So, you’re at the start of your wedding planning journey … and your attention has turned to Photography.
Where do you start? What should you look for? What’s important?
One of the common things I hear from couples at the beginning of their planning is just how overwhelming the whole process can be.
So I’ve put together my top tips and advise to help choose the right photographer for your day … that may be me? (hopefully – yippee! ha ha) but it might not be – and that’s cool too … hopefully this guide will help add some clarity and structure to your search.
When should I book my Photographer?
The simple answer – as soon as possible!
Good Photographers get booked up quickly – especially for peak dates – I would usually suggest that once you have secured your date & your Venue then your next booking should be your Photographer.
Of course – that depends on what importance you place on the photography aspect of your day … it’s not unusual for couples to decide that Photography is THE most important thing to them and they are prepared to set a date around the availability of their number 1 photography choice.
What style of photography do you like?
Firstly it’s important to establish exactly what style of Photography you prefer and that includes the content as well as the colours, tones and editing style.
My best advise it to not get too bogged down with the terminology of how photographers define their work … luckily it’s a visual industry!
So trust your eye and your gut feel … when you start looking at different photographers work you will soon start to develop your own personal favourites and when you’ve narrowed it down to a couple or few who you love there will undoubtedly by many similarities to their work & style – be that in the tones and colours of their editing style, the WOW images which draw you in … or the way their images make you feel – connecting with the love & emotion in the image.
You may start by asking family & friends for their recommendations (word of mouth is a powerful tool!), your Venue may give you a list of recommended suppliers … you may simply search using Google or hash tags for your Wedding Venue or key words you relate to e.g #relaxedweddingphotographeryorkshire. Wedding blogs can also be a wonderful wedding planning source – especially the ‘real wedding’ features, a few of my favourites are Brides Up North, Whimsical Wonderland Weddings and Love My Dress.
Trust me – when you start looking you won’t be short of options for Wedding Photographers!
Broadly speaking there are a few main categories photographers may fall into (this is not an exhaustive list of course!)
Documentary / reportage – the aim of this type of photography is to capture your day in an unobtrusive way, telling the narrative of your wedding by picking up on the emotions and moments. These photographers hope to transport you back to the way you felt at that moment in time when you look at your images. They ‘interfere’ / stage very little across the course of the day.
Fine art & editorial – these photographers take inspiration from fashion and editorial work … there can often be a bit more staging and posing of the images to create a more polished look. The editing style of fine art photographers is also very different … being very light, bright and breezy.
Traditional – a little more posed, conventional or classic … it may be what you see when you open up your parents wedding albums … so you may not see as many images of people caught ‘unawares’ laughing or interacting with each other as such … but will focus on more traditional shots.
Contemporary / Creative Photographers – these do have some posed shots but in a more relaxed way … they will focus on capturing light and landscapes in a creative way – often producing WOW factor images.
The truth is that most Photographers will be a mixture of all of the above … for the vast majority of the day I would describe my style as documentary / reportage … when it comes to my couples portraits there is creativity and huge consideration thrown in there … a lot of that you won’t ‘see’ on the day itself but good Photographers are constantly assessing the light & location for photographs, they are considering the composition of every shot as well as the technical elements of camera settings.
I pride myself on getting relaxed natural images of couples interacting with each other … but within that people often need a little gentle guidance to make sure they feel comfortable to start with and again a good photographer can read that body language and know when people need that little bit more reassurance or guidance.
I also feel it is hugely important to incorporate a (very!) short section of time in your day to a few traditional images – by that I mean formal group shots with parents / grandparents and the bridal party … there are very few times in your life when you get all your nearest and dearest together at the same time so to capture those moments I feel is really important … but of course that doesn’t mean they have to be stuffy or forced staged photographs .. a photographers ability to capture natural relaxed formals may also be an element you consider highly on your list …
How much will Wedding Photography cost me?
Like anything to do with a Wedding the ‘Budget’ word is going to feature high up in your decision criteria.
Lets be honest there are hundreds of us out there and I totally get that choosing can be an overwhelming minefield!
Prices can range from a few hundred pounds through to over £5k … but like most things in life – and I hate to sound cliche – you get what you pay for … quality of work, experience, the service experience you receive from start to finish and also whether they are full time and running a legitimate business are all key factors.
There is no getting away from it – full time professional photographers have costs – they have the best equipment & further backup equipment! They pay for insurances, computer software, website hosting, accounting and marketing … photography is not just about turning up on the day … there are admin hours spent before the wedding, time invested in getting to know you, administering your booking, working on the day itself and of course the main bulk of the work comes after your wedding in the dedicated hours of editing and curating of your wedding images … creating slideshows, blog posts, previews for you and albums.
And of course most Photographers will often offer different packages and add ons … so at a basic level there would be the coverage of your wedding day and delivering those images through either a USB or a digital online gallery … they may offer part day coverage for mid week or off peak dates.
They are likely to have album packages so take a look at what they can offer there … (I am so passionate about printing your images you can read more here)
Then there are additions like Pre Wedding shoots (this article may help you decide if you want one or not) and options for second shooters.
Again don’t be afraid to ask your Photographer about these elements and consider what your priority is.
Trust your gut … if you come across someones work that you love you will know – you’ll find yourself pawing over their website & social media pages constantly – you’ll scroll through their instagram page all the way through to the end rather than getting bored and moving on.
It will also be no coincidence that you’ll be able to relate to and love the actual weddings that they shoot – an established & experienced photographer will consistently be attracting their ideal client and if you fall within their target market you will undoubtedly be able to relate to the couples and weddings they are capturing.
You may think I am biased by saying the following but … if you had set your budget for photography and find someone you love who is outside of that then sit down and review if you can stretch.
No one has ever said after their Wedding “oh my gosh … I have the most amazing wedding photos to cherish forever – I wish I hadn’t spent all that money on them” but what I do hear over and over again is “we were really disappointment with our wedding images … we wish we could go back and choose someone else … we will never get the chance to capture our day again”. Trust me when I say that the value and importance of your images will only increase over time … think about sharing those images with your children or even grandchildren in the years to come.
When you are first drawn to a Photographer you are likely to be wowed by their PORTFOLIO page or Instagram feed … naturally these are going to be that Photographers choice of their favourite work. But drill down further …
Visit their BLOG Post page … this will have individual weddings featured in more detail … you need to get a feel for the consistency of their work and the way they capture a day from start to finish – this is really important.
Your Photographer may be able to send you links to specific blog posts of Weddings they have shot at your Venue – this will obviously give you a relatable wedding to look at in more detail. But try not to get too hung up about whether a Photographer has shot at your specific venue before – yes don’t get me wrong it can be an advantage if they know the venue & grounds well – but a good & experienced Photographer would research before they arrive and part of what you pay for is their creative eye and ability to spot the perfect photo opportunity by quickly assessing a location on the spot.
A Photographers personality & approach on the day / how they will fit in is just as important as you loving their images – after all they are the one person who will be around all day interacting with you and your family & friends. It has to be someone who you feel comfortable & relaxed with – especially if you have decided that you prefer unposed, natural portraits shots for example – it’s virtually impossible to relax and be natural with each other if you feel awkward or uncomfortable with the person stood taking your photograph.
Spend some time trying to figure out who the person behind the lens is … obviously personal recommendations or someone who you have seen working whilst as a guest at a wedding may be a good place to start … but you will be surprised at how much you can get a feel for a person just by researching on their websites – look at their ‘ABOUT ME’ pages … stalk their Facebook / Instagram pages … read into their tone of voice and how they speak about their clients … it’s easy to quickly gage the level of passion and if you can connect with that person. Another hugely important resource is to take a look at the ‘KIND WORDS’ section on their website – read what other couples have said about that Photographer – that will provide gold nuggets of information about how that person works & delivers their service.
Speak to them!
Ok so you have found who you think may be the one … contact them … open the channels of communication.
Sometimes just an email exchange might be enough for you to know that they are the right person for you … but if not don’t be afraid to ask to meet up in person or arrange a Skype session or phone call.
What should I ask my Photographer?
When I have a consultation with a couple I always find it useful to start by talking through exactly how I approach a day from start to finish and how I would fit into their day … this naturally flows through to other questions you might have and is a good starting point for a conversation.
Other specific questions you may like to ask:
Are they insured?
Do they have backup equipment?
How long have they been photographing weddings for?
Is travel included in the price?
How long after the wedding would you receive your images – how many images would you get?
What is their backup plan if they couldn’t attend your wedding?
What booking fee do they take & what is the booking process?
Of course a lot of the above may be covered in their Wedding brochure or on an ‘FAQ’ page of their website so that a look there first.
Most importantly … try to enjoy your experience of selecting your Photographer! It should be an experience which gets you excited about your big day … visualising how your day may come together and what images you will be left with at the end of it can be a really exciting process.
PHEW! that was a long one … turns out I had quite a bit to say!
I really hope you have got some useful information out of that – if you did I would love you to drop me a little comment below.
If you think I could help further with your wedding planning or I may be a good fit for your day I would love to hear from you … you can contact me HERE.
I love to capture weddings across Yorkshire, Cheshire, Manchester the Lake District and beyond.
My style is relaxed, natural and creative … people are at the heart of what I love to capture.
Thank you for reading & happy wedding planning! xxx