How to book your perfect wedding photographer
if you care about your memories, then read on…
As a wedding photographer for 6+ years, and a lover of photography for many, many more I am invested heavily in understanding how important it is for us as humans to preserve and archive our most precious memories.
I understand the connection between a moment captured & the memory that moment gives us. I understood long ago just how powerful those moments are, and what they represent going forward.
A personal example for me, was the many photographs my dearly departed Dad took, whilst we were both travelling around the Formula 1 races in the 80’s & 90’s – he took some wonderful images of racing cars, but that on it’s own doesn’t qualify for much, but since he passed away those images he captured represent moments that we shared together, and it’s those images that keep those days fresh in my mind and being able to recall the special bond we both had and shared all those many years ago.
The reason why I love weddings so much, is that I’m preserving the most magical moments not just for my couple, but future generations of their family, that will long outlive the likes of you and I.
your search for your wedding photographer
Ok so you need a photographer for your wedding, but your looking at so many you just can’t decide who to trust, the style you’re after, or what you should be expected to be paying for a wedding photographer either? There are so many to choose from that you become overwhelmed with the choices. Through the rest of the article, we’re going to breakdown each factor, so hopefully by the end of it, you’ll come away with all the knowledge you’ll need to successfully book your wedding photographer, and know it’s the right decision!
Understanding your budget for photography
This is where it starts for most couples & having a high disposable income for your wedding photography isn’t something we all have, so you have to determine what value you can get for your money. It’s a critical part too, as we are all tightening the purse strings in the current climate, and cost of living crisis. We can all put our fingers in our ears, bury our heads in the sand, but it’s real, so we need to look at ways of finding the balance between budget and quality. Ultimately though there may have to be sacrifices in other areas if you value your memories over just about anything else.
The avg cost of a wedding photographer in the UK is £1550
The average cost is just that, an avg cost, which basically means if you budget for that price, you’ll increase your chances of being able to secure your ideal photographer, but I can hear you already saying ‘but Terry we have seen many photographers priced lower than that and still offering great looking photography’. And whilst that is true, it’s also true to say that you get what you pay for too. Here’s a few reasons why prices seem so skewed & lower in the industry.
- Photography is generally unregulated in terms of price.
- lower quality photographers in the entry phase.
- Stack them high, sell them low photographers.
- Newcomers to the industry.
- Lower overheads, such as no insurance, cheaper equipment, etc.
- Photographers who don’t process & edit images.
There are many reasons why you might be seeing lower prices, but ultimately if your budget is lower than £1200, then you need to look at the bullet points above and work out if you can afford not to go higher to give yourself peace of mind. If you’re budget is lower and can’t be increased, then take those points on board, and do some research in to your prospective photography options. A good photographer at £1500+ should have a great understanding of photography, lighting and, more importantly to you, their knowledge of weddings and the industry as a whole!
What if my budget is not king?
If you have a higher disposable income, then a whole new level of wedding photographers opens up, but it also opens up probably one of the most significant decisions you’re going to have to make, which leads me onto one of the biggest advantages…Personality!
why personality is key to getting the best images
When I first started as a wedding photographer, I just thought about getting the shot – I didn’t pay much attention to who I was and just behaved like I always do. I used to say things like ‘yeah just call me Tel’, as it was just who I am and what my friends call me. I never for one moment thought about just how powerful being myself would be. That was until I was getting enquiries and bookings based on the fact that other couples were recommending me based on how laid back and nice I was.
So to home in on the point of personality, and why it matters so much – weddings are very informal & personal by nature, and the key to getting those wonderful smiles in a natural way, there has to be a connection between the couple and their photographer. When couples are relaxed in my company, then the pressure of having to perform for the best images comes off, and everything falls into place seamlessly. The real power of this connection and great personality comes through the camera. Nothing looks forced or contrived, just shiny happy people, creating naturally beautiful moments of the couple and their wedding day.
Here are few points to definitely consider when looking for personality in your photographer –
- Always meet your photographer before you book them. Either by zoom or face to face.
- Read their socials – instagram, facebook, etc can really give you an insight to them.
- Book a pre-wedding session to get a better idea of the photographers personality.
- Check out their reviews on google, facebook, wedding directories like hitched, etc.
- How easy do you feel in their company – do they fill you with confidence?
As humans we have a knack for how we feel about people in general, and we can feel if something feels forced, so if all else fails, use your intuition and go with your instincts. Another thing you’ll most definitely want to consider is style of photography – this one is confusing as hell!
Traditional, reportage, natural, contemporary – what the hell!?
Us wedding photographers love throwing curve balls in to the mix – and this one causes a lot of confusion for couples, who just want lovely images. It is also an important aspect of booking your wedding photographer though, as it will have a direct impact on the images you are expecting to receive. Choose the wrong photographer here and you’ll possibly end up with heartache over your wedding day memories. Fear not though, as I’m going to break down each style and what it means for you and your wedding photography.
Traditional photography is an approach that has a certain level of interaction from your photographer, they’ll typically expect to photograph family formals, have a control over certain aspects of the day, such as posing. They’ll normally direct the wedding a lot and generally demand more of your time on your wedding day too.
Verdict: Good for couples who want a traditional wedding, and don’t care much for the natural parts.
Typically reportage is just sitting back and capturing the day unfold, and documenting what goes on. Reportage photographers typically will not want to do formal photographs, or have no expectation in which to do so, will not interact with your wedding day, and will not look to offer any directed couple photographs. The idea behind this style is to tell the narrative of your day as it unfolds naturally. Whilst this can lead to a genuine account of the natural emotions of the day, it can be a flat affair if the wedding party isn’t overly sociable.
Verdict: Great if all you want is your wedding told as a story of your day, and care little for the formal side of things such as group shots, and don’t care much for posing.
This particular style is often referred to as editorial, and whilst the images can often look visually stunning, the mood of the day is seldom at the forefront of the photographer, who will generally look to capture their stylistic vision, shaping light & composition of each image. It is generally a bit more laid back than the traditional style, but still encompasses the use of time and typically includes some technical posing, which you’re likely to see in magazines such as vogue. This style is also some of the most expensive wedding photography.
Verdict: Brilliant if you want everything in a more stylised way, and have your wedding captured as more of an art form.
This is a style that takes elements of reportage and contemporary, and creates an approach that is well balanced for most weddings. This is also the exact approach I take, using natural light, to blend in with natural moments as they happen during morning preparation & other parts of the day. This approach is also easy going with couples, as they often need little direction to ensure naturally captured emotions. Photographers who use this approach will not look to impose themselves on the wedding day too much, and will generally look to take couples away in small bite size chunks, with durations no longer than 20-25 minutes, with a couple of these done over the course of the day.
Verdict: If you want a mix of your wedding day with both natural elements, and more traditional aspects, but less on the contrived side of things, then this style is for you.
Other things to consider?
There are a million and one articles that are wedding related that’ll tell you a list of things you should ask your photographer at the enquiry stage. For me, I like to hear it from the horse’s mouth, and not rely on an industry ‘expert’ who has never photographed one wedding, let alone nigh on 300!
I’d personally never tell a plumber how to solder a copper pipe, I’d rather they told me how to solder it! So with that in mind, I’m going to tell you what you should be asking your prospective photographer, and what answer you should expect to hear!
- Ask them for their full price list – if they hide this or skirt around the question, then what are they hiding?
- See a real wedding! Ask this, as some photographers might have some great shots on their portfolio, but are they from a real wedding (some might have just started out, & only have styled images from model shoots.
- Ask them exactly what they offer in each package, and for what price!
- Travel fees – do they charge for travel, if so you want to see transparency when you see their pricing.
- Do they edit your images? Sounds silly right, but many photographers still don’t.
- What do they do in the event of them not being able to attend?
- Are they insured for public liability!
- How long they’ve been a wedding photographer.
- Do they have plenty of back up options if their equipment fails?
- How do you get your images – gallery, USB, etc.
- Ask to see some reviews from previous couples.
- Hours of coverage – how much of the day will they capture?
I hope this article goes some way to at least enlightening you on finding your perfect photographer for your wedding day. It’s not a totally in-depth guide, and was never intended as such. Hopefully it should give you a broad idea and understanding of what to look for in finding your wedding photographer?
At the very least, if you’re in doubt, or have some questions and need an ear to bend, then please feel free to drop me a message. I’m here to help as many couples as possible avoid some of the pitfalls that a lot of couples find when booking their wedding photographer.