How Do I Choose My Wedding Photographer?

Your images should move you

Your images should move you

This Is All New! 

One of the scary things about planning your wedding is that you've probably never planned anything so big in your life. It's new, and there's a lot to think about. Along with your choice of venue, one of the first things you should give consideration to is your choice of photographer.

I don't say that just because that's what I do, I say that for the following reasons: 

  • Everything at your wedding is consumable and will last one day except for your rings, your dress and your photographs (and your spouse!).
  • Your wedding album is your very first family album. It's an investment that will pay off every time you take it from your shelf for decades to come. 
  • You will never have looked as spectacular as you will on your wedding day. If you're ever going to invest in a special set of photographs, your wedding day is the perfect day to do it.

For a lot of people a professional photographer is someone that owns a nice camera and has experience in directing people on how to pose. It's almost a hired hand to take the snaps so that your family don't have to. I want to show you that it can be so, so much more than that. Your wedding photographs should move you.

It goes without saying that your photographer should be reliable and reputable. That can be very hard to ascertain but recommendations from people you know, online or from suppliers or venues can help you find some peace of mind. Obviously, just because a photographer isn't recommended by a venue does not mean they are not the best photographer for you and indeed, sometimes there are business reasons why people may recommend each other. To some extent, you will have to use your own instincts.

 

Where Do I Start?

Hold sample albums in your hands

Hold sample albums in your hands

Firstly, you must not feel bad about contacting photographers (or any other wedding service supplier) and not committing yourself. You should look around and get a good idea of who is available to you. Have a shortlist of photographers whose work you have enjoyed and arrange to meet the best two or three of them. That way you get to see more of their work, you get to physically hold a sample of their album and prints in your hands and you get to meet the person behind the work.

Very likely, one of your shortlisted photographers will be an obvious choice for you based on the connection you feel with them when you meet them. This is a person who will be at your wedding throughout the day and will be caring for your photographs throughout the process of editing them and having them printed into an album. They should be someone you feel comfortable with and feel reassured by. That's very hard to judge without meeting face-to-face. 

What Do I Look For? 

Photography is an art form. That means everyone has different tastes. You need to find a photographer whose work moves you. Don't settle for a documentation of your day through forgettable pictures, find someone who makes pictures that are larger than life. To illustrate, imagine your wedding was going to be featured in a high-end magazine and then ask yourself what images you'd expect to see there. That's the standard you should expect from a professional.

Ask to see prints of work from your shortlisted photographers. You might be surprised at how an image can look great on a screen but be found out on a print. Images should be sharp unless intentionally not so, colours should be vibrant but not gaudy. Use of black and white should be for artistic reasons and not to hide poor photography. Ultimately, you should get a sense of good taste from everything you see produced by that photographer and that taste should match yours. 

You are looking for someone that you'll be excited to have photograph you.

 

Find Inspiration

Join Pinterest and create a clipboard of images that you love. Favourite the websites of photographers that you find and enjoy, even if they are in another part of the world and could not themselves photograph your day. It's all inspiration to look at.  Even simply doing a Google Image search for wedding photography and trawling through what comes up for images that inspire you can be helpful. It might sound like a bother, but you will enjoy it more than you think and it will help you get a clear idea of what style you want.

Have Reasonable Expectations

Having said all that I have, I feel I must sound a note of caution and it's simply that you must be sensible about your expectations. A great photographer will get you beautiful images almost wherever you get married, but clearly a wedding on a beach in Ibiza and a wedding in the hills of Lancashire are not going to look the same on film. Location, weather conditions, venue dressing etc. are all going to contribute to the look and feel of your photographs and whilst the hills of Lancashire are truly as beautiful in their way, they are not a mediterranean seascape or an Italian villa.

 Your photographer will photograph your wedding, not the weddings you have in your scrapbook. It's common sense, but bear it in mind when selecting your photographer.

What About Cost?

Everyone has a budget. That's just sensible.  It's important, though, that you set your budget realistically, both in terms of what you can afford and what you want from your wedding photography. As a guide, here are some of the factors to consider that help explain why great photographers charge what they do:

  • Your wedding day is the culmination of months of hard work and planning. For your photographer, it is just the beginning of days of careful, skilful editing work. The 12 hours or so you spend together on the day are just the start of their work.
  • A beautiful wedding album can cost your photographer anywhere between £120 and £400, going even higher for certain albums. That may sound like a lot but when you consider these are exceptionally high quality albums with 30 to 60 spreads of fine-art quality prints inside them - each 12" square - they actually represent wonderful value. Nonetheless, this is a big cost to your photographer.
  • A second photographer must be paid too. They work hard on a weekend day and allow their images to be used by your photographer on your behalf. 
  • Taking photographs and editing them is only part of a photographer's job. There are day to day costs of bookkeeping, insurance, training and reading about their craft, equipment and software and a surprising number of trips to meet suppliers of prints and albums searching for the very best quality they can offer their clients. 

On a personal note I can add that I pour my heart and soul into creating my images. I feel a great responsibility to my clients to give them the best photographs I can. By the time I have finished photographing a wedding I feel these clients are friends and I have a strong desire to make the best album I can possibly give to them. I know many photographers are the same as me. I know that it is impossible to put this much of myself into my work without asking for the fees I ask for.

It is nobody's place to tell you what you should pay for your photography but think carefully about what you want to get from it and whether your budget is reasonable in order to get that.  Have you spent thousands of pounds on your venue and dress but only set aside a modest budget for the photography to capture those things for posterity?

A lot of this is common sense when you think it through. Someone who values their work will not send out work they are not proud of. That means they work hard to ensure your photographs are the best they could capture on your day. They will take care over the quality of prints and albums. They will be professional, polite, friendly and well-dressed on your day. 

Such a person will be making a living from their work and will have carefully costed their prices. They will have positioned themselves in the market to appeal to people that will appreciate what they do and be willing to pay them in such a way that they can produce work they are proud of. Simply put, great service and beautiful photographs will not cost a couple of hundred pounds.

Just as your dress will cost a great deal more than the cost of the materials used to make it owing to the craftsmanship of its maker, your photographs are more valuable than the memory cards they are stored on.  Don't find yourself looking back on your photographs and wishing you'd spent the two to three hundred pounds more to have that photographer you'd have loved to have. Two years later you won't remember what that money went on but you will have your wedding photographs.

 

In The End

Photography should move you.

Ask a photographer to photograph your day who you will look forward to seeing on the morning of your wedding and whose work you can't wait to show to your friends and family. Take your time, put aside a reasonable budget and find someone you connect with. 

I hope you have a wonderful wedding day!