The ultimate guide to choosing your wedding photographer
In our opinion choosing the right wedding photographer is so important, they capture the day and provide ever lasting memories. But how do you choose the right one for you? There after all hundreds to choose from that it can seem mind boggling knowing who to select.
Along with our members we have put together this guide to help you choose the right photographer for you.
1. Photography Style
Wait there’s photography styles? Yes there is and this is where you need to start before you start gathering quotes. What photography style do you feel most drawn to? Do you want pure traditional shots or something more artistic
Traditional – once upon a time you didn’t get a choice of photography styles. You booked a photographer and he/she turned up with his tripod snapping away in 1 position (with the same backdrop each time), following a list given to him by the bride (or her Mother!). Most weddings will have an element of traditional photography for important shots with their bridesmaids and parents etc.
Artistic/Contemporary – for couples who are not shy and reserved. The best way to think about these type of images is to imagine a fashion shoot. The shots can be fast, the photographer will be directing you into poses (and not always comfortable but who said art was comfortable?).
Documentary/Reportage/Photojournalistic – This style is where the photographer takes pictures as they happen normally without guests being aware they are there. The shots are never staged but happen naturally albeit the photographer has to be in the right place at the right time. This could be the groom biting his lip whilst waiting at the altar or lovers snatching a kiss together. These images capture the natural emotion of the day, images that can’t be posed like reactions to the speeches or first dance. Some will refuse to do any group shots at all whereas others are happy to do so. They need to capture a moment in an instant so quick reflexes are a must.
Fine Art / Creative – A popular rise in recent years is fine art photography. Images tend to have a romantic softness surrounding them, photographers pay particular attention to the direction of any natural light using it to their advantage. Many photographers specialising in this style consider their work similar to that of an artist. They will spot the beauty of the wedding and capture it perfectly. Really thinking about the composition of each photo to create their “master piece” reminiscent of a magazine cover.
“My top tip would be to find someone you trust and whose style you know you love. You’ll not be directing them on the day, so it will make your day more comfortable if you know they’re going to produce the results you want. In order to do that, you should see at least 2 full weddings from each photographer. Pay careful attention to the different types of photos and whether you’re happy with each. ” Phil Drinkwater, Photographer Member
“My personal top tip with picking a photographer is to design the wedding first – I worked out after quite a few years that the photography works hand in hand with the design of the wedding. It makes no sense to pick a reportage photographer for a fine art wedding or a moody landscape photographer for a light and airy wedding. So now, I tend to match the photographer recommendations with the design of the wedding itself.” Weddings by Sara Nice, Wedding Planner Member
This may seem a strange thing to put down but you will be working so closely with your photographer that its important you “like each other”. You need to be totally relaxed and happy to take instructions instead of thinking, I wish they’d go away! This connection is what makes for great photographs on the wedding day.
“Our main tip is to get on well with your wedding photographer(s), they are the supplier that spends the most time with the bride and groom on the wedding day itself. Often there during nerves and tears, when many other people aren’t around.” Sonia & Simon, S2 Images
“I am very much all for couples meeting no less than 3 photographers – those who meet their brief in terms of work / style / budget. This is to get a feel for the personality of the photographer as so important to have that spark.” Melanie Egan, Bellissimo Weddings (wedding planner member)
3. Your wedding budget
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that if a quote seems to good to be true it invariably will be. When contacting photographers you need to check what their fee includes, normally it will include some or all of the following.
- * Attendance on the wedding day- Is this x number of hours or until the cake cutting/first dance? Some photographers offer their time unlimited on the wedding day.
- * Online proofing or proof album
- * Download/USB key of print ready images
- * An album or Coffee Table Book
- * Engagement shoot
- * Reasonable travel/accommodation
Remember, prices vary considerably and as with anything you generally get what you pay for. Professional photographers will have years of experience, expensive equipment, training and of course insurance. They are running a business not a hobby and charge accordingly.
p.s if you haven’t created a budget email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy of our budget template on excel for you to use.
Personal recommendation is always a good place to start with your researching. But go back to point 1 – do you like that style of photography?
Check the UKAWP directory for our photographer members, All members have:
- * Been in business minimum 1 year (but most many more years!)
- * Are fully insured
- * Have provided references from 2 clients and 1 venue/planner/supplier
If you have been recommended a photographer via a venue please check it is a true recommendation. i.e. are they on the list because they’ve paid to be on there? Not all venues do this and it can be beneficial to choose a photographer who knows the venue well. BUT only if you’re happy with points 1-3!
And if you have hired a wedding planner then listen to their advice as they will have researched in the past the best photographers to work with.
5. Don’t be so trusting
Anyone can have a beautiful website created and inspirational social media account. Don’t be so trusting that what you’re viewing is 100% their work. For a photographer it is important the work you are viewing was taken by them.
“Make sure to see a few full wedding galleries, to know what to really expect. Photographers put the best bits in their portfolios, but seeing what couples actually get back is important.” Sonia & Simon, S2 Images
“Some photographers will use images that they have taken on training days, so it’s important to check that the quality of work is the same throughout.” Phil Drinkwater, Wedding Photographer
“I think it’s important to see a full wedding. Rather than just looking at the best images they choose to show you. Even I can take 1 good photo out of 1 million and make someone think I’ve got skills.” Natalie Hewitt Weddings (wedding planner member)
“Make sure that the photos you are looking at is from the actual photographer on the day. There is an Essex photographer who takes the bookings then outsources all the work.” Sian Belton, Busy Brides (wedding planner member)
“I tend to shortlist photographers who I feel will suit a particular couples wedding. One of my summer weddings this year the photographer had so much in common with my couple and loved dogs and cycling as much as my clients so they took their dogs out together on the engagement shoot.” By Christina-Marie (wedding planner member)
And lastly make sure you don’t hand any money to your wedding photographer without checking and signing a contract first.