Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Photographer

It could be one of the hardest decisions you make in the whole wedding planning process. It could certainly be one of the most expensive. You’ve visited the wedding fair, you’ve googled it and you literally can’t move for photographers – there’s hundreds of us! How on earth do you pick the right one for you? I’ve been photographing weddings for a number of years now. I’ve shot a lot of weddings in that time and I’ve talked to a lot of couples on the hunt for their photographer. At pretty much every wedding I get chatting to a guest who tells me how much they hated their own wedding images and the same issues seem to come up time and time again. So I decided to put together my own little guide on picking the best photographer for you. Just a heads up, I’m not claiming this is a definitive guide, there are literally thousands of these online (seriously, just google it) but these are my own tips based on everything I’ve learnt. Ok here goes.

How to choose your perfect wedding photographer

Number 1: Pick me.

Ha ha. Jokes (but not really).

The Actual Number 1:

Decide on your favourite photography style. There are dozens of different types and styles of photographers so it can get a little bamboozling. But I think for the purposes of wedding photography you can break it down into three broad categories.

PHOTOJOURNALISM /DOCUMENTARY / REPORTAGE

As the name suggests photographers who work in this style treat a wedding like a true real life event, which of course it is. They generally capture images as it happens with minimal intervention. Some of the serious photojournalistic wedding photographers will not do any formal or posed images. They concentrate on documenting the day as it happens – no interruptions and they won’t influence anything.  The best photographers in this category have the ability to react quickly, anticipate moments, capture fleeting emotions and generally create a beautiful story of your day with their images.

THE CREATIVES

In this category you’ve got the photographers who aren’t purely documentary. They are creative, they use light in amazing ways, they may have a real emphasis on couples’ portraits. Not sure what those terms mean? Fear not, all you really need to know is that these type of photographers love the pretty and they have an amazing eye for detail. They can find the beauty in your wedding and they use their photography skills to capture it. They will manipulate the setting, find the perfect light or backdrop, or create the situation to get that beautiful image. Having a £2k wedding? They can make it look like a £20k one.

THE TRADITIONAL

This is what a lot of people (probably your parents) initially think of when you say wedding photography. Think a lot of posed formal images. The photographer has a lot of control over the setting and the poses.

So which style is for you. Research it, read the blogs, pinterest the life out of it until you have a good idea of what style of photography you’d like. The reality is that many photographers offer a mixture of styles. Personally I consider my style to be a mixture of documentary and creative. I spend most of the day capturing documentary style images of what is happening. I’ve got a knack of capturing fleeting moments and genuine emotion and I bloody love it when I nail a shot like that. But I’m also a massive fan of the detail, taking more of a fine art approach to capturing that part of your story. Finally when it comes to the more formal shots be sure that I will have carefully chosen a location which offers me the best lighting and backdrop and I’ll be using all my skills to create beautiful, natural looking images. This is what I do best. Of course I’ll still do a few of those family shots that your mum wants but  if you want 78 group shots of every different family grouping combination I’m probably not the best person for the job. Just saying.

Number 2: Meet your wedding photographer (in someway)

We’re all busy bees these days so it’s not always possible to meet in person before booking. A lot of my couples don’t live locally so I can’t often meet them in person before they book. But one of the most common complaints I have heard from people over the past couple of years is that they didn’t get on with their wedding photographer – that they were bossy or grumpy or just downright unpleasant. You are probably going to be spending more time with your photographer on your wedding day than anyone else so it’s a good idea not to completely hate them! So make some effort to get to know your photographer a little before you book. I’ve tried really hard to get my personality across on my website –  what you see here is what you get when you book me. If you can’t meet your photographer in person then a Skype or phone chat is worth doing.

Number 3: Budget.

There’s no getting away from it. This wedding malarky is a costly business. Like most things there’s a massive variance between photography pricing. You can find full day coverage for a couple of hundred pounds or you can spend upwards of £10,000. It depends on your budget and how you much you value your photography. I know that there are photographers out there who are quite frankly not charging as much as they should considering their talent but they are few and far between. Let’s face it, for the most part the cheap ones are cheap for a reason – they are not very good, they are not very experienced or they are not running a legitimate business. I’m not going to bore you with the details but running a photography business is flipping expensive if you are doing properly. I invest in the best equipment and back up equipment. I spend money on ongoing training and mentoring so that I am always improving and I have all those important but costly things like insurance and the proper software and because I run my business properly all those things are factored into my costings. If you find a photographer that you absolutely and completely love but they are above your budget then sit down and figure out a way to afford them. I promise you that in 10 years time when you are looking at your beautiful images you will not regret the decision you made to scrap that candy cart or buy a cheaper pair of shoes.

Number 4: Dig a Little Deeper

Once you’ve narrowed down your favourites dig a little deeper and do your homework. Check out their online reviews and ask some questions that apply to your wedding particularly if you are doing anything out of the ordinary. Do they have experience of winter weddings for example? Ask to see examples of similar work. Most galleries will contain the highlights of the photographer’s work but be sure to head on over to their blogs to see some weddings in more detail.

Then ask these questions to make sure you are in safe hands –

Do they have back up equipment? The answer should be Hell YES! Thankfully I have never been in the situation where I have experienced equipment failure whilst shooting a wedding but if I did I would be able to turn around, pick up by back-up camera and continue shooting as if nothing had happened.

Do they have a contingency plan in place should something happen and they couldn’t get to your wedding? I’m an active member of a number of local photography groups and lucky enough to have a number of photographers that I consider to be friends and I’m 99.99% certain I could find a replacement should I ever need to in an emergency.

Are they insured? Again, this should be another big yes. I’m covered for public liability and professional indemnity. Some venues will refuse to allow your photographer on the premises if they are not insured.

Number 5: You’re almost there

Ok so you’ve decided on your photography style, found your perfect photographer, done your homework and you’re ready to book. My final words piece of advice is to get everything in writing. Any good photographer should have a contract in place for you to sign. This is to protect you and them. This is to outline exactly what you will receive from your wedding photographer and how much it will cost you. Read it, understand it and make sure you are happy with it before you sign it.

BOOM! You’ve gone and done it. You can get on with planning the rest of your big day knowing that you have found your perfect wedding photographer (did I mention that it was probably me all along?)

Beautiful, modern and relaxed wedding photography in Lancashire, Manchester and Cheshire.