Choosing your wedding photographer is a HUGE deal!
It should be exciting! You should feel giddy about booking someone!
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?
There are so many options when starting to look for a wedding photographer. You'll probably know someone who can give you a recommendation, perhaps your venue has a supplier list of suggestions, you can take to instagram, google, ... the list goes on! `
The really great thing is, there are so many incredibly talented wedding photographers - so you've got plenty of choice!
Here are some of my tips on choosing the right wedding photographer for you.
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!
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 booking. If the conversation flows, you have a few jokes, they share your vision of the day, give you some helpful tips - Great! You're on to a winner!
If the conversation is stop/start, feels difficult and forced, it feels overly "businessy", they don't get your sense of humour - 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
This one is important.
A photographers style is what it is.
Style is made up of the poses they do, their editing style, their use of light, their level of posed vs documentary. So if you don't absolutely 100% LOVE their photography including all of the aforementioned,
DO NOT BOOK THEM!
If you know you want quite colourful images, and you see a portfolio of muted colours and grass that looks brown instead of green... they're not the photographer for you.
If you know you want lots of family formal shots of different groups lined up and smiling at the camera, and the photographer you're considering doesn't show these.. they're not the photographer for you.
If you don't want to go out in bad weather and get your dress dirty, and the gallery of images you're looking at shows brides in muddy wellies or jumping into swimming pools... they're not the photographer for you.
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.
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, recommend suppliers, 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 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 or where 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, maybe their partner earns enough for them to have photography as a hobby, maybe they don't have overheads.
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, that's all temporary 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. Then realise the photos are all they have to remember their day!
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.
In the past, I've received emails that only say "how much do you charge?". Literally, thats it. Not even so much as a hello, or "are you available on x date". This isn't the best foot to start on with your potential wedding photographer. Give some detail & show some enthusiasm and you'll get the same back!
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!
Throughout life, people talk about 'gut instinct', and I think one place to rely on a gut feeling, is with your wedding photographer.
A photographer may have the best portfolio in the world, but if they're going to boss you around all day, dictate everything and not really be that friendly, it's going to have a negative impact on your wedding.
And no portfolio is worth that!
So now you know a little more about what to look out for, have a happy and exciting time looking for your wedding photographer!
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