Choosing your photographer is one of the most exciting and important parts of planning your wedding, at least in my opinion anyway!! You may think I’m biased but I was a bride long before becoming a photographer, and choosing the right photographer to capture my day was definitely at the top of my list.
Your wedding photographs will be the only lasting memory from your day – unless, of course you hire a videographer too, so getting this right is essential. Your photographer does a lot more than just snap away all day, each photographer will have their own shooting style, editing style and different ways of telling a story. Do your homework, visit lots of websites, read their “About Me” pages and testimonials, get to know them through their online presence and figure out what it is that draws you to their imagery. Their work should really sing to you and most importantly make you feel something. You want to look back at your wedding photos in years to come and remember how you felt in that moment, and thats what a great photographer can capture. Not just how your wedding day looked, but how it felt, and transport you right back to that moment in time.
Here are my 5 tips for choosing your photographer
1. Photographic Style
There are many different styles of photography to choose from, so first decide which style best suits your personalities and your wedding. You may like alternative & edgy photos, or a more fly on the wall documentary style, or perhaps you love the light, airy and romantic fine art feel. There is no point booking a photographer for their natural, candid style of shooting if you want lots of posed, traditional photos. Asking a photographer to shoot in a style that is a million miles away from what you see in their portfolio is a never going to make you or them happy, so once you have decide which style you are drawn to, then narrow down your search to photographers who shoot in that style, and also fit your budget.
So you have decided which style of photography you want, and have found 2 or 3 photographers who may be perfect. The next step before booking is meeting them. Do you get on? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you feel like you are on the same page? This works both ways, and is just as important for you as it is for the photographer. They will be with you for the whole day, and you will most likely spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than anyone else, so it’s important you feel relaxed and happy around them. Meeting your photographer in person or having a chat over Skype or phone is always a good idea to make sure you’re the right fit for each other. This will also give you the chance to ask any questions you may have and to see their wedding albums or view a few full wedding galleries online.
Now this is a biggie, everyone will have a different amount that they allocate for photography, and sometimes the photographer you love may be way out of your price range. Photography is an expensive business and the camera gear we use isn’t cheap, neither is insurance, back up cameras & lenses, editing software…you get the picture. (Pardon the pun!)
Saying that, there is a vast difference in how much photographers charge depending on how experienced they are, how many hours they will spend with you on the day, and what products they include. If you find a photographer who sees the world the way you do and can capture that through their camera, then it may be worth spending a little more than you anticipated. A rough guide would be to allocate 10-15% of your total wedding budget to photography. This is not a hard & fast rule, I have had couples spend a quarter or more of their budget on booking me for their day as photography was a top priority for them, but for other couples photography may not be as high on the list. But remember, the value of your wedding photos will increase with every year that passes. If you decide to spend a little less on your wedding shoes or forgo the expensive wedding car in order to afford your favourite photographer, then I can safely say you won’t regret it!
The quality, style and choice of products photographers offer will differ dramatically. It’s important when meeting with your photographer, that you see some examples of their products and know whats included in your package before booking. If you want images only, then ask how many images you will receive. Will they be on a USB or do you have to download them? Will they be edited? Will you get an online gallery to share with your family and friends? And if albums are important to you, then ask to see samples and talk through the different styles and options available to you.
Every photographer will have a tailor-made experience that begins once you book them. Any photographer worth their salt, will take time to build a great relationship with their clients long before the wedding day, and this is just as important as the photography itself. I like to get to know my couples so that on the day I feel more like a friend with a nice camera, rather than a stranger shooting their wedding. We chat on the phone or Skype at any point in the lead up to the day, I send little surprises to them along the way, as well as giving helpful advice and even suggesting other wedding suppliers if they need recommendations. A good photographer will do far more than just take pretty pictures, so it’s worth investing in a photographer that will invest in you too.
5. Book as soon as possible
Wedding photographers often get booked up to a year or more in advance, so when you have found “The One”, don’t leave it too late to book them or you will be disappointed. Peak wedding season is from May – September, with June, July, August and Bank Holiday weekends often getting booked up very quickly. Friday weddings are also becoming increasingly popular, so don’t hang about if your wedding is on one of those dates! A booking fee and signed contract will be required to secure your date, so return these to your photographer ASAP. Most photographers will offer bookings on a first come first served basis, and you could get pipped to the post if your not quick!
There are many choices to be made and many wonderful, creative photographers to choose from, but the most important advice I can give is to choose a photographer whose work you LOVE. Put your trust in them to capture your day, then relax, enjoy it and let them work their magic. Complete trust between you and your photographer is essential and will result in photos that you will cherish forever.