When it comes to photos, you don’t want someone to make your perfect wedding that you’ve spent every penny you have on, look bad or even boring!
So how do you choose a wedding photographer?
What do you want?
This may seem obvious but work out what you want first, is it lots of natural photos? All posed? Do you want your photographer there all day? Do you want two photographers? Once you have this list sorted you can start looking. Prioritise what’s important to you.
Once you have your list of priorities start looking around and compare photographers. Always view full day weddings, from beginning of coverage to the end to confirm consistency.
A few years ago, when I was planning my own wedding, I enquired with a photographer who I had admired for years. The work he displayed on his website was stunning and I knew I wanted those photos for my big day. However, when I enquired and was sent an example wedding, I was incredibly disappointed. Although there were one or two lovely photos, the rest of the day was very basic. It was a great example of why you need to view a full day wedding as this is where you will see the true picture of what you will get from your big day. If you want one or two great shots and aren't worried about the rest then this would be perfect for you - but most people want - and deserve - amazing photos all day from the couple photos, to the minor details.
Another mistake I made, was the beautiful photos I had been looking at on instagram and Pinterest, once I viewed them as a whole wedding they didn't look as beautiful. The light and airy photos were now just over exposed and all detail was lost. The top wedding photos on instagram actually were just average photos with presets on and when viewed full screen were noisy and low quality. This isn't to say this is for all of the images found on social media - in fact there are some incredibly photographers out there! Just pick apart the images. Make sure what you see is what you want for your day, for your images of your friends and family.
Natural or Posed?
Most couples make the mistake of thinking they don't want any posed photos at all - which is usually only about 1% of weddings. Throughout the day guests will want to take photos, there will be the photos of the newlywed couple as well as friends and family group photos - before you know it there will be many unplanned posed photos. When they're unplanned they're not posed correctly and you may not like the photos as much as you'll be potentially standing in an unflattering pose and your face will show your uncomfortable. The only way you'll find out is after the big day when you view your images and can't go back.
The best way to decide is plan the day out with when and where you want posed photos, how many group photos and when you want to relax. Once you have a plan of percentage of posed images and percentage of natural/candid images, talk to photographers and find out what percentage of posed and natural photos they do and view the quality of each. View the posed images, even if you only want 10% posed images it's still important for these images to be amazing. Have an engagement photo shoot to try out the posed photos. Do they make you look your best? Your most flattering? Did you enjoy having your photos taken?
When looking at the natural photos do the photos look like the ones you want for your big day? Do they show moments? Happy guests? Or just snapshots of people on their phones or sitting doing nothing. Weddings are fun - so find a photographer who captures this perfect for you!
Ask what is included
On the surface you may have found an amazing deal but always ask what is included. Do you have a selection of black and white images and a colour version? Will you have two photographers to capture natural photos and the poses? Go to the previous point to make sure everything is covered exactly how you want it. No two photographers are the same or offer the same in their collections/packages. Discuss what you want after the big day and then find that photographer for you.
How do they deal with the rain? If they say they prefer grey skies it usually means they don’t understand lighting that well, so approach with caution. If they offer to re-shoot in the rain, which probably won't happen, means you could be missing out on a lot of images. Remember, there's always a chance of rain to be prepared! When you view example galleries, ask to view a wet weather or winter wedding. These are the trickiest of lighting situations and if they can still produce amazing images, then you know you can count on them on your big day.
Do you receive all images on a USB? If it’s on a CD or DVD this may not last as the images won’t be very big which makes printing an issue. If you need to buy the images after the wedding, or even if your guests will be required to buy their photos, factor this into your budget.
How much?! Photographers can be pricey, but when you consider these images are for life, spread that cost out and actually it's not all that much. When you split your budget up for each supplier most couples choose a photographer really early on so they have the opportunity to extend that budget and forego any unnecessary luxuries to allow for the photographs.
Do they use flash?
As well as asking about the many natural photos you should ask about the use of flash. Although this is an advanced question, it shows the range of photographs you can get. Photographers who generally do natural photos tend not to use flash and ones who's key photos are the posed ones, usually will use flash. Off camera flash to be exact.
Most people when they think of flash they imagine cardboard cut out images or harsh shadows. When this is done right, you will have magazine worthy images.
If they are experienced in OCF (off camera flash) you will have the opportunity to have some incredible artistic images as well as flattering photographs you will be incredibly proud of. Without flash you could be left with dark shadows on your face and grainy, low quality photographs. Look at the images above, you can see how the image is perfectly exposed without flash but the detail on the couple's faces is grainier, lower quality and they have unflattering shadows.
Now, there's no right or wrong but it's important to know what you want. It's important to compare no flash and flash and decide what you want. If they do use flash, ask how this will be used throughout the day. If group photographs need to be taken inside with restricted space and light, ask how they will light the area. Will the photos be as good as if they were taken outside? Because they absolutely should be!
Book an engagement photo shoot
Once you have worked out exactly what you both want and the photographer you like offers everything you have dreamed of, the best way to really find out if they are right for you is to book in an engagement photo shoot with them.
You will trial first hand what it’s like to be photographed by this person and you can view the images afterwards. It’s important not only to love your images but you also need to feel comfortable with them as they will be with you for the whole of the wedding day.
This blog post isn't to tell you what you should or shouldn't have in your wedding photos. It's to show you the options, what they mean and to help guide you into making a decision. It's a scary decision to make and you will only know if it's the right one after the big day. So, make sure you have done your research, viewed full day weddings and feel confident you've found the right person.