How to choose your wedding photographer
There are so many different wedding photographers out there at the minute, especially here in Nottingham and across the East Midlands, it can be a little overwhelming to start with. So, if you follow this guide, I hope to make choosing your photographer a little easier.
First of all, I'd recommend narrowing down the style of photographer that you like the most. 'But Daryl, I thought all wedding photography's the same?' Nope, definitely not, there's loads of styles of photography you can choose from, but these can generally be narrowed down into 3 groups.
Traditional - also known as posed, classic and conventional wedding photography. This is the kind of photography you're more likely to think of for weddings. It's the style of photography your parents are likely to have had and there's still plenty of photographers out there today offering this style. The photographer focuses on capturing the key moments of the day and carefully posed group shots, ranging from large groups , right down to the couple. This style of photography often requires the photographer to take charge of people by telling them to stand in positions and poses during the day, this can obviously take a significant amount of time, especially with larger group shots. This style focuses on set up formal images that show the people and guest of the wedding, instead of capturing naturally occurring moments throughout the wedding.
Contemporary - also known as fashion, creative, modern wedding photography. This style is in some ways similar to the traditional style, but also draws on magazine, editorial style of photography. Photographers who focus on this style dial up the posing instructions, and will often include lighting set ups and a greater degree of post production is required. The end results are individual highly polished images that are much less formal and rigid compared to the traditional photographer. The wedding album will be highly stylised, but won't necessarily capture the full range of emotions and atmosphere of the day.
Documentary - also known as reportage, photo journalist wedding photography. This style is nothing new, but is growing in popularity within wedding photography. This is a break away from the rigid and stylised posing of both the traditional and contemporary styles, instead it captures naturally occurring moments throughout the day without any posing direction from the photographer. This style suits couples who are more interested in looking at the wedding album and seeing the true emotions and atmosphere of their wedding day. The aim of the photographer is to tell a story of their wedding day by observing and anticipating moments of both the bride and groom, but also the guests.
There are lots photographers out there that the industry classes as 'shoot and burn'. The phase harts back to when a photographer would simply turn up on the day, take photos and burn you a CD containing all the images. These photographers are often cheaper than most, they just want your money for the minimum amount of effort and service on their part. The price might sound appealing, but at the end of the day, you tend to get what you pay for.
Service is key to making things clear, straight forward and most of all a pleasant experience for the bride and groom. Like myself, look for a photographer who will meet with you in person before the wedding, someone who's going to get to know you, discuss your plans, offer recommendations and basically put in the time to be there and care for you.
Going back to the shoot and burn example, great service includes taking the time to review and edit your photos. You shouldn't have to look at several versions of the same or similar image, a shoot and burn photographer would simply give you all the images regardless of if they're good or not, they'd be unedited (so unfinished, straight out of the camera) and leave the rest up to you to deal with. Great service means that the photographer uses their expertise to select and edit the best images for you to view. Thousands of photos might sound great, but do you really want to go through them all, try and choose the best ones (where many will be very similar) and then do something with them, who has the time or the expertise to do that? Well that's exactly what a good photographer who offers great service does for you. They make your life easier, they only show you the best images (the one's you'll want, not the rest), they'll edit them for you to make them look great and they'll take all the hassle out of the process for you.
Great service also means being really clear about how long it'll take for you to see your photos after the wedding day and how long it'll take to deliver your wedding album. Timings can often vary throughout the year depending on how many clients your photographer has during that time. A photographer who takes on 50+ weddings in a year may be too busy to offer you a personalised service and can take a long time to deliver your images to a high standard. A photographer like myself will limit the number of weddings taken on to ensure that we're able to offer a great service throughout the whole year, even during peak wedding season.
I've already touched on within the service section of this post, you should choose a photographer that understands the importance of the final product that's delivered to you. I truly believe that a photo isn't complete until it's printed. When it comes to wedding photography this often means showing your favourite photos in a wedding album.
Having an album is the only sure fire way to ensure your wedding lives on. Storage media is always changing, when was the last time you loaded a CD into your computer for example, does it even have a CD drive? USB memory sticks are changing too with the introduction of a the new USB-Type C standard, so in future years the traditional USB stick won't fit in a new computer. Hard drives will fail at some point, so you have to worry about backing up images and possibly paying for online cloud storage.
The albums I offer are from of the best professional photo labs in Europe. Your album won't fade, the photos are printed to the highest quality available, you're truly getting a gorgeous album that will last a lifetime.
Check out my post '5 reasons why you should have a wedding album' for more information'.
You're going to be spending the whole wedding day with your wedding photographer, they'll normally be there from your wedding prep right through to the evening's entertainment (AKA party time) so they should be someone that you're able to relax and be yourself around. It's really important that you're totally comfortable with your photographer, if you're not then this will really show in your photos.
This goes right back to the service section of this post, a photographer that is going to put the time and effort into getting to know you before you even book will be far better than one that just shows up on the day. For me it's vital to meet before you book, it gives both of us time to chat, get to know each other and basically relax. Only when you're happy should you commit to spending your wedding day with them.
For me, the style of photography also helps both the couple and guest relax. As a documentary wedding photographer you get candid photographs of people being themselves, not someone walking around pointing a camera and flash in people's faces and asking them to smile, that definitely doesn't help guest relax.
Price is obviously a consideration, especially when you want to make your wedding day as special and as memorable as possible, whilst remaining your budget. Once you've considered all the points above, i.e. you've found a photographer that shoots in the style you love, they offer beautiful products that meet your needs, they offer the personal service you crave, you've met them and you feel totally at ease being around them, only then should you really factor in the price.
Once you've understood what a photographer is able to offer you, you'll then be able to compare them and be able to understand what you're really paying for. Therefore, don't go searching for photographers based on price alone, consider what you want from a wedding photographer and book accordingly.
After you're wedding is over, the foods been eaten, the flowers have withered and your dress has been put away, what do you have left? You have your memories and the photos that help keep those memories and emotions alive for years and even generations to come.
We all have different budget's and priorities for our weddings, but I'd highly recommend investing in a photographer you love, that's going to capture the true emotions, in a way you and your guests are totally comfortable with, after all it's the photos that will live long after the day is complete.