I have put together this helpful guide for couples on what to look for when choosing the perfect wedding photographer for their big day.
Top 10 Tips – How to choose the perfect wedding photographer
Planning and preparing for your wedding day is a fun and exciting experience. That said, with so much to consider it can also be rather stressful. It is highly likely that you are thinking about a wedding photographer for your special day. If you are, you are definitely making a wise decision! Your wedding pictures will be something you and your partner will look back on for years to come, capturing all of the happiness and joy during the biggest day of your life.
Choosing your wedding photographer can be tricky. There are literally hundreds of photographers out there but you don’t just want to settle for anyone – you want the best! The team at Oliver Charles Photography have put together a ‘Top 10 Tips’ guide to help you choose your perfect wedding photographer:
- Start searching early and plan ahead:
Planning and preparation is the key to a perfect wedding and choosing your photographer is no exception. Photographers often book a year in advance, with popular months filling up quickly. The earlier you can book your photographer the better. Having your photographer in place well in advance also means it’s one less thing to worry about – so start looking as soon you can.
- Recommendations are always good – so ask friends and family:
The best wedding photographers will have a reputation for success so it’s always a good idea to ask friends and family if they can recommend someone. Ideally, you want them to have photographed their wedding so ask to have a look at their wedding pictures. Remember, just because your friend loved their photographs does not necessarily mean that you will too.
Have a look at professional websites and Facebook pages for examples of different photographers and the style they use to take their pictures. Blogs and review websites are really useful too, as well as testimonials and videos of the photographer in action.
You could also ask for recommendations from your wedding venue, florist, or wedding planner – if you’re lucky enough to have one that is!
- Narrow down your options:
Once you have researched some photographers you can compile a short list of your favourites. Then sit down with your partner and start having an in-depth look at their services. We highly recommend that you both do this together. We advice that you write down a list of your requirements and then tick them off against each photographer you look at.
Budget is also a very important factor here. Many photographers offer a range of packages but you will want to consider these carefully.
- What does each wedding package include?
- Is a wedding album included in the price?
- If so, what is the quality of the album?
- How long will the photographer be at your wedding for? This can affect the amount of pictures taken as well as who is in them. E.g. if the photographer is gone before the evening guests arrive they won’t be in any pictures.
- What photography ‘style’ are you looking for?
It is also important to think about the style of photographs you are looking for on the day. Do you want the more traditional style wedding pictures or are you more drawn to the reportage style – which means capturing the day as it happens and not relying very much on posed photographs?
If you are going for a themed wedding or a wedding in an unusual setting it is vital that your photographer can manage in a range of environments and work reactively. Remember, a talented photographer will be able to listen to your vision of the day and then confidently meet your needs.
Ask to have a look at portfolios and make sure that your photographer is comfortable shooting in the style you require.
- Meet your potential photographers for a chat
You should now have a good idea of you photography requirements and a shortlist of photographers that you like. The next step is meeting them. This is essential for a number of reasons:
- Do you like them? It is important that you get along with your photographer and you can trust them. First impressions count, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. They may have amazing pictures but if you don’t click with them then maybe they aren’t the right photographer for you.
- Are they confident? Photographing a wedding isn’t easy. Your photographer will have to take control of your guests at times but do so in a way that avoids being bossy or overbearing. This is a skill in itself so experience here really counts.
- Are they organised? Again, this seems obvious but it’s so important when choosing a photographer. They need to be there on time, with a full range of equipment (and spares) and be ready for any eventuality.
- Are they experienced? Do you they a varied portfolio or are they just starting out? This is really important to consider for a number of reasons. After all, you want your pictures to be perfect so an inexperienced photographer may not be they way to go – especially if you are paying a premium price.
Ask to have a look at some of their wedding albums – ideally those covering an entire wedding from start to finish. This will give you an excellent indication of the quality of their work and the way they structure their work during your wedding day.
Always ask to view pictures from more than one wedding. You are looking for clarity and consistency so looking over two or three sets of pictures will give you a better understanding of the quality of their work.
- Are they professional and qualified?
Many photographers out there are not full-time and tend to work as wedding photographers in their spare time. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this in principal, especially if they have a good portfolio and you like their style.
That said, many part-time photographers do not hold a professional photography qualification. This may not be an issue for you personally but this could be something you want to ask – especially if you want to look for further quality assurance. For example, if your photographer holds a degree in photography they will have experience in a wide range of photography techniques and be arguably better equipped in terms of capturing that perfect picture. They will be used to working to a high standard, with their work being critiqued and developed over a long period of time.
Professional and qualified photographers will also be highly trained in different editing and post production techniques. This is the work that is carried out after the pictures are taken – to add those little finishing touches or remove any imperfections like red eye. This is an unnoticed skill but one that is vital to any high-quality photographer. Again, this is just something to keep in mind.
- Does your photographer provide a second shooter / second photographer?
If you are getting married with lots of guests and in a big venue there are going to be literally thousands of photography opportunities. You want your photographer to capture as many of those happy, smiling moments as possible. Many photographers work with a ‘second shooter’ to allow them to simply take more pictures – essentially meaning they can be at two places at once. This works especially well if your photographer shoots in the ‘reportage style’.
- What do you get for your money?
Value for money is something everyone wants when purchasing a product or service. When considering your ideal wedding photographer you still want to feel like you are getting a good deal but certainly not at the expense of picture quality. Remember, this is your wedding day! You can’t just have another go if you don’t like the pictures.
There are plenty of budget photographers out there. Some may be brilliant but in our experience many of the cheaper options available are low cost for a reason – the quality of their pictures is poor. This is why studying a number of portfolios is important
You may also want to consider what else you get for your money from each photographer. Wedding photography packages are usually graded, offering customers a range of options for their money – depending on how much they want to spend. Consider the following points:
- How many hours will the photographer be there for? Do you want them for the whole day or just the ceremony and service? Some budget packages may only offer 6 hours of photography. Is that long enough?
- How many images do you get? During a wedding a photographer can easily take 800 pictures. If you only get 50 images for your money is this going to be enough for you?
- Do you get a wedding album with your package? If so, what is the quality like and how many photographs will that album contain?
- Who chooses the pictures for the album? If your photographer takes 800 pictures but only 50 make the album, who decides what gets included and what gets cut?
- Will your photographer edit the images before adding them to an album? Many photographers do this as standard but budget photographers may not offer that service.
- Don’t feel pressurised to make a decision too quickly. Sleep on it.
By this stage it is highly likely that you have a good idea of who you would like as your wedding photographer. You may have your heart set on somebody, or you may be torn between two or three. Whatever the scenario, don’t jump in too quickly. Discuss it with your fiancé and then sleep on it. This may be the best decision you will make. Planning a wedding can be a very stressful experience so people sometimes feel compelled to make big choices too quickly. Take your time.
10. Finalise the costs and sign the wedding contract
When you have chosen your photographer make sure that they have a wedding contract written up. This should cover all the details of your wedding day, including booking fees and any special requirements. It should also include a number of terms and conditions around issues such as copyright and licensing, cancellations and what to do regarding any complaints.
We suggest you read your wedding contract carefully before signing and to discuss any areas of concern with your photographer.
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