Professional Wedding Photographers – Advice on Choosing

Let’s face it getting married is one of the biggest and hopefully happiest days of your life. To guarantee that all goes according to plan, you want reliable professionals. Most of these wedding business exist to make sure the day itself goes well. The wedding photography, on the other hand, takes on a greater meaning in the days, weeks, month and even years that follow. It is important that your photographer is able to capture all that love and laughter and enable those happy memories to come flooding back with every turn of your wedding album page. So what are the advantages of hiring true professional wedding photographers for your marriage service and how do you tell them from the rest of the pack?

Reliability. True professional wedding photographers will have spent many years building up their reputation. Do you think they would let all that labour go to waste by being unreliable? Of course not. For a wedding photographer their number one priority should be to ensure they arrive on time. Having a fully documented “system” helps ensure that timings are known, and all photographic systems double checked. Once your memories have been captured they should be safely stored on different media, in different locations. Before booking ask your photographer when was their first wedding? How many have they photographed since then? What plans do they have in place in case of illness or transport breakdown? Finally, what do they do to ensure the safety of your images once they have been taken?

Quality. If you do something often enough, whatever that is, you should improve, makes sense, doesn’t it? But years of experience give couples like you more benefit than just better looking photographs. One benefit to you should be in the quality of wedding albums offered. The album considered by Wedding Photographers to be the best in the World is the story book album. This Album is usually hand made by craftsmen. So, before booking, be sure to ask if your photographer is a member of a professional body. In the UK this can be the M.P.A, the B.I.P.P or the S.W.P.P. Ask to see some testimonials, thank you cards or reviews on line. Ask how many years they have been using their albums for and why did they choose that particular manufacturer.

Organisation. Imagine having the best photographer in the world at your wedding. Now imagine that they have no rapport with you or your guests, so how are they going to get your guests in position for that photograph? For this reason one of the most important skills your professional wedding photographers must have is the ability to organisation. And the organisation of your guests has to be done in a respectful manner, rather than barking out orders! Being organised and efficient goes hand in hand, after all you don’t want to spend all day, away from your guests. And you certainly don’t want guests complaining about the amount of time the photographs took. Before booking did your photographer ascertain who at the wedding were the important people? Did they sort out a list of the photographs you want? Did they offer advice on how long the process would take?

Friendly. Sounds obvious, sadly, even some professional wedding photographers fail at this challenge. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is far easier to get your guests correctly positioned by asking them nicely, rather than ordering them around. Getting to know the whole bridal party and both families makes it a lot easier to get natural photographs. Who wants to be told to smile all day?! A laugh and a joke, a funny story and people smile naturally. Quite often I am asked which side does the Grooms button hole go. It’s not about being the photographer, it’s about being the go to wedding guy (or girl). Please do make sure, no matter how brilliant or how cheap your photographer is, that then have a personality that is easy to get along with.

Flexible. This indicates your photographers philosophy. Some photographers say these are my packages, pick one. Some say you can’t have a printable DVD. Some say, of course you cannot have photographs taken by your guests in my wedding album! And that hits the nail right on the head. They think it is their wedding album. A great wedding photography company should switch that around, it is your wedding and certainly your wedding album! Yes, packages should be available, but they should be more a la carte rather than fixed menu. Meaning you can swap parts around so that you get the exact service you want. Whilst you may not need this much flexibility, do make sure that your photographer is flexible enough to offer EVERYTHING you want.

Guarantee. Look for photographers that have been in business for a good number of years. Ten years of actually taking wedding photographs, easily beats 3 years doing a degree at University! Photographers with years of experience should be able to guarantee you reliability and quality. Your guarantees should even include things like turning up smartly dressed! Another important one is that your proof photographs will be ready to view in days not weeks or months!. Make sure that you have in writing, everything that you have agreed to.

My Thoughts On Asking A Family Member Or Friend To Be Your Wedding Photographer

Is it a good idea to ask a friend or family member to photograph your wedding in order to keep the costs down?

Having been a photographer for both friends and family I believe I can comment on this and help you make the right decision when considering your wedding photographer. When building my wedding photography portfolio I had the opportunity to photograph weddings for my sister, brother and other close friends. I found that having such a close relationship to the bride and groom and all of the guests affected my performance when taking photographs. While I was not the only photographer covering the wedding I still felt I had a job to do, especially when I needed to expand on my portfolio, but it wasn’t as easy as I had thought.

In my opinion I either need to be a guest or photographer. To be a guest at a wedding you need to sit and watch the ceremony, you need to talk to relatives you haven’t seen for a while, you need to be part of the dinner service, enjoy the speeches and have a few too many drinks. all of these things cannot easily coincide with taking professional looking photographs.

While I was able to provide some nice photographs to my family/friend, I was unable to photograph key shots like the group shots, the ceremony etc. as I needed to be part of these celebrations and was not in the right mindset to manage a crowd and organise a large group of people. If you feel you need to save money by hiring a photographer who is a friend, I would advise you to find someone who isn’t a close friend e.g. a friend of a friend. That way the photographer won’t feel obliged to take part as a guest and only take part as the wedding photographer.

Be careful – even though you know the person photographing your wedding don’t just assume they are up to the job because they have a hobby in photography or own a decent camera. Experience is essential and without it you may end up with wedding photographs you never want to look at. Be sure to have a good look at what the person has photographed in the past, and decide whether it is relevant to what he/she needs to do on the day.

One last pointer – if you decide to hire a friend in order to save money, make sure to treat them as you would a professional. By this I mean make sure they know what sort of shots you want, who is going to be in what group shot, how early they will arrive and what time they will leave. This will both help ensure you get the photographs you want and will put the photographer into the right state of mind.

The Journey to a Wedding by a Wedding Photographer

The journey to a wedding can be a real nightmare, because a wedding photographer simply cannot be late. If you plan everything carefully, you’ll have nothing to worry about; the important thing is planning well ahead. On the few occasions when the photographer is late, the whole wedding comes to a standstill: nobody wants to start the ceremony without the photographer, otherwise all of the long term memories will be compromised. Imagine this: tens of people are sitting in the church just waiting for you to arrive. What are you going to tell when you arrive there an hour late? How are you going to deal with such an embarrassing situation?

Being always late is a real disability. I know of people that are unable to keep a job, because of their time keeping skills. I myself do not keep assistants that are late. A wedding is a very important thing and being late once is enough for me not to hire an assistant again. What I tell them is this: make sure you arrive on time; if you have time keeping problems, then arrive three hours early. There are no excuses for a wedding photographer to be late. Not to talk about the financial losses you could incur into: you can be sure that you will be charged for some extras the bride and groom will incurred into because of you. The journey to a wedding doesn’t have to be this stressful, actually it can be quite peaceful and pleasant. Planning early and well, will almost guarantee that you will be there on time.

Your Vehicle:

Whatever vehicle you use (car, van, motorcycle, bicycle), make sure it’s well looked after. If you have a vehicle that is more than five years old, I would advise you have it checked out at least a couple of weeks before the event. This is because if there are repairs to be made, you want to be sure you’ll get it back before the wedding.

If your car is not reliable, rent one. Nowadays hiring a car can be very cheap and this can easily be included in the expenses bill. Also the vehicle you arrive with tells a lot about the way you work. Much more than you would think.

Imagine: you call a plumber from the yellow pages and he arrives at your home with an old noisy bitten up pickup truck with a dirty camper shell and you can tell he lives in it. Then your neighbor’s plumber arrives in the latest van, quietly, a professional advert on the side, wearing a nice work uniform. I bet you would wish you had called the other guy. You will automatically assume your plumber will not do the job properly, or at least not as well as the other guy. First impressions really count a lot.

It’s the same with wedding photographers: how you travel tells how you will work. Arrive in style and the bride and groom will already trust you more, even without having touched one of your cameras. They are paying you top dollars and they want to see their money well spent and of course they want to show their family and friends that they have selected a real pro.

Want to know what I do? Just in case that something goes wrong with my car and the journey, I always keep a folding bicycle in the trunk. When such an important thing like a wedding is at stake, you have to think about the unthinkable. What if you get into an accident and your car can no longer be moved? You are still required to attend the event. Remember that accidents do happen and they are not necessarily your fault, but you will be expected to have allowed enough time for them.

This is not a normal 9 to 6 job; you are the person in charge of the only memories the couple will have of their wedding day and it is your duty and main priority do anything in your power to attend AND to be on time (which means early).

Get a membership with the local automobile club, so that you will be prepared for any mishaps and you’ll have less worries as there would be someone to help you. Even if you only got a flat tire, could you change it on your own while wearing a nice suit and a white shirt? How clean (or dirty) will you arrive at the ceremony?

Always respect speed limits. Other than dramatically reducing the chances of having an accident, you’ll also reduce the chances of being pulled over by the police. Even if you get a straightforward fine, you will waste precious time and you will be upset for most of the day. You are going to create art on commission and your mind needs to be clear, relaxed and happy.

The Journey:

Going to a wedding is not like going to work at rush hour on weekdays, where everything is more or less predictable. Weddings usually happen on the weekend, where sometimes (always if you live in London) unusual road works take place, trains are limited and diversions are in place.

Since it is a weekend and most people do not work, the authorities don’t usually give much weight to congestion, which becomes extremely unpredictable and very heavy at times.

If you can, avoid travelling on the day of the wedding. Even if the event takes place at only 50 miles from your home, travel there the day before and stay at a cheap hotel. You will wake up nice and fresh, with plenty of time for everything… maybe even to have a nice walk in the morning before the wedding.

Make sure you know what is going on around you. A good way to do this is to watch the evening news the day before the wedding and to check for the local news website as soon as you get up in the morning. Go to any extent to make the journey go as smoothly as possible.

The Routes:

Always plan at least three routes. The first should be the quickest, the send should be the shortest and the third an emergency alternative. If your route includes a highway, plan an alternative route using local roads. Always think of the unthinkable.

Nowadays we use navigators, which are a fantastic aid in these sort of situations, but do not rely 100% on them. Always carry a city mad and a larger area map. The day before plan your route on a real map and match that with the navigator.

Keep in mind that on the weekend some roads might be closed and diversions might be in place. The journey can be severely altered and delayed, especially on a Saturday morning.