17 Tips When Looking for your Wedding Photographer
Reportage, Documentary, Fine Art, Classic, Staged, Unrehearsed blah blah blah blah
‘Urgh, so many choices, so many options! I don’t even know what half of it means?’ Here’s a guide to help you to find the photographer who’s right for you, what questions to ask and what to be aware of. So I’m going to give you some tips and help finding your perfect wedding photographer but I won’t be talking finances, everyone has different budgets and I’m not about to open that can of worms!
But first I’m going to let you into a little secret, my success and satisfied clients have come from customer service and the ability to run a business. Don’t get me wrong my clients tell me how much they are in love with their photos, but the end product (their wedding photos) is just a part of their journey when booking a wedding photographer.
What to Look for?
So let’s go shopping, we’re going to assume that you already like their photos;
1. Can you see real wedding examples, not just a few hand picked images? If a photographer is at a wedding for 12 hours then they’d be hard pushed to not get a couple of awesome shots, but you’re going to want consistency.
2. Read their ‘about me’ page, do they sound like the type of person you want at your wedding or do they sound like they might just clash with your ideas for your big day. In our defence it is tricky to not sound like you think the sun shines out your arse when you’re trying to promote yourself!
3. Where are they based and what are their travel fee’s? Some photographers insist on over-night stays depending on your location. Which if they’re perfect for you is totally worth it
4. Will they meet up with you before taking the booking? Can you at least FaceTime them? When I meet my couples they think that I’m there to show off my work, but I’m they’ve already seen my work, they’re just making sure I’m not weird. Well not too weird anyway.
5. How legitimate is their business, will they give you a contract, do they have public liability insurance? Basically do you trust that they will still be trading by the time you get married.
6. What rights do you have over your photographs? If they’re telling you that they’re copyright free then they don’t understand how photographic copyright works. What you should be looking for is a print release along with your high res photos
7. Do they have any awards? Now I’m gonna cause some controversy with this next statement but unless the awards are from Fearless Photographers, Wedisson Awards, Masters of UK Wedding Photography, A camera brand back award (like Sony etc) and a handful of others then they’re not really awards, they’re just paid for titles.
8. Remember, having two photographers doesn’t necessarily mean more photographs. In some cases it can mean a lower quality of photographs, are they both awesome photographers or is one just a glorified bag holder? Find out about the second photographer, see their work, not just the work of the first photographer.
9. Are they available for your date? There’s no harm in messaging a load of photographers for quotes and seeing how they get back to you. You’ll probably get a personalised response which will give you even more of an indication of how well they’ll fit into your big day
10. Some photographers shoot solely documentary, some shoot only in black and white, some might want to turn your wedding into a photoshoot. My point is don’t assume anything, ask them directly.
11. Do they have reviews on trustworthy sites. They’re bound to have reviews on their website but can you check these against Google or Facebook reviews?
12. Can you see the contract before paying for the deposit? What’s on it, are there parts you don’t understand, ask them for confirmation
13. What is their payment procedure, how much is their deposit and when is the rest payable.
14. This one is very important, but not for everyone. Do you have kids and if you do does the photographer understand that it’s more their wedding than yours?! As a parent you will probably want a ton of memories of the little ones enjoying the big day, speak with your photographer about this.
15. What’s their backup process like? Do they shoot with a camera that only has one card slot, do they back up to the cloud and to a hard drive. The possibilities are endless but you need to be confident that they’re doing everything to ensure your images are safe and actually make it to you.
16. How will you get your images? Are the images reduced in size (other than just a normal ‘crop’) and are they watermarked? If you’re paying enough for them then you’re gonna want printable images!
17. Do you like them? I can’t stress this enough, they’re going to be there all day and if they don’t fit into your day then it’s only going to bring disappointment, no matter how good their photography is. I’ve seen it many times with videographers (I’ve seen plenty of awesome ones too!) where they can’t handle the pressure or they’re just getting in the way of the bride and groom enjoying themselves. (Note for videographers, I’m not hating on you, it’s just an example! I’ve enjoyed working beside many amazing videographers!)
What’s not as important as you may think?
Have they shot your venue before? If they have then great, you can see some real examples. If they haven’t then don’t worry. If they’re worth their salt then it’ll take them seconds to scope the place and they would have done a fair share of googling. Often I liaise with the wedding organiser and besides, the weather dictates by far the most when planning and executing a shot
Are they insured? They absolutely have to have public liability but any other insurance is on them.
What qualifications do they have. Getting a degree in photography is great but they don’t teach you how to handle a wedding. There is absolutely nothing wrong with qualifications but they need to be calm, laid back and professional first and foremost.
What cameras do they use. Whilst carrying professional equipment is a must, what the photographer is capable of far outweighs the brand of camera.
When Should the Alarm Bells Ring?
So you’ve probably heard all the horror stories and I personally see it all the time, people often think there’s a lot of money to be made from a lot of foolish couples. Suddenly you find yourself without the product or service you’ve ordered and the supplier is nowhere to be seen. But let’s be honest how were you to know how much invites cost or wedding cakes? People think that you mention the word wedding and the price goes up, I have never met a supplier who had that mentality, never. This mind set has led to a lot of scams ‘their prices are reasonable because they’re not interested in ripping people off!’ then you find out the hard way that it was indeed too good to be true. 99.9% of the time it’s because you’re getting a premium/bespoke/time consuming product or service as to why the prices appear to sky high. I said I wasn’t going to discuss budgets but if it’s too good to be true then it probably is, this includes your wedding photography. Depending on how important this is to you depends on the risks you’re willing to take.
I’m not saying that cheaper automatically means worse but if you’re wedding photographer is offering two photographers, video, photo album and all day photography for half the price of their competitors basic package then I’d start asking questions. I’ve seen prices before where they would earn less than minimum wage without any overheads of the business!
Are they a ‘wedding photographer’ or a ‘photographer’ trust me, there’s a huge difference. You need a completely different skill set for your big day
Student photographers can seem a great idea for those on less of a budget and I dare say that sometimes it turns out great. However no matter how good their portfolio is if they can’t work under pressure or are not able to communicate well with your guests then it’s going to be a disaster. If you can deal with never having professional wedding photos then you have nothing to lose but booking a inexperienced student is one of the biggest risks you could take for your big day.
Groupon. So that amazing cheap deal you’ve seen looks great doesn’t it? Groupon and the other voucher based apps take up 40% of the fee you’re paying. Now that great deal looks far too good to be true. Book a photographer from here and you may well end up in the (what seems to be monthly) Daily Mail ‘is this the worst wedding photographer ever?’ column.
What is their plan if they’re physically unable to make your big day? Is it in their contract to give any form of refund?