What to look for in a wedding photographer | Tips for choosing
Insider’s guide to wedding photography
If someone popped that special question over the holiday, then one of the first things you will be starting to think about is how to plan your wedding. So I have put together an insider’s guide to picking the best photographer for your wedding. Next to the venue, good wedding photographers book up fast so it is one vendor you should start researching early on in your wedding planning. Booking early also allows you to benefit from all their experience and can help you achieve wonderful photographs with minimum impact on your special day.
Make sure that you are a good fit
You will be with your photographer all day so making sure that your personalities mesh is really important. Look for someone assertive but positive and friendly, who will know when to get involved and when to step back. Ask your photographer what their favourite kinds of shot are. On my blog, I write a series of posts called “Story of the photo”. I do this to show prospective clients what I love to shoot and why. If this matches or excites you, then you have a good fit.
Take the time to browse
Look through a photographer’s website, their galleries or blogs. Read about their shoots to get a feel for how your day might unfold. Spend more time on the sites whose style really appeals to you and maybe write down some notes about the pictures you really love.
In terms of style, I always encourage my clients to go on instinct. Which images are you drawn to? If you can’t articulate it then why not use a Pinterest board and feel free to share it with the photographer. Tell your photographer which images you like in their portfolio and why; this is really helpful, and you will get better and more of the shots you want. We spend all day looking at pictures and will be able to put into words (and practice!) what kind of thing you love. Remember that professional photographers won’t want to imitate someone else, but they will be able to identify what it is that you are looking for.
Always try to meet up with the photographer, either in person or video chat. I encourage couples to video chat with me first and then schedule a face-to-face meeting if needed before their pre-wedding shoot. The important thing is to feel comfortable and to be able to trust your photographer. This takes all the worry out of the big day. I love weddings when my clients just trust me and enjoy their day - it shows in the pictures.
Be honest about your expectations
How much time and energy do you want your photographer to be spending on your wedding? Ask how many weddings they shoot per weekend. Unless they are short 2-3 hour civil weddings I shoot one wedding a weekend, that means all my time and energy is spent on you and your day.
Be realistic about what you can achieve at different locations, different times of the year and in different weather conditions. We can work magic with the humblest of locations and in horrible weather but only so much. If you want natural light images in the middle of December, your couple pictures are best done before the ceremony. Evening and sunset in the summer, then you may need some time before dinner.
New photographers vs seasoned
An experienced professional photographer will be more expensive. One of the reasons they are still in business is that they charge for their time and invest in their business, gear and skills. A seasoned pro will know what they are doing, will be able to help if things go wrong and will be able to deal with nearly all eventualities. My prices take into account a desire to do an outstanding job. This means I take fewer weddings a year but focus my attention on my clients. I am always here for you and spend time making your images amazing.
New photographers are cheaper, but they might miss things or make mistakes. If your budget is tight, it is important to see their real weddings, not styled shoots or workshops. You want to see how they shoot under pressure. However, everyone starts somewhere, and I wouldn’t be where I am without a few special clients who took a gamble. With newer photographers, I definitely recommend scheduling a pre-wedding shoot well in advance so that you have time to discuss the resulting images.
A second shooter or not
I don’t usually work with a second shooter, but at big weddings I do prefer to have back up for key moments. I often shoot with my husband or a new photographer. I choose someone who can offer a different perspective and can anticipate my needs. A second shooter is a great option if you are planning a long apéro and couple photos, it means the photographer is available in two places at once.
Find out about postproduction
No professional photographer will give you photographs straight out of a digital camera: they are unfinished. Manage your expectations by finding out how long postproduction takes, what will be done to your images, what is included and what will you receive.
In busy periods I quote four weeks to complete wedding photos – just enough time for a relaxing honeymoon! I spend time choosing the images which best reflect the story of your day. I then perfect each one in terms of quality, colour and composition; do minor retouching – mostly things I couldn’t work around and perfecting groups; create a set of black & white images, and export the files for your USB. For 700-800 images, this takes a little time.
Know your rights
Finally, it is good to know where you stand with the rights to your wedding photos. The photographer owns the rights to all the photos, but you have a right to decide where they are used. I ask my clients for permission to share a selection of images on my website so that new clients can see what I do but respect requests to keep the images private. The digital files I supply can be printed and shared as you wish. A credit or thanks is always very welcome as I get most new clients from recommendations.