Choosing your wedding photographer is an important task, and not something that should be taken lightly. Once your day is over, the cake is eaten, the band have packed up and the bar is closed, all you are left with is those beautiful memories. While stories can be passed down to children and grandchildren, having those photos and memories documented is invaluable, and something to cherish for years to come. With that said, choosing a photographer can be daunting. Anyone with a few hundred pounds can purchase a camera and suddenly call themselves a photographer, so below are some of my tips for how to choose your wedding photographer, as well as what type of answers I have in response.
Tips for How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer:
- Meet the photographer – You will be spending most of the day with them, and you need to get along with them! If you can’t stand to be in a room with them for an extended period of time, the chances are slim that you will want to spend 8+ hours of your most important day with them. If you are friendly together, you will have a relaxed and fun portrait session, which will shine through with your images.
- Love their style – Just because a photographer is award-winning doesn’t mean you have to like their style. Think of it this way, Jamie Oliver might make the best mushroom soup in the world, but I don’t like mushrooms so I won’t like his soup. I offer a combination of dramatic poses, relaxed portraits and reportage so you can get a variety of styles in your wedding gallery, from artistic to classic and formal.
- Touch and feel their albums – Your photographer should offer professional quality products from a pro print lab. An album from a high-street store will not compare to a professionally printed album. The photographer will vet the lab beforehand, and the colors will be completely accurate and calibrated to their computer, so they will appear vibrant and completely accurate.
- Ask to view a full wedding gallery online– Many times you will browse a photographer’s website and see it full of beautiful portraits of the bride and groom. Those images are the best of the best. What you may not see are those difficult shots that happen in those small dark churches with no windows. Or those pitch black dance floors. A great professional photographer will share entire wedding galleries with you, so you can see their style for your entire wedding day, and not just that small portrait time.
- Check coverage duration and number of photographers – All of my collections include coverage of your entire day, from both of you getting ready in the morning through to your bridal dances in the evening. There will always be two photographers meaning that we can be with you both in the morning, and at your reception I can be capturing your bridal portraits while the second photographer captures the life and laughter of your guests mingling before your dinner.
- Have a signed contract! This may be a boring tip, but it lets both sides know what is expected from each other. It will outline exactly what you’ll be receiving from the photographer and when, as well as providing a last-minute contingency plan. Couples are welcome to read through my contract in advance of signing and you will receive a copy for your records after booking.
- Check online reviews – Scour the internet and check out Google, Yelp, and Facebook for online reviews of the photographers. These reviews are from people with first-hand experience working with the photographer and should be trusted. If you begin to see a common complaint thread, move on.
- Book an engagement shoot – An engagement session is a way to get great photos for invites, signing board, and more photos to use on your wedding day. Along with that, you also get a clear idea on what to expect from your bridal session, posing tips, and it’s a great way to get to know your photographer so you aren’t strangers on your big day.
- Calculate your budget – Max your budget. The general guideline is to allocate at least 10% of your overall wedding budget for photography. Save on little things elsewhere to add to the photo budget. Compare what is included with collections, and any add-ons as well. Make sure that your photographer is crystal clear on what is included with each package, and what you can purchase as an add-on later. I offer a range of upgrades and add-ons to help create your perfect album and these can be purchased either before or after your wedding, helping you plan your budget. You can even add certain album upgrades to your wedding list!
- Have a backup plan/safety net – Plan for last-minute emergencies, because sometimes, things just happen. I’m a member of the PPANI, a dedicated network of professional photographers in NI, and I can call on them to help, as well as being friends with local photographers. I only work with a small selection of second photographers so they know exactly what I want from them, and they all shoot their own weddings as well. We have a range of lenses and lighting, two camera bodies each and all images saved to two memory cards and then backed up safely in the cloud straight after your wedding.
- Book someone local – Booking a local photographer will save you some energy in the long run, because they are familiar with the area. Ideally, your photographer will have worked with the venue before and knows all the inside tips and tricks on how to produce beautiful images in each area.
- Make sure your photographer is insured – Once again, this is a pretty boring tip, but a professional photographer will be insured and carry their own public liability insurance policy. Many times, different venues will require proof of insurance, and if your photographer does not have it, they will not be permitted to photograph inside the venue.
- Have a clear-cut plan of the day -If there are any specific photos that you want, make sure they are communicated from day one. Many photographers will provide a “shot list” spelling out different photographs/combos of photos, and the three of you can work together to have a clear schedule of the day, as well as photos that will make you happy and will tell your entire day’s story. I send you a short survey in advance of your day to gather all the necessary info that I need, and a few days before your big day we’ll catch up for a chat to discuss the finer details (and the weather forecast!)
- Know the timeline of what to expect after your wedding- Many people are surprised at how long the turnaround time is for photographers to completely edit their wedding and deliver it to them. This timeline varies and is different for every photographer. Ideally, this would be written out clearly in your contract. I will have a sneak peek of your photos ready a day or two after your wedding and aim to have your photos ready within four weeks, although this can extend to six weeks at busy times.
I hope this helps you with choosing your wedding photographer, you can check out my weddings page here and have a flick through my wedding brochure here! If you have any questions feel free to get in contact, I’d love to chat to you!