Some Tips on how to choose a wedding photographer
I’m David, a professional full time Wedding Photographer at Leonardo Photography Studios, working exclusively in this sector. Based on my experience and insights into wedding planning, I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts and offer advice on selecting the ideal wedding photographer. During the first three months of this year I’ve spoken to 20 brides who have been let down by wedding photographers. Unfortunately, it appears that social media groups and online forums reveal this to be the norm rather than the exception. It’s not only a totally inexcusable practice but it is wholly unethical to treat potential clients in this way, and therefore I hope this article acts as an effective guide to both selecting a photographer and avoiding the common pitfalls faced when making this decision. I appreciate that there are many calls on budgets when planning a wedding, but it really is a false economy to select your wedding photographer based solely on the cheapest quote you receive. Hiring Uncle Johnny with his wonderful new camera may well be a possibility, but bear in mind this is your special day and you may regret not prioritising your photographic expenditure. (There’s more about Uncle Johnny later). Hiring a photographer based merely on the cheapest quote is a huge gamble. Be prepared to compromise on your expectations as it’s quite likely you’ll be purchasing the services of an inexperienced junior who offers you a lower price in order to acquire a portfolio. Whilst everyone needs to gain experience to establish their career, poor quality wedding photographs are the likely outcome. Spend just a little bit more and you’ll usually hire the expertise of a full time professional wedding photographer; someone with far more experience, able to produce high calibre prints to treasure for a lifetime. However, it does still pay to be cautious as charlatans do operate at both ends of the scale, so how can you identify and avoid them?
Read their reviews !
Taking time to research the market is the most important thing you can do. Never hire a photographer who doesn’t have any favourable reviews. Or if you do choose someone withoutreviews, make sure you ask why they havn't got any and base your decision on the quality of the answer you get (They may just be starting out and most new photographers will be honest about this). Google an individual photographer or company name and study the results. It’s very simple to set up a fake account and add deceptive reviews (Facebook reviews are one example of this where people can pay to receive X amount of 5 star reviews6c), so make sure you find reputable sites which include positive testimonials from verified clients.
View the photographer portfolio
A professional wedding photographer will have a website showcasing his work in a wide ranging portfolio. Look out for shots which capture a full wedding day and notice the finer details - the arrival of the bride, the long walk down the aisle, that first glance between bride and groom–as these will give you a feel for the style and an indication of what to expect. An invaluable tip here is to right click on a photo and search Google for the image. This will determine whether the photo is indeed the work of the photographer or just a stock image purchased from an online gallery. This practice, together with stealing other people’s work, is unfortunately a common occurrence. Being aware of it is an effective tool when trying to weed out scam photographers.
Ask to see full wedding days
Always ask to see complete wedding shots. A professional wedding photographer will be only too happy to show you shots which capture the full day whereas a scam photographer will generally only possess a random selection of photos sometimes only 1 from each wedding. This is another useful method of identifying the genuine photographer. Anyone who can’t provide these shots on request, probably doesn’t have them and you should move on.
Is the photographer insured?
All professional photographers have dedicated business insurance providing cover for this nature of work. Always ask to see their documents and ensure that policies are for specialist cover rather than everyday home insurance plans. This is extremely important for both yourselves and your wedding photographer. Should an unplanned mishap occur – for instance, a guest tripping over an unattended light stand and injuring themselves – an uninsured or inadequately insured photographer would face severe consequences with possibly even the closure of his business. Furthermore, your guest would not receive due compensation. Photographers who exhibit their work at national wedding shows are required to have public liability insuring cover up to £2m. Again, a professional photographer will have no hesitation in providing these documents for you. A scam photographer obviously cannot do this, so always, always ask.
Compare quotes - more is sometimes less!
Unlike general shopping where competitors sometimes campaign to undercut their rivals, the world of wedding photography operates differently. A true professional has a set rate according to the value they set upon their work and will not aim to be the cheapest available. There will always be a scam photographer willing to lower the price bar to win work and so it does pay to be aware of this. As a rough guide, expect to pay a minimum of between £600 and £1200 for an experienced mid priced professional wedding photographer, for higher end photographers expect to pay in excess of £2000. Obviously this will vary according to their capability and popularity as well as your individual requirements, but when bearing in mind the cost of insurance, equipment, travel, food, you really ought to be wary of any a significantly cheaper offering.
Get a contract!
A professional wedding photographer will always issue you with a written contract outlining the package offered together with his trading terms and conditions. This should cover eventualities such as a photographer falling ill on the day of the event and the compensation in place. In this scenario, if a photographer was genuinely unable to honour his commitment he would find you a suitable replacement at his own expense. In contrast, a scam photographer would not be able to do this. Always ask for a contract before parting with any money, read it thoroughly and make sure you understand the clauses. They offer guaranteed protection for both parties.
I will get my friend to do it, they have a nice camera!
And now back to Uncle Johnny. We haven’t forgotten him! This is Uncle Johnny and every bride and groom has one.
Uncle Johnny is your well meaning relative or friend who has a camera, enjoys snapping a few shots here and there as a hobby and offers to step into the breach as your wedding day photographer. He claims he can save you a substantial sum of money. Yes, he probably can, but results speak for themselves. Ask anyone who’s actually asked Uncle Johnny to perform this role and the chances are they wish they hadn’t. Wedding photography is an art which requires skill and talent. A professional photographer has spent years perfecting his craft, understanding lighting techniques, experimenting with ideas and interacting with people. He will also strive to keep up to date with photographic technology and wedding day trends. Could Uncle Johnny cope with capturing that split second when an owl delivers your rings or a dove is released? At first glance prices may seem expensive but unlike Uncle Johnny who just turns up on the day, an experienced photographer spends a vast amount of quality time preparing for the occasion. He has a range of equipment to cater for weather conditions, he knows in advance the photos he’s going to take and in short, the value of his expertise is reflected in the price offered. Back to Uncle Johnny and his photographic skills. Here’s a wedding shot he’s captured.
Now, it was provided free of charge so you can’t complain. Here’s a similar one taken from a professional wedding photographer.
Notice the difference? Allowing Uncle Johnny to take your wedding day photography should be the last resort. He means well, but does he realise the implications of spending a full day running round trying to take a complete album of shots for you? Perhaps it’s best to just let him enjoy a day as your guest, leaving the hard work to the professionals!
Budget Budget Budget!!!
It really is recommended to set aside as much as you can for wedding photography. These will be memorable family photographs both you and future generations will come to treasure. A budget of approximately £1000 will stand you in good stead and prevent you from having to accept either the lowest quote offered to you or the services of Uncle Johnny. I hope this article has given helpful tips. If you have found a photographer and want a second opinion we are always more than happy to assist and provide further information on what you should ask and what you should expect.
Finally, I thought I’d share this great article from the Daily Mail. It features a wedding from Dunchurch Park Hotel near Rugby. Britain’s worst wedding photography?