Choosing A Wedding Photographer ~ And Getting It Right

 

So you just got engaged over Christmas. Congratulations, exciting times! Some of you will be planning a long leisurely engagement (mine was 2 years), others will be planning to get hitched this year, but however long you plan to wait before getting married, thoughts will no doubt turn to towards your big day.

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There is a certain order couples do things

The venue is probably the biggest consideration after setting the date itself. You may already know exactly where you want, or you may want to go and see plenty. Couples often tell me they went with a certain venue because they could imagine their friends and family there or it felt homely. To give you options get it booked.

So next there are all sorts of vendors that need to be checked out and booked; caterers, florist, cake maker, hair and makeup, the dress! That’s just a starting place, but if your priority after setting a date and bagging the venue of your dreams is to find your perfect photographer then you are speaking my language.

This is where I talk a very true cliché.  After the guests have disappeared into the night, the cake has been sliced, the dress sent off to the dry cleaners and those Jimmy Choos been lovingly placed back in the box with thoughts on how to get rid of the mud stains, one things will remain in all its shiny perfection, your photographic memories. These hold the key to how that pristine frock was, how radiant and beautiful you looked, how your parents shed a tear, how your man turned to you with a look of love and pride, how you smiled at him with pure happiness, how your guests reacted to your obvious delight and continued to react at every point of your day, how delicious and perfect your cake was before a thorough slicing, how all those place settings looked after those hours of decision making. It’s all there and more.

Choosing your photographer is a big deal. I’ve spoken in the past about how it feels to be disappointed with your photographers because I am one of those brides that felt that way. There are some really important considerations and believe me, I know it isn’t easy. No one knows more than me how many wedding photographer there are out there to choose from!

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Where To Start Looking

Don’t start with the Yellow Pages! You could look at some top wedding blogs for ideas. Not only will this help you to realize the style you both like, but it will also tell you what you don’t like. The more popular the blog, the more submissions they will receive. What this tells you is that those that make it to being blogged are the best, so these photographers are a good place to start. You could also check out the many photographers who advertise, but remember these have been paid for, so you need to be discerning when viewing their work (many of whom are great I should add, though perhaps not all).

Search by your venue. Tap your venue and ‘wedding’ into Google images and see what comes up. I know from doing this myself you will get a mixed set of results. Once you have discounted the cheesy dated looking images, have a look at the photographer’s websites of those images you like.

Recommended suppliers. No, and may I also again say no! Please know that quite a lot of venues charge suppliers for being on their list of recommended suppliers. Being recommended has nothing to do with the quality of their work. I know of a certain venue (whose name I shall not mention), with a list of recommended photographers that are dated and nowhere near as good as other photographers images from the venue.

Be aware that some venues may wish to charge extra for using suppliers not on their list. This is wrong! Your chosen photographer may not have covered your venue before but this won’t matter if they are skilled and you love their work. You shouldn’t be penalised for bringing in your choice of supplier over theirs.

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Popular Photographers

Photographers are usually popular and booked well in advance because they are good! These are the photographers who get many of their bookings through recommendation from previous clients, and they could be booked up to 2 years in advance.  Nothing beats a recommendation from a friend, so if the photographer has your date available go and meet them. Of course if their style isn’t your cup of tea then you mustn’t feel you have to have them because your friend did!

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Busy Photographers

Every photographer has an estimated number of bookings they wish to take a year. For me, I like to book a manageable number that allows me to give each couple a high quality personable service and deliver a couple’s images within a 4 week time frame.  It’s worth asking the photographer how long they take, and is that backed up by their contract? Booking a popular photographer who has accepted 50 weddings that year, is feeling a little swamped and now has a delivery time of 6 months, or worse, would prefer not to answer the question directly, is probably a ‘walk away’ job!

Other photographers may have a team of photographers they work with and therefore may book over 100 weddings a year, have someone to process the images and another to build your wedding album.  It’s a slick operation and if you like the end results this could be for you.

Then there are the photographers who are still portfolio building. They will be cheaper than more experienced photographers, and they will be seeking to book as many weddings as possible. If their work is really pleasing, you may get yourself a bargain, but please bear in mind the adage you ‘get what you pay for’. These photographers are training on the job and looking to experience all sorts of challenges. Your wedding day may not be the time you want to avail them of a certain challenge for the first time.

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Family Ties

Apparently your cousin’s husband has a kick ass camera and has taken the most amazing shots of the Yorkshire Dales. His Buttertubs Pass is second to none. Run!!!

Having a great camera and being able to take impressive shots of a mountain range is not the same as being able to work unobtrusively, blending into the background and capturing beautiful images of your day, whatever the location, the light, the hast of the moment.

Even if Uncle Bob has brought his camera along to many a family wedding and shot some great images, it’s still not the same as having a photographer who dedicates themselves to capturing every moment of your day, from pin sharp detail shots to fabulous couples shots that look natural and spontaneous.

As I said before, run!

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I Love The Photographers Work!

You have reached the stage of finding a few photographers whose work you really love.  Now is the time to get in touch to find out if the photographer is available for your date. You will also need to know their prices. Some photographers display these online, some will give a starting price, and some will only disclose their fees in their brochure.

Booking a photographer is not like negotiating on a house, you can’t put an offer in and hope they bite your hand off. Prices are not plucked out of thin air. If I speak for myself, I carry up to 10K of high-end equipment with me at each wedding. This needs to be updated and replaced from time to time, as well as serviced annually.   I have to be insured, pay taxes, pay for my website, occasionally advertising, training, and yes, I even have to pay myself a salary for which I work up to 60 hours a week during busy periods. Photographers are on a get rich quick scheme – said no one ever! 🙂

Once you have taken a look at the photographer’s brochure and you’ve agreed they are within your budget, go and see them. They may come to you or you may meet at a mutually convenient location. Personally I meet all couples at my home.

You are going to know pretty quickly if you feel this is the photographer for you. You should feel comfortable in their presence and that they are genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say. Remember you will be spending a lot of time with this person on your wedding day, so it’s important to feel both confident in their abilities as well as relaxed by their company.

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Some things to check

How many images will you get and are they fully edited?

Is an album included or extra?

Read the contract carefully, including what happens if you cancel or they are ill!

Do they have Professional liability and Indemnity insurance?

Is travel extra? Will you need to pay for accommodation?

Are you getting one photographer, two photographers, or a photographer and an assistant?

What is the delivery time for images?

If you love their work and feel comfortable and confident with them, snap them up, but remember, wedding photographers work on a first come first served basis, so be prompt with that deposit and signed contract.

Well I hope this has helped. I know looking for a photographer can be pretty daunting, but the end result will be so worth the that little bit of extra knowledge.

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