I wrote this blog post quite a while ago and for one reason or another I hadn’t got round to posting it on the blog. There’s been a lot of talk recently on the blogosphere about the importance of hiring a professional photographer so I thought it was about time I did share it with you all. For me photography has always been really important, growing up with a dad who loved to take photos and having a number of albums from my childhood I’ve always appreciated the importance of having great photos to trigger great memories and share with future generations; I know when it came to our wedding I didn’t hesitate in hiring a professional photographer. Yet choosing your wedding photographer can be one of the hardest as well as one of the most important decisions you make when it comes to planning your wedding as there are so many wedding photographers out there.
A good photographer who has experience taking photos at weddings knows how to compose good shots, understands how to deal with difficult lights; they know weddings so they can often pre-empt a shot and capture the most amazing moments as they discreetly mingle amongst your guests.
This doesn’t mean however, that just because someone is calling themselves a professional photographer they are automatically any good or fit your needs so you need to do your homework. Look at wedding blogs that showcase real weddings such as Rock’n’Roll Bride, Love My Dress, Rock My Wedding – do any of the photographers stand out for you? Look at those photographers’ websites, do they have online galleries open to the public, do they have a blog showing their recent work. Blogs are a good way to see a range of their work as they will often post whole weddings, you can get a real sense of their style and if it will suit the kind of wedding you are having; blogs can also give a great insight into the photographer’s personality. Ask friends and family as personal recommendations are always great and will give you a feel for their personality and reliability.
Arrange appointments to see a few and don’t feel you have to book straight away. How you get on with the photographer is very important, you need to feel relaxed with them as you will be spending the whole day together and if you are in anyway uncomfortable it will show in the photos.
Ask lots of questions about how they work, what’s included in their packages, how long they will stay etc. Do they include engagement or pre-wedding shoots? These are great for getting to know your photographer and for you both to get used to being in front of the camera, and have a bit of fun too. Ask to see their albums which should be complete weddings so you see how they capture the day as well as how they layout their albums; be wary of a photographer that only shows you a portfolio/album with shots from a number of different weddings.
If it is a big company check that you are getting the photographer that you meet. If you are concerned about a solo photographer ask what their back up is, chances are they know a lot other photographers who can step in for them.
When looking at the websites take note of their starting prices, if this is more than your budget don’t go and see them unless you know you can saves costs somewhere else to pay for them. If you love a photographer and they are over your budget ask if they will do a reduce hours package or look at ways of getting the album at a later date maybe as a gift from family, but don’t just ask them to reduce their costs because you’ve seen another photographer who is cheaper-they’re not the same.
If budget really is tight consider new photographer’s who are just starting out, they may not have as much experience but they will at least be enthusiastic and committed to giving you the best photos they can. Ask a photographer whose style you like if they have worked with any up and coming photographers as their second shooter that they would recommend. If you are considering using a friend try and find one that has a photography background or works in a creative field; ask more than one friend to do different parts of the wedding; have disposable cameras on the tables and hire or set up a photo booth.
Finally, remember that what you pay your photographer on the day, as with any supplier does not go straight into their pockets. They are running a business with professional costs: website, marketing. They buy quality equipment: fast lenses that deal with poor lighting, professional editing software, back up facilities. They have experience and will be constantly furthering their knowledge and training. For a must read article on the cost of photography see this post on Rock’n’Roll Bride
Most things you pay for you see on the day whereas the photos you won’t see until after but that’s why they are so important as when all is said and done the dress has been packed away, the food eaten, the flowers wilted the photos are a physical record of the day. A good professional photographer will capture those moments that you will cherish the rest of your married life, what price can you put on that?
For further reading on this subject check out these posts by professional photographers Juliet McKee here and Fiona Campbell here and here
All photos courtesy of Annamarie Stepney Photography