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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.

6 Steps to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

After the dress is worn, the flowers die, the food is eaten, and the guests leave, the photographs are the only thing remaining to document your wedding day. Choosing your wedding photographer is one of the hardest wedding decisions because you can’t see the photographs you’re buying until you’ve already made the decision. This article will help you choose the best photographer to ensure you get the wedding photographs you want.

1. Price. Choosing a photographer based on price may not be the wisest decision. A photographer’s price not only reflects the quality of their work (generally), it also reflects how that photographer values their own work. You may be able to find a photographer advertising weddings for $299, but do you really believe that photographer places a high value on artistic quality? Do you really think they will spend hours culling, sorting, editing and retouching your wedding images? Chances are they will shoot and burn straight to a disk because, frankly, they’re not getting paid enough. Do you feel that you will get beautiful photos of you and your spouse to have for the rest of your life – to show your kids and grandkids? As far as wedding photography goes, you get what you pay for.

Note: Just because you have a smaller budget does not mean you have to sacrifice on your wedding photographer. Before you go asking your cousin’s boyfriend to shoot the wedding (because he has a nice camera), know this; there are many new wedding photographers who may be very talented, but do not have a lot of wedding experience. This does not mean they are horrible photographers, it just means they haven’t shot a lot of weddings. Because of this, you may be able to get reduced pricing, sometimes called “portfolio building” discounts or “introductory” pricing, etc.. It may be difficult finding these photographers because they may not be listed yet on search engines, as their websites may be brand new. So, you’ll have to do some digging.

2. Do some research: Ask your friends and family for referrals. People who love their wedding photos love to talk about their photographer! Search the internet. Go several pages back – don’t just look at the first page of search results. Check the listings of professional organizations like PPA – Professional Photographers of America or WPPI – Wedding & Portrait Photographers International.

3. Make a List: Once you’ve found 5-10 photographers that you like, make a list. Go to each photographer’s website and thoroughly review their portfolio. I cannot stress enough; the photographs you see in the photographer’s portfolio are the same types of photographs you will have of your wedding. How do you know if the photographer is any good? Follow these guidelines:

  • Are the images too light? Too dark? If the some images are too light and others too dark, or if they seem all over the place, that could indicate inconsistent quality.
  • How are the photographer’s Photoshop skills? Do the photos seem “over-photoshopped”? Do you see a lot of plastic looking skin or alien eyes? A good rule to follow; if you can’t tell the images are Photoshopped, then the photographer has excellent photoshopping skills. It’s like make-up – the best make-up is the kind that doesn’t look like you’re wearing any make-up at all.
  • Do you feel emotionally moved by the photographer’s images? Do they make you stop and stare? Gasp? Do you feel a connection with the images? This is the most important aspect of choosing a wedding photographer. You can spend all the money in the world on the most famous photographer, but if you don’t feel a connection with their images, you will most likely not love your wedding photos.

4. Check for Availability: After you’ve narrowed down the list, email or call your top 5 or so photographers. Check to see if each photographer is available on your wedding date, and get a quote or estimate. Emailing or calling each photographer will also give you a little insight into their personality. More on that later.

5. Ask for a Consultation: Your list should now be narrowed down to 2-3 photographers. Ask to meet each photographer – or at the very least, ask for a phone consultation. Talking with your photographer either in person or on the phone will also give you insight into their personality. Are they easy to get along with? Do you feel good about them? The photographer will be a big part of your wedding day and it’s important that you are comfortable with them. Some questions to ask:

  • What do you include in your wedding photography package?
  • When can I expect to receive my photos?
  • Can I review a copy of your contract?
  • Are you licensed?
  • Do you provide a second shooter?
  • Note: Be sure the photographer you hire is the same one who will shoot your wedding. Some photographers send their assistant or contract another photographer to shoot their weddings. Make sure you know who is actually photographing your wedding and ask to view their portfolio.

6. Make your Final Decision: Once you’ve talked with each photographer, you will now be armed with all sorts of information to be able to choose your wedding photographer. Remember, money comes and goes, but you can’t re-do your wedding day.

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.