How to choose a wedding photographer.
So you have just got engaged! Congratulations and now the fun of wedding planning. This is a very exciting and sometimes stressful part of any couples life together. You want the perfect day, you have spent hours pouring over wedding blogs, magazines and by the time you start to think about your wedding photographer you will probably have your venue booked and a strong idea of how your day will look and feel.
Now wedding photography is important to some and not so much to others. However for the people who it is important too I have decided to put together a little guide on how to choose your wedding photographer. This is largely down to the number of people I have seen after their wedding not being happy with the decision they made regarding their choice of wedding photography. Obviously no guide or advice is 100% right but there are things you can do and ask to help in choosing.
Different Types of Wedding Photographer.
So there is a number of different ways you can go about your wedding photography to suit most budgets and all ways have their pros and cons.
The first is the family member or friend. Now to many this will seem like a great option the person in question may have a great camera and have offered to do your wedding photography as a gift or they are thinking about going into wedding photography themselves. Its very cost effective but in all honesty the pros tend to stop there. Don't get me wrong it can work out however being a guest and the official wedding photographer generally tend to not mix well. Moments can be missed and they will want to have fun and party with the rest of your guests.
Next up we have a photography student or someone who is just starting out and needs to build a portfolio. Now if you find the right person for this it can be a wonderful way for couples on a tight budget to get some lovely photographs on their wedding day. I would usually expect the price range to be free to £200.00. You can usually find someone through a local college or gumtree or maybe a wedding planning site. Also ask around as someone might know somebody. If you decide on this route there are couple of things to remember. Its unlikely that you will find someone in advance, most people looking to build a portfolio will be looking to do weddings soon they won't be looking to take bookings for their portfolio months or years in advance as they will be wanting to have the work to be charging properly by then. The second thing is look for someone who is going to treat you as a properly paying client they will be wanting your recommendation so will make sure they are still giving a great service but they will still be learning at the same time and will be likely to have a few slip ups while gaining their experience.
Next up is the professional. Personally if the photography is one of your number one priorities for your wedding this is the way to go. A professional is there for you and only you. Its their job to capture your day and they will have the experience of how to manage your day, run your formal groups smoothly and pose you properly for your couple photos. They will capture all the details you have put your heart into and they know how manage to lighting for anytime of year and to get those perfect first dance and party photos. A good wedding photographer will immortalise the memories of your wedding day allowing you to enjoy them for many many years. This is where the next part comes in. How do you find this person? And how can you be sure they will be the right choice?
Where to find a good professional wedding photographer.
Now the first place I would start is recommendations. Perhaps a family member or friend has got married recently and if they had a great photographer they will want to rave about them and show off their work. Its our strongest form of advertising. So get asking.
Another way is if you have decided on your venue google 'wedding photographer your venue' it will come up with blog posts of previous weddings that other photographers have shot at your venue. Having a photographer who has been to your venue before is always an advantage.
Wedding planning sites like hitched can also be great. You can source a photographer in your area and there will often be reviews left about them from previous clients.
A professional body like The Guild of Professional Photographers will also have a directory of their members. This a great way as it will mean the photographer you choose is definitely a member of a professional body.
Wedding Blogs! That gorgeous vintage DIY wedding you gushed over on Rock my Wedding was photographed by someone and their details will be on the post!
I would aim to find 3-5 photographers to contact. You don't want to overwhelm yourself but you need to shop around to get a feel for people. Of course you may immediately meet the one which would be fantastic! Have a look at the websites and packages of the photographers you see, do you like the style of the photography? It is after all an art form and most certainly not just a case of pressing a button, you are paying for the person and how they see the world. Every photographer will be different although there are a few rules to follow. Are the photos well exposed? Are they in focus? Nicely composed? Do you like their style of editing? These are things that you should be looking at before you make contact. Another thing to consider (and although important I most certainly would not select a photographer based on price alone) is your budget. Have an idea of it. Photographers can cost from £100-£3000+ its up to you to decide what you feel its worth. Most good and established photographers know how to value their time and skill so won't be trying to rip you off. Remember they are running a business and its not just showing up to your wedding and pressing a shutter. Many hours of work go into the end result and those memories are priceless.
The next stage is what to look for and ask in the photographers you have selected to meet. These rules will apply to all photographers of all budgets!
What to ask??
So you are ready to meet your wedding photographer. This maybe in person, on the phone or perhaps a Skype chat. Here are some questions you can ask them to get an idea of how they work.
Number one and very important, Insurance!!! Any good photographer will have it. You are looking for public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance.
Do you have back up equipment? You never know what could happen on the morning of a wedding and accidents do happen. So its important your photographer has a second camera and a couple of lenses/flashes etc.
Can we view a full wedding? Another important question. A lot of people can take a few good photographs on the cameras we have these days but you want to see consistent quality throughout a photographers work. It takes skill to provide people with a couple of hundred quality images.
Do you work with a contract? This is important because the contract will protect both you and the photographer during your time working together. It will outline clearly the package and the working agreement between you both.
What rights do we have with the photos we get? English copyright law states that photographs are the property of the photographer unless otherwise stated. Most photographers will give you full printing and sharing rights over the images they give you as part of their package. However most will not allow you to edit them or advertise with them and the copyright will remain with them. The reason is simple they will want to protect their business and their brand.
What happens if your photographer is injured or sick on the day of your wedding? Do they have procedures in place to cover this? Being part of a professional body or a strong network of other photographers is important for this reason. Also ask if the monies already paid will go towards paying the other photographer in these circumstances.
Now a couple of questions to ask yourself….
Do you get a good feeling? Do you click with the photographer? Remember this person is going to be with you for most of your wedding day. Mingling with your guests and its important you feel comfortable with them and enjoy their company.
Are they passionate about their work? You will be able to tell if not. Photographing weddings needs emotion as well as skill and creativity, they are hard work and most of us do it because we love it and enjoy giving something special to people.
Do you love their style? This again goes back to every photographer is different. We have our own take on it and different ways of editing. Its important that you love our work because that will be the end product.
Good luck and have fun!!