HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
How to choose the perfect wedding photographer … this is no easy task and can be quite overwhelming. There are literally gazillions of wedding photographers to choose from so today I’m sharing my 5 top tips for how to choose the perfect wedding photographer for you.
1. CHOOSE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE
he first decision is deciding what wedding photography style you like. Do you like natural candid photos, do you want to hike up a mountain for the perfect magazine shot, do you want more traditional and formal photos with your family … or do you want a mixture. Typing in some of the keywords I’ve listed below on Google will bring up photographers with those specific styles. As well as searching by area, I would search the whole of the UK. This will give you a good idea of the style you like and then you can narrow it down by area should you wish to. Many photographers like myself are happy to travel across the UK so if you fall in love with a photographer who isn’t local, ask them if they travel for weddings
A. DOCUMENTARY/REPORTAGE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
The documentary/reportage approach to photographing weddings has grown massively in the last 15 years. The aim of the photographer is to be unobtrusive at your wedding and tell a story of your wedding day. This style is where the photographer has minimum (and often no) input in direction on the day and literally captures fleeting moments as they happen rather than setting up a staged photo.
It’s perfect for couples who love natural photos, don’t like posing and want to spend their wedding day with their guests rather than being whisked away for hours. If you are looking for a documentary wedding photographer, look to see if their photos emit emotion or tell a story. If you decide this style is for you ask the photographer how much of the day they honestly approach in a documentary style. Lots of photographers claim to be documentary wedding photographers but then have a portfolio filled with posed portraits. It’s important both you and the photographer set expectations before your day to avoid disappointment.
B. CONTEMPORARY/CREATIVE WEDDING STYLE
If you’re a couple who likes the idea of a styled magazine shoot in your wedding attire, i.e. walking through the city centre or climbing a mountain then this is for you. This contemporary style of wedding photography is often directed rather than awkward posing so even if you don’t like posing, it can still work for you.
If, for example, you are getting married at the registry office you could have some en vogue couple portraits taken afterwards in the city centre as you won’t be under the time constraints of a wedding venue schedule. If you were to have a country manor wedding, choosing to go into the city centre for photos may lack narrative to the day. However, always remember it is your day to be photographed how you want and if you have any ideas I would recommend speaking with your photographer to see if you can come up with something together.
C. TRADITIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Think back to your parents or grandparents wedding photos – these are the traditional photos we know. They are formal family photos where the photographer will choose a nice backdrop to have some family photos. Even if coupes are choosing a documentary wedding photographer/contemporary photographer, they will still have a few essential family photos. The key is not to go overboard on these otherwise it really does impact on the flow and enjoyment of the wedding day. Getting groups together at weddings takes time, even with the best men and ushers involved! It’s often the couples who have been to weddings and witnessed this who will come to me and say this is not what they want.
WHAT’S MY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE?
I’m a mixture of the 3 styles above. Predominantly I would say I’m a documentary wedding photographer because the biggest part of my all day wedding photography coverage is photographing weddings naturally with no direction. However, I do like to take couple portraits and, if the location is right, I’m happy than happy to step away from the venue for some contemporary portraits. I also take traditional family photos as I understand how important they can be to couples. However, I personally recommend 6 different group photos. The less you have the more you can enjoy your wedding day allowing me to photograph your wedding naturally.
If I was to divide a full day’s wedding photography up into the three categories above, I would be 75% documentary 20% contemporary and 5% traditional. The 20% is based on how long couples want to spend on their portraits – if a couple wants a longer period of time to do these I plan accordingly. If couples only want a handful of couple portraits, this share would most move to the documentary approach. As long as I know what you want beforehand, we’ll plan your day together. I will always work with you to get the photos you want whilst being realistic with timescales.
Whatever style of photography you like, I would be wary of following a specific photoshop editing trend. Wedding photos should be able to stand the test of time. Some of the photos in my portfolio are from my first year of weddings. It’s not that I haven’t evolved in my photography, it’s just what I don’t want my wedding photos to go out of fashion (remember colour-popping photos!) so I’m very careful to keep to a classic style of editing
2. DECIDE ON HOW LONG YOU WANT PHOTOGRAPHY COVERAGE?
Do you want a wedding photographer to be with you all day taking photos of you getting ready up to the first dance? All day coverage captures not only the exchange of vows but the fun and candid moments in-between from start to finish Or do you only want photography of the ceremony and a few photos afterwards? Your answer may be based on budget but it may also be based on how many guests you’re having, where you’re getting married and how long your wedding day schedule is. Although I’ve been offering shorter coverage for the last 3 years, since the pandemic of Covid shorter photography coverage appears to be standard at the moment although this may change though when weddings get back to full capacity.
Read my blog post here on micro wedding photography to see if it’s suitable for you
3. WORK OUT YOUR BUDGET
There’s no getting away from the fact that weddings cost. If you have an overall budget for your wedding you need to decide how much you are going to spend on everything you need (or want!), i.e. venue, food and drinks, car, flowers, wedding attire, stationery, cakes, entertainment, wedding gifts and photography to name but a few. Some areas will be more important to you than others so everyone’s budget for each category could and should be different. I say “should” because I feel it’s important you spend your wedding budget how you want to rather than how a wedding blog has told you it should be spent. It’s easy to get carried away thinking you need something because you read it or because a friend did that way but remember, it is your wedding day.
This brings me on to photography pricing. Once you start looking for a photographer you will see how much prices can vary. You only have to look on Facebook to see photographers advertising all-day photography coverage from £300 including USB and photobook. Honestly, this kind of figure does not cover the basic business expenses of a professional photographer. It may be difficult to choose the perfect wedding photographer for your budget and like with most things, there is a mid-range price, below average price and a high end price. For Nottingham I’d say the average is between £1200-1600 but it can go up to and above £2000.
hen spending money on a product or service for an occasion you need to ask yourself how important is it to you. How important is the quality of the end product, the service and overall experience. If I take the example that I’m looking for a black dress (because you can never have too many right ladies!) I know that if I went to the top-end designer section in Harrods I would get a dress which was not only amazing quality but made me feel good too. However, the chances are if I buy the dress I can’t afford the shoes I need to complete the outfit. I will therefore go to somewhere like Reiss. It’s still not going to be cheap but I know it will be good quality, great service and it will last me years – it’s just missing the high end designer label and I can get shoes to go with it! If I’ve fallen in love with the Harrods dress, I need to make a decision whether I skip the shoes or whether I will make a cutback elsewhere. Where money is no object, this thought process doesn’t come into but most people will have some kind of budget to work to and you have to decide what is important to you. For me personally, I’m not going to go to Primark for a dress even though I would be able to have a dress, jacket, shoes, underwear, make-up … the list goes on with money left over. That’s not me being snobby, I just value lasting quality when it comes to a special occasion.
With that in mind, your wedding day cannot be repeated and your wedding photos will always be there to bring back the memories of the day forever. You may think, well I’m a photographer so I’m bound to say that but it’s really true and definitely worth choosing investing wisely.
4. MEET/TALK/SKYPE WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Your wedding photographer is often with you all day so it’s good to talk with them prior to booking. Even if you have short coverage, your photographer is still the closest “non-guest” relationship you’ll have with someone at your wedding so it’s important you feel comfortable with them. You don’t need to best friends but you do need to feel relaxed that they are around you and your guests. Arrange a call or meeting to make sure that you are on the same wavelength not only with the style of photography you want but with their personality.
I have a list of FAQ’s on my website as a guide to some of the questions which may be on your mind when looking for a photographer. If in doubt, always ask.
5. ASK TO SEE A FULL WEDDING
I have a few wedding albums to show couples photos from one full wedding and I also share blog posts of weddings at different venues. It’s all well and good seeing a portfolio of heroic portrait shots but you want to know what kind of photos you’re likely to receive for the rest of the day too.