how to choose the perfect wedding photographer

how to choose the perfect wedding photographer

an
important
decision

This little guide started off as a general guide – just a few things that I’d encourage people to look out for when booking a wedding photographer. The more I started to write the bigger and more comprehensive the guide became and we truly feel that  if you follow the advice in this article you are extremely likely to be ecstatic with your wedding photographs.

When it comes to wedding decisions, choosing your wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions that you are likely to make for your wedding, although I suppose choosing who you are going to marry is slightly higher on the list!

Long after the favours have been forgotten, the wedding breakfast and canapés have been eaten - all that remains are your happy memories which hopefully will be enriched by your wedding photographs and possibly your wedding video. This advice applies largely to wedding videos as well, although is written from a wedding photographers perspective.

.

how to choose the perfect wedding photographer

why so important?

A good photographer will be prepared for any occasion. They will capture moments you didn't even realised happened at your wedding. A great wedding photographer can use light and composition to enhance an average scene making it look absolutely stunning. .

An inexperienced photographer on the other hand, could make the most beautiful of venues or scenes look distinctly average. They could be thrown by adverse weather conditions, unforseen time delays, or equipment failure. Your photographer could even influence your enjoyment of the day itself if you find that your personalities are not compatible.

For this reason we suggest that you prioritise wedding photography in your budget. Your decision in this key area will affect your enjoyment of the wedding day, before, during and long after the festivities. How much should you pay for good wedding photography?

prioritise
wedding
photography

I mention price first as it’s subject that requires serious consideration. It's been said that 
” The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten. ” and this is never more true than with wedding photography. 

Simply put - “Try to spend as much as you can on your wedding photographs. 
Make photographs a priority in your budget.” It’s an decision that simply can’t be made based solely on the most competitive price. Choose a wedding photographer whose work and approach you absolutely fall in love with and you will rest easy on all the days leading up to your wedding and during.

To start with, just focus on the photographs and how they make you feel. Give albums and other products secondary priority. A poor collection of photographs will always be a poor collection of photographs, however they are packaged. Don't be distracted by the photographer offering the most albums for the same price. Having your wedding captured in the best way possible should be your priority.

Wedding photography pricing structures vary greatly an it can be hard to perceive the actual cost of the package. Be careful however that some photographers prices can quickly escalate.  To avoid surprises make sure that you have calculated how much your package is likely to cost with the any additional extras you require. 

Some photographers may have a pricing model that includes x number of images in the album but then charge £30 for each subsequent image. For example- If you had 50 images included as standard and you wanted to add 50 images (we often produce 100 image albums) this would add on an extra £1500. It's easy to see how hidden costs can be overlooked.

Some photographers may not give the high resolution images. This is something to closely consider, as purchasing prints for friends and family can soon add up.  

Most wedding photographers will allow you to book them on a base package and add on to your package from there after the wedding- when funds allow. You may be able to add photography items to your gift list! Just ask your photographer.

Prices & packages

focus
on 
the photographs

make
average look awesome

real
intimate
emotions

stylish
no cheese
portraits

remember
the
details

dance
floor
fillers

Ask your friends who were recently married who did their wedding photos. If you like the style of their wedding photography and feel it would be a good fit for you, ask them about their experience working with their photographer.

Don’t just choose the first photographer you see, or the one recommended by the wedding venue. We have seen some terrible wedding albums in the most beautiful of venues, simply because the venue receives payment for referrals they make. 

One local Cheshire wedding venue charges photographers 10% of their total sale for photographers they recommend. Any good referral for wedding photography will be based on quality and service, not on commission.

Google is your friend and although there are a plethora of wedding photographers to search through, it’s well worth making a shortlist to compare between. It can be helpful to search photographs from your wedding venue, you could try searching by location or by the particular style of photography that appeals to you. What particular styles are there?

Photojournalism & Reportage photography have become buzzwords in wedding photography, and for good reason. This is a key role of any wedding photographer.

A wedding photographer should capture natural reportage photographs of people laughing, crying, hugging and kissing – and all those little moments that would go unnoticed by the casual observer. The photographer should always be ready to capture these shots and not be sat down, waiting for the next main event on the schedule. This is how amazing moments would be missed by an inexperienced or an undedicated photographer. (Having said that they do need a 5 minute water break every now and then!)

We hear lots of clients request that they only want reportage type photographs and this is fine, but often after talking about their true requirements and showing them our portfolio we find out what they truly mean. They often mean that they don’t want the cheesy photographs that have given wedding photography a bad name - they don’t want the hours and hours of stand in a line group photographs that weddings are famous for. 

 Often our brides & grooms want a mix of photographic styles. They want it all captured in the best possible way - and why not?!

Our clients want natural photographs of their friends laughing and their parents crying but they also want a beautiful family photograph that their parents and grandparents will treasure forever.

We strongly believe that there is a place for group photographs, reportage photos and portrait photographs on the wedding day. Good balance can ensure that this process is kept enjoyable, stress free and fun.  You can see some examples of our approach below.


wedding photography styles

where to begin the search?

When choosing your wedding photographer ask to see lots of examples of their work- not just their best ever super duper favourite display albums- but the standard of their last few weddings at least. Looking at a photographers blog can really help in this regard.

Have a look at weddings they have photographed at the same time of year as your wedding. If its a winter wedding- did they handle the low level of light well? Or do other photographers do this better? Just because you like how a photographer photographs outdoor summer weddings – it doesn’t mean that you will like how they photograph a 4:30pm ceremony in the middle of winter when it is pitch black outside. 

If its a summer wedding – did the photographer find places to take photographs in nice light, or are there lots of unpleasant shadows on the subjects faces and in the background of the photographs.

what should the photographer show me?

how will
 your wedding 
look?

This is a question we are often asked, but in answer to this – Do not discount good wedding photographers just because they have never been to your wedding venue before.

Wedding photographers often photograph at new venues and a good wedding photographer will adapt to your venue differently from day to day. Often they can approach your wedding with a fresh pair of eyes and find new and exciting ways to capture your wedding at this venue.

Sometimes it can be a disadvantage that a photographer is overly familiar with a wedding venue. They may have a standard approach that is not tailored to you as an individual couple with your unique wedding. If the photographer has photographed at your venue before – ask to see examples of their weddings there to check that they don’t just do the same thing every time. If they do- make sure that you like what they do every time!

Do I need a photographer that has been to my venue before?

A wedding photographer should be able to beautifully light a portrait photograph or group photograph should the need arise. They should understand light and how it works and they should be able to create stunning photographs even in the darkest of rooms. 

If a wedding photographer can’t produce great photographs in any situation, you must check that they will be able to handle your wedding confidently. Don’t let them tell you that it’s because they only specialise in reportage or natural light photography – lack of skill in these key areas can be the sign of a photographer that hasn't yet mastered their craft.

Although this may be controversial, I say this because with wedding photography and the infinite variation of situations that can present themselves, it’s always beneficial to have such necessary skills even if you don’t choose to use them for your general photography style.

A wedding photographer should use the appropriate technique that will lead to the best photograph and collection of wedding photographs.

photographer skills

Will the photographer insist on their way? Do they need a list?

no
shot lists
please

Backup Equipment & Insurance

It's my honest feeling that a wedding photographer should be flexible to your requests, after all it’s your wedding. A wedding photographer is not a fashion photographer with Diva demands – they should be helpful and listen to your requirements. A wedding is not a photo shoot – although there are many opportunities for brilliant photographs. Its important that you feel your photographer understands this.

Having said that- respect for the photographer goes a long way. A true professional photographer shouldn’t need a long list of must have shots like the magazines may suggest. If they are trying to read your list all day they will be missing real moments.

They capture the day and everything that happens. A clear concise schedule should suffice. If there is anything particularly unique about your wedding that you would like to be photographed then it’s helpful to let the photographer know this. But a list that includes obvious shots like “Exchanging of rings” & “first kiss” is not necessary.

It’s also very helpful to provide an accurate list of group family photographs that you may require and allow sufficient time for this in your schedule. This is only if you choose to have group photographs obviously.

Does your photographer have backup equipment should theirs fail or should they have an accident? Your wedding photographer should have at least 2 cameras and at least 3 lenses. They should have a backup flash as well should an accident occur.

Although it is not the camera that takes a good photograph, it’s the photographer – good equipment certainly helps and will produce higher quality results. A cheap lens cannot match a more expensive lens in its levels of sharpness and clarity.

A pro photographer should have professional equipment. At Tobiah Tayo Photography we have 5 camera bodies worth over £10,000, many lenses again worth over £10,000, and around £5000 of lighting equipment to make sure that we are always prepared to cover your day.

As well as professional equipment, having professional indemnity insurance is key. 
A wedding photographer should have a valid certificate of insurance – and some venues even require this for a photographer to attend.

Will the Photographer need a Schedule?

Last of all but one of the most important things I can think to mention is, make sure the wedding photographer you choose makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Make sure that your personalities work together. You spend the most special day of your life in the company of your photographer. Making sure you get along with them will go a long way to making sure you make the right decision for your wedding photographer.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I am no writer, but I thought I would share things I think would be helpful to those who are looking for a wedding photographer. I am sure I have missed many things, please feel free to let me know what I should add and If you have enjoyed reading this article, please do leave me a comment.

If you would like to quote from this article please let me know and please link back to us. Please do not copy the article in its entirety. It took long time to write the article. Thank you…



Do you feel comfortable?

comfortable
and
relaxed

A good schedule is key to making sure that your wedding day doesn’t feel rushed. A good schedule will allow you plenty of time to talk with your guests and have the photographs taken that you would like. Using the schedule should be a general guideline and not a strict military operation. A good photographer will understand this and offer suggestions on your schedule if you ask them.

Allowing enough time for photographs in your schedule will help you to feel less rushed. If you are having group photographs, Its good to have them as early as possible so that your guests can enjoy the rest of the day. We often recommend around 10 or less group photographs but that is something for each bride an groom to decide depending upon their family.

After the group photographs its nice to photograph the bride and groom on their own. Just 30 minutes can be ample to create beautiful wedding portraits that you will treasure forever. Often our brides and grooms comment how much they have enjoyed the photography time together as it's some of the only quiet time that they have during the day.

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