How to Choose a Wedding Photographer
When meeting a couple for their wedding consultation, the last thing I say is a few words of advice. I say to them, there are many fantastic photographers’ around. Most important thing to do is take your time to find the wedding photographer that is right for you. Yes of course I would like them to pick me for their special day, however beyond that I would much rather they picked a wedding photographer that captures their day exactly how they dreamt it would be.
Having this in mind, and the advice I give to couples, I thought it would be a good to write this blog, and give my thoughts on how to choose the right photographer.
Here are my 7 tips of advice from a wedding photographer’s perspective.
Wedding photographers’ styles vary, and firstly when looking, it is important that you decide on what style you would like your photograph’s to have. You may be thinking you would like traditional wedding photograph’s, documentary style, portraiture style, fine art or natural wedding photography (which has become highly popular in recent times). There are many different styles to choose from, and it is very important that you choose the right one for the day. My advice would be to decide on a style, and then look for a photographer who can offer more than one style on your wedding day. An example being, taking formal photographs’ of guests, couple shots, documented images’ of the day such as the venue and smaller details and tie this in with a relaxed and natural approach. No photographer will be perfect; however, you will find a style that suits you both.
View a Full Wedding Album
A photographer’s portfolio, as like mine, displays a range of the best images’ from various weddings photographed. When I look at wedding photograph’s from peoples wedding day, I would say that there will be around 10 or so images’ that would be the couple’s favourites, and these are usually all they will need for a lifetime. These images’ maybe used for prints in their home or on social media. The problem with wedding portfolios is that you will not get a great understanding of the photographers’ work and in somewhat I feel the photographer is hiding the full day that has been documented. If a photographer displays a full gallery from a wedding day, you can get a nice idea of how your photos will look. The way I have set up my online portfolio is I have a wedding portfolio which displays a variety of my best images and with the wedding galleries, people can view the couples full wedding album to get an idea of how the day will be documented from bridal preparations to the first dance and into the evening celebrations.
What to Look for in the Wedding Photographs’
My first piece of advice when looking at the photograph’s, is how well the photographer documented the whole day of the wedding. There are many different sections of a wedding day you may not have thought about such as bridal preparations, ceremony, post ceremony, formals’, couple photograph’s, first dance and after party. It is important to know what areas you would like to have photographed. Yes, the ceremony and formals are within a standard wedding package, but if you’re looking for extras such as bridal preparations and evening celebrations, how well does the photographer capture these moments? Another thing I always say to couples is look for good quality, clean and detailed image’s. I think that there is no professional that should not be able to offer quality image’s and by this, I mean that everything in the frame that should be focused and clear. I often see images online in portfolios that are blurry, have noise (which is like lots of dots in the photographs’) and are not very detailed and sharp. The photographer could leave you with images’ that are perfect but if they are not as mentioned, they will not be of good use. I shoot with a 5D Mark III which is a high spec professional camera, and this way I can ensure quality image’s. You don’t need to be a photographer to see a good quality image, however with this advice I think you will be able to see a very good photographer over an amateur one.
A good photographer will offer a nice selection of different packages. On a personal note and from my research I have done, I have found that couples want a variety of packages, which gives them nice and clear information about what they include and a range of prices. Gold, silver and bronze or other nicely named packages are often what photographer’s use on their websites. Prices vary, and from understanding the UK market, you could pay from around £450 for an average photographer and up to £2,000 - £3,000 for a fine art wedding photographer who has a very professional portfolio. The first thing when deciding is to find out how long the photographer will stay for depending on what you want. Do you want a full day coverage? Do you want just the ceremony? These are decisions you will need to make, so you can get a better idea on prices. Some photographer’s will say how many hours you will get coverage for, which for me is a bit cheeky! What if the day overruns? You will likely find yourself paying a premium for extra hours! My advice is find a photographer who charges for the day and have them photograph from bridal preparations to first dance and into the evening celebrations. I would then advise to look at what extras you can add to your wedding packages. Does the photographer do an engagement shoot? Can you have online galleries to view your images? Do they provide wedding albums? Once you have found this you can then tailor your package to become bespoke to how you want it, and work out how much you will likely be paying.
Do you get on well?
One of the most important things when choosing a photographer is have you bonded with them when you spoke, or met up with them? Personality is massively important, not only will you be spending many hours with them on the day, so will your guests. The better that you all get on, the better the images will come out. If you as a couple like the photographer it will make the photographs’ fun and you won’t be timid around each other. When speaking about your wedding day, does the photographer get excited about your vision for the photographs? Have they presented themselves well to you and been professional? You can get a good idea about the photographer’s personality through reviews. Have other couples said nice things about them? On the day, a great photographer will be relaxed but assertive. You want them to allow you and your guests to enjoy the day, but when needed be able to speak up and help coordinate the photograph’s and possibly some of the wedding day.
Yes, a photographer is there to take amazing images’, however has been to many weddings and will know a good running order of the day. Do they seem like someone who can help you with that? Some photographer’s go beyond what’s expected. I once had a lovely review which read “We had lots of comments the next morning about how lovely you were and a number guests said you made the effort to say goodbye to them and wish them well at the end of the day. On a personal level that meant the world to us as it brought another touch that made everybody's day that bit more special” Having a nice photographer, who is confident, helpful and friendly with your guests, will really help make your wedding that little bit more special.
Yes, all photographers should, and most likely will display reviews on their website or have them on social media accounts such as Facebook. The reviews will give you a good idea of what previous couples have said about their services. I would recommend picking out things that are within reviews beyond the usual. Yes, “lovely photographs”, “great service” and “we are delighted with our wedding photos”, are things that will come up on many reviews. However, there will be other important messages such as “You were great with our guests during the day” “people loved you from our wedding” “You did much more than we were ever expecting” and I had one recently saying that “You were professional and fun and seem to absolutely love your job”. To me these are comments that show that a photographer goes beyond the expected and describe them as an individual as well as a wedding photographer.
Postproduction from you Wedding Photographs’
After the excitement of your wedding day, you will most likely be wanting to get hold of your wedding photograph’s as soon as you can. It is important to ask your photographer how long the images will take to turn around. Postproduction varies depending on the photographer and also how many weddings they have still to edit. It could be anything from 4 weeks to 4 months, and possibly longer. Personally, I like to get one image from the wedding to the couple as soon as I can, so they have one from their day and deliver the full gallery within 2 to 4 weeks. Questions to ask include things like do I have full rights to my images? how many photograph’s should I expect from the wedding day? How will I get my images? When receiving your images, some photographer’s may produce you an online gallery with a log in, some may send a USB and others will digitally send them to you. You may also want to know, if you have purchased an album, how long will this take to receive? You may also want to ask the photographer to not use your photograph’s for advertising. My experience is couples do not mind, however if you want them to stay personal you may want to ask about your rights.
So that’s it, my 7 tips which I think will help you to choose the right photographer for your wedding day. It’s a big decision and one that does take time when researching. However, if you choose the right photographer this will make your day that little more special, and having full confidence in your photographer will help create moments that last forever.