Five tips for choosing a wedding photographer

1. Choose the style you want

This item is number one on my list for a reason. It is the most important thing to consider when choosing your wedding photographer. Fact. Let me explain why. Let’s assume for a second you have an unlimited budget, I know you probably don’t but bear with me. How would you choose which photographer to have then? I’m pretty sure you would base it on their photographic style alone, not on how many pages they give you in an album or whether you go for the Platinum or Silver package (more on that later…)

So back in the real world, where you have a limited budget, why do people start obsessing over how many pages they get in the album, or how many hours the photographer will attend instead of really thinking about the style of photography that they want? You’re not going to look at your album filled with pictures that aren’t to your liking and think “Well that’s OK we got ten more pages than with that other guy” are you?

So my advice is, find some photographers and really look at their photos. Ask to see previous albums and question them about their style. It’s a highly competitive market out there, so whatever your budget you can find someone whose photography you will love.

2. Don’t get sold on packages

Meh. That is my first thought when people start talking about packages. Gold this and platinum that and you can’t have that unless you buy this optional add on. I just don’t get it. I know it makes it easier to compare one photographer against another, but you’ve just read the first point and you’ll be choosing by the photographer’s style now won’t you?

When I’m at a wedding fair and people start asking me about what I include in my packages, they often look confused when I say I don’t do packages. Maybe I’m not a good businessman (although I’ve been doing this for 8 years now and grown every year) but I just don’t see the need for packages.

When I started out I thought “What do people need from their wedding photographer?” I narrowed it down to three questions you should ask:

a)      Do I like their style?

b)      How long do I want them to take photos for?

c)      Do I want an album?

So assuming you like my style here’s what I offer. You can book me for a half day or a full day. Then you get to choose which album you like. There are no limits. If you want to book me for half a day and then have the biggest album the world has ever seen. Brilliant, it’s yours. If you want me there for the full day and want no album at all. Fine, that’s cool too.

So don’t get confused by comparing packages and obsessing over the millions of variations of included ‘stuff’ that other photographer’s package together. Choose what you want and ask for it. Most photographers are self-employed and will happily alter things for you. Or you could choose one that doesn’t start with packages in the first place…

3. Meet face to face

Here’s a fact for all the brides to be out there – It is quite possible that you will spend more time with the photographer on your wedding day than your new husband.

Obviously that’s a bit of an attention grabbing headline but if you think about it, it’s very true. The photographer is the only common thread through the whole wedding day. Hairdressers come and go, florists just drop stuff off, Vicars and registrars barely make a dent on the day (other than doing the important bit) but us photographers are there all the time. So it is vitally important that you get on with them and that the photographer can get on with you and everyone else, even that Uncle you don’t like that you only invited because your Mum told you to.

So make sure you meet face to face and have a chat, see if you ‘click’. Sorry for the photo pun. But I can’t stress how important this is because it could be a very long day otherwise…which brings us nicely onto point 4.

4. Check their history

I don’t mean that you should call their exes or anything, but look if they have reviews on their Facebook page or have some nice comments on their website. Be direct and ask if they could provide references from previous weddings. Like I mentioned above you’re going to be with the photographer a lot and how they manage people is a very important part of the job. So if you can’t find anyone who will say anything nice about them, it’s probably best if you steer well clear. If you can find someone who has a lot of comments like this then I think you’re on the right track.

5. Pick a professional

Time to be a little serious. Would you let someone with minimal experience have a go at your plumbing because they’ve had a ‘bit of a go’ before? Would you let someone fiddle with the brakes on your car because ‘they’ve read a book on it’? If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions, good luck.

So why do people employ complete amateurs to take their wedding photos? I know it’s not as life and death as failed brakes on a car but really? I have met a number of people in my time in this business who have said they had a mate take their wedding pictures. Every single one said they regret it. That’s not scare mongering, it’s not a proper survey either, it’s just my experience.

Whichever photographer you choose should have experience in multiple weddings, at different times of the year, in different weather conditions and at different venues so they have the skillset to cope with whatever is thrown at them.

I was going to list out the skills that an experienced professional photographer should have but I realised it was going to be an extremely long and potentially boring list. Needless to say I have learnt a lot through my experiences and I continue to learn every single time I take part in a wedding.

Sorry to be serious but your wedding photos are important and they should be taken by someone who knows what they’re doing. If you’ve read all this and you’re still thinking you’ll let your mate do it, let me know how you get on.

PS Check that your mate has public liability insurance in case he injures someone while he’s working for you. And backup equipment in case his ‘posh’ camera breaks right at the start of the day. And a network of backup photographers in case he’s taken poorly at the last minute. And a proper backed up storage solution for all of your wedding photos.

PPS I have all of the above…

 

So that’s my advice on how to pick your wedding photographer. I hope it helps, I understand it can be confusing and a bit scary with everything else that you need to book for your wedding day but please just get in touch and ask some questions. I’d be happy to help.