There are literally thousands of wedding photographers in the UK so picking the right one for you can be tricky. If you don’t know anything about photography it can be even harder. For most people, hiring a wedding photographer is the first experience they have of having to hire a professional photographer. With a lack of knowledge on what is important it can be tempting to compare numbers in the same way you would for buying a physical product like a TV or a car. This is the wrong approach and could leave you disappointed with the end result.
If you choose a photographer based on how many photos you get back or simply how much they cost you are ignoring some of the most important factors. It is far better to receive a few hundred outstanding photos than over a thousand terrible ones!
Good wedding photography requires skill, knowledge and experience, there is much more to it than just pressing a button!
So how do you pick the right wedding photographer for you? Here are some things to consider.
There is a huge range of styles of wedding photography out there. This is fantastic as it gives you a lot of choice, you just need to find out what you like best. There are a couple of different aspects to a photographer’s style to consider; how they shoot and how they edit the photos.
First off, what is the shooting style you like best? This falls into two broad camps; Posed and Reportage also known as Documentary.
Posed photos are photos that are set up and crafted by the photographer, they can be outstanding images but take time to set up and create. In order to create these photos you will need to spend a lot of time being directed by the photographer to get the posing and lighting just right.
Reportage or documentary photography isn’t directed, the idea is that this style documents what happens on the day without interfering. This style will paint a more genuine picture of your day but since the photographer is not controlling the scene, it is harder for them to create perfect images. This isn’t to say you can’t get some incredible reportage photos, you absolutely can, just that there might be some imperfections.
Most photographers fall somewhere on a scale between these two camps. Personally I’m more towards the reportage style, I do include some posed photos but I create a relaxed situation where I have control of the light and composition but can then capture natural reactions from the couple rather than spending ages posing them.
There is no right or wrong answer, it is entirely personal preference.
Secondly you need to consider their editing style. There are thousands of different editing style out there but again, they fall into two main camps, stylistic and clean.
A clean editing style is one that keeps the colours reasonably true to reality. The photos are still edited (all professional photos are edited) but the objective is simply to improve the look of the photo rather than add a particular style.
Stylistic edits are edits where the photos have been given a certain ‘look’. These are akin to filters that you might have played with on your phone. Recent styles include vintage, dark and moody (why you would want your wedding photos to look dark and moody I don’t understand, it’s a happy day, why do your photos look miserable!), faded blacks, pastel, and one I don’t know the name of where everything looks really green!
The issue with stylistic photos is that they go through fashions. This dates your photos much quicker than a clean edit will. I prefer a clean edit personally but if you just love that soft pastel pink look and don’t mind it ageing, look for a photographer who does that look.
All photographers have an online portfolio of their best images, look through these to get a feel for what you like best and start to narrow your choices down. Once you decide on a style you like, try searching for that style specifically, e.g. Natural documentary wedding photography
Portfolios are subjective things, what you absolutely love, someone else could hate and vice-versa. Falling in love with a wedding photographers portfolio is a great first step to knowing they might be the one for you. If you are looking at their work and you can’t picture yourself in the photos, it’s probably best to move on to someone else.
Pretty important this, your photographer will be the most present stranger at your wedding, so it really helps if you get along. You don’t have to be BFFs, but you probably don’t want someone who you find super annoying shooting your wedding!
The best way to find out if you like them is to meet them in person (or at least chat over Skype if you are miles away from them). You’ll get a sense of what they are like which will really help make your decision.
It’s a good idea to check out what previous clients have said about a photographer, these people have already worked with them in the past and so have insights that you simply can’t have. Most photographers will have testimonials on their site but check out their Google and Facebook reviews as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask how long they have been a professional wedding photographer. Wedding photography takes a lot of skill and knowledge and isn’t something you can just pick up. An experienced wedding photographer will know what to look for and when. They will be able to find the best light and come up with creative ideas that will make you look your best and give you outstanding photos you’ll treasure.
More importantly, they will know how to deal with situations that don’t go exactly according to plan. What do you do if it rains when the formal photos are meant to be happening? Can they cope with terrible light on the day? How well will they be able to cope with one of your guests who might have had a bit too much to drink? What would they do if on of their camera’s broke half-way through your day? These are all questions an experienced professional should be able to answer.
Think about what you want covered for your day. Most people want the full day covered from the preparations through to the first dance but you might want something different. Do you want some of the party in the evening covering as well for instance? Are you comfortable in front of the camera? If not, then it’s sensible to have an engagement shoot first, does the photographer offer these? What if you only want coverage for the ceremony, a few formals and a couples shoot, not all photographers have that as an option so ask. Do you want a wedding album and can the photographer provide one? Think about what you want for your day and make sure they offer something that fits with your plans.
Once you have considered all these things, draw up a shortlist of 2 or 3 photographers who you think you would like to work with to shoot your wedding and get in touch. Arrange a meeting to go over everything. This should give you all the information you need to be able to decide on who will be the best fit for you.
Now you know what to look for, why not take a look at my portfolio and see if my work is your cup of tea?