So you’ve chosen your venue, you went with something that suited your style, had that wow factor, that looked great, gave you the confidence they could host your wedding and also fitted with your budget.
Now to book a photographer.. and you go purely on how cheap they are…. *NAAAW* (BGT buzzer alert)
Look I understand we are all on budgets, heck if we weren’t there would be so many people getting married at St Pauls Cathedral and having a knees up at Buckingham Palace it would get very messy, very quickly. To base anything however purely on price is definitely a recipe for disaster.
So how do you know what to look for? Theres so many photographers out there these days its a virtual minefield!
You only have to put ‘photographer needed for my wedding’ on one of the many faces groups for weddings and you can in excess of 200 photographers all clambering for your attention. Arggghhhh!!!!!
So heres a couple of tips on how to find the right Wedding Photographer for you.
We may as well get this out of the way first. You need to set a budget, you and only you and your closest know how much you are willing to spend on your wedding as a whole. You don’t want to your budget to spiral out of control so its a good idea to have a price in mind when you start looking.
The average cost of a wedding photographer in the UK is approximately £1500 for a full days shooting. Now Im not saying you have to spend that to get a good photographer, you could go cheaper or spend way more, theres no right or wrong.
A photographer costing just £500 may produce some excellent work and do an amazing job, similarly a £3000 photographer might do a half rated job (I probably think this is less likely however).
So if you are going to cut back on the costs of a photographer please first ask a few questions and find out why they cost what they do.
Remember full time photographers do this for a living and will want to do the best job they can for you, their reputation is on the line and they will want to please you at every step whereas a part time or occasional photographer may have a full time job elsewhere and this is really only a bit of pocket money for them and so the emphasis on care wont always be the same.
More expensive photographers may have better equipment, backups, insurance, assistants and more experience. Not always but I’d say 99% of time.
Look at the photographers style, this is so important. These are the photographs of your wedding, a once in a lifetime day (hopefully) and if you blindly go in for the first one that pops up you may get all sort of arty odd shots that in 20 years will make you cringe like you do when you see your see your dad wearing those massive sequinned flares and those huge flowered collars in their wedding photos. Make sure you study their website before anything else.
You need to fall in love with their pictures, imagine yourself and your partner in the places of the couples in the pictures. Do you still love them?
Good photographers will be booked first so you will want to reserve yours at least a year advance or you may be disappointed after falling in love with the photographs.
You will know what style your after when you see it but essentially there’s three kinds of wedding photographers.
Documentary/Reportage photographers - don’t tend to do any traditional photos and capture mainly the day as it unfolds.
There’s Traditional photographers that will organise pretty much everything and rarely will take a shot if its not staged.
Then there’s the in-betweeners, that will take the reportage photos of the day, get the funny moments, the tears and laughter but will also do some epic portraits of you guys looking so fine.
Has the photographer done many weddings? Look at previous weddings, read reviews by previous brides, maybe even ask if you could speak to past couples the photographer has shot to get a bit more of an insiders viewpoint.
A wedding isn’t just another photoshoot, its not a controlled studio or a quiet family shoot in the woods. A wedding is a living breathing animal and if you don’t know what your doing with it as a photographer it’ll bite your bum and never let go.
A Wedding Photographer should be to think quickly on their feet, be prepared for the unexpected event and know how to shoot amazing images under any circumstances, come rain, shine or thunder with occasional snow storms and that twister like in the Wizard of Oz. (seriously been there, done that)
I’m not saying you should always go with someone that only has loads of experience but just be aware, like in any job, an experienced worker is usually a better one.
Meet the photographer! I cannot shout this loud enough. Look a photographer will spend more time with the bride on her wedding day than her future spouse. Fact!
You need to get along with them, they need to be like a friend, someone you click with. I wouldn’t want spend the most important day of my life being followed around by someone I wanted to punch or who creeped me out. You need to feel comfortable around them or it will show in every photo they take.
Meet them, have a coffee, see if they are enthusiastic about your day and you guys as a couple or if this is just another meeting for them. Keep notes on each of the photographers you meet so you can refer back to them later.
Do they fit in with your wedding? No one wants a scruffy photographer making the place look untidy all day, even ask what they will be wearing on the day. Im not saying judge them, but essentially that what a meeting is, a judgement to see if you like them. So yes I’m saying judge them….
Do they have back ups in case a camera breaks or a flash fails? They are only electrical devices after all. Ask if the cameras they use have a dual memory card function to save the images to both at once in case a memory card fails (which they do surprisingly more than you’d think) or if not do they have a system to safeguard that happening. This is usually the difference between the costliest and the cheapest photographers on the market. The risk of losing all the photographs is a scary thought and one you don’t need going through your head on your big day.
What happens if they are ill on the day? Do they have a network of other photographers that may be able to stand in and assist or take over. Do they have a second photographer that could do the job?As much as I’d like to think I’m indestructible I am only a mere mortal, things do happen and its important you know you can rely on your day being photographed no matter what.
Do they have insurance? Any good wedding photographer worth his salt will have professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance in case things go massively wrong somewhere. Some venues actually insist the vendors working there have the insurance so its worth asking.
Can you see an entire wedding? Its all very well and good seeing the cream of the crop but its nice to see a whole wedding from start to finish and then you can see what sort of things the photographer catches, how many images your likely to come out with and how they work on the day. Theres should be no reason for you not see at least one wedding they have shot.
Does the package include an engagement session? I think these sessions are so important, not only do you get some great photos to use on invitations, save the dates etc. but you get to see how the photographer works, build up a bit of a rapport with them and then on the day you may even enjoy having your photos taken. Its also a good chance to ask more questions of the photographer and set any doubts you may have aside.
Will you have a contract between you and the photographer? This is another important thing to consider. It lays out what the package will include, what you can expect from the photographer in terms of timings, images given and responsibilities and also what they can expect from you as well. It means you can rely on them to be there as well as these should be legally binding documents. I hear way too many stories of photographers not turning up or disappearing after the event and not delivering the images. Its really heartbreaking.
Make sure you include anything special in writing before you sign the contract as well. Don’t expect a photographer to change his contract radically but you can ask.
Look, you could quiz the photographer about everything under the sun, waist size, toilet habits, which side they dress? The main thing is you should be happy. Happy with the photographer, their work, their attitude, and their ability to produce a set of images that will bring your memories flooding back to you for the rest of your life. You shouldn’t have any doubts that this can be achieved and if you do ask more questions.
Listen to your gut! It’s your wedding and nobody else’s.
And if you don’t think its important to get the photos of all the money you’ve spent on the venue, dress, flowers, cake, dressing, table numbers and suits then thats fine too, its your day, a day for you and your spouse and you should be able to spend it however you choose, it is after all about you.
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