How do I choose a wedding photographer?
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Choosing a wedding photographer can be a minefield. Your wedding is likely to be one of the most memorable days of your life (in most cases). If you’re the bride to be, you’ve probably had a vision of what your wedding day will look like since you were 6 years old
Something I see and hear asked very often is, “Why do wedding photographers charge so much?”.
Whilst it may seem excessive that photographers charge anything between £1500 – £5000 for a single days work, let me assure you that there is a lot more work that a wedding photographer (a decent one anyway) puts into your big day.
I can’t speak for other photographers, but when booking me for your big day, this is what you receive for your money (I have different packages catering for budgets of all types so for the purposes of this post, we will assume you’ve opted for the premium package)
Face to face meet
Where possible, if not possible for face to face, then a Skype / FB / WhatsApp call) to discuss your requirements for your day. We will discuss the sort of images you would like, whilst I do the ‘mom shots’ (the shots your mother will love) I do look to be creative.
This face to face meeting will give me a sense of the personalities of both the bride and groom and allow me to suggest some creative shots I feel would really bring out your personality.
Every wedding and wedding photographer has those ‘must get’ shots, but a lot of photographers simply focus on these and don’t get creative with images that will truly be unique to your wedding and more importantly, to you as a couple.
Save the date OR engagement shoot
Included in my premium package (once a deposit has been paid) is a ‘save the date’ shoot. Again, we would have discussed and agreed on both the ‘mood’ and location for this shoot to take place. Save the date shoots give you a unique image/s to use in your invitations. This also gives us an opportunity to work together and for you to be reassured about my competency to capture your big day. I will include you in the post-production process by editing one or two images from the shoot and then invite you to provide any feedback and/or request alterations. Once we have agreed on this, I will then edit the remaining images in the same style. I will also use this editing style for your actual wedding day images. This way you already know how your wedding day images are going to look.
The big day
I will arrive at the bride’s location early morning to do the ‘Getting ready’ shots. (if you have requested a 2nd photographer, they will go to the groom’s location).
The premium package includes 10 hours of shooting. This is 9 out of 10 times more than sufficient to capture the entire day including the first dance, cutting of the cake and bride and groom leaving.
I spend anything between 60 minutes and 90 minutes editing EACH image (for the premium package). So if I’m providing you with 150 images, that’s up to 225 hours of editing.
In total, I am committing on average, 240 hours to your wedding day. My premium package costs £2000. Which equates to £8.33 per hour. 12 pence more than minimum wage!
Choosing based on price
The majority of brides I have worked with have spent thousands, and in some cases, tens of thousands of pounds on their dress, yet when it comes to choosing their photographer, they opt for the cheapest.
I realise times are tough for most people. There are some things in life where it’s okay to base your purchase on price, toilet paper for example. But when it comes to one of your biggest life events, the price really should not be your determining factor in choosing a wedding photographer.
I have heard and seen some horror stories from married couples of their experiences with wedding photographers. And when questioned about how they made their decision, the answers are fairly similar, “it was a family member/friend who did it for free/very cheap”, “He/she was the cheapest” etc.
I’ve been shown images where the highlights are completely blown out so that you cannot see the detail in the wedding dress (assuming a white dress). As mentioned, sometimes the dress has costs hundreds/thousands of pounds (from my limited experience in buying dresses, it seems to detail costs more) only for the resulting images to show none of the detail in the dress!
Other images, a white dress (and the entire image) has a green (or blue) tinge to it.
Other people have explained how some of the crucial shots, for instance, the first dance, or cutting of the cake, weren’t even supplied to them because the photographer was unable to capture the couple in dark lighting conditions.
So please please please, do not base your choice of wedding photographer purely on price folks. Remember, your chosen photographer has one opportunity to capture the shot. It’s not like you and your entire wedding party can come back for a 2nd take. So make sure you choose a photographer, and not a ‘point and click picture taker’.
What to look for / ask when choosing a wedding photographer
Diversity in their images
If you look at a photographers portfolio and all their images are daylight / outdoor images, then question their ability to shoot under low lighting conditions (remember, if your wedding is going into the evening, a large portion of your day is going to occur in ‘less than ideal’ lighting conditions. A lot of photographers only shoot with natural light and have no understanding of how to use off-camera flash.
Question: Do you use off-camera or on-camera flash?
If the answer is on-camera flash, then move on to the next photographer on your radar! If a photographer is using on-camera flash, they are also probably shooting in ‘Automatic’ mode.
Question: Do you have a back-up camera?
A lot of part-time/hobbyist photographers only have a single camera for use on your day. If this camera were to fail for any reason, you’ll be relying on your guests to catch the rest of your wedding! I will always have at least two cameras for redundancy.
Question: Do you supply full, high-resolution digital images?
A LOT of photographers do not supply digital images at all. Or if they do, they reduce the size (and therefore quality) of the images supplied. This is basically a ‘sales tactic’ to have you coming back to order new prints down the road. I supply you with full resolution images that you can use to print new prints, as large as you like, whenever you so need.
Does the photographer’s style/portfolio match what you’re looking for?
Every photographer has a certain ‘style’. Ironically, what a lot of brides seem to like in an image, is technically incorrect (think those images with a white sky and lens flare). If a photographers portfolio is filled with these sort of images, then it would suggest that they are not technically in tune with their camera and will struggle in certain lighting conditions. Be sure to select a photographer who’s editing style is pleasing to YOUR eye.
An example of an apparently popular wedding image. All detail in the bride and grooms faces are totally lost. The sky is ‘blown out’ (overexposed/white). Technically, this is not a good photograph.
Question: Do you edit the images?
Now firstly let me point out that I do provide ‘budget wedding packages’ where I do not spend much time on post-production. I will simply make any small tweaks to the images (develop) but this is the clients choose. On my regular priced packages, I will spend time smoothing skin (not overly!), removing blemishes and the like. A lot of photographers will simply send you the images as they come out of the camera, and this is why they charge £500 for a full day! You get what you pay for ladies and gentleman.
Question: How many weddings do you shoot a year?
I’ll put my hand up here and say that currently, I have only shot 3 weddings. This is down to the fact that weddings are not something I actively market currently (this will be changing in the near future). I’m personally not convinced that experience of weddings themselves defines a photographers competency to do so. What makes a great wedding photographer, in my humble opinion is 1, knowing the technicalities of a camera and 2, being a ‘people’s person’. I have shot countless amounts of portraiture shoots, in a studio, outdoors, indoor events, natural light, natural light with off-camera flash. So I have all the necessary experience required to shoot a wedding (which is essentially a portraiture shoot) The important thing, as in point 1, is to look for diversity in the photographer’s portfolio/albums.
Question: What happens if you are sick on the day?
I have access to many other photographers that I could, if absolutely required, get to stand in should I be unable to attend myself. It would take a bus falling on me from the heavens for this to happen! But make sure any photographer you are considering has a back-up plan in this situation.
Question: How long do you take to deliver the images?
A photographer that tells you they can deliver images in under 2 – 3 weeks are clearly doing photography as a part-time gig. As someone doing this full time, I can assure you, even with the best of intentions, I simply won’t be able to turn around your images in that time period. I will provide your images between 4 – 6 weeks after your wedding.
Question: What is your payment policy?
I require a 10% booking fee on any of the packages I offer. This secures your date. Balance payment is due 30 days prior to your wedding day. I am looking into options to allow a payment scheme where you can pay monthly (final payment to be made 30 days prior to wedding date).
Question: Do you charge extra for travel and accommodation?
I do not charge additional for travel or accommodation if the wedding location is within 40 miles of Haverhill, Suffolk (CB9). For weddings further than this, additional costs will be incurred and will be confirmed before contract signing.
Question: What is your cancellation policy?
This will depend on the amount of notification given.
120+ days – booking fee only
90 – 119 days – 30%
60 – 89 days – 50%
30 – 59 days – 75%
0 – 29 days – 100%
I hope this post has given you a few things to consider. when choosing a wedding photographer. Whether you choose me or not is irrelevant, what I hope for you is that you receive images of your big day that you will be proud to show off in 20 years time!
If I haven’t covered something, or you have any questions whatsoever (again no commitment to hire me!) please feel free to comment below or pop me an email.
I’d love to hear from you to discuss your ideas and requirements for your big day. Get in touch.
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