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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.

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.

Tips on How to Pick Your Wedding Photographer

Time to make that big decision!

Oh boy! So confusing! You just got engaged and so many things are running through your head. What date to get married on? Where to get married? Do we want to have the ceremony at one place and the reception at another? What wedding colors? The guest list? Oh my gosh, the guest list! Sounds like a lot of important decisions need to be made before the big day arrives.

You will probably start searching the internet, join a wedding web site, and buy a few wedding magazines. If you are lucky enough, you will live in a city that has a bridal show or two for you to check out. All of these things are an important part of the process and will help with choosing all of your wedding vendors and putting all the pieces together. One of the biggest of those decisions is going to be choosing the right wedding photographer. With that in mind, let’s look at a few things you should consider before making your choice.

One of the first things you are going to notice when looking for your wedding photographer is his or her’s photographic style or technique. Assuming that the photographer is technically proficient and capable, (which they should be, otherwise they shouldn’t be telling people they are a wedding photographer) the style of photography that you choose is a very personal decision. There are traditional or portraiture styles which tend to lean towards very posed, formal shots. These are very popular with Moms, Dads and grandparents. Very nice. Very traditional. There is the natural light and soft focus styles. These are very popular for weddings. Natural light style photography is pretty self explanatory. Your photographer will use the natural light at a particular location or setting to capture your photographs. This could be on the beach at sunset or next to a lake with the fog rolling over it. Soft focus style tends to be very dream like and romantic. Most of these techniques are done after the initial photographs are taken in the post production part of your wedding photography. Last but not least is the photojournalism style. This is very popular nowadays. Your photographer will capture you in the most natural settings throughout the wedding day. This style tends to look more like snapshots and less like the shots were posed for. It is nice to mix traditional portraiture and photojournalism to get the best of both of those worlds.

Your photographer’s personality is another big thing to consider. As you interview different photographers, you will be able to see if this is someone you are going to enjoy having around on the big day. Are they personable and friendly? Will they be able to work quickly with you and your entire families to get what you want? You want a photographer who is going to do great work and make it an enjoyable experience for the both of you and you families.

Is your photographer prepared for the unexpected? Does he or she have back up equipment in case of an equipment failure? I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. The last thing you want is for your photographer to come to you and try to explain why they missed that all important moment because their camera failed. Do they have a back up photographer in case they are ill or there is an emergency? You never know what life might throw at someone at the last minute but it is nice to know that your photographer has someone to cover for them or will assist you in getting someone if they have to bow out a day or two before the event.

Does the photographer you choose have good follow through and business skills? Do they answer your emails and phone calls promptly? It is important to get back with your clients within 24 hours or the same day if possible. Nowadays, unless you are stuck in the Sahara Desert with no wi-fi, there is no reason for a vendor to not get back to their client in a timely manner. After the wedding is over will you be updated and informed about your photography? How long will it be until my online gallery is up? How long will it take to do the post production on the chosen images? How long will it take to get my wedding album? Make sure your photographer is keeping you in the loop.

How much will it cost? Ahhh, the age old question. A good question considering how tough it is for people financially right now and how much a wedding can cost. You can spend anywhere from $500 to $5000 on your wedding photography so let us not forget the difference between price and value. Yes, you will have a budget for your wedding and only a certain amount you would like spend on your photographer. Keeping that in mind I think it is important to make sure that you try and get the best value for your money. Does the photographer your are thinking of using meet the criteria you have laid out? Do you like his or her’s style of photography? Do you like their personality? Are they going to be fun and enjoyable to have around on your big day? Are they prepared for the unexpected? Are they going to keep you in the loop and perform in a professional manner? If they are all of those things but just a little more expensive then the next photographer, then you might consider what you are getting for your money. Most wedding photographers are able to put together a package that will suit your needs. If you like one photographer but they are a little more expensive than another that you spoke with, you might try and adjust your photography package a bit so it falls within what you consider to be a good value. That might mean not getting the DVD of the images and only buying the prints you want online. It might mean having the photographer you really want for a shorter period of time on the wedding day. Most good photographer are more than willing to help you find a photography package that will work for you.

Well, there you go. Just a little food for thought for when it comes to making the big decision. It is a privilege as a photographer to be a part of such a wonderful event. Remember, your wedding day is one of the most joyous days of your life. Enjoy every moment leading up to it!