How to choose a Wedding Photographer
How to choose a Wedding Photographer
1) Decide on the style of photography you want.
There are many different styles to choose from. Don’t be too quick to dive in with what are the “latest trends” in terms of either styling or photographing your wedding. Think carefully on how you will look back on your images in years to come. Trust me, I lived through the 80s!
2) Decide a budget.
Traditionally wedding magazines and online guides suggest that between 10-15% of your total wedding budget is put aside for a photographer. However, if you have a very large or a very small budget this advice is ultimately meaningless. As with most things in life you generally get what you pay for although there are exceptions, there are great photographers charging very little and poor photographers who charge a fortune.
Finding great photographers who are also cheap is very much like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, there are regularly horror stories in the press about cheap photographers. As a rough guide for an experienced professional, providing all day coverage, with a good quality album and a few extras you can expect to pay in total between £1000 and £1500. This may seem a lot but if you are receiving a quality album and almost a full week’s work from your photographer then it’s a lot more reasonable than you might initially think. If you really like a particular photographer and their all day packages are out of your budget you might want to think about…..
3) Decide on what coverage you want.
Linked with how much you want to spend is how much time you want your photographer to attend for. Most couples now want all day coverage from bridal preparations through to first dance. However, if you only want coverage of just the ceremony and your couples shots, it’s your choice. Generally the more time you want your photographer to spend with you the more it will cost but remember that it’s not just the time on the day that you are paying for it’s all the preparation and editing afterwards so reducing your coverage will not necessarily mean you see the costs reduce proportionally More time = more photos.. It can though, be a useful compromise if your budget is tight but you are looking to get better quality from your photos.
4) Think about the products you want.
There is a huge range available so it’s worth spending some time thinking about what you would like. The most popular product is of course the Wedding Album and there is massive choice, from traditional matted albums, through photographic printed story book albums to the cheaper press printed photo books. There are also framed prints, canvas wall prints, collages, the list is practically endless. And, of course, you can also choose to have your photos delivered digitally. Again, it can help ease the pressure on a budget to do so. My advice is always to have something printed, even if it is a set of prints. Think about what you would like and talk to your photographer beforehand if they need to do something different for you. If you ask, we usually try our very best to source something that works for you.
5) Look for a Professional
Wedding Photography is much more than just pushing a button on a camera. A good wedding photographer is proficient at many genres of photography including portraits, landscapes, product shots (e.g. flowers, dress, perfume) and documentary photography as well as having the skills and personality to organise large groups of people. It’s not just the camera and interpersonal skills that make a professional wedding photographer worth their weight in gold, it’s all the background knowledge and support they can offer. As a professional wedding photographer I attend more weddings in a single year than most people will over their entire lives and can bring my knowledge of weddings to help your day run smoothly. I know what should be happening, I know what comes next and how to prepare for it. A friend is unlikely to come armed with either the knowledge or equipment I have to hand. It is honestly not worth risking a friendship if you don’t like what they produce, it’s a heap of pressure you are handing over!
Ok, so you have read part one and have a shortlist who tick all the required boxes, that’s great! What happens next though?
How to select your Wedding Photographer from your shortlist
1) Look at the Photographers Work
You will only really find out how good the photographer is when you see you your wedding photographs after the wedding. The good news is you can maximise your chances of finding a good photographer by learning how to appraise photographers’ work:
a) In their early career some choose to pay to go on Portfolio Building days or Wedding Training Courses, where a trainer sets up and poses a model for a series of images that every photographer who has paid to attend will take the same shot. More established photographers might do “styled shoots”
The good news is you can usually spot these because certain images stand out to be different from the rest of the portfolio. However, the best way to find this out is to ask the photographer which photographs in their portfolio are from training courses or styled shoots.
b) Look at a whole wedding of images By looking at a whole wedding of images, you can see the standard of work the photographer produces and see whether that meets what you want for your wedding memories. There should be bridal prep through to first dance images for you to look at.
If possible look at more than one. A volume of work will always give you a better idea of the consistency of the photographer.
c) Don’t get caught up in looking at dresses and flowers! – I often hear comments as Brides look through my sample albums about liking a wedding dress or the flowers, or the table decorations. Look instead at the quality of the product you might be buying. How is that sample album holding up? Are the pages nice and rigid? How are the images laid out in the album? Is it all a bit haphazard or does it tell the story of the day well? It should move you through the day seamlessly.
d) Are people looking at the camera? – If they aren’t then you could be looking at images taken by a photographer at a wedding they weren’t the main photographer at.
2) Make sure there is a Contract.
A contract is there to protect both the couple and the photographer so if the photographer does not have a contract run away fast! However, even if the photographer does have a contract take the time to read it and if you don’t understand it or don’t like part of it explain your concerns to the photographer, the good ones will listen to you and act accordingly. It is, after all an agreement.
3) Find out what backups a photographer has in place
Yes, it is our job to take care of all that but there is nothing wrong in asking the questions. Is your photographer insured? Do they have more than one camera? It might seem like a silly question but if something happens and they don’t have backup equipment then you might be relying on that insurance I mentioned. Just make two tick boxes to make sure you check.
Article Provided by Alison Bailey Photography