On Friday evening I headed into Peterborough to meet with a lovely couple to discuss their wedding plans. One of the things that came out of the meeting is that couples often don’t know what to look for in a wedding photographer or what questions they should be asking when choosing someone to photograph their wedding day. Consequently I thought I might be a useful thing for me to write about. My intention is not to sell my wedding photography services but merely to help couples make the right choice for them.
1. Do you feel comfortable with them? Your wedding photographer is likely to be with you from when you start getting ready right though to the evening reception. They will be sharing some intimate and personal moments with you, standing at the front of the service, watching you wipe your tears as you say your vows and capturing your first kiss as Mr and Mrs. It is really important that you feel relaxed and at ease with them otherwise your discomfort may be reflected in your wedding photos.
2. Do you like the style of work they do? All wedding photographers have their own style and way of working. Do you want a photographer that works in a reportage style, telling the story of your wedding day in a relaxed manner? Do you want stunning posed images that are very artistic or a mixture of both?
3. Can they show you examples of previous weddings they have photographed? Most wedding photographers will be able to produce a portfolio of their best work but also ask to see examples of entire wedding collections or albums from previous clients. It is important that you know that the whole day will be captured successful and not just a few best bits.
4. Can they provide references or reviews? Any good photographer will be able to point you towards testimonials or reviews from previous clients, they may also be able to produce references from previous clients if desired.
5. Will they accommodate your ideas? Some couples have quite clear ideas about the sorts of images they would like to have. Your photographer should be willing to help you make these ideas a reality and maybe even build on it.
6. Are they insured? Any reputable wedding photographer will be insured with both public liability and professional indemnity insurance. Many venues now ask to see copies of this and won’t let the photographer in with out it so please do check.
7. Are they a member of any professional body? Professional bodies are an important part of most professions, and being a member of one demonstrates commitment to their chosen career. BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photographers) and SWPP (Society of wedding and Portrait Photographers) both offer training and qualifications that photographers can tap into and work towards to build their skills. Both also have a database of photographers that we can tap into should the unmentionable happen and your photographer was ill or otherwise became unavailable.
8. What happens if their equipment malfunctions or fails? Sadly living in the electronic age the reality is this does happen, however any reputable photographer will take precautions to ensure the risk and consequences are minimal. Regular servicing and cleaning of equipment is important. It is also useful to operate on two cameras and maybe swap memory cards through out the day, doing this would mean minimal lose should the worst happen.
9. What would happen if the photographer were ill on the day? Any wedding photographer worth their weight in gold will have a contingency plan in place for this. It is useful if they have a network of photographer ‘buddies’ they can contact to save the day or being a member of a professional body also allows for them to tap into the pool online.
10. What is included in the price you pay? Make sure you know what you get for your money. Wedding photography can be expensive so it is important there are no hidden extras. Do you get prints, album or USB? Is the travel of the photographer included? Will there be 1 or 2 photographers? If you are particularly uncomfortable in front of the camera it might be useful to look for someone that offers a pre wedding session.
11. How soon should you book your photographer? My advise is the sooner the better. Once you know your date and venue, get them booked, that way you get the pick of the bunch.
12. Do they do any post processing on your wedding photographs? You may or may not have heard of ‘shoot and burn’. This is a service that some photographers offer to allow you to get your images straight away, however this does not allow for any post processing. Although any good photographer will aim to get everything correct in camera, sadly the occasional thing is missed and needs correcting, uncle Jerry gave the groom rabbit ears and it wasn’t noticed or the brides worst fear came true and the biggest spot appeared on the morning of the big day. Ensure you know what if any post processing is included in the price. Basic editing like spot removal, Black and white conversions should be standard, there may however be an additional charge for certain types of edits.
13 .Who will take my photographs? If the photographer works for a large company make sure you know who will be attending to take the pictures. It is important you build a relationship with the photographer not the sales rep.
14. Ask to see the contracts. Any reputable company will happily let you review the terms and conditions prior to committing to using their services. Ask to see a copy of the contract you will be signing, so you have time to read and digest this without any pressure.
15. Experience. Although this is an important factor to consider, don’t rule out the new kid on the block. Photographers that have been in the game 30 years may be stuck in their ways and produce out dated results. A new up and coming photographer may have fresh bright ideas and is still keen to improve and try harder. Seeing their work will provide a greater indicator of their skills then length of service.
I hope that you have found this a useful article. Maybe you know someone planning a wedding and can share this with them. Have I missed something that you think should be included, why not let me know with a comment.
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Thanks for reading.