Choosing your wedding photographer | Who do you go with & how do you decide?
Choosing your wedding photographer | Who do you go with & how do you decide?
Choosing your wedding photographer is a HUGE deal!
It should be exciting, it should feel right, but I know it can often be overwhelming. Every person and their uncle seem to be a wedding photographer these days, which means you’re looking at a massively saturated market.
So where do you start?
I’d say start local.
Why? Because you NEED to meet with this person.
Unless you’ve followed a photographer for years and you’re 110% sure that you absolutely must have them, and assuming they’re not local, you’re willing to fly them to your wedding/pay for accommodation etc, then have a look locally first.
I can guarantee there will be AT LEAST a handful of top notch wedding photographers in your area.
I think having someone in your area is a massive bonus point. You can meet them before you book, you can keep a close relationship with them leading up to the wedding, you can pop in to see them for a drink or to discuss ideas. You’re not far away when it comes to picking up your wedding album. And assuming your photographer does other photography than weddings, they can be your photographer for years to come.
I’ve had lots of experience meeting my couples, who are 9 times out of 10, local to me. Those who aren’t have travelled to meet with me and have usually picked me because they absolutely love my work, because I’ve been recommended or because I’m local to their venue.
I love being on hand to chat with my couples, have face to face meetings, go to visit the venue together, grab a drink together. Sometimes your photographer becomes a friend for life!
Which leads me nicely on to my next point.
Make sure you like them
This sounds obvious right?
But this can make or break your wedding photography.
Let’s not forget, this person is going to be with you on one of the single most important days of your life. You absolutely must must must get on with them well. They must be “your sort of person”.
You’ll most likely figure this out the minute you meet with them – that’s why it’s really important to meet with your photographer, or even meet with a few photographers, before going ahead and booking. If the conversation flows, you have a few jokes, they share your vision of the day, they can give you some helpful tips – great!
If the conversation is stop/start, feels difficult and forced, it feels overly “businessy”, they don’t get your sense of humour, you have nothing in common – run!
You want to look forward to this person arriving on your wedding morning, you want to know that you feel comfortable around this person and they’ll put you at ease during your wedding portraits.
I know from my point of view that I click with each and every couple that books with me. I get on with them, we have a laugh, and that shines through in my photography.
Love their style
A photographers style is what it is. So if you don’t absolutely 100% LOVE their photography, the poses they do, the editing style they use, their use of light, their level of posed vs documentary, DO NOT BOOK THEM!
Wedding photographers have (hopefully) spent a many a year in the industry, practising and refining their craft. In this time, their photography and editing will change and evolve until eventually your photographer has a defined ‘style’. Once this style is established, it will be consistent, and consistency is key. So make sure you’ve had a look at their most recent blog posts so you’re familiar with exactly what their style is like.
When you hire someone with experience, you’re paying for their expertise, their knowledge that comes from practise, being in the industry, shooting tons of weddings and learning something new each time.
Whilst there are some great photographers who are new to the wedding industry or are just starting out, you’ll definitely benefit from a more experienced photographer.
Your photographer will not only be able to capture some great shots on your wedding day, they will also be able to help you with your schedule, advise on elements of your day, suggest where might have the best lighting, suggest a time that would be best to do group shots etc. They know all this and can advise you (on what’s most likely your first time getting married) because they’re experienced.
Money, Money, Money
I firmly believe you get what you pay for, in all aspects of life, but especially with wedding photography. There will be photographers out there who are just starting out (and hey, everyone has to start somewhere right?) and therefore will offer a cheaper/discounted rate, which is great for those of you on a budget, but they may not be able to guide you on posing, when to do group shots or couples portraits, they might miss a crucial shot or moment.
There are some amazing photographers out there who will charge a cheaper rate simply because they can. Maybe photography isn’t their full time job so they don’t need to charge what others do.
Most full time wedding photographers will charge way more than those who are starting out/not doing it full time. Not only because they’re experienced, as discussed above, but because this is their career. They need to make a living, they have bills to pay. Some photographers may have a studio or an office that they work from, so they have overheads, they regularly update and improve their kit, they spend hours upon hours editing your images. That’s what you’re paying for.
Not to mention the fact that your wedding photography is the one thing that you can take away from your wedding day and will last a lifetime (that and your marriage!). All the money that goes into the venue, the food, the decor, none of that really matters in comparison to photography. It’s there for the day and then that’s it. You will have your wedding photos forever.
I’ve seen it way too many times where couples are disappointed with their wedding photography because they wanted to save money and opted for a cheap photographer.
More than the “hero shots”
“Hero shots” are what you will have seen most on photography websites and social media accounts. Those epic couples shots taken in a beautiful landscape, with stunning lighting. Those are great, and it’s really important that your photographer can capture those shots well, as they are what are most likely to be printed out and put up on the wall. However, your wedding day will be filled with emotion, and a photographer really pulls it out of the bag when they capture the hysterical laughter of guests during the speeches, mum dabbing at her eyes with a tissue during the ceremony, a hug from your grandma etc. Those are the moments, and the shots that matter, just as much as your couples portraits.
Making your approach
You will have poured over instagram profiles, lost count of wedding photography websites visited, and you will have narrowed down your list of photographers to contact.
So when you send your message, make it count, and make it personal. Speaking as a wedding photographer, I LOVE getting emails that tell me a bit about the couple, what they’re planning for their day, and yeah, the old “your work is stunning!” definitely butters me up a little bit 😉
So I’d advise against copy and pasting your approach to multiple photographers. This is your initial point of contact and you should be aiming to connect with them right from this moment.
I can’t tell you how rude I find it when I receive a message that goes “how much do you charge?”. Literally, thats it. Not even so much as a hello, or “are you available on x date”. Not a good way to start out with your potential photographer, and if you do send a message like that, be prepared to not get a response!
What NOT to do
So finally, the big no no, and again, it’s becoming increasingly (and frustratingly) more common… hiring uncle bob. Uncle Bob is a saying within the industry and it doesn’t have to LITERALLY refer to your uncle who is named Bob. What it refers to are those couples who go “oh my uncle/auntie/best mate/cousin is just going to take the photos”.
NO NO NO!!!
Even if uncle Bob is a professional wildlife photographer, wedding photography is a different game altogether. So please, hire a professional. Again, your wedding photography and the photos you receive are the one thing that will last forever, don’t skimp on it!