Choosing a Wedding Photographer
Tips on Choosing a Wedding Photographer – I am often asked at wedding fayres, usually by couples who are newly engaged, what to look for when choosing a wedding photographer and wedding photography packages. (one couple last week were so newly engaged he asked her on a Saturday evening and forgot to bring the ring along!)
So, here are a few things to think about…
Wedding Albums – Real or Models?
When you visit a wedding fayre make sure that the albums you see on display are real albums with real brides. Be careful if the brides and grooms look model gorgeous -it probably means they are models and the albums are samples. Check that there is a range of bride and groom shapes and sizes. Everyone wants to display their best work, but not everyone is a size 8! Real weddings = real brides and grooms = real sizes and shapes!
Is this the photographer who will shoot your wedding?
Is the photographer you see at a wedding fayre or at a meeting the one you are going to use? Again, make sure and get it in writing. Many low-cost photographers out there use assistants or other part-time photographers. Just think, how realistic is it to be able to shoot 150+ weddings per year by yourself? How is quality control handled? If the main photographer uses others, they still need to be paid a living wage if they are professionals remember.
Who will put the album together – the photographer or someone else? As a UK, Cardiff and Bristol Wedding Photographer I can offer a full wedding album design service, and if you choose the inclusive wedding album collection it is part of the price.
Think about what the photographer is charging. If the cost seems very low compared to other photographers ask yourself why.
What is being compromised?
The quality of the albums (see below, that Storybook album may in fact just be a book from a website)?
The quality of the photographers?
The quality of camera equipment?
Less editing of your images and/or retouching?
Are they insured with professional liability and professional indemnity?
Most couple book around 18 months -24 months in advance, so does the price seem reasonable enough to make a profit – and hence still be around in 18 months when your wedding is? If the price is too low then the chances of that photographer being around are slim – especially if they really are “full-time” professionals.
The average salary of a person in Wales is around £19,000. That’s £1,300 after pension, tax, NI etc.
Just think about all the costs of photographing a wedding. 2 professional cameras, multiple lenses (at least 2 cameras by the way), computer to edit on, software to edit with, insurance for kit, public liability and professional indemnity insurance, batteries, memory cards, hard drives, albums costs, canvas costs, second photographer costs, fuel, car insurance. Add in mortgage, travel, clothing, family costs (partner & kids). All that “cost of doing sales” stuff adds up.
So when you see a price of £500 for x,y and z think carefully about it. Because by the time the costs of running the business are taken off it means that person is doing it for pocket money (may or may not be paying tax) or is slowing losing money but doesn’t have the business sense to see it. Both are risky from the point of view of being there for your wedding day.
Remember, if the price seems too good to be true there is usually a reason!
Quality Wedding Albums
Look at the quality of the wedding albums.
Lots of “Storybook” albums are out there. Notice how the images merge and feed into each other, how you can really mix the images and tell a true story. Many manufacturers will produce storybook albums that are essentially a digital version of the old-fashioned traditional wedding albums. Have a look at my blog post on Wedding Albums for more details. If you like this digital & traditional style you could easily do it yourself using photobook software. Just type ‘photobooks’ into google and take your pick.
Have a look at my blog post on Wedding Albums for more details. If you like this digital & traditional style you could easily do it yourself using photobook software. Just type ‘photobooks’ into google and take your pick.
Check out how inexpensive they are as well – and then think what is your photographer charging if they are selling these as ‘Digital Storybooks’!
What is included?
The next point is all about what is included. Look for a photographer who includes everything in the package that you want. You do not want to be faced with too many choices and possibly extra payments especially seeing as though getting married is so expensive anyway. You should, at a minimum, look for the following to be included in your packages or available as added extras depending on your budget:
- Insurance- will they provide proof of insurance is asked?
- License if they are using drones – this is really important!
- Pre-wedding shoot, possibly at an extra cost depending on the photographer
- Album with ‘x’ number of pages and ‘y’ number of prints if traditional
- Album with ‘x’ number of pages and ‘y’ number of prints if digital
- Smaller parents albums or pocket albums
- All day photography, getting ready shots, speeches, cake cutting, first dance and beyond. (Some photographers charge extra for first dance/evening shots)
- CD or Proof book so you can choose your images, or possibly an online gallery
- Secure online gallery so your friends and family can purchase prints (at reasonable prices!)
- Online payment – good for extra security and especially so as many couples now no longer use cheques. Professionals should use a fully automatic invoicing system – not just ask for a bank transfer or cash.
- Do they recommend group and family wedding photographs? You may not want them, but the chances are your family does!
- Does the wedding photographers work stand out from the crowd? Is it different?
Do they have a personality?
Next up is the personality of your photographer. Can you get on with them, can you have a laugh, can you share a joke, are they willing to go the extra mile (take people to the church/venue, help with bridal prep etc). DO they look smart and presentable, will they boss people about or shout at them? Will they help control the crowds to get that big group photograph?
You can get a good idea of what they are like when you visit at a wedding fayre. Do they try and sell to you, possibly ‘hard sell’ approach? Do they just offer you some useful advice and explain what the packages include? Andrew is definitely in the Unconventional Wedding Photographer category!
How long to Wait?
How long after your wedding will you get the finished and edited images is next. (Don’t forget the online gallery!) Do they charge for extras like Black & White or Sepia or Spot Colour?
In Summary on Choosing a Wedding Photographer
Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the big three things in a wedding. If you see the one you like you need to get them booked pronto. Good photographers (those who only photograph your wedding themselves and do not use others) are at a premium. Once that date is gone; it is gone. You can check your wedding date here.
Yes, the price is an issue, but so is the quality of the product and service your getting.
Ask yourself this question:
“Would I visit my next door neighbour for some root canal work on my tooth or visit a professional (but possibly expensive), dentist?”
I know what my answer would be!
Andrew Miller, Bristol Wedding Photographers