How do I go about choosing a wedding photographer?
It’s that time of year when lots of couples are planning their wedding and choosing a wedding photographer. There have been many discussions on various Facebook Groups around the subject and several “I have been let down by m y photographer” posts. As a result I thought it was a good time to would update this blog post with some advice on what to look for when choosing your wedding photographer.
Choosing a Wedding Photographer is a real minefield! There are 1,000s of them out there. You turn to Google and get pages of wedding photographer websites. Some have prices and some don’t, but they are all different. Some charge as little as £250 others can charge £5-10,000! How can you possibly choose the right one for you?
Let me start by saying, if you are thinking about asking a friend or family member to take your photos PLEASE think again. Wedding photography is a real test of ability and is very stressful. If you miss the key moment it is gone and you won’t get it back! During the ceremony it will probably be very dark and they almost certainly won’t be able to use flash. I know your budget may well be tight, but when the day is finished the party will be over, the flowers dead, the food eaten, the drink will have all gone and you will be left with the most important things from your day – your spouse, your rings and your photos.
Asking a friend or family member to take on that responsibility is a big ask, they won’t be able to enjoy the day and get good photos, and it is unlikely they will get great photos. Every year we hear from couples who have done just this and then come to us and ask if there is anything we can do with the photos. Sometimes we can rescue some, but there have been occasions where there simply were no salvageable photos and the couple are left with no real photos to remember the day by.
OK you have decided to hire a photographer. Now we start the process of choosing a wedding photographer! The next thing you should do is get some idea of your budget and draw up a short list of photographers.
Ten questions to ask when choosing a Wedding Photographer
Having drawn up the list, here are 10 questions we recommend you look to ask when choosing a wedding photographer (and I have included our answers!):
1. Can I meet you?
It is important to meet the photographer before deciding to book them. You are inviting them to your wedding and they will be following you around on the biggest day of your life. It is important to know you will get on with them! You certainly don’t want someone you find irritating following you around on your Wedding Day! Just as important: check that the person you are meeting is the person who will be there on the day. There is no point getting on really well with the sales person you are speaking to if someone completely different is going to turn up on the day! We have seen couples who have booked a lovely person and then a couple of students have turned up on the day to take the photos. They may be lovely people, but you want to meet the actual people who will be taking your photos!
Our answer: Yes of course, we always try and meet couples.
2. Can I see several complete albums showing the full day?
Anyone can take 1000 photos and get one good one to display on a web site. When you are choosing a wedding photographer it is really important that you look through several complete albums. Look at photos from several weddings covering the whole day. Unfortunately there have been instances of people displaying photos they haven’t taken on their websites, they don’t have to have stolen then from another photographer, you can buy “stock images” quite cheaply on the internet! Check that the photography is all of the same standard (hopefully good!) and also check that the style of photos is what you are looking for. Check the quality of the album itself.
Our answer: We have a very large selection of albums and we use Graphistudio who we firmly belie
Make sure you are very clear what you get for your money. Ask questions even if you think the answer is obvious. Never assume anything. e.g. if you are getting the photos on disk or USB, are they hi resolution images suitable for printing? Are they watermarked? Do you have a license to you print them and put them on Facebook? (Be aware if you see the words “copyright free”: it is almost certainly not true and simply indicates that the photographer does not understand copyright law). If something is not included, and you may want it, ask how much that would cost.
Our Answer: All our packages are very clear and generally include more than you would get elsewhere. All our packages include your images as high resolution images and come complete with a license allowing you to print and use he images for your personal use. We also offer completely customised packages so you get exactly what you want.
4. What are the payment terms?
Expect to pay a substantial booking fee which will be non refundable. When will the balance need to be paid? Make sure you check what payment methods are accepted.
Our Answer: Booking requires a £250 booking fee and the balance is payable one month before the wedding. We accept cheque, bank transfer, cash and paypal and credit card.
5. What equipment do you use?
The answer is not important as such. What is important is that they are confident in talking about the equipment. A Wedding Photographer has to deliver instantly under pressure. There is no second chance, they need to understand their equipment inside out so that they can concentrate on you and not on he camera settings! Make sure they have two of everything. The last thing you want is a man with a camera and that develops a fault on the day. Without a spare equipment how will they take your photos!
Our Answer: We will have two professional full frame Canon cameras, a selection of lenses, several flash guns and even portable studio kit so we will be able to deal with any piece of equipment failing and any weather issues.
6. Is the photographer registered with HMRC and insured?
This gives you a sense of security that it is a genuine business. You should check that they have Public Liability Insurance as a minimum! Professional photographer insurance is not cheap, so if a photographer has gone to the expense of taking out such a policy it does give you a sense of professionalism. Also take note that if you take out wedding insurance (and we strongly recommend you do) then in most cases your policy will not cover you if you need to make a claim and have not employed an official “professional” photographer.
Our Answer: Mark Fraser Photography is registered with HMRC and we are fully insured.
7. Is the photographer a full time photographer?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many good photographers who do it on top of their main day job. In fact most of us that are full time photographers will have started out as part time. However, a full time photographer has to be good as they need to pay the mortgage! Also, be aware that if the answer is part time, their main job will always take precedence. The photographer may expect to be available on a Saturday, or book annual leave for a weekday wedding, but what happens if their main employer decides they need them on that day and call them in for the weekend, or cancel leave? I know it will not happen most of the time, but you need to be aware of the risk. Ask them what their main job is and what would happen if they had to work on the day of your wedding and then make your decision.
Our Answer: I am a full time photographer and am very busy earning my living through Mark Fraser Photography. I budget to attend training at least twice a year so that my skills are continuously developing.
8. What happens if the day runs late?
Weddings rarely run to time and the last thing you want is to get to a set time and the photographer leaves, missing a vital part of the day! Do they do more than one wedding on a given day? What happens if the one before you is running late?
Our Answer: We only ever take on one wedding on any given day and our packages cover your wedding from an agreed event to an agreed event (e.g. getting ready through to the First Dance) so if your wedding starts to run behind schedule we will stay until the agreed point of your day NOT a specific time.
9. Do you offer a pre-wedding/engagement shoot?
It may seem like a waste of money, but getting used to your photo being taken is vital. Also, getting used to the photographer will help you be more relaxed on the day. You also get to see yourself in professional photos before your wedding day. Don’t be afraid to tell your photographer what you do and don’t like about the photos, the photos may be technically perfect, but if there is something you don’t like about one, its better to give feedback after the pre-wedding shoot than after the wedding! Any good professional photographer would welcome the “heads up” before the wedding.
Our Answer: All our packages (other than some special offer packages) include a pre-wedding shoot. They are a key element of our process and help us get the photos you want on your wedding day. We also use the pre-wedding photos for the Guest Cards and such items a the signing books that are included in all our Album Inclusive Packages.
10. How long after the day do we get to see our photos and who chooses the photos for our album?
This can vary greatly! I have heard stories of it taking months and you will be really keen to see them after your wedding, so its best to find out up front how long you will have to wait? Ideally you will want to have booked your viewing date in advance. Some wedding photographers will choose the photos they think make the best album, others give you the choice. Its best to know up front so there are no nasty surprises.
Our Answer: We generally have the photos ready 2-3 weeks after your wedding, but we will have booked in your viewing date before the wedding and the Guest Cards available on the day let all your guests know when the photos will be ready for them to view (i.e. the day after you have viewed them)
These are just a few of the questions we would recommend asking when you are choosing a wedding photographer you are considering. However, the most important question when choosing a wedding photographer is the one you should ask yourselves: “what do we want from our photographer?” Then decide what you are really prepared to compromise on. Make sure you get the photography you want and not the closest thing someone offers to what you want. Finally, you are spending thousands of pounds on your wedding and the one of the few things you will keep for years to come will be your photographs so remember that when setting your budget. Choosing the right photographer is one of the most important decisions and you will reap the benefits of the right choice for years to come. Choosing a wedding photographer is an investment you will benefit from for many years.
If you are choosing a wedding photographer, please contact us to see what we can do for you.