So you've just got engaged, have a wedding date set and are now working your way through the daunting task of planning this MAMMOTH event, right?
Normally after booking the venue and registrar the next big thing to book is your photographer and I'm here to tell you how to get the right one for you. Having got married myself last year I know what you're going through.
Nowadays every man and their dog seems to be a photographer as technology gets better, more accessible and more affordable. But so much more goes into being an AWESOME wedding photographer than simply having all the gear but no idea so you need to know how to tell the difference between your average photographer and one that's going to deliver incredible shots that you are going to love.
THE 3 MAIN THINGS WHEN CHOOSING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER ARE -
- Price - How important is 'cheap' to you? You get what you pay for.
- Portfolio - Speaks for itself. Do you like their work?
- Personality - Who wants a bossy douche bag barking orders at them and their guests all day?!
If all these tick your box then you're headed in the right direction but if just one is not right then it can seriously affect the outcome.
WHERE TO START LOOKING -
- Recommendations - The most trusted form of advertising is word of mouth so ask people who have recently got married, been to a wedding or know of a kick ass photographer. If they've seen them in action they'll know how they handle themselves, the bride and groom and all the guests on the big day. Look at the reviews from previous couples on their websites.
- Preferred Suppliers - Many venues have a preferred supplier list that they give to couples of people they frequently work with so ask your venue if they have one. The photographer(s) will know the venue well and all the best spots to get great photos having done lots of weddings there. Chances are they'll know the staff too which makes things go a bit smoother, particularly if you want some background people or cars moved!
- Wedding Fayres - This is your chance to get in front of many photographers at once and get to see whether your personalities are alike, to see their work and to hold the sample wedding albums, USB's etc. There are so many styles, sizes and materials so it's good to see them up close.
- Google - This is probably most people's first stop to see who is in their area and is the best way to find loads of websites with portfolios and prices. But just because someone is at the top of Google doesn't necessarily mean they are the best photographer, it just means they are the best at SEO or simply paid for a Google Ad.
- Social Media - Similar to finding websites to look at through Google, you can use Pinterest and Instagram to search for specific keywords about the type of photos you want e.g romantic, natural, quirky etc. Images will have hash tags to help you narrow down your search and you can then follow the photographer to see what else they have posted. Facebook and Twitter will show you what they have been up to with recent shoots. Be warned though - if you ask for a photographer on a wedding Facebook group you will get 100+ links of hungry togs looking for your business!
Now that you've found some photographers, looked through their work and maybe even met them at a wedding fayre the next step is to arrange a meeting with them. You want to have a proper sit down to chat about how they work, ask them any questions you have and look through their sample albums. Wedding fayres are very busy, hectic places so you want their sole attention to really get a feel for whether you are going to get along. They are going to be around you all day so you want someone you can feel relaxed with and you'll have no way of knowing this until you meet them. Never book a wedding photographer you haven't met in person.
TIPS FOR WHEN YOU MEET WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER -
- Do a little research on them beforehand by looking through their About Me, FAQ and Prices pages on their website so there's no surprises.
- If you have booked your venue try to meet there. This way you can look around together to plan some shots and see how they will approach it.
- Ask to see a few different weddings from start to finish to show consistency. You don't just want to see the cherry picked money shots.
- Do they have insurance? This usually separates the wheat from the chaff. Professional photographers will value their business and want to protect you and themselves from any unforeseen circumstances.
- Do they have back up equipment if their main camera breaks? If you know your stuff, ask what kit they use.
- How would they handle bad weather, what is their Plan B if it rains all day?
- How do they make you FEEL? If the answer is 'great' and you feel relaxed then you're almost there.
- Be clear with what is being offered to you, what is included and what is extra.
- Go with your instinct. If you really like them, the price is right and they've shown they can deliver some beautiful photography then why wait? Save yourself time from nit-picking your way through 5 other similar photographers and book them before someone else does. If you're not 100% sure though, make your excuses and move on.
- GET IT IN WRITING! Very important. I see so many stories of couples having photographers backing out at the last minute and they don't have a written contract. Read it carefully before you sign and be happy with it when you do. Don't be scared to ask questions.
- Don't be pushed into signing anything before you're ready. Top photographers will be confident in themselves and their work and may even encourage you to look around.
- A deposit will usually be required to secure the date so have funds ready (not necessarily there and then) if you want to bag your guy/gal.
- Some photographers take payment all in one go, others take a small deposit and then the rest a few weeks before the wedding. Discuss what they offer and what would work for you e.g 3-4 installments to break it up a bit.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
This all depends on your budget. I would always advise to only spend what you can afford, but do try to allocate as much of your budget to your photographer that allows. Of course, I'm just saying this because I'm a wedding photographer, right? No. Along with videography (or if you have a photographic memory) it is the only thing you'll have to remember the day so why would you scrimp on it? Whilst there are some great photographers charging less for their services, generally those charging only a few hundred quid for a whole day's wedding coverage may just be starting out, don't have professional gear, not in demand or doing it part time. Those charging several hundred up to a few thousand will be professionals which should reflect in their portfolio. Then there are the elite photographers like Jerry Ghionis who can command £10k+ for their services and each image is like a cover of Vogue. I've attended one of his seminars and he is a master of the arts. If money is no object then book the very best out there.
SO WHAT MAKES AN AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHER?
- Someone who can handle the responsibility of a wedding confidently
- Great communication from initial inquiry, during the wedding day and up to delivery of your photos
- Has experience of having shot many weddings in the past and can adapt to any environment
- Presentable, polite and professional at all times
- Someone who's company you (and your guests) enjoy and can feel relaxed around
- Takes control/discreet when required
- Has new and interesting ideas to bring - every couple and wedding is different so the photos should be too
- Is open to your ideas and other photos you've seen that you'd like them to recreate, and execute them
- Above all they take amazing photographs that YOU love
And that's pretty much it! Just remember to take your time, do some research and to be happy with who you choose.
I hope this helps you in your search and if you want to book your very own awesome wedding photographer just click here! ;o)
What are YOUR experiences with photographers you've encountered? What made them good/bad? What have I missed? Any funny stories or embarrassing photos you were part of? I'd love to hear your thoughts so please leave them in the comments section below and don't forget to like and share this page with your friends!