How to Hire the Best Wedding Photographer

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Lets be frank, planning your wedding day is a nightmare! Other than building your own house, you will probably never have to employ so many different services. From cake makers to the DJ and from the limo drivers to the dress maker, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the choice. But of all the people you will engage to make sure that you have the perfect day the photographer is probably the most difficult whilst at the same time being the only one that you are relying on to leave you a lasting reminder of the day (husbands don’t count here). Just one day after and your cake will be eaten, your venue is being used for a 21st birthday, your car is being used to ferry kids to a prom and in a few months even the dress will be a bit tight and relegated to the attic or worse eBay. But when you are sitting in your rocking chair with your grandchildren on you knee you will still have your wedding pictures to relive your special day.

So having decided that choosing the very best wedding photographer is important where do you start?
Good personal recommendation is about the best starting place, but note that I said “good”. People like to help others out, it’s human nature, so they may well recommend their photographer who in reality was, well average, therefore it is important that you ask for some details. Start with asking to see their album, this is easy as what bride doesn’t like to drag out and show off that? Ask how they performed on the day, what you need to know here was, where they punctual? where they polite? did the guests like them? where they unobtrusive? where they dressed appropriately (some photographers think its OK to turn up to wedding dressed in T shirts and jeans)? how much did they charge and what did you get for that money? how fast did they take the formal family pictures ( none of the guests like these so a good photographer should be able to whip through them at an average sized wedding in about 20-30 minutes)? How long did the album take to arrive? How much where additional prints? Did they supply a CD of the wedding images that you could print yourself, if so how much was it?

Don’t limit yourself to asking just people who have been recently married, but also make sure to ask friends who may have attended at a wedding for their opinions too.

So you have tried personal recommendations and none are pressing you buttons, so what next. Well by now you will probably have booked your wedding venue so ask the coordinator there for suggestions, you will almost certainly will be given a list of photographers who have worked there before, but remember some venues will be taking a cut of the photographers fee for the recommendation so whilst a good starting point you still have some research to do.

Last but definitely not least, the world’s greatest research tool is at your command, the internet. If you type wedding photographer into one of the search engines you will get literally millions of results so narrow down your returns by adding your area or town for example “wedding photographer wilmslow” or add your venue for example “wedding photographers crewe hall”. Having done this you will still be faced with a huge list as it seems that everyone who has bought themselves a nice camera for Christmas is trying there hand at wedding photography. So how to cut the wheat from the chaff?

Firstly, click onto the website, does it look professional, easy to navigate around, contain the information you need, have lost of images? Is there a proper telephone number (be wary of mobile numbers only) or better still a toll free number. And above all is the photographers address shown, after all you will be handing over a lot of money for this service and you want to know where they are if it does all go wrong.

Now pick the top 5 photographers that you like the sound of and arrange for a meeting, ideally this should take place at their office or studio so it will give you a chance to see just how professional they are. The type of questions you should ask. Here is a list of the questions you should ask, remember it is by no means a complete list, but it is a good start.

– Are you a full time professional wedding photographer?
– What are your prices, including any taxes and expenses and what do we get for our money? (Don’t say what your budget is before they tell you their prices)
– What is the payment schedule? Most will require a deposit to hold the date and full payment in advance of the event itself.
– What payment methods can I use? If possible pay by credit card as this will offer you some form of protection.
– What happens if you are ill on the morning of my wedding and can’t attend? If they say that a “friend” will attend, ask to see some work done by this “friend”.
– How many photographers will be attending? If you are being charged for two photographers (often this will be the spouse), again ask to see work by the other photographer.
– What will happen if it rains on the day? Every pro should have a rain plan and be able to show you photographs from wedding where it rained.
– How much will it cost to purchase additional photographs after the event?
– Can we have a disc of photographs to print ourselves and/or use on social networking sites?
– How will you deal with friends taking photographs? Some photographers simply don’t allow this, so if it’s important to you, walk away.
– Do you take formal group shot pictures? Again be cautious of photographers who don’t do this, formal photographs are tricky to do well and are a sign of a real professional not only from a photography stand point but from how they handle organizing people.
– How do you proof our photographs? There are several ways this can be done, from providing you with individual prints, CD’s or small proofing albums.
– How soon will our photographs be ready? A reasonable time would be about two weeks.

But overall the question you should be asking yourself is do I get on with this person enough to have them with me on what is one of the most special days of my life? If the answer is no, then politely tell them that you have other photographers to see and leave.

So what should it cost? Well prices for wedding photography varies enormously from just a few hundred to several thousand, in that case go for the cheapest right? The answer surprisingly is maybe. Some fantastic photographers are just starting out and are desperate to build a portfolio and therefore are charging well below the rate they should be for their skills. Unfortunately there are also lots of photographers who are quite frankly rubbish and charge low because that is all they are worth.

At the opposite scale there are photographers who will charge many thousands more than they are worth knowing that some people will assume they are good because they charge a lot. Don’t fall for this, meet with them, ask them the questions I have said, look at their work at least 3 albums worth of full weddings they have done. Do you like their style, do the people in the pictures look relaxed? One of the most common mistakes by inexperienced wedding photographers is that they loose color in the sky so it shows as white on the pictures or the loose the detail on the wedding dress and it shows as pure white so look for these things. Professional wedding photographers should be able to accept credit cards so if possible pay that way to ensure you have some come back should you need a refund.

But above all, make sure you get on with your photographer, so you can relax on the day an not be worried that your pictures wont turn out.

How to Pick the Right Wedding Photographer

Picking the right wedding photographer is a three step process:

1. Connect with the photographers work. Are you moved and captivated by the images or do they look like every other photographer you have looked at? Look at many sites and check the photographers blog to see current images in addition to just the best pictures on the website. Look for consistency by viewing many images from each wedding. Also look for pictures that have real emotional and romantic moments as they will mean more to you than a picture of yourself smiling at the camera.

2. Meet or talk with the photographer. They will be around you more than anyone else on such an important day. Go with your gut instinct on whether you feel they can be trusted with the emotions you will show. You must be comfortable and excited to have them cover your wedding. Try to see their work in print. Do their images look as nice as on the computer screen? Are you impressed with their sample albums of complete weddings?

3. Budget. Yes money matters but keep in mind the more distinctive the work, the more of an investment is required. Photography is the only purchase for your wedding that is forever, and will also increase in value to you over the years. Try not to settle, there is only one chance on this day and your images will be priceless in the future. Any amount spent today is a bargain for the enjoyment you will have for the rest of your life and future family members. If you have a very tight budget try not to focus so much on products. You have the rest of your life to get a nice album. Great images are a smarter first step.

Take care and I hope you have an incredible wedding!

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Hopefully you’ll only get wed once and it’s no surprise that for many people this is the most precious and important day in their lives. Good wedding photography will help capture this perfect day forever and will serve a a permanent reminder of your big day. With expectations high it’s little wonder that for many brides choosing a wedding photographer proves to be a painful and angst ridden experience.

Masters of diplomacy and tact the wedding photographer must work with great speed, confidence and of course technical competence. A great one will quietly and effortlessly fit into your day without without creating a scene, a poor one will obsess, embroil you in their anxiety and even upset your wedding guests. Thankfully out of the many weddings that I’ve been lucky enough to attend or have a part in, almost all of the photographers have fallen into the ‘good’ category. Sadly though there have been one or two exceptions in recent times. At these weddings the photographers exhibited all the negative attributes mentioned above, but worst still the end results were quite awful and totally unacceptable from a so called professional photographer.

Since the massive boom the wedding industry has witnessed in recent years, the lure of big money has proven irresistible to many photographers and hence the industry has seen a big influx in the number of budding wedding photographers. It has attracted many part time or previously amateur photographers into the profession, each one wanting a portion of this big fat wedding cake. Trying to weed out the good from the ugly can prove difficult so here are the issues that I would recommend you consider before making your choice.

Photographic Style. Each photographer will either consciously or naturally develop their own unique way of shooting. Some may be skilful enough to adopt a number of styles depending on the desires of the client whereas others will become famous for having a very particular look. Therefore the very first consideration when choosing a wedding photographer is to browse and ultimately decide on the style of work you most warm to. Be it traditional, contemporary, black and white, reportage, quirky or whatever, try to narrow down the style of photography you think best reflects you, then focus your search on photographers in your area that display this style.

Finances. How much cash can you realistically afford? Only you can answer that one but try to set a budget and stick to it. There will always be temptations to up the spends, especially if your friend hired the celebrity photographer for her wedding day, but try to avoid this. There are thousands of wedding photographers out there each one with a different fee structure, so there will be one that both caters to your budget and artistic sensibilities.

Photography Folio. Just about everything you want to know about a photographers artistic and technical abilities can be easily discovered by closely studying their portfolio. A first glance a photograph may look great but take a closer look and you might find awkward facial expressions, cut-off limbs, unpleasant colour castes, poor shadow detail or bleached out highlights, especially in the brides wedding dress. Really take the time to examine these details and don’t just be blinded by the how nice the bride looks or how ugly the brides mother-in-law looks.

Affiliation and Endorsements. Every trade these days has its professional bodies and the photography industry is no exception to this. In fact the list of so called professional bodies has in my opinion become a bit of a joke in recent years and no longer automatically denotes the quality of a photographer. It does however at least suggest a dedication to their trade but in no way does it guarantee either artistic or technical excellence. Customer endorsements are therefore a much more reliable source of recommendation and if you can speak to the customer in person, then all the better. Try not to simply dismiss a photographer whose style you like just because they have no affiliation or customer endorsements. They may be relatively new to the profession and therefore what they lack in experience, they can really make up for in passion and hunger!

Face to Face. After technical and artistic ability surely the most important aspect of any wedding photographer must be their like-ability, do you actually like them? The only way you are going to tell this is by good old fashioned face to face contact. Ask them to visit your house or pop into their studio, whatever way get to have a cup of tea and a good chat. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ll find out about them. After all, wedding photography can be a very intimate experience and one that is best enjoyed with someone you both like and trust.