Photography may not be first on your list when you start planning your big day, but having a beautiful pictorial record of your wedding is something you’ll look back on and enjoy for years to come. So how do you choose a wedding photographer? What better way to find out than to ask the experts themselves...
Meet the experts
In the first of a two-part post, we’ve invited some of the top UK wedding photographers to give us their best advice. We spoke to Neale James at Breathe Pictures, Vicky and Phil from Senior Mac Photography, Paul Willetts, Laura and Richard from LJ Photographics, Steve Mason from Im-Art, Damian Bailey and Vicki White from Photography By Vicki who have provided some brilliant top tips:
Image courtesy of Photography By Vicki
Do your research
Look around, ask friends and family and do your own research, says Vicki White: “Has someone you know recently got married? Did you fall in love with their photos? Has someone you know recommended a photographer? The key to choosing a photographer is finding one whose images make your heart sing and match you and your fiancé's love. Take recommendations, search the net and use wedding blogs. When you find your photographer you will know.”
Paul Willetts: A good photographer will always be able to give you a testimonial from previous clients upon request or even provide you with contact details should you wish to hear from them directly.
See previous work
Asking to see the photographs from an entire wedding is a good idea, Steve Mason explains: “Although it is helpful to view a range of settings, styles and weddings, also ask to see images from a complete and recent wedding. Anyone can manage to get some good shots from several weddings but a skilled photographer will take consistently good photographs throughout an entire wedding.”
Laura & Richard: “Look at the photographers work in detail. See at least one wedding from start to finish so you can understand the type of coverage they will provide for your special day.”
Image courtesy of Neale James
Setting a budget
Setting a budget for your wedding photography is important, but Vicki White recommends keeping it flexible: “Chances are the photographer’s work you fall in love with won’t be smack-bang on budget, but photos are one of the only things you will have left after your day is over. It is crucial that you love them and if that means choosing a photographer who is slightly more expensive then it’s absolutely worth it. In 10, 20 or even 40 years’ time when memories have faded your wedding photos will be priceless.”
Be upfront about your budget
A photographer should be open about their pricing structures and in turn, you should be clear on your budget, says Paul Willetts: “Neither one of you wants to waste any time so a clear dialogue right from the beginning will avoid this.”
Value for money
“Photography usually accounts for about 8% to 10% of your wedding budget, so you should get some comparisons”, advises Steve Mason. Laura & Richard: “Look at a range of photographers at different price ranges so you understand what you get for your money. You don't necessarily have to sign up to big packages upfront. Most photographers will be flexible and allow you to purchase albums and extras after the wedding, should you require them, which can help spread the cost massively.”
Get what you pay for
The old adage still rings true; you get what you pay for, say Vicky & Phil: “When considering your photography budget bear in mind you are not only paying for a photographer’s artistic style and photographic skills but many days of their time before and after the wedding. For us, each wedding is a week’s work (sometimes more) with pre-wedding meetings, the wedding day itself and then the extensive image processing and album design that comes after.”
Steve Mason: “Professional equipment is expensive and can cost thousands of pounds but it means images of a much higher resolution and superior quality. Part-time photographers are unlikely to have a full range of lenses and lighting and will be limited in the shots they can capture.”
Some photographers charge an additional fee for editing, VAT, creating artwork for an album or even travel and food expenses, says Paul Willetts: “You should always ensure that all costs are detailed in a quote before entering in to any contractual agreement.”
Image courtesy of LJ Photographics
Like your photographer
If you want great wedding photos, you need to feel at ease in front of the camera. If you aren’t entirely comfortable with your photographer you might not be fully relaxed, which is not only a real shame for you on your special day, it can also reflect in the photographs captured, Laura & Richard believe.
Getting on well with your photographer is the single most important thing to look for, according to Vicky & Phil: “They should make you feel relaxed and at ease, yet inspire confidence with their attitude and the sample work they show you”. Steve Mason: “The right photographer should be a help not a hindrance and make your day enjoyable.”
Image courtesy of Im-Art
Meet before you book
All of our experts agree you should meet your photographer in person. If possible, Damian Bailey suggests meeting a shortlist of prospective photographers. Vicki White: “Read the About Me page on their website, email them, speak to them on the phone and meet them in person. Do they seem excited at the prospect of being your photographer or is it just a job to them? True artists absolutely live, breathe and love what they do, it is their passion.”
Laura & Richard explain that comparing wedding photographers is not as simple as coverage, number of photographs and size of album: “We all work in different ways. One photographer may charge less but have less experience or spend less time on post-production. There are so many variables, but don’t be daunted; just decide up front what is important to you, be prepared with questions and you’ll be fine!”
Find out how they work
Ask each photographer on your shortlist to explain how they go about photographing certain aspects of your day, advises Damian Bailey: “The way the photos are taken is vital. Is the photographer all about the photos or about you enjoying your day? It should be the latter! A positive experience of how the photos are taken will greatly enhance your enjoyment of them after the wedding.”
Thank you to our experts. Don’t forget to join us on Monday 22nd April when we’ll be kicking off our special Ask The Experts week with part two of this post.