Having recently got married and being wedding photographers, my husband and I understand the business pretty well, but still found it quite confusing to work out the best package for us. As a result, we have put together a few points to try and help brides (and grooms!) to-be to best choose the photographer for them.
Photography and Videography are two of the most important things to get right for a wedding as once the cake has been eaten, the venue has been cleared and the dress dry cleaned and hung up, they are the only ways you will have to remember your day. Get it right, and you will adorn your walls with the pictures and cherish them forever. Get it wrong, and it will be one of your biggest regrets as you cannot replay the day at a later date.
1) Decide on the style of photography you want.
Wedding photography comes in many different styles, if you think of other weddings you have been to – was the photographer quietly working in the background to get more of a photojournalistic approach, or in the forefront trying to pose people and directing the bride and groom throughout the day for photographs? Be sure to check out many photographers websites and get an eye on different styles then decide on the right one for you. Wedding forums are great for inspiration and also finding out straight from other couples what they thought of their photography style.
2) Why hire a professional wedding photographer?
Weddings are very fast paced and like everybody tells you (and probably like us you’ll think it won’t possibly happen to your day) it does fly by so incredibly quickly that if choosing a specialist wedding photographer you can be sure they understand how the day works and will capture all the key moments. It may be cheaper to hire a photography student looking to get into weddings, or let your friend do it, but there is always the risk that you may not get the key shots such as the cake cutting, or bouquet throw as they don’t have the experience of anticipating these events. Only you can decide how important your wedding photography is.
3) Where to find a photographer?
Wedding photographers can be found very easily, online, in the phonebook, in the local paper etc, but the best way to find a wedding photographer is to ask any recently married friends what theirs was like. Not only will you be able to see from your friends pictures if you like the style of photography offered, but they will be able to advise you firsthand what the photographer was like on the day. Another great resource is your wedding venue as they will be able to offer you details of photographers who know the venue and whose work they can recommend.
4) Make sure the photographer you use is reputable
Nowadays, in the age of the digital photography revolution, everyone has a DSLR camera and can take pictures so it’s not surprising that the number of wedding photographers around is going up, which is great as it gives clients a bigger choice. Unfortunately, this can also be a problem in that a lot of these photographers do not understand the importance of using back up units, securing the images against cards and cameras failing and getting the relevant insurance. This is why checking out your intended photographer is so important, if they only use a single camera and single lens, what would happen if that camera or lens failed? Do they back up images throughout the day? These are all things that you need to check. If the photographer has a website, look at the examples of past work on there. Be sure they’re experienced with low light or you may find your church shots and first dance are blurry as these conditions are more difficult to shoot.
5) Why so expensive?!
Wedding photographers come under a lot of flack regarding the prices we charge, you will see on many bridal forums there are the posts asking why when some photographers charge £400 for a days coverage, some are charging upwards of £3000? There are many factors for this. As mentioned above, the lower end price bracket are likely to be new wedding photographers looking to get a portfolio together, or those who do it as a part time job – nothing wrong with either of these, however you are unlikely to receive the same quality of image from a £400 photographer as you would a higher end one, due to many factors, one being equipment. Most professional level SLR camera bodies start around £1500+, and the professional level lenses are (dependent on the type of lens) around each around the same bracket. Then there is the cost of memory cards, backup storage units, flashguns etc, not to mention the fact that most professional wedding photographers will carry multiple camera bodies and lenses, and it all very quickly starts to add up. There is then the cost of insurance (which is another thing worth checking out about a potential photographer – professional indemnity insurance covers if anything should happen to the images and public liability ensures your guests are insured if they trip up over a tripod or walk in to the camera). Wedding photographers not only work tirelessly on your wedding day, but will also spend a lot of time after the wedding putting the images through a ‘digital darkroom’ process where they can process them to black and white, and develop the images. When you consider that the average 10 hour wedding will yield the photographer 500 -1000 images or more, this is a lot of time spent developing each and every one.
You will find cheaper photographers will hand you the photos from the day, virtually unprocessed or batch processed (i.e. One click to change 100+ photos to a standard greyscale image), burn it on to a DVD and pop it in the post to you.
It is also worth noting that some photographers have two photographers (as our company Lime Leaf Weddings does) so you get shots of the bride and the groom getting ready independently which gives a great story of the day when looking back at them. This also means you get all the key moments captured from two different angles giving a great narrative of the day. Be aware if your chosen photographer operates in this way, as you may initially think they are more expensive than the other options, but you are getting twice the coverage.
Photography may seem as simple as pointing and clicking, but a professional wedding photographer will need to understand composition, lighting conditions and how best to use them, the correct exposures to use in every situation, thoroughly know and understand how to use their equipment inside and out, and manage all of this whilst anticipating who will be doing what next, and where they need to be to capture it.
6) Which package is right for me?
If, like we did, you start looking at wedding photographers websites, and start trying to compare the packages offered, you will soon discover that it is a bit of a minefield! We actually worked our own wedding photography packages out based on the amount of time we can be hired for, but other photographers will work theirs out based on other factors such as whether you want a DVD of images included or not, the inclusion of a proof book, the size and type of album included, the number of images you get and the number of prints included which can all differ in package to package. If you are unsure whether you want some of the items included, get in touch with the photographer to see if they can offer a custom package for you, the majority are happy to do so, and are simply trying to let prospective clients know that they have all bases covered.
7) Albums – to have or not to have?
Many wedding photographers offer packages including a wedding album, so its worth establishing first if you are going to want one as this greatly affects the price of the package. There are the classic and beautifully made traditional matted handmade leather-bound albums by the likes of Jorgensen and Queensbury amongst others, as well as the more contemporary ‘magazine style’ book which was made popular by Graphi Studio and is more of a modern coffee table book. The albums can be quite confusing with many different options of album size, cover, paper finish and the number of pages so make sure you are clear about what you are getting with the photographer first. Make sure you can see an example of an album the size and with the same number of pages you are going to get.
8) Extras – album pages and number of photos included in the package
If you have decided on your photographer and decide to get an album, make sure you check everything you get. It is unfortunately a known tactic for some photographers to sell you a 30 page album, but then show you a 60 page album with your lovely pictures in. Once you have looked through this 60 page album they then tell you that this will be £XX more or alternatively they can take half of the images out. By this time most couples will have fallen in love, not wanting to take out photos and will end up paying the extra. Another thing to check is how many images you will actually get after the day. It’s quite common for photographers to shoot your day (around 50+ shots per hour on average) and only include 100 images in your package. They will then charge you £xx for each photo after the 100, but let you see all 600 or 700 images knowing you will want them all. Sometimes you will also have to pay extra for a DVD of all the images as well and generally these do not come cheap. Also, you should ask your wedding photographer what rights you have for your images, as some will retain the copyright and therefore are able to do as they wish including selling to bridal magazines etc without your authorisation. Be sure your photographer respects your privacy and wishes.
9) The photographer I want is way out of my budget – what do I do?
Don’t worry, if you have your heart set on a photographer but their packages are out of your price range, it is still always worth asking them if they could do a custom quote for you. Spring and summer weekends are peak season for wedding photographers, but they may be able to offer you a discount if you are looking at getting wed on a weekday or during the quieter Autumn and Winter periods. They may also be able to advise you of better ways to plan your day so they can be there for a shorter amount of time but still catching all the key moments by having the speeches before the wedding breakfast or doing a mock cake cutting. Wedding photographers are a valuable resource to use as they are used to the format and timings of the day.
10) Any top tips?
Our top tip would be to make sure you are completely happy with the photographer you choose, and are completely clear about what you are going to get. Also make sure you read their terms and conditions thoroughly, and most importantly make sure you like and trust them. Another great tip which we give our clients is to speak to your photographer if there is anything regarding the day you are unsure about, we are pretty much wedding experts!