How to find your perfect wedding photographer
The one question I hear more and more every day by couples who are making plans for their wedding day……How do I find my perfect wedding photographer.
The answer can depend on the couple asking, as each couple will have a different view on which factor is the most important.
Theres so many, how do I know who to choose?
There’s A LOT of photographers to choose from, and you could spend weeks searching through them all online. There are so many variables to consider too, meaning it can quickly become a rather daunting experience trying to find your perfect wedding photographer. There are also all the horror stories floating around on social media and in the newspapers, about people who have received less than amateur quality photos, or worse, they just didn’t turn up at all. I mean, your wedding day isn’t something you can just do again. So how can you be sure you’re making the right choice, and this isn’t going to happen to you?
Im here to help
Ive put together this little list below, to try and highlight some of the things to think about and look for when trying to find your perfect wedding photographer.
I hear a lot of couples say that budget is the main factor when making a decision on their photographer. But would you really book a photographer who’s work you didn’t like, just because they’re in budget?….. So first in my list is
The photographers style.
I think this should be every couples most important factor. The photographer could be the cheapest you have found or the most expensive you have found, but if you don’t like their work, you aren’t going to book them.
There are a few different style’s to consider when trying to find your perfect wedding photographer, but you also need to think if a certain style will suit you as a couple, and the overall style of your wedding, just like you would when you look at other suppliers, picking a venue or choosing a colour scheme.
Im sure by now a lot of you already know what the different styles are, whether its from seeing a few different gallery’s, or reading a lot of blogs. But just incase you’re unsure, here they are.
A photographer who uses the traditional style of wedding photography will typically focus on photographing all the details that are important to you. Focusing a lot of time on the family photos, the décor and other key features of your day. While this is important to capture in any wedding, a lot of the photos will have a staged feel to them. The best way to describe it would be a more modern look to your grandparents wedding album.
Also known as a documentary style, it’s an unobtrusive way to capture your wedding day. A documentary style photographer wont focus on the posed shots, because their method is to be present without anybody noticing them. They will get all the shots of your day as they happen, the smiles, the tears, and the uncontrollable laughter. They will capture your day that tells a story from the beginning to the end. If you don’t like posing or you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, then this could be the perfect option for you.
If you want your wedding album to resemble that of a fashion magazine then an editorial style photographer could be the one for you. Think Vogue or GQ, and the sort of photos you would typically see in there. An editorial photographer will shoot creatively and a little over the top. Everything will have a dramatic, edgy, and moody look to it, and will give an artistic and alternate look to your wedding day.
A photographer who photographs in a fine art style not only captures the story of your day, but is also looking to create a master piece in every shot taken. Every photo has the potential to be hung on the wall of any gallery, which could mean a trip to the nearest hardware store for a few packs of picture hooks!
Last but by no means least
If as a couple you are quite adventurous and outgoing, having a photographer with the same kind of traits could prove very handy. Whether it be just for some fun and unusual wedding photos or the slightly more daring, like standing on ledges or nearer to waterfalls etc, for them ultimate WOW shots. Basically, whatever you’re willing to do for that ultimate shot, you want to know that your photographer is just as willing and also capable of capturing it.
A mixture of styles
One thing to bear in mind (and something you will probably notice when looking through photographers portfolios), is that a lot of photographers will have a mixture of these styles in one way or another. For example, its not always possible to capture a certain group of people naturally mingling, so in this instance a posed photo would be needed, and a posed photo of the bride may look better if its done in a fine art or editorial style….You get the picture (Pardon the pun).
Next on the list is….
The photographers personality.
At first you may think this is a strange thing to think about, after all, your photographer is just there to take the photos? Believe me when I say, this is a very important factor to think about! You are going to be spending your whole day with this person, you will spend more time with your photographer than you will probably spend with most of your guests. So having someone who you get along with, and are on the same page as, is a big step froward when trying to find your perfect wedding photographer.
This also works both ways, as its just as important for the photographer as it is you. If you get along and are more on the same page as each other, you will not only be more relaxed around them, it will also make a huge difference to the look and feel of your photos.
Set up a meeting
With this in mind, meeting your photographer is the best way to make sure that the photographer you choose, will not only be a good fit for you as a couple, but for your big day too. So once you have picked out a few photographers based on the styles you like, send them an email to start the conversation, and look to make an appointment with them so you can meet. I personally prefer to do this face to face, but also understand this isn’t always possible. Another good way to meet would be via Skype, as it feels a little more personal than just a phone call. This will allow you both the chance to talk properly, and will allow you the chance to ask any important questions you may have. Which brings me to the next thing on my list.
Do your homework and ask the right questions
So you have found a style you like and made a short list of the photographers that can provide that style for you. You have contacted them and have arranged to meet….What now?
Between now and the day you have arranged to meet with the photographers, you should do a little home work. Now i’m not saying to turn into a stalker, but, you need to start looking into them and make some notes. Do a little digging into their business and their previous work. Have a good look through their about section and blogs on their website, for me if they don’t have a website this is a red flag, and could mean this is more a hobby than a business. Take a look at their reviews to see whats been said about them.
Search social media
Have a look at their social media, like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest etc. The reviews you read will be a good indication of how other couples feel about them, if the photographer has done a good job, if they were supportive and helpful. If there were any problems during the day these will no doubt be found in the reviews. If it was a problem beyond the control of the photographer, it will more than likely mention about how the photographer dealt with the problem, which is a good indicator as to how helpful and reliable they are.
Make sure to make a note of any questions you want to ask, so you don’t forget them on the day of the meeting. If you have seen anything that raises concern, talk about it with them, the response will either put you at ease or allow you to cross them off your list.
A few important questions you could ask
1. Do they have a contingency plan should something happen to them?
I myself have a great network of suppliers, i’m an active member of a few photography groups and i’m in contact with quite a few photographers, so should anything happen to me (God forbid) then I have plenty of back ups that would help in an emergency.
2. Are they insured?
The answer to this should be yes, no excuses, no pauses, if’s, but’s or maybe’s. Any photographer taking on weddings should be insured and some venues may not allow a photographer who isn’t.
3. Do they have back up equipment?
Again the answer to this should be yes. Any photographer taking on work like a wedding should always have back ups for if something goes wrong. Whether its just bad luck that something breaks, equipment failure, or accidental damage, they should always have back up equipment to allow them to continue working as if nothing has happened.
4. Ask them about their experience.
Ask this question with your wedding in mind. Are you doing anything out of the ordinary for your wedding? Is your wedding taking place in winter? If so ask about their experience with winter weddings. A lot of photographers will have photographed weddings in all sorts of weather, and will be well equipped to deal with fast changing conditions. If they are not, this could be another red flag.
5. Ask to see examples of their work.
When trying to find your perfect wedding photographer, you will have more than likely looked through a lot of galleries on all the different platforms you could find, but most photographers will only post the highlights of their work. So ask to see more examples of weddings they have photographed in general, rather than just the photos they have chosen to display. Also make sure to ask them to bring some samples of wedding albums to the meeting. This brings me to next on the list.
Some photographers may bring some sample products with them, and this is a good opportunity to take a close look at the products they supply. Take a good look at the quality, style and choice of the products as this will give you an indication as to whether you are getting value for money. Its also important to understand exactly what is included in the photographers wedding packages.
How many images will you receive? Will they be supplied on a USB or do you have to download them? Will they be edited? What rights will you have with the images? And will you get an online gallery to share with friends and family? If an album is supplied as part of the package, how many pages will be in the album and what options do you have to choose from? These are all questions you may not have thought about, but well worth asking.
The tailor made experience
Each photographer will provide different products and different packages. Once the you start the booking process, any worth while photographer will take the time to give you their best tailor made experience just for you. They will also begin to build a great relationship with you in the build up to your big day, which is just as important as the photography itself.
Personally I love to get to know every couple I work with, and by the time your wedding day comes around we are more like friends than strangers. I find this helps to make the couple more relaxed on the day and the results are much better. It also gives the couple confidence knowing I care just as much as they do. I’m there to help with anything I can, whether it be with advice or sourcing other suppliers. A photographer will take photos of your day, but a good photographer will also be fully invested in you as a couple.
Now for the biggie….Your budget. There is no getting away from this one. Weddings are very costly, and like everything else you have looked at like, venues, dresses, and flowers, the costs vary. The same is true for photographers. At one end of the scale you will find photographers who charge just a couple of hundred pounds. At the other end of the scale you will find those that charge thousands. What you spend is all down to you and how much you value the photography side of things.
My friend or family member is a photographer so I don’t need a budget
I have heard people ask the question. “Should I just get my friend or family member to photograph the wedding instead. They have a good camera and will do it for free”. I would always advise against this. They maybe a good amateur, but do they have everything they need to do the job and are they insured? Also the chances are they have no experience at all, and you only get one chance with a lot of things at weddings. Do you really want to take that risk? Of course they may not really want to either. They may not want the pressure or they may just want to enjoy the day with you.
What should I spend then?
So with this in mind, what should you spend? This is quite simply a case of you get what you pay for. I don’t want to bash other photographers here. So I will add there are the odd few exceptions to the rule. They could be naturally very talented. Or they have just left college and are looking to build their portfolio. But they are few and far between and are still lacking in experience. Ideally they should really be looking to assist other photographers to build their portfolio.
Why are photographers so expensive?
To be blunt, if they are cheap, they’re cheap for a reason. They are not very experienced, they are not very good, or they aren’t running a legitimate business. Being a photographer isn’t just picking up a camera, pointing and clicking a button. There is a lot more to it.
The equipment we use
Apart from the time invested in editing which you don’t see. There is the investment in the professional equipment like camera bodies, lenses, flashes and software, and all the back up equipment too. I also spend money on things like ongoing training so I am always as good as I can be. Insurance, updating software and the general business things like my website and advertising. All these things are factored into my prices. Along with the years of experience, the quality products included and the amount of hours I will spend working.
Can you stretch your budget
If you find a photographer who’s work you love. That you get along with really well. But are a little above your initial budget, then my only advice would be this. Sit down with your partner and see if there’s a way to stretch the budget a little. I know what you’re thinking….”he’s a photographer, of course he would say that”. But the fact is when you’re paying for a photographer you are making an investment.
In 10 years time. Or when you’re showing your children or grandchildren your wedding photos. You could either be showing them some amazing and beautiful timeless images…Or you could be sat wishing you had opted for that other more expensive photographer. Believe me, you wont for one second regret not having that sweet cart or chocolate fountain. After all, the cake gets eaten, your flowers wilt, but your photos will last a life time and more.
Now the dreaded budget is out of the way, heres the final thing on the list.
Book your photographer as soon as you can
You’ve found the style you love. You’ve met all the photographers on your short list. Gone through all the questions and products and picked your favourite. The search to find your perfect wedding photographer is over. The only thing left to do is book. The only advice I can give you now is book them as soon as you can. Wedding photographers are booked up to a year in advance, some even two years in advance. I have even had the honour of someone booking their wedding around my availability. Which is the most flattering thing I have ever had happen to me.
Busy times of year
If you love a particular photographer, the chances are a lot of others do too. If you leave it too late to book them you could end up being disappointed. There is a peak wedding season which usually starts late April through to September. With weekends and bank holidays being the first on everybody’s wish list, and Friday’s becoming ever more popular.
Although this is the case in almost every year. I wouldn’t necessarily say that other months of the year are always quieter. As I have noticed there are also trends each year too. For example one year, I had five weddings booked in December alone. So as a general rule I would say, don’t hang about. Pay the deposit, get the contracts signed and get your date secured ASAP. Most photographers will offer bookings on a first come first served basis. You could get pipped to the post if you’re not quick.
Now you’ve got your photographer booked, you can relax a little. Trust them to capture your day the way you want them to. Let them do what they do best and give you the photos you will love and cherish forever. Most importantly…Enjoy every minute of your wedding, as it will feel like its over in the blink of an eye!
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