of great articles on wedding blogs explaining in more detail about photography styles (with helpful pics) so Google away!
Do a little research. Online Blogs can be a great resource, find a blog that suits your style. Google specifics, if you want a quirky wedding photographer Google it and see what happens! Ask your friends for recommendations, but bare in mind their ‘loves’ may not be yours. Check out what other couples are saying about the photographer you are looking at. Pinterest can be a great way to find a photographer, though beware of getting bogged down in many different styles of photography on there! And of course REAL LIFE Magazines and wedding fairs that suit your style, there are some amazing unique ones out there now!
Once you’ve narrowed down your shortlist of photographers you can start thinking about the finer details. Like...
How much do you need? If you want prep - first dance, set the times. Are you getting ready at 8am and your first dance isn’t until 8pm, is it doable? Setting a timetable can really help here. Think about your timings and what you really want covered. You may think you need a second shooter in order to include getting ready coverage for both of you, but this isn’t always the case. With most of my weddings I’m able to spend some time with both the Bride(s)/Groom(s) as well depending on coverage booked and logistics.
Couples spend hugely varying amounts on their wedding photography - ultimately it’s up to you as to what is a priority within you budget, for some it is top of the list for others it isn’t. If you find your dream photographer but they are out of your budget why not think about compromising on how much coverage you'll have, most photographers offer shorter packages. You can also think about adding extra coverage closer to the time and things like albums afterwards rather than rush all at once. Another option is to ask them or any recommendations for similar photographers that will be more suited to you, I'm always more than happy to help couples where I can.
WHAT YOU WANT
An all singing, all dancing wedding photography package, something more tailor-made or somewhere in between? Don’t forget things like prints and albums can be purchased elsewhere if your photographer doesn’t offer it. I don’t offer prints and albums as a part of a package but it is an optional extra, you can even order the prints online through your private gallery but you by no means have any obligation to!
Now’s the time to get in touch with your chosen wedding photographers or that super special one you can’t get out of your head. I like to know as much about my couples as possible - not just about your wedding day but you two as a couple. How you met; how the proposal went down; your likes and dislikes and so on. And of course I want to know all about your wedding! Down to every tiny detail, not just the when and where’s. I want to know what sort of flowers you’re thinking of, have you booked any entertainment, decor, the food & drink, what you’ve chosen for your first dance song, are you even having one. I’m going to be telling your story so it’s crucial I nail it. The more I know the better, the whys behind the whats. At this point I like to Skype or at the very least have a phone call with you, you can find out more about my approach and style, and I can get a feel for your day and you can get a feel for me! If you'd prefer to meet in person I'm always happy to do this if you are able to travel to me.
BEFORE YOU BOOK
HURRAH! You’ve had an initial conversation, if you didn’t know it already you do now, you’ve found THE ONE. Not partner for life, you’ve already ticked that box thank you very much. The wedding photographer YOU LOVE. Before you hand over your deposit here’s a few things to check out, if you haven’t already of course:
Are they insured: No wedding photographer worth their salt wouldn’t be. I’m covered for public liability, professional indemnity and equipment. You just never know what can happen on the day so being prepared is crucial. Their portfolio: Have you seen decent body of their work? You need to check for consistency and ability to do the job in different conditions such as working with low light. If you’d like to see a full client album I’d be more than happy to oblige. Admittedly some more newbie photographers may not have a HUGE body to show, and I would never ever say don’t book someone just starting out, I’m a huge advocate for start ups (hey I was one once) but do make sure they know what they are doing, and are capable of covering it to a decent standard (like if your ceremony room is super dark for example, can their camera cut it)
Equipment: I’m not saying you need to ask down to every lens, but it is important to know they have the tools for the job and a back up in case their camera gets smashed, lost or eaten by a dog (the least likely scenario at a wedding, but you NEVER know). Do they back their images up, do they keep copies of your images after they have given them to you etc. You can find out about my approach to this in the FAQ section.
What if they are ill: It happens. Check they have something in place. This has never happened to me, but if it was I have network of photographers I would happily call upon and know you would be in safe hands. If all else fails I am a full member of The Guild of Photographers so have access to a wide range of other professionals.
Contract & Ts&C’s: First off, you need to have a signed contract with your photographer, it is there to protect both parties and is a must. You should also ensure you read through the terms & conditions, this is usually included in the contract. Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unsure of anything, as when you sign it you are agreeing to them as well.
So with the more business side things out the way, ultimately the most important thing to ascertain is whether you like them and you LOVE the work they make. On your wedding day you want to feel like you have gained a friend (that can take amazing pics), after all, out of all the suppliers you will be using they will be the ones you spend the most time with. If you can't meet in person before booking due to logistics, don't worry all photographers should be willing to Skype/Facetime or have a phone call to chat through your day!
I hope this little guide has helped you in how to choose your wedding photographer, if you have any further thoughts or queries please ask, I’d be happy to help.