Wedding photography is one of the biggest and in my book, best investments you'll make for your wedding day..... OK I guess I would say that! However it's important to choose a wedding photographer whose work you love now and will come to love even more as the years pass by. Not only this but a photographer who you feel is the right fit for you, your partner and your family on your wedding day itself. To give you an example of this, many of my Wedding clients over the years have become personal friends and I've had the pleasure of seeing their family grow.
Along with your video and your wedding rings, your wedding album will be among the few tangible objects you'll have as a keepsake of your day. In essence, in years to come, it will become a historical document of your family. Long after your cake has been eaten, the confetti's swept away and dare I say, the bar bill paid. Having your big day documented by the right person is so important.
Unless you're a keen photographer or have an artist flair yourself, it may not be easy to compare photographers, to work out what you love about a photographer, what makes one photographer stand out from an other, or know if they're the right person to photograph your wedding day.
With 30 years of photographing weddings behind me, I've put together some tips to help you choose.
The first job on your to-do list is to seek out wedding photographers who work in your area and view their work. Short list about three or four.
Hopefully you'll see some different styles of wedding photography - fine art, fashion orientated, documentary (candid, un posed), traditional, modern, grungy etc. While you're looking at a photographer's photos, don't worry about the style the photographer labels themselve as, all you need to ask yourself is, do you like their work?
Don't just look at the images on their homepage, go into their galleries or blog. Look for consistency, not just a few great images.
If there are certain photographs that are important to you, for example, family portraits, fun informal pictures, detail shots, romantic portraits, etc. make sure you're happy with how the photographer shoots those kinds of images.
I hasten to add... Do try to separate the photographer's work from looking at the style the couples have chosen like the brides dress, shoes and flowers! Wedding Photographers rarely have any choice on these choices! Whether you like or dislike the dress or the venue, this shouldn't have a bearing on how you view the photographer's style of work.
If you know your venue is particularly dark or if you're getting married during the winter, look for similar weddings, to see how a photographer has photographed them. Needless to say, you should be happy with what you find!
Picture yourself in the images and think about how you'd feel in them.
Despite your best efforts, many aspects of your wedding will date, suites and dresses, your hair, and of course, your photography! This all part of the fun of looking back on old photos. It is therefore important to pick a style of photography you can imagine loving in years to come, which you will be happy to hang on your wall at home and will grow in your affection. Lots of photography styles look cool now on Instagram or on wedding websites but how will they look in 30 years? It is still important to have a wedding portrait that you're happy to frame and hopefully show to your grandchildren one day.
The next step is to contact a couple of wedding photographers whose work you love. I would say start with two or three. Initially, you need to know two things; are they available on your wedding date, and can you afford them?
How much does a wedding photographer cost? I prefer to say what should you invest in a wedding photographer. it is, after all one of the few items of your wedding day which will appreciate in your own value as the years go by. To answer this is somewhat like asking how long is a piece of string?Photographers often don't put their rates on their website. Don't let this intimidate you. If you're seriously considering booking them, all you've got to do is drop them a line and ask to see their rate card.
As with all things, you generally get what you pay for, wedding photography is no different. Everyone has different priorities, but this isn't the place to cut corners.
As I mentioned before, view wedding photography as an investment. Most weddings last a day or maybe if you're lucky a weekend! Your photographs will last forever and may become a family heirloom. They're going to live on the walls of your home, you'll return to them whenever you're feeling reminiscent. It makes sense to assign a significant portion of your overall budget to photography. Most couples, budget between 10 and 15%.
Remember you're not just paying for a photographer's time on the day. They will also spend hours editing after your wedding and designing your album. Along with their talent, extensive experience, insurance, not least expensive equipment and all the other business costs which professional businesses need. Cost's rack up.
The good news is that there's a wedding photographer out there for everyone. Even the most high-end photographers tend to offer different packages to suit various budgets.
If you're really looking to cut costs, rather than booking a lesser quality photographer, consider a good, established photographer for part of your day. Just bear in mind that not all wedding photographers offer this.
Something a lot of couples don't realise until their wedding day is just how much time you actually spend with your photographer. I'd estimate very nearly as much time as you'll spend with your other half! With this in mind it's crucial that you get on well and you feel at ease with them.
At this point arrange a meeting with the photographers you short listed in person. It's important you feel comfortable with them, so the best way to do this is to meet. You'll also be able to look through some recent sample albums and ask any questions you will no doubt have. When looking through their sample albums, they should ideally be complete weddings, rather than "The Greatest Hits" from many weddings.
It's also a good idea to find out how they like to work on the day itself. Are they happy to fit into your agenda? Do you feel confident they can take the photographs you need? Do you love the style of albums they produce? Can you see yourself in one?
Be aware that certain photographs require time. Some epic sunset shots or stunning golden hour portraits, for example, can take a while to achieve. While some couples are happy to spend an hour or so on their portraits, others would prefer to spend more time with their guests. Therefore ask your photographer how much time they ideally like to dedicate to your groups and portraits. Some may be are more flexible than others. Their answer should fit in with your priorities for your day.
An engagement shoot is a brilliant way to settle any nerves or awkwardness around posing for photos ahead of the big event, something I offer to all my wedding clients. It's also a fabulous opportunity to finalise those last minute plans for the day itself.
Remember that a good wedding photographer is calm and confident, they're able to put you at ease, keep the day moving, while commanding a situation with professionalism and a sense of humour, whether it's a group shot with 50 of your college mates, or an over excited auntie who keeps thrusting her iPad in the way of their camera!
Once you've covered all the bases above, you're almost ready to book your photographer. At this stage, you'll want to make sure you're 100% happy with the terms of your agreement and you're clear on what's included.
When reviewing what's included in your collection, look out for the number of digital images you'll receive, and whether you'll have to pay extra to receive them.
Ask about pricing for prints, wall art, photo albums etc. The rates and quality of these vary from photographer to photographer. This is not something most couples think about until after the wedding, but it's worth exploring your options early on.
If you're including extras like an engagement shoot and/or an album, this should be reflected in the agreement.
Talk to your photographer about how many hours of coverage you're paying for. Some leave at the start of the wedding breakfast, others after the first dance, some work by the hour.
Your contract should also cover things like the photographer's meal on the day, if they are commissioned into the evening (don't forget to ask them for any dietary requirements to pass on to the venue or caterer). Some may need the cost of their travel if they are traveling a greater distance to be with you. This is especially important for destination weddings.
It’s a good idea to discus group photographs before the day itself. Prepare a list of required photographs to pass onto your photographer. many photographers will have their own tried-and-tested list that they work from but you may need some special groups too. If you're providing a list you should ask when they need it.
I would normally cover this at a pre wedding meeting, as off the wall groups can easily be over looked on the day itself.
Ask about the payment schedule, how much is the deposit, and when does the balance need to be paid? Check cancelation policies.
Ask your photographer what happens if they are sick or unable to work on the day of your wedding. These things can happen!
Ask about back up equipment. Cameras can break down and get dropped!
With the above in mind, you should also ask to see a copy of their Liability and indemnity insurance. Not only for your own piece of mind but these days many venues will not let outside contractors on the premises without valid insurance.
Check how long it will take to receive the photos. Photographers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
I hope these tips are of help in planning your wedding.
Do contact me if you would like any further help in choosing your wedding photographer.
You can find much more information over on the wedding section of my website
Good luck with your reasearch