How to find my wedding photographer
Hello everyone, this week I wanted to write a blog post to help all the newly engaged couples out there to choose their wedding photographer. I got married myself nearly four years ago now, and I know the struggle!! I am now a professional photographer and specialise in documentary wedding and portrait photography.
I will take you through what, I think, are the important things you need to know when choosing your wedding photographer.
It is a big day, and an important decision. You will not have a second chance to do it all over again and get those magical shots!
> Photography Style
I would say that the first step is to choose what style of photography you would like. There are three main categories in wedding photography:
Traditional Wedding Photography:
It is the oldest form of wedding photography, it is usually carefully posed photos of the couple, as well as group shots with family and friends. It involves a lot of intervention from the photographer. This type of photography gives quite a static, but classical type of image.
Reportage/Documentary Wedding photography:
The photographer follows the couple and the guests throughout the day recording the events as they happen and in an unobtrusive way. This gives candid and natural images that will reflect the atmosphere and uniqueness of the day.
Contemporary Wedding Photography:
This style is inspired from editorial and fashion photography. The photographer uses the background and light to create images with high impact. The shots are usually posed but less rigid than with Traditional Wedding Photography. The images will reflect the style of the photographer, so be careful to choose someone with a portfolio that really reflects what you want.
It sometimes is difficult to set each style apart as many photographers nowadays mix styles to meet the demands of their clients:
A documentary photographer almost always does a few posed photos of the couple with the family and close friends (if they are asked to); and traditional and contemporary wedding photographer might well do some candid photos throughout the day to give a more complete package.
Deciding which style you lean towards will make it so much easier to search through the millions of photographers that are out there! Instead of googling “wedding photographer” you can now add what type of wedding photographer you’d like, i.e.: “documentary wedding photographer” ding! you might find me if you live near Wallingford.
Second step, let’s talk money!! We all know how expensive a wedding can be, so if you spend money on something, let it be well spent!
I am going to throw a few thoughts at you, and they are important, so please take them into consideration when you make your decision.
- Free photographers! Yes it exists! It can be a photographer starting out and building a portfolio. It is what I did at the beginning and in that case you must be aware that with no experience may come a few mistakes and he/she might miss some important shots. But if you weren’t planning on having a photographer anyway, it can be a win/win situation.
It can also be your wonderful uncle Bob with his massive camera. Please (please, please) be careful with this situation. If your uncle, or friend, is a dedicated enthusiast, who has experience in photographing people (not birds, not beautiful sunsets, but people), if you have seen what he/she does and you are confident he or she is going to deliver, then go for it; if not I would say it is not worth taking the risk! I have seen so many people disappointed with the result, only one or two photos that they were able to use, and there still aren’t great shots. Also remember that if your uncle or good friend spends the wedding taking photos he/she will not be able to fully enjoy the wedding.
- Second important thought: there are a lot of people out there in it thinking weddings are an easy way to make money. There are a lot of people throwing themselves in there who are not good photographers! Unfortunately if they are good at marketing and business it means they will get ahead of actually good photographers (a lot of us are not very good at selling ourselves). I am not saying you should look all the way through to the 30th page on your search engine for this one amazing photographer who is not able market himself/herself properly, I am just advising you to really look through every photographer’s portfolio before choosing them. Don’t choose just the first one you find in you area. There should be only great shots on their website, visit their Facebook and/or Instagram, it should be visually very compelling to you and get you excited about what it might look with you in it! If you have a meeting with them before booking, ask to see an album of one of their previous weddings, it will give you an idea of what you will get, but also see if they are able to keep their standards all throughout the wedding day.
It is difficult to say that you will get what you payed for. Some very average photographers are still expensive. But I can tell you that if it is cheap, there is probably something wrong! It means they are cutting corners somewhere, either on their insurance, on how they do things, or on the amount of work they are suppose to do before, during, or after the wedding and this shows a lack of professionalism!
You don’t want someone who shows up late (or doesn’t show at all) because they got lost, or mixed up the dates, you don’t want someone who will be taking their break during the speeches and is nowhere to be found, you definitely don’t want someone who will get drunk at the reception, and you certainly don’t want someone who will give you 3000 unedited photos (where your dress is a white blur) with 5 to 10 frames of each moment for you to go through. Believe me it will give you and your guests a headache!
-The overall price will depend on the package you get for your money. So when you are on a wedding photographer website or when you first contact him/her, look or ask for what it is you will have at the end of the day. Is it only going to be the photos on a USB or CD? Will you have an album? Parents albums? An online gallery where you guests can view and maybe buy the photos? Will the photos be edited? High resolution? How long will your photographer stay with you on your wedding day? Will you be able to meet/Skype him before the big day to talk about everything you expect from him? The list goes on! Obviously the price goes up as you add things to the package, and most of the time photographers are quite flexible if you want to add or remove things from the said package to adjust the price to your budget.
-The last thing you need to know, is that the pricing is not random and that most photographers put a lot of work and time in what they do, they will put all their energy to give you amazing memories of your wedding day. They need to put in place prices that will pay them at least the minimum wage per hour of work, and believe me, it is a lot of hours, before, during and after your wedding. And of course the price goes up as you get closer and closer to the top photographers of the industry.
> Meet photographer-s
The last step I would say is to meet with the photographer of your choice. It is very important that you get along with him or her and that you feel he/she understands what you except of him/her. There is nothing worse than having a photographer make you go through a key moment of your wedding several times (i.e. you exiting the church and your guests throwing flower petals) because he didn’t get it right the first time, or you ending up with photos you are not happy with because the photographer didn’t understand your vision. And at the risk of repeating myself don’t forget to ask to view an album from a previous wedding to make sure he/she is able to deliver beautiful images throughout the day and not just a few.
When you meet a photographer there is nothing that says you have to sign with him/her, there is nothing final until you sign a contract with him/her, so if you don’t like them for one reason or another, you can either let them know straight away, or you can tell them you still need to think about it and send them a message later to tell them you found someone else.
Some photographers however do not meet with their clients beforehand, it is usually because they don’t need to as their reputation is big enough that you are sure to get amazing photos, and their style is so distinctive that you know exactly what you are going to get.
Of course this list is non exhaustive, but I hope it will help you to get a clearer idea of what you want and what you need to look for. There really are some horror stories about wedding photographers and how they ruined the whole wedding experience for the couple, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, get as much information as possible, and be clear about what you want. It is your special day, not theirs, you need to make sure he or she knows that.
Here is a little checklist to summarise:
If you want to add points you think I have forgotten, or you have any questions or stories you’d like to share, you are more than welcome to do so in the comments.
I wish to all of you, newly engaged people, the best of luck in finding your wedding photographer, and preparing your big day.
All the best,