So the wedding planning has begun - Congratulations! It’s an exciting time but it can also be a little overwhelming, there’s so much to do! Booking a wedding photographer is usually high on the priority list, but where do you start? If you’ve started looking for your wedding photographer already you’ll quickly realise there’s a lot of us, all at different price levels with different approaches. Sure, we all take photographs and use cameras, but that can be where the similarities end! So how do you figure out what kind of photography/photographer you want? A little research can be a big help when it comes to finding the right photographer for you.
Before we really get into things, you need to know why this research is necessary. Unfortunately the photography industry isn’t regulated, which means there are no set standards. There is no governing body that decides who is or isn’t a professional photographer, or to keep tabs on who is insured, reliable and experienced. Literally anyone can call themselves a photographer, and it falls on you to ensure you’ve booked someone you can trust.
However, do not fear! I’ve made a list that will hopefully help you make an informed decision when it comes to finding your wedding photographer.
1- Have a Think
This might sound obvious, but first of all have a think about how you envision your wedding photography and the photographer. Are you thinking about staged, formal photos, a more documentary approach, photographs that are dark and moody or bright and fun? Do you like more traditional products like prints or would you prefer a modern approach with digital files, a mobile phone app and contemporary albums? On your list of wedding priorities, where does wedding photography fall? Are you happy with digital files or would you prefer an album? Thinking about this will help you consider what you like and what you don’t like.
2 - Start by Looking at Websites
The internet is a great resource for making a short list of photographers you are interested in. A quick google search for photographers in your area should bring up plenty, and Instagram is a great way to find photographers too. For photographers, a website is an online portfolio and shop window combined, and it should give you some insight into their work and personality. Social media pages are great for staying up to date, but they are not the most reliable or effective ways of showing how we work.
3 - Ask Your Friends & Family
If you’ve been to a wedding, or know someone who has been married in the last few years and you loved their photographs, why not ask for their photographer’s details? Personal recommendations are great, but keep an open mind - your preferences and ideas may be different. Asking on Facebook wedding groups etc can be a place to start, but its likely you’ll get hundreds of responses all recommending completely different photographers.
4 - Consider your Preferred Photography Style
Most photographers adapt their photographic style a bit to suit your wedding day however there’s little point in booking someone who has a dark and moody style if you are attracted to a bright and colourful look. Evaluate your style preference by considering why you like some photos over others, and how the photos make you feel. Do you like a heavy Instagram-style filter, or a more timeless style? Your chosen photographer will be very flattered to know they are being booked because you already like their work and style.
5 - Write a Shortlist and Check Availability
Your shortlist of photographers doesn’t have to be long, you might already have a very clear idea of your first choice wedding photographer which is great! The next step is to reach out to them and check if they are available to cover your big day. Most photographers will work on a first-come-first-served basis, and some like myself limit the number of weddings we take on every year, so it’s never too soon to get in touch with your wedding date! It is not common for photographers to hold a wedding date, so I recommend getting in touch when you are ready to have a consultation.
6 - Meet Your Photographer
Most professional photographers will prefer to have a consultation with you before any contracts are signed and invoices paid. You need to be sure you are on the same page and feel confident about their abilities. You need to like your photographer as well as their photographs, and feel like your ideas and concerns are being heard. If you are long distance, a Skype or phone consultation is the next best thing! Don’t feel pressured into making an on-the-spot decision, I personally prefer couples to discuss it without me being present!
7 - View Full Weddings in Print
This is often overlooked but very important. It’s easy to fall in love with 20 beautiful couple shots on a well-presented website, but I also recommend viewing a full start-to-finish wedding, especially one at your venue or photographed at the same time of year as yours. You need to be sure your photographer can provide a good standard of work throughout the entire day, when indoors, outdoors, during the daytime or night time, in June or January. A real professional will be equipped to deal with all types of light and all types of weather, but style-wise a beach wedding in summer will look different to a castle wedding in winter. Looking at sample albums will show the quality of the photographs better than a computer or phone screen too.
8 - Ask About Plan B
Nobody likes thinking about this part, but it is essential to make sure your photographer has a contingency plan in place should the worst happen. Ask your prospective photographer their plan for a camera breaking during the ceremony, or if they are too unwell to cover your big day. Your photographer should have plans in place to reassure you that if the worst should happen, you won’t be left high and dry. Any professional photographer should have public liability, professional indemnity and equipment insurance, along with backup equipment, and a process for backing up your photographs. I have all of this information in my contract.
9 - Check the Paperwork
You might be planning an ultra-fun casual wedding, but it’s still a good idea to make sure your suppliers are taking you seriously and documenting things properly. Wedding photographers should always have a contract in place that will detail what they will provide you with clearly and concisely along with terms and conditions that will protect both parties. Check that your wedding date is secured and their contingency plan is detailed in the contract too.
10 - Lock it Down!
So you’re satisfied with all of the arrangements, it’s time to confirm your booking! Most photographers will require a booking retainer and a signed contract to secure your date. Once you’ve completed the booking process, congratulations! You’ve made an informed decision and ticked a big thing off your wedding to-do list!
I hope this article has been helpful, please do feel free to leave any comments. If you would like to check my availability for your wedding date, please use the Contact Me page on my website. Thank you!