How to: Choose your wedding photographer
The ring’s on the finger, you’ve gone out and booked your wedding venue, and now you’re turning your attention to the minefield of wedding photography. How on earth do you decide how to choose a wedding photographer, let alone who?
Hopefully my guide of top 5 tips to choosing your wedding photographer will help. I often hear people say “I’ve never had to book a photographer before so I don’t know what to look for” – well, here’s an easy guide to finding someone you really want to capture your day. I’m not going to give you a list of ’35 Questions You Should Ask Your Photographer’ which many wedding blogs like to push, rather, this is a whistlestop tour of the process to shortlisting photographers.
Whether you search for us on the web, by social media, by recommendation or otherwise, let’s waste no more time, and leap into the world of wedding photography:
1. Consider your budget
A photographer will likely be your second big ticket wedding item after your venue, so you should expect to reserve a few quid for this. Obviously wedding budgets vary, and not everyone can afford the same thing, however the old saying definitely rings true here: you get what you pay for. According to Hitched.co.uk in 2020, the average price for full day wedding coverage in the UK is £1,500 – £2,000. For that kind of dosh, I’d expect to have an experienced, professional wedding photographer who will photograph your day from bridal prep through to your party. Of course photographers offer different things, like reduced prices for reduced coverage, or add-ons such as a second photographer, an engagement shoot prior to the wedding, or whether a wedding album is included. Do your research into what you’re ideally looking for from your photographer and what’s important to you. After all, once your wedding day is over, the only way you’ll be able to re-live the memories of the day will be through these images – you won’t be able to go back and get those photos again.
2. Check out websites and social media pages
I’d be surprised if anyone in this day and age *wouldn’t* look at someone’s website prior to making a decision, but still I would encourage you to take a flick through photographers websites and then check out their socials, too. Believe it or not, photography websites don’t get updated too often, apart from maybe the blog section, so usually the best place to find the most up-to-date work is via social media. Instagram is a great one, as it acts as an easy online portfolio – I suggest you start there. Instagram and Facebook are the two biggies, and you should be able to get a feel for what each photographer is like, not only in terms of their personality, but their style too. Therefore…
3. What style of photos do you like?
Or, re-phrased, what kind of look appeals to you? There’s trillions of photographers out there to choose from, so how do you narrow down the list of contenders? Well there’s two schools of thought here. One, is how they edit their photos, e.g. the actual colours and light (e.g. light and airy, darker, or colourful), and the other is the approach the wedding photographer takes e.g. documentary style, editorial etc. Start looking at and comparing a number of wedding photos and see what appeals to you. If you like the idea of completely unposed, and want the raw, gritty truth of your day conveyed via your wedding photos, you may want a documentary, reportage or photojournalistic wedding photographer. They will tell the story of your day as it really is, with very few formal photos (so you’d have to request them). A photographer who shoots in editorial style, will seek to fulfil your wishes for wedding photos that look like they belong in a magazine. This may mean stopping at certain times throughout the day to style and capture that particular photo you’ve been dreaming of.
Me? I don’t really give myself a label, and I cater to many different styles. I like to think I’m a modern photographer who will capture your day as it happens, and I retain the flexibility to get the best type of shots that you’ll want to look back on, again and again.
3. Check out reviews and testimonials
Have a peek at what previous, money-paying couples have said about the photographers you like. Most photographers worth their salt will have reviews and testimonials somewhere, whether it’s on their website, social media or Google. Do remember that testimonials posted on websites are usually hand-picked by the website owner, so my top tip is to head over to their Facebook business page where reviewers will unashamedly write whatever comes into their head. See what others have said and whether it aligns with what you’d expect from your wedding photographer.
4. Arrange a consultation (meeting)
Once you’ve narrowed down a few photographers whose work appeals to you, I’d highly recommend you organise a chat with them (we like to call them consultations). When the circumstances allow, I always try to meet face to face, but otherwise it would be a video chat or at the very least, a telephone call. Why’s that? Well, with full day coverage you are likely to spend an awful lot of time with your photographer – anywhere from 8-12 hours. For me, it’s of paramount importance that me and my couples are on the same wavelength regarding what we expect from each other, and that can only be established in advance of the big day. Sure, conducting consultations with many couples doesn’t always mean I book every single one, but what it does mean is that we know if we’re right for each other before a booking is made.
On a consultation I seek to answer any questions you may have, and I am happy to give you more information about how I work and what you can expect. Make sure you also go armed with some questions to the consultation too, even if you feel they may be basic or silly, as <spoiler alert:> there are no silly questions when it comes to arranging a wedding day.
Some answers to typical questions can already be found on my website HERE.
5. Ask to see a variety of their images throughout real wedding days
Consultations are a great time to see further examples of a photographer’s work, and I’d expect you to do this when we meet. Websites and socials are great for showcasing the absolute showstopper images us photographers want you to see, but these select images don’t tell the story of the whole day. You should be confident your photographer will produce high quality images consistently throughout your wedding day, not just for posed portraits. Ask to see images from real weddings (not styled shoots, where models pose for shots), and check out a selection from different parts of the day – or certainly the parts of the day that stand out for you. Perhaps it’s details, or candid moments, or beautifully curated couple portraits; either way you should see what you may expect to receive from your photographer.
Do we need to choose someone who’s shot at our venue before?
I don’t find this a dealbreaker. It’s useful to consider someone who may have shot at your venue before, but with so many wedding venues around the UK, photographers often may have only shot there once, or perhaps never before. However it shouldn’t matter; a seasoned professional will produce lovely images of your day whether they’ve never visited the venue before, or they’ve been a hundred times. With this in mind don’t just rely on a venue’s preferred supplier list; sometimes the suppliers on the list are paying the venue for the privilege, and it’s not based on track record.
I know I’ve already said this, but it can’t be stressed enough for this particular topic: You get what you pay for.
Sure you can ask your cousin’s housemate with a ‘nice camera’ to come and capture your wedding day for free. After all, everyone needs to start somewhere. But just consider what you’re left with after your wedding day: your wedding rings, and your photos. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I wish we hadn’t skimped on the photographer” and similar variations. Don’t let your photos be the one regret from your wedding; they can, and should, be a fantastic reminder of your big day!