How to choose a wedding photographer? Dorset weddings

Having spent yesterday at a fabulous wedding show, and spoken to dozens of couples during the day, I thought it might be appropriate to re-post this article that I wrote for my website ….

How to choose a wedding photographer?

how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographerYou’ve found the person of your dreams, you’ve set the date for your wedding and you start to make a list of things “to do”. What should be at the top of your list? In my opinion (and I’m not biased – honest), it’s to choose a wedding photographer. Why? Let me explain –

Good photographers get booked months (sometimes 2 years) in advance. Also, not knowing how much to budget for your wedding photographs only makes things more difficult as the clock ticks away to your wedding day. Photographers should only book one wedding per day, and delaying just means you’re increasing the possibility that someone else will book them before you (especially if you’ve chosen a really popular date for your wedding).

There’s no getting away from the fact that weddings are expensive, and wedding photography certainly eats into the budget, so you might be tempted to save some money by asking a friend or a family member with a camera to cover the day for you. After all, how difficult is it to take some snaps during the day? The honest answer is that it’s really easy to take “snaps” at a wedding, and if that’s all you’re after you’ll be happy. But if you’ve spent months agonising over your choice of wedding dress, the bridesmaids dresses, the flowers, the cake and the reception (and everything else) it would be a shame if the photographs didn’t do justice to all of your hard work.

Don’t rush! Although you need to choose a photographer, take your time. Begin with asking family and friends who they used – recommendation is one of the professional photographer’s greatest assets. Search the Internet for wedding photographers in your area and check out their website – look at their style of photography, their prices and compare to others. When you’ve found one you like, call them – NOW!

It’s all about the Relationship – not with your partner, but with your photographer!

You have to love their work. Good photographers don’t just take photographs, they captures emotions – fractions of a second in that look on the groom’s face as he sees his bride coming down the aisle, the tear that rolls down your Mother’s cheek before she quickly wipes it away. Anyone can take a snap in today’s digital society, but a good photographer captures the emotions during the whole day – they’re never “off-duty”, and are constantly looking out for images and anticipating situations. Your friends will snap during the day, but won’t provide a record of the day (after all, they’re there to enjoy themselves, not work!).

Once you’ve found someone whose work you like, arrange to meet them and talk – the last thing you want to do is hire someone you can’t get on with – you’ll be in their company for most of your wedding day, so it makes sense that you should get on with them! Have a look at their images, ask how they work, do they show a passion for their work and see whether they get emotional when they talk about weddings – you’ll know when you “click” with them, so go with your instinct. If the photographer doesn’t show emotion, and you feel that they view you as “just another Bride” then walk away. Do you like them enough to think they could be a friend and not just another “vendor” of services on your wedding day? Also, very importantly, make sure that their style matches what you’re looking for – do you want formal, posed photographs? Or a photojournalistic style, where they follow you around through the day capturing events as they unfold? Make sure your photographer can deliver what you want.

Hire the best that you can afford!

Yes, I know it can be very expensive, but there’s a reason – when you hire a photographer you’re not just paying for their time on the day, you’re paying for their skill, expertise and their reputation. Most photographers have spent years developing their skills, training and improving their work. They have back-up professional-grade cameras, lenses and lighting equipment in the event that if one piece should fail (and it does happen every now and then!) they can still carry on working. They know how to pose you to get the most flattering images, know when to use existing light and when to enhance it, and how to work in adverse conditions – they’re skilled in their craft. And since the advent of digital, your photographer’s going to be spending a lot of time in front of a computer, filtering the images for you to view and doing post-production work, and this time is factored into their pricing.
There are some very good, up and coming photographers around who haven’t yet established their reputation and position in the market, and they will typically charge less than established photographers. Wherever possible, choose a full-time, professional photographer and not someone who’s covering weddings for “pocket money” and has bought a small website for an Internet presence. Professional photographers have Public Liability Insurance (in case one of your guests trips over a tripod or camera bag), as well as Professional Indemnity Insurance (to cover any disputes regarding their work – hopefully this will never be used!). In fact, some venues actually require a copy of the photographer’s Public Liability certificate – one Bride asked me the day before the wedding if she could have a copy of my PL certificate as the venue had just called her! Just imagine the problems that would create if the venue said your photographer wouldn’t be allowed inside on your wedding day!
So, find someone that you like, can get on with and afford – but please, don’t cut costs on your photography …. save a little on the food and drinks, or something else, but spend as much as you can afford on your photographs.

“Here’s the most important thing you need to know about wedding pictures: Book the best photographer you can afford as soon as you set the date. The wedding music will fade, the flowers will die, and you won’t even remember if you ate, let alone what you ate, at the reception. But the wedding pictures will last forever.” Leslie Milk – Lifestyle Editor of The Washingtonian.

And when you’ve chosen the photographer, and the magic day arrives, remember to have fun! The day will flash by, with your emotions going up and down like a rollercoaster, but a good photographer will provide you with that record of your special day – something to treasure for years to come and to share with future generations.

I wish you luck with your searching, and hope that the future brings you everything you wish for.

Ian

Dorset wedding and portrait photographer