How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer in 8 Steps (source: Hitched)
1. Set a Budget
Image: Slawa Walczak Photography
No point finding a photographer you love and then discovering they’re well beyond your budget. We’ve got our complete guide to wedding photography prices to give you a good idea of what you can get for your money – the average is £1,500-£2,000.
Your first step is to discuss how much you can legitimately spend and always keep that in mind as you continue your search. Lots of photographers have starting prices on their website or you could ask a few in your area for a quick quote to see what the going rate is.
While £1,500 sounds a big chunk of your budget, your photos are one of the most important things to invest in. See if you can shave your budget somewhere else to give yourself as much money as possible for this. You get what you pay for.
2. Find Your Style
Image: Rebecca Carpenter
Now for the fun part of starting your search! Your preferred photography style really is one of the most important things to consider. We’d suggest you browse our wedding photographers section – you’ll see the styles of hundreds of photographer and can easily work out what you do and don’t like. Do you want candid, classic, a mix of colour and black-and-white, creative, contemporary? Normally one of the styles above will jump out at your straight away.
Start creating a shortlist of the photographers you like and research a little more about them. Weddings are unique in the scale and speed of the action so you’ll want to pick a photographer with a few years of wedding photography experience under their belt.
3. Ask for Testimonials
Image: Folega Photography
One of the best ways to find a photographer is to ask friends for recommendations. If anyone has got married recently and you loved their shots, find out who their photographer was. Other places to get recommendations from are your venue, social media and online reviews. Is there a forum for your county? What about asking in Hitched’s forum?
A reputable photographer will have lots of testimonials from clients they’re happy to share with you or will put you in touch with previous clients. Once you have a shortlist, get in touch with the photographer and ask 1) do they have availability on your wedding date? 2) Can they send through a full album for you to look at (see below)? 3) Can you read testimonials or speak to a recent client? We recommend asking how the day went, did they get everything they wanted, and were they happy with the end result.
4. See a Portfolio
Image: Emily Black Photography
Naturally, seeing a portfolio is essential! Their website will showcase a highlight reel, but what you need to see is a full wedding album. Three or four photos don’t tell you the whole story.
The reason is that the photographs should tell the story of the day, all flow and all be equally as beautiful. You want each photo to be consistent in quality and look. You may realise that you don’t like the way the photographer shoots in low-light or their style when it comes to group photos doesn’t fit yours.
5. Do They Know Your Venue?
Image: Matt Fox Photography
This is by no means a deal-breaker but it always helps if your photographer has shot at your venue before. It means they’ll have experience of the best locations and know the lighting conditions.
Your venue will happily provide a list of recommended photographers or most photographer have blogs featuring their real weddings. Hitched’s Real Wedding section can help you too!
6. Arrange a Meeting
Image: Blue Lily Weddings
Your photographer is going to be spending a whole day with you – you need to make sure you gel! Meet them face-to-face, ask questions, go through their portfolio and see how you feel with them. Do they put you at ease? Do you feel they understand what you want? The more relaxed you are around your photographer, the more natural and at ease your photos will be.
We have a full list of questions to ask your wedding photographer, but here’s some important things to pay attention to:
- Will they be the one taking the photos on the day? Some national agencies will have multiple photographers on their books.
- Photography is a lot about directing people and you can see how they handle this best in the group shots. Does everyone look relaxed? Is there a good mixture of group shots with portraits and casual shots?
- Ask them what their favourite wedding photo is – you’ll get a true feeling of their vision.
- Is the composition right in all the photos? Have they got shots like the first moment you see each other and your parents’ faces? Do the photos shows the right details, e.g. are the faces clear and the background not too distracting? Are the photos flattering?
- Do they have a back-up in case anything goes wrong, like they’re ill on the day?
- If you’re having a second shooter, request to see samples of their work too.
7. Narrow Down Your Shortlist
Image: Tom Jeavons Photography
You’ll probably meet with two or three photographers and then need to pick just one. As well as feeling comfortable, the right photographer will come down to price and package options. Consider what is included in the contract (number of hours of coverage on the day, a second shooter, prints or albums, extras like an engagement shoot), how long the proofs will take to get back and retouching options.
8. Book an Engagement Shoot
Image: Poppy Carter Portraits
Again, not an essential, but you’ll be so much more comfortable on the day if you’ve had some experience of being directed and posing beforehand. An engagement shoot is a great way to all to get to know each other and see if your personalities mesh. Your photographer will be shadowing you for a whole day so if they irritate you or are off-putting, that’s a bad sign.
The right photographer should be respectful and have the social know-how to blend into your wedding, yet still be bold enough to seek out the shots they need. They should ask you lots of questions and, importantly, be excited about your day.
You may have paid a deposit but if you really don’t think they’re the right photographer after the engagement shoot, you are perfectly within your rights to cancel your wedding with them. Hopefully by following these eight steps that should never be the case!
Top tip: We’re always looking for amazing real weddings to feature on Hitched. If you’d like to see your photos here, mention this to your photographer and make sure they get lots of shot of all your little details and personal touches – you’ll inspire tonnes of other brides!
“And I knew exactly how old Walt Disney’s Cinderella felt when she found her prince.“
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