The 4 key steps to finding your wedding photographer
You’re engaged! Congrats! You’ve booked your date and venue, now onto the rest of the vendors. Hopefully photographer is at the top of the list!
What?! Yes I’m biased and think we should be, don’t hold it against me!
Wedding photographer Fife
First things first, thank you for deciding to book a professional. It's highly likely you're booking a small business owner, helping pay the bills, put food on the table and support their family. That’s one of the nice things about the wedding industry, which let’s be honest gets a bad rap for being overly expensive, most of the vendors you book will be small businesses. Thank you!
Let’s get on with it…
I know, I know flippin’ money! Sorry but let’s not kid ourselves, getting married can be an expensive event. How much then should your photographer cost? It’s very hard to answer definitively but let me say this, it essentially comes down to your expectations. What do you want from your photographs and are they important to you?
As I mentioned, I’m about as biased as anyone can be. I think photographs are immensely important but I appreciate not everyone feels that way.
Dodgy equivalence alert…when you go to a McDonalds for a burger you’ve set your expectations on price and quality. Likewise when you go to a Michelin starred restaurant you’ve set your expectations on price and quality. Both do essentially the same thing i.e feed you but obviously there's a world of difference. Having your car serviced by the local one-man garage or a main dealer? Both will change the filters and oil, both will (hopefully!) follow the guidelines on what your car needs. So why pay more for a fancy restaurant or a main dealer service? Confidence? Knowledge that the product you’re paying for will be of a standard that you can rely on? Maybe it’s that both will use superior products and will have invested in training to a higher standard?
In the case of the restaurant maybe you choose fine dining because it’s a special occasion…
...which is kind of the point isn’t it?
It’s not so different with photographers, you’ll have seen that wedding photography prices range from a few hundred pounds to several thousand. Setting your expectations and budgeting accordingly will help make sure you get what you’re looking for. Controversial bit coming up here. I honestly don’t mean to offend anyone and in case you didn’t read it properly, I completely admit that I’m biased! Disclaimer repeated so here it comes…lots of aspects of your wedding are vital to your day, yet they are temporary. They will provide the service you need of them and when it’s over, it’s over.
You could say they are the on-the-day aspects. Your dress and your rings aren’t that, they will last a lifetime and even if you never wear your dress again you’ll still keep it.
Your photographs are not only your memories, they’re the windows through which your children, grandchildren etc will see their grandparents as the young people they once were.
They are your family history in the making. They will last longer than a lifetime.
Have a look at what you’ve budgeted for those on-the-day aspects like your flowers, your cars and the evening entertainment for example. At a rough guess I’d say their combined cost will be hitting £2000+ for excellent vendors. Does it make sense to spend considerably less than that on your photographs? I'd argue that it doesn’t.
Please do not mistake my point as saying that other vendors should be charging less, it's more accurate to say that some photographers charge so little it makes me ask why? Should a photographer entrusted to capture photographs of the biggest day of your life be charging less than minimum wage? Remember it isn't just about the time spent on the day, there's a helluva lot of work still to be done after we leave. The point is it's a one shot deal with photography. (Sorry folks! I didn’t catch that confetti shot properly, can everyone pick up the bits you threw and we can try this again?). It's get it right or fail and given the vast majority of photographers bookings come from referrals, failure isn't an option.
To summarise, get the best photographer you can afford and if that means not inviting your cousins to the wedding to save some money, ach how often do you see them anyway? Kidding, kidding!
I’m not going to bore you (even more) trying to define styles, you know what you like and what you don’t like.
Photographers websites (make sure they at least have a good website, it shows commitment if nothing else) will be covered with show stopping images but beyond that you want to find consistency.
If you like the window dressing, have a look a little further and see if the rest of the images are still to your taste.
Ask to see a full gallery if possible but be aware that every wedding is different. Check out their social media timelines. You’re looking for a consistency in both shooting and editing, do you see a good spread of images and are their colours pleasing? Did they cope well with bad weather? Do they show a consistently high level of quality over a number of weddings?
That doesn’t mean everything should look the same, unless that’s the style you like. It just means that this person knows what he or she is doing.
I can’t stress enough how important this one is! The technical side of photography is getting easier, at least in good conditions anyway.
But pointing a camera and clicking the shutter is only a part of wedding photography. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that you’ll spend a significant amount of time on the day with your photographer, so you really need to like them. They will help make sure things run on time, they’ll help fix wee mishaps, they’ll help with daft wee things like buttonholes (you would not believe how many of these I’ve pinned!). This aspect is tricky to judge from a website though, so you’ll want to at least speak to them but preferably meet them. Speaking personally, I use those meetings to try to decide if I can help make the day you are imagining a reality. If not I'll be honest with you and we'll both keep looking for our ideal photographer/clients.
They need to make you feel comfortable, it should feel natural or it will show in the pictures. If they don’t put you at ease and answer all your questions with confidence then look elsewhere.
4. Last but not least… use your gut!
This ties in to the last one but it’s worth emphasising. If they are within budget, their photographs spark something for you and when you met
they made you feel at ease? I’ll bet your gut is happy, go with it. If your gut says keep looking, then do that. Just be careful, going with my gut all too often leads me to the fridge.
I honestly believe photographs have a memory attached to them. It’s incredibly important that you have some fun while being photographed, almost as
important as the photo itself. No matter how amazing a photograph, if the first thing that comes into your head when looking at it is a negative thought or feeling, then it is tarnished. Make your wedding photographs a priority but make sure you have fun creating them!