You’re getting married- CONGRATULATIONS! Now it’s time to start the decision-making process!
Whether you have the help of a wedding planner or not, you will need to have some idea of the style of wedding you want as this will determine your wedding date & type of wedding venue.
After securing your wedding date, you can start to look at booking your other wedding vendors. I would suggest starting with those wedding professionals that tend to get booked up far in advance (e.g. professional catering, photographer, florist, etc.).
Why do wedding photographers get booked so fast?
While there is no shortage of photographers to choose from, the best ones (that is those that have the most experience & a solid reputation) in the industry can get booked up to 36 months in advance!
You may also find that just because a professional wedding photographer has a date/dates available they may have closed their bookings for that year. Personally, I only book up to 12 weddings a year to make sure I can offer a premium service for my clients.
Further to this, wedding celebrations often take place over a period of 2-4 days, and if it is a destination wedding, travel must be accounted for on either side of this.
The Importance of their Role in your Wedding Day
It goes without saying that your wedding photographer is tasked with a really important job- capturing the memories of your special day!
You’ve probably already heard the comment: ‘when the vows have been said, the cake has been eaten, the dress has been worn, all you will be left with is your memories’, or something to that effect. And, it really is true. That’s not to say that everything else isn’t as meaningful, far from it. But it’s important to remember during your wedding planning, that once your big day is over your photographs will play an integral part for the rest of your married life.
Not only will you be able to share your wedding photographs with family members, friends & future generations, but you will also be able to re-live the day over and over again.
Those wedding pictures will trigger your senses, thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and that’s pretty powerful stuff! So choosing the best wedding photographer for you is a big decision not to be undertaken lightly.
So, what do you need to consider when looking for a potential photographer?
Your photographer is one of the only wedding vendors who you will liaise with in the time leading up to your wedding day, throughout the entire day, and after the big day too!
So the important thing is to choose someone who is good at communicating & works well with other wedding vendors.
Above all, the right wedding photographer for you should be enjoyable to be around on a personal level!
There are so many different styles of weddings ranging from the classic, traditional church wedding, to the country house wedding, barn wedding, beach wedding, city wedding, and more. So it’s best to opt for a photographer who specializes in your type of wedding, as this is what they will be most familiar with. Different photographers will also have their wedding photography style, ranging from fresh, light & airy, all the way through to dark, moody & edgy.
So it’s important to check out examples of their work on the photographer’s website to make sure they have an artistic style that resonates with you, and your wedding aesthetic.
It’s always worth asking to look through some of their full wedding galleries (i.e. not just the best photos that get showcased on their website) to get a better feel for the photographer’s work.
You want to make sure the quality of photography extends throughout their whole portfolio, and that their style is consistent throughout.
This will also give you a really good idea of the kind of photos you can typically expect when you receive your final images.
To find out more about the different wedding photography styles, take a look at my blog: Key Wedding Photography Styles you need to know
This is a big factor to consider when finding the right person for you and is what really makes every photographer unique. Generally speaking, a photographer will fall into one of three techniques with their approach:
1) Fully guided throughout, hands-on & posed
This approach was commonplace forty+ years ago but is seen less and less nowadays, particularly since digital cameras were released.
2) Purely documentary
This approach also known as photojournalism, candid, or reportage photography is fairly common. It is a technique that involves little to no direct interaction with your photographer. Instead, the photographer documents proceedings naturally as they occur.
3) A mix of the above
This is the most commonly adapted principle by wedding photographers today, which is a mix of both posed & documentary style photography throughout the day.
It’s important to note that mix can vary widely from photographer to photographer, so it’s important to know the approach of your chosen photographer as this can impact your vision for your day.
Before you invest in your photographer make sure you do the necessary checks on their experience.
Find out how many years they have been in business & how many weddings they have captured as the primary photographer (i.e. not just as an assistant or second photographer to someone else).
The more experience a photographer has, the better equipped they will be to calmly & competently deal with any potentially unexpected situations which may arise (e.g. a sudden downpour, harsh sunlight etc.).
Do your due diligence and undertake some checks on their business: what is their client experience like, and do they have reviews from previous clients and a back history? Ask around to find out if others have worked with them and how they found their experience.
Is their business legally sound and are they fully insured? Many venues now require proof of public liability insurance from wedding suppliers.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask them about their technical ability. What is their skill level? Do they photograph using just natural light or are they proficient with any lighting conditions? Have they invested in good camera equipment? Without going into the technical elements involved, the best photographers will have cameras and lenses that can handle the low-light situations posed by churches & other ceremony locations. And, remember to check on what backup equipment & systems they have in place.
The level of guidance offered by photographers also differs quite significantly. So unless you are super comfortable in front of a camera you will want to check that your photographer is able to guide & position you with ease.
This is an art in itself and not only requires your photographer to be able to communicate with you effectively but also to know what positions look good in front of the camera.
Even if you want mainly natural-looking photographs, you will still need guidance & direction on how best to stand, move & walk, to make those natural moments look incredible.
Something super simple from your foot placement to a slight tilt of the chin can have such a significant impact on how you look.
Also the more helpful & positive feedback you can get from your photographer during these portraits the more comfortable and thus confident you will feel. Believe me, there’s nothing more awkward & uncomfortable than simply being left to it with no guidance or support.
If beautifully styled photographs appeal to you then make sure you check that your photographer (or planner) offers this.
The photo of the wedding stationery above is a flat lay image, and this style of photography is known as ‘still life photography’.
When it comes to wedding photography these types of photos really do accentuate all of your beautifully planned aesthetics & add to the overall story of your wedding.
Many photographers who offer this in their repertoire already have a styling kit for this purpose. This includes elegant styling mats & beautifully ornate matching pieces, such as wax seals, vintage stamps, and luxury silk ribbons.
Photographers usually have a short amount of time on the wedding day itself to capture all of those little details, so preparation really is key.
The pricing for wedding photography varies greatly and will be largely determined by the factors already listed and discussed in this blog.
This is an industry where although there are many photographers out there, every photographer is unique when it comes to their level of expertise, company values, personality, artistry & vision, approach & methodology, communication, and overall level of service.
It is important to note that the price you will pay will also vary according to the following:
- How many photographers are included in your package (e.g. the main photographer + second shooter etc.)
- The location of your wedding (destination weddings will incur additional costs for the photographers’ travel & expenses)
- The types of wedding photography packages that they offer, and if they will be present the whole day or just for part of it.
- What final product you will receive (e.g. digital images, prints, wedding album, etc.)
- The size of your guest list (larger weddings may require more than 1 or 2 photographers present)
- If you require any additional legal documentation (e.g. NDAs etc.).
According to Brides, the average cost a couple should expect to spend on photography is 15% of their overall wedding budget. Which would be £15,000 on an overall wedding budget of £100,000.
This is a great guide, although you may pay more or less than this according to all of the variables listed above.
Ultimately, when costing your budget for wedding photography I would recommend that you:
- Consider it relative to the proportion of your overall wedding budget
- Evaluate the non-financial worth of your wedding photos to you as a couple
- Base your budget on how closely your photographer matches your requirements
Try Before you Buy
If you are still unsure you could always ask to schedule an engagement shoot with a chosen potential wedding photographer. This would give you the opportunity, as a couple to spend some time together to see if you are a good fit and get a better feel for their style of photography. And, you will come away with some engagement photos which you could then incorporate into the big day!
I hope this guide has been useful in helping you find the perfect photographer for your wedding.
Remember that your wedding day will be one of the most important days of your life, so take your time when choosing your photographer as it’s an important decision.
Your wedding photographer is in the service industry so the right photographer should be happy to answer any questions you may have, at any time. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to them for any reason!
I wish you all the very best of luck with finding your perfect wedding photographer.
Happy wedding planning!
If you found this guide useful you will love my free download: Top 10 questions to ask your wedding photographer before booking
If you enjoyed this BLOG article, you may also like:
Discover the best resources for wedding planning – CLICK HERE
Discover the best resources for wedding planning – CLICK HERE
What to expect from an engagement photo session – CLICK HERE