How to Choose the Best Wedding Photographer
Are you looking to hire a photographer for your wedding?
My guide on how to choose the best wedding photographer for your special day
I wanted to write this guide on how to choose a wedding photographer. The obvious answer could be “choose me” - but in reality every couple is different and so is every photographer in the way they work and approach each wedding. So I wanted to put down my thoughts on the sort of questions I would be asking if I was choosing someone for my own wedding.
Let’s face it getting married is a very big investment. I even did some research and looked up some figures which confirmed that in the UK in 2017 couples spent an average of over £27,000 on their wedding day. If you're going to spend that amount of money, you'll want to ensure that you get a great experience and images which showcase the style, emotions, fun and laughter of your own wedding.
In this guide, I'm going to discuss what I think you need to do to find the perfect wedding photographer. After all, a wedding with your partner is a once in a lifetime event. Wedding photography is one of the few things that will last long after the wedding day has finished.
As a result, most couples want to document each and every moment so they can look back on it in the years to come. (I still dust down my own wedding album to show to the kids once in a while which always raises a smile or two!).
Read on for my tips on booking the most awesome photographer for your wedding day!
Whilst there is no shortage of wedding photographers out there with over 250,000 couples marrying each year in the UK, you will need to book well ahead ensure that you get the photographer that you really want rather than just someone who happens to be available. Even as someone who works in the industry I think it would be a challenge to find someone who is the right ‘fit’ in terms of style as well as personality to capture the images from the big day.
Find a Wedding Photography Style that You Love!
I’ll start with the most obvious one. This may sound like common sense, but your wedding pictures will last a lifetime. You'll want them to look perfect in your wedding album or in frames on your wall. Don’t compromise! There are many different styles that wedding photography can fit into - classic or traditional, reportage or documentary (i.e. candid style), creative, dramatic, fine art, boho, pastel and more. Take a look at differents photographers websites and instagram. Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration. If you find a photographer you like check to see if you there are any album designs or a full online galleries available to view. This is good to way to see if there is a consistent style. One other thing to check is whether the photographer is using any training workshop or portfolio builder images. These are images that may have taken under the guidance of an experienced professional rather than solely by the photographer in question. This is a common practice for wedding photographers who are looking to build up their portfolio when starting out. However, beware - they may not be able to replicate these images without guidance. Once you have an idea of the sort of style and photographer you are looking it will make your search a lot easier.
Set a Budget for Your Wedding Photography
Creatives have people trying to talk them down for their services all of the time. Wedding photography is probably one way some people make the bulk of their income. As such, don't be the bride or groom who sees their price tag and asks if they can do it for 500 pounds less. They know their worth and you shouldn't try and talk them down. If you see a photographer you like and their price is way out of your budget, find a photographer that charges within your budget.
Phone a Friend
One of the first ways to start looking for a wedding photographer is to ask your friends. Many of your friends may have gotten married, or know someone who has recently and can show you some snaps of their weddings. With the advent of social media, you can also have a scroll through Instagram and Facebook and find the work of some local wedding photographers. They might use hashtags related to weddings in your area. If you like the look the photographer captured, consider hiring him or her for your wedding. Failing that you can ask the venue, browse a wedding directory like Hitched or Bridebook, or search online using Google, Instagram or Twitter.
Have a chat With Potential Wedding Photographers
I always like to have a chat with any prospective couple - by phone, skype or in person if that is practical. Don't just settle on one wedding photographer and decide he or she is the only one you will accept. A wedding photographer can get booked fast, and the person you really want may not be available on the day you're interested in. You also may not like the wedding photographer as a person. This may not be something you've considered previously, but if you dislike the photographer or feel as though they give off a weird vibe, they're probably not someone you want at your wedding. After all, your wedding is your special day, and you'll want someone you're comfortable with. Your photographer also may capture intimate moments, such as getting your bridal make-up done or the groomsmen and bridesmaids getting ready before the ceremony. You won't want to look like you're uncomfortable in the photos.
Find Out How the Photographer Approaches Each Wedding
I feel a good wedding photographer is someone who can blend into the party when necessary to capture candid moments whilst also being able to guide the couple or wedding party when needed. It’s a balancing act and not something everyone can manage. While most photographers feel comfortable taking the photos, many aren’t so keen on setting up group shots of family members, friends, and other poses. Speak to your photographer about how he or she likes to do things. Do they have a list of shots they like to do each wedding? Do they let the bride and groom input on this? You'll need to ensure that as you prepare for your big day, you'll have enough time to get in some of the posed shots. Your wedding photographer has done this countless times, so he or she can discuss when is the best time during the day for posed photographs. If you're not vibing with the way the photographer wants to do the shots, then perhaps it's time to find someone else. Most weddings take place during the day. Often times, they take place in the summer or spring, when the lighting is bright and optimal. But if you're getting married in a historic and dark church at night or your reception is inside a medieval brewery, you'll need someone who is accustomed to these situations. Not all photographers are great with shooting in low light or night photography. So, make sure that your photographer is skilled at taking photos like this.
Ask them if wedding Photography is Their full time, part time or Hobby Job
Whilst most couples opt to choose full time professional wedding photographers for their day there are many part timers and hobbyists who do weddings as a sideline. There are no formal qualifications on who can or cannot call themselves a professional photographer and someone can be an excellent amateur or a mediocre professional. However, if someone’s main profession isn’t photography it’s worth checking in more detail on their level of experience and depth of portfolio as a result.
Ask Them If They Have a Backup Plan
As with everything in life, stuff happens. The implications of stuff happening at a once in lifetime event like a wedding means that stuff happening could ruin your day. For the wedding photographer, having backup cameras, lenses, flashguns, batteries and more is essential. I’ve heard of photographers falling into fountains and rivers whilst at weddings, memory cards being corrupted, people dropping cameras and smashing them just as the bride walks up the aisle and accidents happening on the way from the bridal preparations to the church. It all happens and professionals will have to anticipate what may go wrong on the day and assess the risk and how to mitigate it. My top tip and one I would insist on if I was choosing someone to cover my own wedding - ask them if they are bringing two or more cameras and if those cameras use two memory card slots on not one. My advice would be if you find a cheap wedding photographer offering to cover your wedding using one camera which has one card slot - run away!
The moment you get engaged, couples often want to set things in motion quickly. It takes a long time to organise a wedding and booking a wedding photographer tends to feature high up the list shortly after setting a date and choosing a venue. A good photographer whose images you love and who is within your set budget is worth their weight in gold. You'll want to make sure you secure the person you want. Popular professionals could be receiving 5-10 enquiries a day and many have diary bookings going 2-3 years out. This means that the most popular dates (July to September) can fill up early. Most weddings take place on the weekends, so it's likely the calendar will be full for months and months out. Once you find someone you click with, make sure that they're free on your wedding date. If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board.
Sadly, there are some scams out there and there are many examples of people promoting themselves as a wedding photographer and then disappearing with couple’s deposits and fees. There is also scope for some major misunderstandings on the level of service that may be provided from one person to another. I would say it was essential to work with a photographer who can provide you with a quote and a written contract. This will show you in detail what services will be provided and what happens if there are problems and if you or they want to cancel for instance. If the photographer can’t provide a written contract I think this should start some wedding bells ringing. If you want to get wedding insurance then most providers will want to know a contract is in place and there professional insurance there too.
If The Worst Happens
It’s a rare occurrence but photographers can fall ill or be unavailable for the day. Most professionals will have a network of other photographers they know and may be able to call on at short notice in order to get help. There are many Facebook groups out there which cover wedding photography and do receive posts looking for help where the original person may not be available. In addition, make sure your photographer has a full and up to date professional insurance policy. Many of the best venues will insist on seeing in any case and often want to confirm that the public liability on the policy is £1M or more. If your photographer can’t provide this you may want to question whether they’ve taken the steps to provide the best service to you on your big day.
Wrapping It Up
Finding the perfect wedding photographer is not an exact science. Like anything to do with your wedding, it's highly personal and you'll want someone who really blends in with your ethos and wedding vibe. Don't make the mistake of booking someone you've not spoken to previously, and make sure you have plenty of time to be clear on payment, poses and how the big day will be scheduled.
Interested in seeing if I’m the right fit for your big day?
Contact me today for a chat about your wedding plans.