A Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

For some time now, I’ve had a suspicion that all is not well in the Wedding Photography industry. I’m a wedding photographer and I know all the tricks of “the business”. I’ve also been on the other side of the business helping friends and family choose a photographer for their wedding (I prefer to party at my friend’s weddings!)

So, with some suspicions, I surveyed a lot of married people and was astonished to find that 71 % of people said they were not happy with their wedding photographer. This was much higher than I was expecting. Furthermore, an astonishing 85% of respondents said they should have hired a better photographer and would do so if they had their time again.

Read that again, 85% of people were so disappointed in their photos they believe they should have hired a better photographer.

Clearly, something is not right in our industry.

I think there are a number of issues, I think its partly bad photographers, partly good photographers not handling expectations well, and partly couples who aren’t, and have no reason to be, experts at understanding this industry.

So here’s a little guide, by a wedding photographer, on how to choose the right wedding photographer. Note there are a million other things to consider but these are what I think are the essentials, if you get these right you will be less likely to be disappointed.

1. Style

Style is in many respects the easy thing to get right. You’ve looked online, read magazines, started a Pinterest account so you now know that you either want a photojournalist style, an editorial style, a retro style. Most photographers will have one style that they stick with so choosing a photographer who shoots the style you want is as simple as looking at the style they normally shoot in.

2. Quality

The second, and in many ways most important, decision you need to make is about the quality of photographer you want. I’m not talking about style here (documentary, photojournalism etc), or cost, I’m talking about the quality of the photographer. How many great photos do they take across the whole day.

Here’s an attempt to capture the range of possible photographers for your wedding:

# 1. Uncle Tom. He’s always loved taking ‘snaps’.
# 2. Jane’s cousin Pete. He’s a keen amateur who might have even studied photography once.
# 3. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.
# 4. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.

Wait, aren’t #3 and #4 the same? No, no, and no! I’d say 50-80% of “professional wedding photographers” are nothing more than con-men and women who think buying an expensive camera makes them professional. Buying a scalpel does not make you a surgeon. Becoming a #4 professional wedding photographer takes years of dedication to photography. It takes commitment and passion and a constant desire to improve your art.

So how can you tell the difference between #3 and #4 professionals?

#3 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of good images from different weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

#4 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of great images from weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

Notice the difference? There’s a key difference there. #3 will show you images from different weddings. #4 will show you images (especially if you ask) from ONE wedding. That’s the key difference. A #4 photographer should be able to get good or great quality images across the whole day, not just one of two good images for the entire day.

At Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography our website is designed to showcase three individual weddings, one from a beach, one in a church, and another a destination wedding. We hope this gives our potential clients a feel for the quality across the entire day that they can expect to receive.

So, my #1 tip in choosing the right photographer for your wedding is insist on seeing images from one wedding. That will give you a feel for how many good quality images you are likely to see after your wedding.

Which leads me to expectations.

3. Expectations

The first thing to know is that photographers, even true professionals with years of experience, are not superhuman, they will not get award-winning, magazine quality images of every single aspect of your day from 8am until midnight. It just doesn’t happen. If you are expecting stunning images from sunrise to sunrise, you will be disappointed.

Most #4 photographers will give you consistently good images across the entire day and this is what you should be aiming for. There should definitely be some great images in there, the sort you will be proud to hang up on your wall.

I know of two immensely expensive US based wedding photographers. Both are at the top of their game, are in huge demand, and both charge over US$25,000 for their basic packages. I’ve seen a full set of images from a single wedding and I can guarantee you, if you paid that much money and expected every single image to be a prize-winning image, you would be really disappointed. Some images are truly magnificent, most are really good, a large number are just ‘snaps’.

If you end up with 5-10 magnificent images, 30-90 or so really good photos, and the rest nice snaps, then you should be happy.

4. Cheap

Cheap is always cheap. Repeat after me: cheap is always cheap. If you pick a photographer because they are cheap you can expect the quality of your images to plummet. This might be all you can afford/budget for but don’t expect miracles and don’t expect to be anything but disappointed (particularly if you hope to share the images with your kids and grandkids some day).

Do keep in mind though that your wedding is a once in a lifetime event (usually) and it might seem like a good idea to skimp on photography but really after the day is finished, apart from memories, all you have left is the photos. Imagine your grandchildren sitting down to look at your wedding album and seeing cheap photos. Is that worth it?

5. A recommendation from a friend

If you’ve seen you’re friends wedding photos (all of them) and like them then this might be a good way to go. However keep in mind a few things. 1) Did you see all the photos? 2) How long ago did your friend get married (has the photographer aged in energy or style) 3) Ask your friend what the worst thing about the experience with that photographer was – if they suggest irrelevant things like they didn’t like the package the images came in, then that’s probably fine, if the photographer missed a key photo, that’s not fine.

Don’t take a recommendation as proof that the photographer is everything you want for your wedding, refer back to points 1-4.

Conclusion…

Take these points as a starting point. There is way to find the right photographer for your wedding and I hope this helps in some way.

Toronto Wedding Photographers

Choosing to have your wedding in Toronto is a great idea for many reasons. From the many beautiful wedding locations, tourist attractions, wedding companies to the friendly atmosphere and people of Toronto, you are assured a pleasant wedding experience.

From the parties leading up to the wedding, there are many things going on and many friends and family present to support you and help out during this sometimes stressful but wonderful time in your life. With all the important wedding decisions to be made it is sometimes easy to forget that hiring a professional wedding photographer is essential to preserving your memories for the rest of your lives.

Toronto has many experienced professional wedding photographers available to document and preserve all the memories of you, your family and your friends. wedding photographers are available not only for the most important part of you wedding but for the entire day and the other days leading up to the big day. Your wedding photographer can catalogue all the steps leading up to your wedding such as your wedding location before and after all the decorations and themes are set up.

Having more than one wedding photographer might be something you want to consider because they can photograph your guests as the arrive, along with taking pictures of all your friends and families together. Toronto wedding photographers can also be present to document the entire wedding day, from the bride getting her hair & nails done, to after fitting of the wedding dress. A lot of people may not think about why documenting the entire day is important but wouldn’t it be nice later on to remember every part about that special day and to see what everyone had to go through to make all your wedding wishes come true.

Along with taking pictures, many wedding photographers are also able to provide video and video editing services. Wouldn’t it be nice to have video of your friends and family at the wedding as they arrive? Your wedding photographer can take video of your friends and family to hear their thoughts about the wedding and about the lucky couple. You can have a chance to hear what some of your guests had to say that you would not normally hear if you didn’t have a wedding photographer going around and interviewing your guests.

Your wedding photographer can also be there to videotape the bride and groom getting prepared for the big day. They can provide a view into what both bride and groom had to go through so that both can see what each other’s day was like leading up to the wedding.

Along with capturing all of your memories, many wedding photographers use the latest in digital technology. This makes it extremely easy to provide all of your family and friends with lasting memories that everyone will be able to view easily. Instead of printed photographs, you may choose to provide your guests each with a copy of the images or video in digital format or on a DVD or CD, which is a great and inexpensive way to please all of your guests.

Even though the most important part of the day is saying “I do”, it’s the memories that you take from that day that will make it all the more special.

What Makes a Good Wedding Photographer?

Choosing a wedding photographer in London is one of the most important decisions you are going to make regarding your wedding day. Think about it, the cake will be eaten, the confetti swept up, the dress may fade and perhaps your memory a little too, but the wedding photographs are there forever. These will most likely be the single most important pictures you will ever have taken.

So how do you choose the right London wedding photographer for your big day?   We spoke to an experienced London based wedding photographer with a keen eye for a good photograph and has a full membership with The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. He is also affiliated with The Royal Photographic society making him a good choice for your wedding photographer if his order book isn’t already full on your wedding day. 

“Well, obviously the technical aspects of using a camera have to be there.   Also you need somebody who has invested in the right equipment. You can’t make a bad picture good by spending on lighting, tripods and lenses but you can make a great picture even better with the right tools. After all, your wedding pictures are a record of your marriage and have to be perfect.   What is harder to get a feel for is the photographers eye for taking a picture – what do I mean by that?   Well, you need someone who can skilfully master light and composition in your wedding photos.  

They need an eye for detail and need to be able to break down a visual scene into the right photographic elements.   Someone with a bit of flair, panache and creativity rather than just pointing and clicking the camera to make sure they get all of the guests in.   I think this is important and some good wedding photographers do get this for their clients but in a way that intrudes on the atmosphere. A good wedding photographer should blend in to the crowd, almost as if he were one of the guests at the Church along with everyone else.    I try very hard for my brides and grooms to offer them a service that truly delivers.   Being a Londoner myself I know the area and the culture.  I don’t travel in from outside the M25 like a lot of wedding photographers and I think that’s important.

I speak to all of them to find out what style they would like and manage their expectations around any issues I can see. I also go over the finer details and timings of the wedding day to ensure I can take the pictures they would like whatever the weather conditions.   I would recommend you choose a wedding photographer with a good portfolio of work they can show you so you know what you can expect. I also have extensive wedding pictures in albums I can show to prospective clients.    Many of these will include areas of London the couple are from so it’s nice for them to be able to picture it.

When looking at their work you need to ask yourself, can this photographer create moments of fun and lightness and then capture them with a camera. It’s worth remembering that great photographic moments rarely happen by themselves. These snapshots of time are created and crafted by wedding photographers. When assessing wedding pictures you should look especially at the facial expressions in the group shots. These emotions are a direct indication of the ambiance created by the photographer at that time.   Look at their photos and then ask yourself: Do you feel that you were there? Were you emotionally moved by the pictures? Before you pay a deposit, make sure you meet up with the photographer in order that you see their work in the flesh. Was the presentation and print quality to the standard that you are happy with?  

Always ask how much the job will be – and make sure there are no hidden extras.  Also ask how long you can expect to wait for your pictures.   Six weeks is a reasonable time, 8 is just about okay but it shouldn’t take anything more than that.