How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Here are my top tips on how to choose a wedding photographer. Often the photographs are the only enduring things left from your day so you really don’t want to get them wrong. I work with some amazing wedding photographers and these are the things they really want you to know!

Budget

There are photographers out there for every budget, but I’m not going to beat around the bush here. If you are paying substantially less than £1500 for your wedding photographs, the photographer probably isn’t running a sustainable business. It takes hours of a professional wedding photographer’s time to prepare for a wedding, travel to and shoot your wedding. Then they have to backup and cull the photos they took and then painstakingly edit each image. Not to mention the overhead costs of running their business (many of which I outline in my blog here) Most the wedding photographers I know invest in kit worth tens of the thousands of pounds and are properly insured. Venues increasingly ask photographers to provide their public liability insurance info before they will allow them to shoot on the day. If they don’t have insurance, run away!

There are so many horror stories out there about couples who have booked cheap wedding photographers being at best very disappointed with their photos, and at worst, not getting them at all. If you’re on a limited budget, it is worth considering booking a professional photographer whose style you love for a shorter period of time than booking someone cheaper for the entire day. This way, you will ensure that you get incredible photographs that you adore rather than mediocre ones that you don’t want on your wall.

Having said that, everyone needs to start somewhere and if you’re lucky enough to book the next must have photographer at the beginning of their career then yay!

Style

Light and bright? Dark and moody? Black and white? Fine Art? Reportage? So many terms get bandied about that all mean different things in an artistic sense. Once you have found a couple of photographers you love, see how they describe their work and whether there are any crossover amongst them. Don’t just book a photographer because they photographed your friends wedding and were ‘nice’. Book them because you absolutely can’t imagine having anyone else capture your day and your love.

Digital or film?

I nearly included this within style, but its very slightly different. Literally, its the medium upon which your photographer will record your photographs. Digital is very clean and ‘correct’. Film is sometimes considered “warmer, grainier or grittier” and is often closely aligned with fine art photographers. There is a whole tranche of wedding photographers who produce truly incredible photographs on film.

Geography

I’ve included this to say that most photographers LOVE to travel and are very happy to do so nationally or internationally. Therefore if they are not based locally to your wedding, don’t write them off. Many blogs/magazines etc will tell you not to book a photographer if they haven’t shot your venue before, but this is absolute nonsense. A good photographer can photograph anywhere and will probably do a recce the venue beforehand if they can. As with all wedding professionals who will need to travel for your wedding, do get them to confirm their travel costs. Good suppliers will be up front and clear about this in any event.

Basics

Do you want one or two photographers? Many photographers work in pairs as standard (I know lots of husband and wife teams!) or can get a second shooter that they work with regularly to assist them. Most usually one will cover bridal prep and travel to the venue while the other will cover groom prep and guests arriving at the venue. Then they will tag team through the ceremony and the rest of the day.

Ask to see whole sets of wedding photographs that have been delivered to clients, not just the highlights that are featured on social media/website/photo albums. Good photographers will be pleased to show them to you and show off their work.

Engagement shoots divide opinions with both couples and photographers. If you want one is it included in the package you’re looking at?

Check how long it will take them to turn around the photographs. In peak season, this could be at least a couple of months for an in demand photographer. Don’t be put off if it will take them a while to get them to you, it is no bad thing that they take their time making sure your photos are amazing! Many now provide a sneak peek of a handful of your images within a week or so of the wedding day to keep you going!

And finally…

As with all wedding suppliers, you’re likely to be working closely with the photographer both in the run up to and on the day itself. You need to know that you ‘click’ with them. Email them and ask to have a chat on Skype/Facetime or in person – they will love to hear from you!

Next week I am publishing my personal list of my favourite wedding photographers. They are all people with whom I have worked and who I think are brilliant. I will be giving you my insiders guide to the ones I rate and telling you why!