Choosing Your Wedding Photographer
For most couples who are planning their wedding, finding a fantastic photographer is high on the list of priorities. Not many people don’t want amazing pictures to look back on as a beautiful reminder of their special day.
Relying on your friends to capture pictures on their smartphones is a risky strategy. There’s so much more to getting a good photo than most people realise.
So how do you find the right wedding photographer for you?
I’ve been chatting to the lovely Catherine from Boho Chic Weddings and we’ve put together our top tips for getting it right. Catherine also helped me to put together a list of questions to ask your photographer before you commit to that booking.
Having a good look at a photographer’s website and social media is an absolute must do. You will get a really good feel for the style of their photography from their galleries online. This will also help you to start to shape what type/style of photographs you want.
Do you want a photographer who will really capture the spirit of the day by taking more informal, natural unposed pictures (often called reportage style photography)? Or do you want a more formal straightforward record of the day with lots of group shots and posed pictures?
In addition, as you look at various photographers, you will start to see a difference in their style of pictures. For example some pictures are really light and airy and others are darker and more atmospheric. Some might use special effects too.
This is a very personal choice so make sure you give it the thought that it deserves.
Ask around your friends and family for recommendations. A personal recommendation is a great start and you can get a good feel for price, reliability and photographic style.
But also bear in mind that you might have different taste and expectations – e.g. the photographer that suited your bridesmaid 2 years ago for her wedding, might not suit you and your wedding.
Some venues will make recommendations to you and while it’s worth checking these out, remember it’s not their wedding so they will have a different perspective. Therefore, don’t feel obliged to use one of them.
Other than this, you can browse the internet, or try a wedding show or event. Wedding fairs are a good option as you can see examples of the photographers work as well as chatting to them. You need to feel comfortable with your photographer – you’re going to be spending quite a lot of time with them!
When to Book
As with many suppliers, good wedding photographers get booked up quickly so don’t leave it too long to book.
Ideally you want to have your photographer booked at least a year before your wedding. That should ensure you can get who you want and avoid the stress of frantically searching at the last minute.
It avoids having to settle for a different photographer than the one you really want.
Some photographers will offer you an engagement or pre wedding shoot. Quite often more experienced photographers charge for this or they don’t do them unless asked. If a photographer’s work is 80% natural/reportage, they probably won’t offer this because they want natural reactions.
If you do have the chance of this type of shoot, it’s a great idea as it gives you time to get to know your photographer before the big day and helps them to understand your likes and preferences. It also helps you to relax in front of the camera so it feels more natural when it comes to the big day.
As with all suppliers, make sure you’re really clear on what is and isn’t included in the price you’ve been quoted.
So make sure you know how many hours your photographer will be there. Think about how late into the evening you want them to stay.
Will they be able to cover both of you getting ready? You may need a 2nd shooter to enable this to happen depending on your locations and timings.
Some services will also include a wedding album. So understand if this is the case – the initial price might look higher but if your album is included then that makes a big difference.
Understanding the Costs
A lot of couples ask why does it cost so much for a wedding photographer? It’s just one day’s work isn’t it? So I asked Catherine to help me explain this one because there’s far more to it than turning up on your wedding day and snapping a few pics.
“Prices depend on many factors. Take experience – would you rather have someone with 2 year’s experience or 10? The same as in most jobs, you move up in skill the more you practice, and get paid more as you improve.
Training – this doesn’t automatically make one photographer with the same years of experience better than another so it’s up to you if formal training or study matters. Pricing also covers the cost of professional cameras (the ones I use cost over £2,000 – each), professional lenses (again they can easily be over £1,000) professional flashes – all of which need updating and replacing.
Then there’s the cost of continuous training, professional insurance, maintaining a professional website, your online galleries, editing software, powerful computers to process the camera picture files and marketing and admin costs amongst others!
Regarding the time photographers spend on a wedding – it’s definitely not a case of photographing for one day, then uploading the pictures onto an online gallery for you the next. Processing and editing your pictures often takes 20 – 30 hours.
The main advice I give is that you fall in love with a photographer’s work then see how easily you get on. Usually my couples talk to me via video call – if you can chat away easily on there, you will get on on your wedding day. Then it’s time to check all the nitty-gritty items so you each know what to expect. “
On the Day
Your photographer should always ask you if there are specific shots you want and specific details you want them to capture. Again, it depends on the kind of photography yours specialises in.
With changes in family dynamics, and a big reduction in couples wanting formal groups, there is no typical group list any more so talk this through with your photographer.
If you’re having some group shots, give them a list of who is to be on each one and ask a guest to be in charge of rounding up the people needed when it’s time. Group shots are pretty time consuming and to be honest can be pretty boring for your guests so this will help to cut down the time.
Oh and please feed your photographer! It’s a very long day for them so it’s a lovely gesture to make sure they’re provided with a hot meal and a chance to grab a few minutes rest.
The best time to do this is usually while you’re having your wedding breakfast – do you really want photos of your guests eating? Give your photographer a break while you’re eating so they’re ready to capture the speeches when they start.
Additional Questions To Ask Your Photographer
There are a few things I would suggest you ask potential photographers before making your final decision. Here are our thoughts and the type of answer you should be looking out for:
What happens if you are too poorly to attend the wedding?
Most photographers will refund your whole fee or provide you with photographer/s who can take over. Your contract will state what would happen in this situation.
What if I don’t want lots of group shots?
That is completely fine with a lot of photographers. Listen to advice or suggestions for any family groups from your photographer because they will have more experience of weddings and what some couples can regret not having afterwards but you should feel comfortable to say ‘no’.
What happens if something goes wrong with your camera?
Most experienced photographers that I have worked with have or often use two cameras throughout the wedding day. I always have two on me in case one suddenly stops working.
I hope you’ve find this helpful and it makes it easier for you to find your perfect photographer. You can find more tips here on finding your wedding suppliers..
All the images on this page are either of Catherine or they are Catherine’s work and you can see more of Catherine’s fantastic work here.