If you are reading this article, then you probably know how hard it can be to pick a wedding photographer. With all the options available to us today, where do you even begin? You could use Google to help you find one, and a lot of people do this by searching their local area name + wedding photographer (Lancashire Wedding Photographer, for example) – but doing this just now has returned over 18,000 results! Another option is to attend a wedding fayre where you get to meet the photographer(s) to make sure they are right for you, see some of their work in the flesh and talk to them directly. But there are downsides to this to of course, as you will soon find when you meet an over-pushy salesman type wedding photographer who insists on telling you how he is going to make you act on your own wedding day, and why you should feel privileged to have someone like him photograph your wedding!
I also discovered this article online, which is very helpful at picking the right photographer for you
So how do people do it?
For me, as a wedding photographer I find the vast majority of my work comes through word of mouth. Clients who were guests at a wedding I photographed, bridesmaids who later got engaged and liked the way I was with them on their friend’s wedding, people pointed in my direction by others – that is where I receive most of my future wedding clients from. And of course, this for me is a good thing, because not only does it mean I must be doing a half decent job if people are recommending me to others, but also this means I can spend more time out and about with my camera, shooting weddings and designing wedding albums, than being a pushy salesman at a wedding fayre!
But, for you as a bride-to-be, with all the newspapers, magazines, internet searches, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and who knows what else, where do you even begin. This is why I have made my 4 point check to help you selecting a wedding photographer that suits you, and hopefully goes towards ensuring your photos of your wedding are what you want.
1) Firstly, you need to decide on what kind of photographs you want. You have probably seen magazines featuring celebrity weddings where huge full size prints of the Bride and Groom feature on the front page of Hello magazine, smiling down the camera lens at you with a blurred out background. Now the honest truth behind this photo is likely that this was actually taken in a studio, probably not on the couples actual wedding day, and most certainly has had a large investment of time in Photoshop to make it look this way. I am not saying that all magazine articles are done this way, but even the ones which are really photographed on the couple’s wedding day, at the wedding venue probably involved a team of professional make-up artists (not just a couple of girls in the morning for a few hours), a team of dedicated hair stylists and somewhere in the region of an hour with a team of photographers, purely for that 1 image which now graces the front cover of magazines across the world. Meanwhile, of course, the real wedding is going on in the background, without the bride and groom being present at it.
Now let me just also say, for the record, that of course everyone wants to look their best on their wedding photos, that goes without saying, but most couples would rather experience their wedding day, and spend time with guests and family, rather than having a 2 hour photoshoot on their wedding to show what an awesome wedding day they missed because they were too busy having their photos taken!
Photos like the above are much more real and to me, are what wedding photography should be all about.
The opposite to this would be a documentary or reportage wedding photographer, who allows you to enjoy your wedding without taking you away from everyone for formal photographs. His (or her) job as a documentary style wedding photographer is to capture the natural atmosphere of the day. They will concentrate more on taking photos of your venue, the details, the guests talking, children playing, random things which at the time may seem irrelevant, but when you look back in years to come, suddenly that photograph of your smiling Grandmother looking at you without you knowing it becomes very important. They may take the bride and groom away for some photos together, or they may not (depending on how strictly they stick to “documentary style” throughout the day), but for now, hopefully this section has helped you identify two very different styles of wedding photographer, and you should know which appeals to you more at this stage.
So, and I would say this is probably the most important decision, do you want
2) Now, once you have made this decision, your next step becomes a little easier, as you have now filtered down to the style of wedding photographer you want.
For the purposes of my website being heavily steered towards documentary wedding photography I am going to continue with this article based on that being the style you opted for.
Now you know you want a documentary style wedding photographer and presumably you know where you are getting married (and have a date!), you have a number of options open to you.
Likely, the wedding venue will have a preferred supplier who they can recommend to you. If the venue have recommended this person, chances are they have photographed a number of weddings at the venue before, and know it well. This could be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you look at it.
I personally try to photograph at lots of different venues across Lancashire (and beyond!) as I find working at only place can get a little stale, and all weddings photographed there start to look a little bit the same, with little variety.
Working at lots of places allows you to learn new things, try different ideas and keep being creative.
Google also introduces a number of options to you, by way of how you search for what you want. What do you actually type into google search? Do you:
Based on my experience as a wedding photographer, most couples will search for a wedding photographer in their local area (Wedding photographer in Preston for example) and then go from there.
3) Now you have picked what style of photographer you want, and you also have an idea on how to begin the search for the right one. Unfortunately, now comes the hard part – trawling. Most businesses out there put a LOT of hard work into their websites. I know I do personally, as I want to be found by as many people as possible! Google also has the same intentions at heart, and rewards websites which put in the hard work by putting them higher in the results, so you are hopefully directed to them earlier. This isn’t to say that if a wedding photographer doesn’t have a good website he isn’t a good photographer, it’s just the way Google (and other search engines) work.
I update my website every single week, often daily, to ensure it is current, and I am always blogging new things and wedding images.
Through my website I have an idea of how long a person spent on my website, and what pages they visited. On average, most visits are less than 3 minutes. My rolling slideshow on my homepage changes every 5 seconds, which would mean that most couples see less than 36 images of my work, assuming that all they did in those 3 minutes was to watch the slideshow….unlikely. Couples that end up booking me, purely through seeing my website from a Google search average 12-15 minutes on my website, and visit many different pages, sometimes several times, and view my most recent weddings, my blog, my portfolio and my “about me page”. This pleases me, as it shows they are genuinely interested in my photography, and want to know more.
I know if it was me, I would spend a large amount of time on their website, hoping to gain a real understanding of what they do, and how they do it.
The next part really comes down to you, and is a very personal thing. Deciding on the right wedding photographer, or should I say, narrowing down the selection to a list of different wedding photographers based purely on their websites will involve a few key things:
4) Your wedding photographer’s personality. Now, this is another important one. PURELY on a personal level (forget his/her pictures for the moment) do you like them? Do you immediately want to punch them in the face? Do they make you laugh and smile? Getting along with your chosen wedding photographer is hugely important, as your photographs will reflect how comfortable you feel at any given point.
When you’re in the pub with your mates, you let down your guard. You laugh, you smile, you act naturally. I have often thought if someone were taking candid photographs right now these would be awesome pictures…On the flip-side of that, when you are in an awkward situation, when you’re uncomfortable – have you ever wished anyone could take your photograph at that moment….unlikely.
As a wedding photographer, I have worked very hard on my personality to ensure I am very very very easy to be around. Just think, of all the photographs on my website of couples laughing their heads off, chances are I have only met them once in our lives before-hand, sometimes only over Skype! I need to make you both feel instantly relaxed and comfortable around me. That is my job – not something you should have to even think about, but it is worth mentioning. A documentary style photographer does have less involvement than a formal photographer, but their influence on the day is still present – so just because they aren’t telling you how to strike the ultimate Blue Steel pose doesn’t mean their personality isn’t reflective on your day, it is – massively.
Now the scary part. For the bride, chances are, she will be in my company for longer than the groom on her wedding day. Fact. If she hated me, felt uncomfortable around me and wasn’t happy with me being anywhere near her, chances are I wouldn’t get pictures like this.
Making sure your personalities don’t clash with your wedding photographer is crucial. Having one who can make you laugh, smile and not feel awkward is absolutely crucial.
That is also true of guests. I am very respectful of guests, never rude and often find myself in conversation with them about how they know the bride and groom or if they are having a good day etc – they are a key part of your day, and no one wants to be shouted at and told what to do all day by an over-enthusiastic photographer. The amount of times I have been mistaken for a guest and asked how I know the bride and groom speaks volumes for my approach style – this is something to bear in mind also.
If you like, think of some questions to ask your photographer! I actually really like it when bride and grooms do this, as it shows they are genuinely interested and want to know more about my wedding photography (as well as my main hobby!) – so please ask away. What camera’s I use, do I have backup equipment etc. I would advise away from just googling “What to ask your wedding photographer” – think of something that really matters to you, and feel free to ask me!
Finally, make sure your chosen photographer wants to photograph your wedding! Sounds daft, but a lot of photographers are actually interested in landscapes, motorsports and wildlife – but they don’t really pay the bills. Weddings are a way for them to earn a bit of money to pursue what they are really interested in. Their work may be good, and this might not be a bad thing.. but again, it’s something to bear in mind when you trust your wedding photographs to someone – are they going to do the absolute best they can for you?
Finding someone who is genuinely interested in your wedding, asks YOU lots of questions and shows a level of excitement about the prospect of photographing it is another thing you should be looking for.
Hopefully this article hasn’t scared you half to death, and it goes towards helping you in some way to find the right photographer for you.
At the end of the day the most important thing is that you ENJOY your wedding day! I always tell brides this. Do the hard work before-hand (now) and then on the day, smile, have one glass of prosecco too many and have the best day of your life!
One thing I have purposely avoided is price, as this is a very personal thing. Each bride and groom have a budget, or an idea of what they think a service is worth. Location plays a huge role in this also, as services are generally more expensive in London than they are in the North of England, but this too varies. Likewise for destination weddings abroad, other factors come into the decision such as flights, baggage costs for kit, insurance etc.