How to choose a wedding photographer for 2021...
A guest post from Catherine Kerr, romantic Yorkshire wedding photograper and the owner of Boho Chic Weddings
Congratulations, you're getting married! It's a wonderful, giddy time, which can sometimes be stressful too. There's a lot to juggle and some vital, expensive decisions to be made.
My first top tip is to decide your top three or four wedding priorities - you know, the items that you know you would regret not having.
This is my 16th year in the wedding industry, and wedding guests have often come up to tell me how disappointed they were in their own wedding photographs and what they wished they'd known before they booked. So, if your wedding photographs are on your top priorities list, what comes next will really help you find the right wedding photographer as well as the right style of wedding photography for you and your wedding.
Stage One - Wedding Photographer Research
- Searching - Most couples start their search online or on Instagram. Look for a professional who describes themselves as a wedding photographer. As with most variations of the same role, wedding photography requires different skills to that of portrait, commercial or architechture for example. When you search, include, 'wedding' in that search.
- Recommendations - These are useful, especially if you have seen that wedding photographer in action at a wedding you attended and then seen the pictures afterwards. Take care if it's a venue recommendation or even one from a friend as they might have different ideas of quality and style to you. Beware of Uncle Fred's offer, a keen amateur or even an ex-pro to take your wedding pictures. No matter how good and willing he is, weddings are full-on and fluid, so he can't really be enjoy being there if he's working. You also need to ask yourself that should something go wrong or not as you expected, how will you be able to complain or how will it affect your future relationship.
- Make A Shortlist of 2 or 3 wedding photographers. Write down what attracted you to those.
- Website Gallery & Insta Grid - look at each on your shortlist website gallery, and insta grid to get an idea of his/her style. We often show off what we like the best, which is usually what we tend to be naturally good at, so it's a good idea to really look now. Are the pictures quite dark and dramatic or true in terms of colours, skin tones and brightness or light, fresh, possibly a little pale? Does the photographer describe him/herself as 'natural' but then show mostly posed couple portraits? Is the photographer's Insta grid mostly close-ups or full length or of a lot of details or pictures that show off the landscape as much as the wedding?
- Decide what style you like!
Stage Two - Refine your search
- Reviews - start with Google reviews. Before you spend more of your time with a meeting or chat, see what others have experienced.
- What does the photographer say on his / her website about experience in terms of years, or number of weddings, and how important is that to you? Decide if qualifications or awards gained in photography matter to you too.
- As with most jobs, you would expect someone in their first year of work, to be less expensive that someone with 10 years practice and experience. The same often does follow in photography but not always.
- Is this person invested in her business or is it a part time interest and how much does this matter to you. I do know of one wonder-woman photographer with three children, who works 4 days a week as an IT consultant an hour's commute each way, and concentrates on her wedding photography business the rest of the time. She has been doing this well for 10 years, and even goes to the gym. On the other hand, I have also known photographers start weddings at weekends alongside their main job and then seem to disappear after a year or two, yet we all have to start somewhere of course.
Stage Three - Check Compatibility!
- Compatibility - In my view how compatible you are matters almost as much as how much you like / love that photographer's work. Would you feel comfortable asking questions about any concerns you have or to ask for something you want on the day like a special picture with your Aunt Mavis even though your photographer describes himself as 'documentary' ?
- Video Chat - these are great! I believe that if you can chat freely on video, the rest of your communication will be clear and smooth. You can see easily how well you can communicate. Does this person get you? Do you get how she photographs? Does she seem genuine and authentic? How enthusiastic and passionate is she about your plans, about her work?
- Check he/ she has professional insurance and brings 2 cameras to each wedding. Any digital camera, no matter how expensive, is essentially a computer that can show 'error' at any point! Ideally the photographer's camera should have 2 slots in it so that if one memory card fails, then there is the additional safety of the other one.
- Ask to view a full wedding gallery. How well does this photographer photograph the whole day? Does he/she photograph the parts of the wedding day that are the most important to you?
- How long is spent on group photographs - discuss how to do this effectively. Some photographers do not take any groups, some a handful.
- What about your couples portraits? Do you want to take half an hour out of your wedding for these, an hour or 10 minutes - again, it's important that you see eye-to-eye.
- Dont forget the wedding details - if you have worked hard to create a unqiue style for your big day, with wedding signage and wedding table decor then you want a photographer that is going to capture those details for you!
- Cost - I believe that if you have found the right photographer, one whose work you love, one you trusted believe in, then book that one. Maybe you can cut back on something less important if the cost is an issue or maybe you can save a little more or ask for wedding photography vouchers as a wedding gift.
- Expectations - Ask how your photographer works on the actual wedding day. Check arrival time, and finish time. You obviously don't want a clock watcher but at the same time it's fair that your timings do not go over too much for all your wedding suppliers who are likely to have a 10-hour plus working day on their feet.
- Second photographer - not always necessary, especially for smaller weddings, and if you are mostly at the one venue. You might read that with a second photographer you get coverage, 'from all angles' or from a 'different angle' but each camera can only point in one direction at one time! Often the main photographer has the best viewpoint anyway, especially an experienced one. I recommend a second photographer for weddings of more than 100 guests and when there are several locations or if my couple simply want one.
Stage Four - Check the details!
- Find out how long after your wedding you can expect your wedding photographs, and get an idea of how many you might expect.
- Most wedding photographers carry out skilful editing to ensure all your photographs match well in terms of tones, and lightness. Editing is NOT the same as retouching where your skin is softened for example or your teeth whitened or any type of slimming effects applied. Few couples request this anyway as wedding photographers tend to be good at catching you in the most flattering light and angle but it's worth knowing that is often an additional, highly skilled service.
- Always get a contract, and do take out wedding insurance. You never know what may be around the corner!
Catherine Kerr is a leading wedding photographer based in Leeds and covering Yorkshire and the North. Having worked as a wedding photographer for over 15 years Catherine has a welath of experience in making her couples feel relaxed and confident that their wedding photography will be captured in the most romantic and beautiful style that represents the couples personality.