How to choose your wedding photographer?
Everyone and their dog is a photographer these days (My dog is more of a videographer, but I’m sure he could take some stills, too, if he wanted). But is every ‘photographer’ or someone with a ‘nice camera’ a perfectly fine candidate to be your wedding photographer? Well, that completely depends on how much you appreciate quality in photos.
If you’re not too fussed and think that it doesn’t really matter how the photos have been taken as long as you can at least see who is in the photo, then you can ask anyone who knows how to point a camera and press a button to take your wedding photos. No judgement from me here, by the way – I know some people honestly don’t know the difference, and that’s absolutely fine. I don’t know the difference between good and bad coffee myself, for example.
On the other hand, if you appreciate photos where moments (your memories) have been captured with a good eye for a beautiful composition, appreciation of the lighting conditions and the ability and readiness to capture your moments on the fly, all through the day, I recommend you choose an experienced, professional wedding photographer for the job.
How do you go about choosing the perfect photographer, then? There are so many to choose from! If you do an online search for a wedding photographer in your area you will see dozens and dozens of photographers’ websites.
Here are my top tips on how to choose your wedding photographer:
- Goes without saying, but I’ll start with an easy one: look through all the photos presented on their website to see if you like the style of the photographer. Do you like the way they have captured moments throughout the wedding day; do the photos convey an emotion? How has the photographer used light in the photos? How has he/she posed the couple in the ‘after the ceremony’ couple’s portrait photos. Do you like the detail shots of the bouquets, venue and decorations? Do you like the way the photos have been post-processed, the light, the colours and the quality of the black and white photos?
If you are looking for an experienced wedding photographer, make sure that the photographer really is experienced in photographing real weddings. Be aware that some photographers may have a few stunning photos on their website in their ‘portfolio’, but in fact the photos have been taken at a styled shoot rather than a real wedding – i.e. someone else has picked a location and models and usually even posed the models for the photographer who then only had to push the button to take a great photo.
This is very different from being experienced in photographing real weddings where the photographer has to document the whole day as a photojournalist, pick the best locations and pose the beautiful couple’s photos, have the presence to organise people into the formal photos in an efficient yet friendly manner, interact with everyone with respect and good humour, and so on – all of which contributes towards making wonderful pictures, and a pleasant experience for everyone.
Make sure that you see dozens of photos from one (or more) weddings so that you can see that the photographer is able to create the story of a whole wedding day with consistently good quality photographs. Anyone can get lucky and snap a nice photo or two, but consistency is a mark of a good professional.
- Read testimonials from previous clients. Are they saying things that you appreciate and would love to be able to say the same after your own wedding? (You would probably want to hear a bit more than “great photos, thank you!”)
- Check that the photographer you are interested in hiring is a professional: that they are fully insured, they have not only solid camera gear but also solid backup camera gear with them on the day, and that they have a wedding photography contract that states the rights and expectations of both parties. Just to be safe.Your wedding is a once in a life time event – you want to make sure that it is photographed by someone who is properly and seriously prepared for the job.
When it comes to price, don’t make your decision on who is 20% cheaper or more expensive. If your budget is very small, obviously your investment choice between £500 and £3000 is an easy one to make, but if it’s a question of a few hundred pounds, I recommend you choose the photographer whose work you love, over the one you ‘can afford’.
Your wedding photos are something that you will be looking at for decades to come; would you want to think every time “I wish we had paid that little extra at the time to get the wedding photographer we really liked”?
I have heard this many times and it breaks my heart every time I hear someone say that they asked a friend/relative who has a nice camera, or the cheapest available ‘wedding photographer’ to take their photos, and they were so terrible that they don’t even want to look at the photos ever again. Think of your wedding photos as an investment for future joy: it may cost a little more now, but it will pay off in great dividends as you will be able to enjoy your beautifully captured memories for the rest of your life.
Last but by no means least: make sure that you feel comfortable with the photographer as a person. He/she is going to spend the whole of your wedding day near you, so you definitely don’t want it to be someone you feel awkward around, or someone who doesn’t have the social skills and respect for the fact that it is your and your guests’ big day.
You will get a sense of their personality from their website and their testimonials, but best to have a telephone conversation with them to start with, and meet up, if at all possible, before making your final decision. Better still, have a pre-wedding photo shoot with them so that you get a feel of what it will be like to have them as your photographer!
Link to my wedding photography testimonials