From the start I won’t deny that there will be a degree of bias in this article as I am obviously myself a wedding photographer but I want to ensure if you do choose me to photograph your big day that you are doing so for the right reasons hence my reason for writing this blog.
Where to start – budget
So at this point in time you have most likely decided on your overall budget, the venue and the ever important date but now you have a long list of things to organise from ‘the’ dress, food and of course the photographer.
Before you start searching for a photographer you need to decide on your budget for them. You can pay as little as a few hundred pounds or as much as many thousands. It is worth always remembering that you get what you pay for. Although there are always exceptions, a photographer at the lower end of the scale will do little to no post processing, and will have equipment which does not meet normal professional standards. Below par equipment will struggle to produce quality images in a dark environment such as a church where flash photography is often prohibited.
The photographer will capture normally the only tangible asset after your day. They give you ever lasting memories and for that reason my advice is to always book the best suitable photographer you can afford. Therefore first you need to decide on your budget.
Some people will discount photographers they love as being out of budget for full day coverage. Instead it’s worth considering having partial day coverage. 5 hours of great photos will always be better than 10 hours of average ones. You can also be clever with your timings so that you can get all the important things covered.
First and foremost you need to get along with your photographer, so take the opportunity to speak with them at length, and preferably meet them in advance of booking so you can be assured of a good relationship. The relationship is important to ensure the wedding day itself runs smoothly and you don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable.
Choosing a Style
This may seem obvious but you must love the photographer’s style. Do you like both their coverage and editing styles? If you want a natural reportage style do not book a traditional or contemporary photographer. If you like soft vintage images do not book a photographer who produces bold vibrant images. The internet is wonderful for being able to search and view the work of photographers before even having to make contact. If you like what you see on initial view of a photographer’s site ask to see several complete online wedding albums (not just sample pictures from a wedding), look through the albums and if you come away loving the vast majority of images then they could be the photographer for you. If though, you only like an image here and there, it is best to look elsewhere.
One photographer or two?
Once you have found a photographer you get on with, you like their style and you can afford them, there are a few more considerations. Does the photographer work alone or as a pair? Personally I always have a second photographer working with me so allowing me to literally be in two places at once, I do occasionally cover smaller weddings alone but only on rare occasions. If you only have one photographer you will be limited by what photos you will be able to receive, and the likelihood of a special moment being missed is dramatically increased.
Ask the photographer what their back up plan is if things go wrong. Any photographer worth their salt will have various back up plans in place in the event of the unthinkable and will be happy to share these plans. They will also normally be outlined in the contract they will ask you to sign. The fact they have already considered various possibilities reduces the chance of many occurring in the first place as they will be actively preventing them where possible.
Lastly ask about editing times. I keep hearing time and time again of brides who loved their photographers but were left horrendously disappointed to wait not just many weeks but several months to receive their edited photos after the wedding. Although many received some ‘sneak peak’ images soon after the wedding (something I do personally within 48 hours), they have waited up to 4 months to receive their finished digital albums by which time, although the photos were loved, it was simply too long to wait. So don’t just ask what their quoted editing time is but what their actual average turn around is. Also find out how busy they are, if they have 8 weddings in a month they may not turn round those images within 4-6 weeks which is considered the industry standard. Personally I limit the number of weddings I will agree to as around my other work. Others may outsource their editing or have a business partner who dedicates their time to the editing. All are perfectly normal as long as work is consistent and time lines met.
Hopefully you are now better prepared to choose a photographer to suit your needs. If though you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me and ask.