Wedding photography, or should I say, “How to choose a wedding photographer” …. well there’s an open ended question!
Wedding Photography is subjective, what one couple may love another may loathe. I’m not going to say I’ve found the Holy Grail of wedding photography, but can share with you some things to look for to help with your decision. These are my personal views only.
- Referrals. You may have had a sibling, family member, friend or co-worker whose recently got married or attended a wedding where they saw a photographer work and seen the finished results. These people are best placed as they will have background knowledge of the photographer and not just the glossy front window of a website or sales material.
- Venues Preferred Suppliers List. This is an equally good place to start. The suppliers will be known to the venue and will have inside knowledge of the best places for stunning pictures. The venue also wouldn’t want to endorse someone who was unreliable or poor quality. However, some venues have preferred vendors who are chosen based on them paying to be listed or providing the venue with financial compensation against each wedding at their venue.
- Website search. This is where all couples tend to start, entering search terms for ranging from their wedding venue, “best wedding photographer * your area *” or something related to the style they like “creative wedding photographer”, “documentary wedding photographer” etc. This should highlight those which are marketing their website to reflect this style. Photography has evolved significantly over the last 15 years, so you may find that photographers are able to provide a range of styles rather than sticking to one category. Appreciate this doesn’t help with your decision making!
- Wedding Shows. These can range from National shows in huge arena’s through to bespoke shows arranged at your wedding venue. They are a great place to meet and look through a selection of suppliers without a one to one consultation. You can get a pretty good impression from these shows as to whether you would like to meet or discuss your wedding plans in more detail with a supplier. The downside is the shows can be busy and if there is a particular supplier who is busy as you pass their stand, you may decide not to return and could miss out on the perfect supplier for you.
- Social Media. In a World where everyone is posting something somewhere about every aspect of their life, social media is a very popular place to find a supplier. Instagram and Facebook are particularly popular. A business professional Facebook page will have albums of work for each recent wedding, so it’s a good way to have a sneak peak at a real wedding. It also has reviews and feedback from previous couples. Instagram is a snap shot of the best pictures but still a good starting point to see if you like a photographers style.
- Wedding Magazines. Personally I would suggest looking at a local magazine to your area, Your Surrey Wedding, Your Berkshire Wedding etc as they will focus on venues and suppliers within your area. They will have real weddings with images supplied by local photographers at local venues, maybe even your wedding venue. Your photographer may even be able to have your wedding featured!
I’m sure there are many other options I have missed, as I said at the start of this post, this is only my opinion and by no means the Holy Grail!
So you’ve had an initial search and created a short list of photographers you like. A few things to think about;
- Website. This is a photographers shop window. It should contain a selection of their best images which best display their preferred photography style. If these images don’t look great, it’s probably best not to proceed any further, after all you wouldn’t buy a bun from a bakers shop if it looked a little past it’s sell by date 🙂
- Awards. When I started in photography, to have an award meant your work had been judged by a professional body of experienced photographers – these were photographers at the top of their trade who understand lighting, composition and technical ability. Fast forward 15 years and everyone’s an award winner. Some are still very much judged by a panel of peers, MPA, BIPP, SWPP, Fearless Photographers, to name a few. A little known fact outside of the wedding industry – An increasing number are gained through paying to enter an award, effectively by entering you are gaining some kind of award.
- Blog. Take a look at their Blog page. It will usually display a selection of recent work and give you a better view of their style and how they approach weddings. Lot’s of posed pictures, they may not be much of a documentary photographer. Lot’s of candid pictures, they may not feel comfortable posing couples or even engaging with them much during the day. Some may display lot’s of creative lightening effects, other using just natural light, their blog will give you a better insight into this. I use my blog to share 50-60 images from a wedding, it’s highlight of the couples day and something they can link to and share with family and friends.
- About Me. These pages vary vastly from full in depth history of when they first held a camera at the tender age of 3, those who studied fine art degrees, self taught who follow no rules and those who started later in life learning through training courses or second shooting. There is no right or wrong way, it’s a body of work which will initially attract you.
- SPEAK! Whether it’s a face to face meeting, skype or call, speak to your potential photographer. It’s someone who will be documenting your wedding day with you, your family and loved ones – it’s important you have a rapport with them and them with you. You will want to feel comfortable with them on the day and know that they won’t upset any of your guests with in appropriate behaviour. As a photographer I like to get a good understanding of a couples’ wedding day; their thoughts of how they have dreamed their day would be, discuss photography ideas, any particular places at their venue which they totally love and must be photographed, preferred style of pictures, timeline of the day – it’s all useful information that helps create a picture of their day, you just can’t get that through e-mail.
- Real Weddings. See if you can view a few complete weddings. If you’re having a Winter wedding, take a look at a Winter wedding. Winter weddings can throw up challenging light conditions so it’s good to know your photographer has experience with this. Looking through a few complete weddings should show a photographers style and editing quality is consistent and how your wedding may look, number of images you might expect from your day (though this can vary pending number of guests and style of your wedding). It should definitely be enough to make you believe this is the photographer you want to document your big day in the way you imagined it.
- Price. For me this is simple. You get what you pay for. I have had many conversations with married couples at weddings where they were not happy with their wedding pictures – too dark and out of focus being the most complained about. If you are spending £15,000 on your wedding day, spending £1500 on someone to document your day, the emotions, the guests, the details, isn’t unreasonable. Professional photographers will carry back up equipment of camera and lenses (most probably carry between £10,000-£15,000 equipment to a wedding), have Public Liability Insurance, a back up plan in the event of sickness, will be experienced to handle challenging situations from a drunken best man to difficult light conditions (dark church into bright sunlight is a common one!) to wedding times over running. These things may not seem important now but they will make a difference on your day. I’m not saying that someone cheaper isn’t going to be as good, but they may not have the same quality equipment which will reflect in your pictures.
I sincerely hope the above may have been of some interest! Below I have included a couple of comments from previous couples. I love weddings but I love happy couples even more. Being asked to document a wedding is a huge responsibility which I thrive on. Each wedding you put your heart and soul into delivering the story of their day in the most beautiful way. When I receive reviews like these, I feel that I have met and exceeded my couples expectations. Best job ever, I think so ♥
“Denise was absolutely amazing from start to finish. Her details in the run up to the day were fantastic, and she took the time to really get to know us as a couple – and we had such a laugh! The pre-wedding photo shoot was perfect and really put us at ease with being photographed, and the photo’s themselves were great and we were able to use them at the wedding itself and in the guest book. On the day, Denise was so great at getting people together, capturing the perfect shots, making us giggle, without ever feeling intrusive in the day at all. The photos speak for themselves and we display them proudly all over our (and families!) homes. I couldn’t recommend Denise highly enough.”
“Denise made our special day EVEN MORE SPECIAL! She was absolutely brilliant, she made everyone feel comfortable and happy. She was extremely focused when it came to taking the pictures and super efficient. I am SO pleased with my pictures, everyone who sees them is absolutely stunned at how beautiful they are. She did all that with a great big smile on her face. I would highly recommend Denise, I don’t feel like I had a photographer on the day, I feel like I had a close friend who came to take amazing pictures for us. Denise went the extra mile for us, even filming our speeches with her extra camera space. It’s absolutely clear that she loves weddings and loves love, which is something you absolutely need in a wedding photographer. I would giver her 10 stars if I could. Can’t wait to have her take portraits of our babies when the time comes!!”