Ten tips for choosing a wedding photographer

Sedgefield Hardwick Hall wedding

10 tips for choosing wedding photographer

Hey there!  I’m guessing if you are reading this then you are probably here as you are looking for a wedding photographer.  Whilst we would love for you to end your search right now and choose us to be your wedding photographers, we would also like to give you some advice to keep in mind in case you do choose to speak to other photographers.

Choosing vendors for your wedding can feel like walking through a minefield, you’ve probably heard every horror story possible from polystyrene cakes to blurry photos, and while these do happen, they are the exception to the rule, not the norm.  Hopefully going armed with a list of questions will help you avoid these types of vendors.

  1. What style of photography are you looking for?

    Before you start, decide on the type and style of photography you want.  One of the most popular styles nowadays is a more candid style (usually referred to as reportage or documentary).  This is the type where there are mostly unposed shots of you and your guests interacting and enjoying the day and are very natural.

    There are also traditional style photographers who will focus more on  posed photos and tend not to take candid shots.A lot of photographers, including ourselves will sit somewhere in the middle.

    We will capture candid and natural images throughout your day as it unfolds to tell the story,  but we also include some traditional images such as group photos and natural posed shots (you can see examples of this on our site).

    I know of some reportage photographers who will not take any posed photos unless requested, including group shots which is why its important to know what you want and ask the questions up front rather than assuming anything.

  2. Does your photographer have backup equipment?

    It doesn’t matter if your photographer shoots with Canon, Nikon, Sony etc, the brand is not important, its personal preference for the photographer and most modern camera systems are more than up to the job.  What is important is how many cameras your photographer uses.

    The common consensus is to have two camera bodies and at least as many lenses.

    Imagine you are walking towards the church, just before you are about to walk down the aisle on one of the biggest days of your life, your photographer is walking backwards in front of you snapping away and they stumble and drop their camera.

    In most cases, your photographer will pick up their second camera and carry on (while shedding a few tears) and everything goes smoothly.  However, imagine if that was the only camera your photographer has!

    Its not just accidental damage either, cameras are just electronic and mechanical devices.
    We’ve all had electronics and contraptions that have died on us and whilst cameras are generally very reliable, they can and will fail at some point in their life, sometimes unexpectedly.

    Most photographers are never asked this question yet most will agree its a very important one

  3. Do they have a backup plan?

    As your photographer should have a backup plan for their equipment, they should also have a plan if they cannot make it at all.

    We are all human, illnesses and emergencies happen and while any serious photographer will do everything they can to turn up on your day, if they cant they should at least have a plan.

    We, like many other photographers have a lot of contacts in the wedding photography community and would always make every effort to arrange alternative cover and as a very worst case scenario would offer a full refund.  This is usually outlined in any contract which leads me onto the next point

  4. Do they have a contract?

    This is very important as it will detail the terms and conditions of the agreement including the details of the service your photographer is providing.  This will protect you as much as the photographer and any genuine photographer will have a contract to sign.

    If this part makes you nervous and you don’t like signing documents without a thorough read then ask for a copy up front so you have time to go through it before committing.

  5. Do they have insurance?

    Public liability and indemnity insurance is like home insurance in the sense that its not mandatory for photographers, its not something you should ever have to use, but its better to have it all the same.
    You may also be booking a venue that requires all vendors to have insurance, this could cause you problems if your photographer cannot meet these requirements.

  6. Ask to see examples of full weddings

    Every photographer will show some of their best shots on their websites, there’s nothing wrong with this at all, in fact its the norm.  A lot of photographers will also show a larger selection in blog posts which can give you a better idea of what they offer.
    Any genuine photographer wont hesitate to show you a larger selection of a wedding.

    Its also common for a new photographer to showcase images from training courses with experienced photographers.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this if they can produce the same level of work when shooting on their own but its something to watch out for.

    We’re not in any way criticising the new photographer, we were new once, just make sure if they are new and inexperienced that they are open with you about this so you can make an informed decision.

    If the photographer refuses to show you more examples or can only show you a small selection then I would see this as a red flag

  7. Don’t feel restricted by your venues “preferred list of vendors”

    Its becoming more and more common for venues to push photographers or other vendors that they have on their list.
    There are some genuine instances where a venue will recommend a vendor based on their experience with them, its becoming quite common for vendors to pay to be on this preferred list, meaning pretty much anyone can be on it.

    This is fine if the venue is open and honest about the arrangement, but if they aren’t, it can be very misleading so keep it in mind and make sure you are not being pressured into using them without looking around for yourself first.

  8. Ask to meet the photographer in person for a consultation.

    We wouldn’t say this one is a must but if you consider the photographer will be with you most of the day, its a bonus if you feel comfortable with them and speak to them before your big day.

  9. Do you need to feed your photographer

    A contentious subject among photographers for sure but its a good question to ask.
    Some will say no, some will have no preference and some will even have it in their contract that they MUST be fed.  There’s no right or wrong answer to this but it could be awkward if your photographer is expecting to be fed and you haven’t made provisions or if you’ve paid for food for them and they rock up with a packed lunch.
    We always provide our own lunch as it keeps us flexible and we aren’t tied to eating at a particular time.

  10. Price

    We’ve left this one til last for a reason as we think it should be one of the last deciding factors.  For some couples the photos aren’t important, and that’s okay, but for others they are the most important part of the wedding.

    Decide how important the photos are to you and what you want to spend on photography.  You will read all sorts of advice on the internet, some telling you to allocate most of your budget to photography and just as many articles telling you to get your uncle bob to bring his camera along and don’t hire a photographer at all to save some money.

    When you make this decision, just remember, in years to come the photos will be the things you look back on to remind you of one of the best days of your life so you should really give the photography a lot of thought.

    Whatever your wedding budget, small or large, there is a photographer out there for you.  What usually sets the budget and expensive photographer apart is the quality of their work and experience.
    That being said, the saying “you get what you pay for” is only partially true in our opinion.  There are plenty of budget photographers out there who are capable of shooting a wedding, there are also plenty of expensive photographers who aren’t.  Just because a photographer charges more doesn’t automatically mean they are better.

    I know that sounds a bit vague but really what we are trying to say is don’t choose a photographer based on price alone!

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