Top Ten Questions for your Wedding Photographer – Part 1
Hello! Welcome to my spangly new website! And every spangly new website needs… a spangly new blog – and here it is!
To kick things off I thought I would try to answer all those questions you might have for a wedding photographer, but were afraid to ask. So here it is: the top ten questions I get asked as a wedding photographer. Lets dive right in…
1. Where do I start looking for my wedding photographer?
There are lots of places to start your search, but by being a bit more selective I hope you will find more of what you might like and less of what turns you off. So let’s look at where you might start:
Your Venue – It is always worth asking your wedding venue if they recommend any particular photographers. These will be people who know your venue well, get on with the staff and will generally make the day go that little bit smoother. I am recommended by a number of local venues where I love to work. But here’s the rub: venue recommendations are a good place to start, but most only recommend a handful of photographers, what if none of these float your boat? Well you might need to cast that net a little wider.
Wedding Blogs and Magazines – These can be a great resource as each one has a particular style. If you find one that matches yours, then you may find your perfect photographer there. It’s still a bit limiting, as they will only show what has been submitted and they tend to focus on styling, dresses etc, so you don’t always get a true flavour of a photographer’s work.
Wedding Shows -Wedding shows and fairs can be a great place to meet photographers face to face, look at their albums, get a feel for their personalities and ask lots of questions. Like all the other places above, however, you will only encounter a limited number at each of these. I do attend a number of these, but I know a lot of awesome wedding photographers who don’t.
So where are they all then?!
Google Search – Google kind of has the opposite problem. The web holds a vast array of wedding photography websites and searching by your location, or even by venue can throw up a lot of results, and the best ones may not be those that appear on page one. Also, your ideal photographer, might not be the most local. Try searching by more specific terms like “quirky wedding photographer” or “fine art wedding photographer” and you may find the results are more in keeping with what you’re looking for. It can still be a little like finding a needle in a haystack however.
Recommendations – Probably the best place to find the right photographer for you. You’ve probably got friends who’ve got married recently. Take a look at their photographs, ask them what they thought of their photographer – you’ll get the most honest insight into how they work. Ask other suppliers, in fact anyone who might come into contact with wedding photographers.
Also, if you find someone you really like and they’re not free, don’t stop the search there – ask them if they know of anyone in a similar style they could recommend.
So there’s no one perfect way to find that perfect photographer. My advice is to use a combination of all of the above. Once you start looking you’ll start to realise what amazing possibilities are out there. There really are some amazing people doing beautiful work out there. Some of us produce beautfiul work that pleases most people, others have a very particular style, which brings me nicely on to question two:
2. How do I choose the right wedding photographer?
These days there are so many different styles and approaches to wedding photography, it can be a bit daunting. So let’s make it simple…
You’ve found a number of websites, picked up brochures and cards and got a list of names recommended to you. The first thing to do is to visit each website and just react to the photographs. How you react will depend on what you are looking for: are you looking for natural, photo-journalistic coverage of your wedding day? Do you want something with that extra va-va-voom, that’s going to look amazing on your wall? Do you just want some “nice” photographs to look back on?
With this in mind: look at photographers’ galleries and portfolios and just decide whether you like the photos! I guarantee you’ll disregard most, whatever your tastes are. Once you have a smaller list, take a look at their full wedding galleries: ask yourself, if this were my collection of wedding photographs, would I LOVE it?
Hopefully now you’ve got a shortlist of a few photographers to choose from. Now, go and see them. I know this takes time and you have a hundred things to do when planning a wedding, but trust me, this is the best way to get a feel for the person behind the camera. You can go with a list of questions (but make sure they’re YOUR questions, not ones you’ve read you should ask) but most importantly – just chat. Are they interested in your day? Does there approach fit in with you and the way you want your wedding to play out? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person and their approach can make or break your wedding day, so make sure you’re happy with how they’re going to fit in. And remember, if you wouldn’t invite them as a guest, don’t invite them as a photographer!
3. How much should it cost?
Ok, so here’s a real thorny one! Wedding photography prices range from the budget friendly to the extravagant. And, whilst it’s good to set a budget, this can feel like an impossible task when you have no experience or idea of what is reasonable.
The first thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with just wanting some “nice pictures” of your friends and family and a collection of photographs that help you to remember your day without being artistic master-pieces. There are plenty of good photographers out there who are able to offer more reasonable prices because they take on a lot of work. They may not produce images that are “different” or special, they may not spend as much time meeting with you beforehand, may not use as many techniques or spend as much time with you on the day, or in the processing of your final collection, but you may not want that. And that’s absolutely fine!
The only things I would ask you to look out for with a budget photogrpaher are the following:
Experience – wedding days are unpredictable beasts and you want to make sure your photographer can take any changes to the timeline, weather or anything else in their stride
Professionalism – make sure you are dealing with a company that knows what they are doing, you don’t want to be one of those couples in the local newspaper looking sad because their photographer disappeared without delivering any photogaphs
Insurance – if they ain’t got it, keep looking!
So, what if you want something a bit special? More creative photography tends to be priced from £1,200 upwards, and this is very dependant on location. Why do some photographers charge more than others? Well, it’s not my place to comment on other people’s businesses, but I can tell you a bit about mine. My prices (and I’m guessing most wedding photographers’ prices) are based on a number of things: the main one is time: I take on a limited number of weddings every year so that I can properly plan each day with my couple, take time to get to know them, spend at least around ten hours with them on the day and edit the collection myself to the point where I feel confident they will be blown away. There is also the equipment that I use to create images that will be worlds apart from the pictures your guests will take: tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment! There is the on-going training I do every year, to make sure the work I produce gets better and better. There is the cost of my studio, software, insurance and so on. Not everything I spend money on is essential to every photographer, but to me, it allows me to produce the kind of work my clients love.
So do you get what you pay for? Yes. Kind of! There is a reason some photographers charge more than others, but it has to have value to you. If you want something a bit different and special, yes, it will probably cost a little more, but I believe there is a good reason for that. And these images are going to be your family heirlooms; you’re hopefully going to look at them for a long time to come; and they’re going to capture you on the most special day of your lives, looking your most gorgeous. I believe that’s worth going the extra mile for.
But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Tune in next time for questions 4 to 6, where we’ll be tackling issues such as timing and those formal groups. In the meantime, if you have any questions you need answered (probably about wedding photography – but I’ll have a go at anything else you want to throw at me) drop me a line.
This blog is pretty new, so if you want to see any recent weddings, the best place right now is probably facebook: www.facebook.com/SamanthaHookPhoto
Til next time, happy wedding planning! xx