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.