Tips for choosing your photographer

Choosing your photographer. Its not going to be easy. There’s zillions of photographers on Google and Bing, all promising you the best of the best. So how do you decide…? Much of it comes down to two things: cost and skill. The cheaper photographers generally have less experience and skill, and as the cost of the photography increases, so does the level of experience and skill.

To photograph a wedding, it does take a lot of skill and experience – and I’m not just saying that because I’m a wedding photographer. Knowing where to be is important, but also knowing what to do when things get in the way of the day matters a lot. Another factor is how the photographer has to get the shots the first time – because a wedding is unrepeatable and there’s no going back. So, as you can appreciate there’s a lot of pressure on the photographer to come up with the goods, and as the photographers experience grows, so does their skill. This is why experience costs a bit more..

There’s also ‘style’. Generally there are three main types of photographers. Classical, Reportage or Alternative. The classical photographers are just that, they take their pictures in a standard and classical way,  mostly with posed shots. Reportage (or documentary) is when the photographer stands back and has little or no contact with the couple, just spending the whole time photographing things as they happen, usually providing their images in monochrome – which is great if you like that sort of thing. Alternative photographers tend to lean more towards quirky posing, unusual angles and a very heavy hand on the editing, with a definite colour style to their edited images.

There is a fourth category, too. The hybrid, which I suppose is how I classify myself. There’s a few of us out here and we photograph much of the day as it happens in a reportage way, but when it comes to the formal parts of the day, then we do pose up shots in a classical way – like the groups. Although I do pose the newlyweds portraits, I always do it in a way to look natural. Photographers like me tend to work in colour too, though I do provide a full set of duplicate images in monochrome – just incase…

Once you start looking for a photographer, visit websites and start looking closely at their pictures – don’t just look at the first few pictures. Look at their galleries and at their blog posts. Most photographers will have a portfolio, but sometimes they just put their best pictures in there, so looking at their blog posts will give you a better idea of their work. 

Weddings are made up of lots of little bits that go to make the whole day. Besides the newlyweds portraits, there’s also the ceremony, the canapés, the groups, the portraits and the first dance. On a photographers blog posts you should be able to see a good selection of images from the day, and this will give you a clue as to how well the photographer can capture the whole wedding. Look for continuity rather than those particularly artistic shots of bouquets, shoes or newlyweds kissing shots. You’ve spent months planning, arranging and considering the fine details, so your wedding pictures will be the only physical record of all your day, and this is why your photographer has to be able to capture all aspects day, and not just the shoes, the bouquets or the kissing couple.

Once you’ve made a list of several photographers you like, email them to find out their availability. Just a tip here… If you look on a photographers contact page and their email address doesn’t end with the URL of their website, then this could indicate that the photographer is an amateur.  Anyway, contact the photographer to see if they’re available and if within your budget.

When you get your replies, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand and then you can decide on which photographers to meet. Yes, you must meet at least two photographers. Why..? Well, this is your opportunity to meet them face-to-face, ask them lots of questions about their work, about their experience and how they will approach your wedding. It’s also an opportunity to look at their wedding albums, to look again at the continuity of their photography.

Once you’ve met a photographer, don’t make any commitments. Walk away from the meeting so you can have a think about what you’ve heard and seen, but don’t wait too long, as generally, the better photographers get booked early. Once you’ve done all that, choose the photographer who you feel is the most capable of photographing your day: one who offers continuity, a fair price, the benefit of their experience, and of course, their professionalism.

Happy hunting….!