How to pick a good wedding photographer – In this article, I’ve given you my own advice on how to choose a wedding photographer for your big day, I hope you find it helpful 🙂
Why do I need a professional? I’ve got a friend with a nice camera.
In my opinion, your photographer needs to be chosen carefully – after all, your photos are the only thing you keep after the big day and are the thing that your children, grandchildren, and beyond will treasure. I guess it could be argued that you always keep your rings too, but the difference is that you could get cheap rings now and replace them with nicer versions sometime in the future, but you can NEVER replace your wedding images. There is no going back and shooting again. In fact the no. 1 thing that brides report as a regret at their wedding is that they didn’t book a better photographer (Wedding Ideas Magazine, Bridal Guide Magazine and ‘The Knot’ all have done separate surveys on post-wedding regrets; booking a better photographer came up as a top regret on ALL of them).
Having ‘a nice camera’ is no guarantee of good photographs. You need someone who knows how to use that nice camera! When I take any shot I need to balance many different settings, and I need to know exactly where those settings are to be found on my camera, how each will effect each other and how they will impact on the image I’m capturing – all within a split second in the case of a wedding day. You need only look at these awful wedding photos to understand why a professional isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.
So, what is a “good” photographer?
I could go into all the usual spiel about insurances, equipment, professionalism, qualifications…but in all honesty, the first thing you need to do is open your eyes and LOOK. Wedding blogs, google image search, photographer’s websites, pinterest, tumblr: just look at wedding photography. All kinds of wedding photography. Very quickly you will see some images that make you say “wow”. After a while, you will start to see a pattern to these “wow” images. It might be the colours/tones used in the image – bright, muted, faded etc. or it might be how happy everyone looks, or it might be the drama or emotion conveyed…whatever it is, you’ll see the kind of images you would love in your wedding album.
Photographers are artists. The word ‘Photography’ actually comes from a couple of Latin phrases which means “to paint with light”. Take your time to look at wedding photography images. You will find that in time, there is a particular photographer’s work you keep coming back to, that you can’t get out your head (or a couple, that’s ok too and we’ll get to how to choose between them soon). You should LOVE their images, they should make your heart sing. Any less and you are cheating yourself. In the same way that some people find the Mona Lisa breathtakingly beautfiul while others can’t get enough of Picasso’s work, there is a photographer out there who’s work will appeal to you.
…But what about price?
Look, I know price is an issue. I know everyone is on a budget. Sometimes you can “luck out” and get a brilliant photographer who is right at the start of their career with not much portfolio – but it is a gamble. You have to ask yourself if YOUR images are worth that gamble. We live in a world that is very “of the moment”. We share content on our social media profiles that is dissolved into the ether of the internet so fast we barely contemplate it at all…and this ‘in the now’ thinking has spread into every other area of our lives. And that includes our wedding planning. We think of a wedding in terms of just a day, instead of what it really is: a commitment to love your partner for the remainder of your lives and a major event in the history of a family as a whole.
What I’m saying is today your budget and the price of a photographer seems important. But in the years to come, when you look back at those images, when your memory fades but the image remains, the price will not matter one bit. Repeatedly I’m asked why photographers are so expensive – but honestly, I think for the work we produce, for the memories we capture, for the generations that will take pleasure in your images far beyond our lifetimes, we are cheap. Even the most expensive wedding photographer in the world is cheap. After the wedding day, no amount of money can fix or replace bad wedding images. It becomes priceless. It’s not about what you can afford now, it’s about what you cannot afford in the future – and you cannot afford to not be happy with your wedding images. You cannot afford to not have your wedding captured beautfully.
We all wish we could wave a magic wand and stay young, healthy and at our most beautiful and in love forever. Just think how wonderful it would be to never grow old or sick or lose the people you love…photography can do this for you. I want you to look back at those images and treasure them forever. I know the temptation is to line up a few local photographers within your pre-defined budget and just pick what you think is the best from those, but if you buy based on price alone without loving a photographer’s work FIRST you will never be happy with your choice. You won’t. Trust me on this.
More to the point, why go through all this effort to plan a wedding and not ensure that it’s well captured?
Photography was our biggest splurge… more than dinner, more than venue. We don’t regret if for a second. I have photos on my desk at work and we flip through our pictures frequently. I don’t think I’ll ever look as beautiful again, and I’m thrilled that it’s all permanently recorded in an artistic way. Photos show the nuances of emotion and energy from the day that just can’t be represented in the ring or other keepsakes.
Ok, I have a few photographer’s work that I love, now what?
If it was me getting married I’d ask to see a wedding in full – ask to see ALL the images from just one wedding (rather than a “best of”). Ask if there are any previous brides/clients that you can speak to about the experience of working with them. Ask how much experience they have, if they are full-time (rather than a keen hobbyist) and how many weddings they have shot previously. Ask if they offer an engagement photo shoot – that way, you can meet the photographer and see how you and your partner feel while being photographed by them and the results should speak for themselves. If you’re not happy with those engagement photos, chances are you won’t be happy with your wedding images either, but it’s better to find out before so you can cancel if need be. If an engagement session is not possible ask to meet them or have a skype/telephone conversation. You should feel happy and comfortable around them, as they will be following you for your whole wedding day. You need to trust them, and trust their ability, so you can get on with enjoying your day.
Best of luck! 🙂
P.S Why not have a look at my portfolio to see if you like my style? 🙂