How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer
"How do I choose my wedding photographer? There are so many of you out there!" you may be asking. And you’re right! There are so many of us out there. So in this blog, I’m going to solve all your problems and break it down into two very easy steps. After some prologue though, I’m a bit of a talker.
It can seem like a very daunting and overwhelming task choosing us suppliers to be a part of your wedding. I started planning my wedding before I became a wedding photographer, and I certainly had no idea where to start. It wasn’t until I was dragged (literally) to a wedding fayre by my cousin that I realised that there were lots of people out there.
And I was even more confused.
But one thing did become very clear to me - I was not about to start picking my wedding suppliers by searching for them on the internet. The wedding fayre was amazing because although there were what felt like hundreds of people there, you actually got to meet the faces behind the websites and get to know them a little.
I ended up booking 2 people from this fayre.
Upon entering the venue, we were immediately greeted with the warmest welcome and friendliest smile from a man in a red coat - it was Nigel Worsfold, a toastmaster. Suddenly feeling a little more at ease, myself and my then fiance were immediately taken by him, and we could see him making our guests feel this welcome on our wedding day.
After we left Nigel, we were suddenly overwhelmed with how many suppliers there were. We couldn’t believe the things you could rent or buy for a wedding - and how much it could cost!
Towards the end of our trip, we bumped into a lady called Charly Woodhouse, a very down to earth, friendly lady with some beautiful photos on her stall. (My fiance actually recognised an ex-girlfriend in one her photos which made for a very interesting discussion on the car ride home).
Having fallen in love with Charly and her photos, I knew she was the right photographer for us. And in the same moment, I couldn’t believe that people could be photographers for a living - a great hobby and passion that I had done for so many years was right in front of me, beckoning to make it my career. A seed began to grow.
But I digress - that’s a story for another day!
So, what had I learnt from this wedding fayre?
You can get more or less anything you wanted at your wedding, if you had the money to spare (I had owls deliver the rings, Harry Potter style). There were thousands of people doing what felt like the same job. I had a lot of things to think about that I hadn’t already thought about and had no idea you were supposed to think about. It mixed up quite a thought cocktail in my brain. So what did I do?
We booked Charly and Nigel, kept all of the flyers but didn’t look at them for months. And then a pandemic hit. Put a slight dampener on things.
One global pandemic later...
About a year before the wedding, in the early hours of the morning I sat bolt upright in bed in a panic - I had only booked 3 suppliers, and the really great ones were bound to get booked up more than a year in advance. At this rate, I wasn’t going to have anyone I liked!
So we got out the flyers from the fayre (I think I’ve still got them in a cupboard somewhere. Two months into marriage. #horder) and spread them on the carpet. I threw away all the ones I didn’t remember, which narrowed it down immensely. I then rang up all the suppliers that I remembered and liked, and got them booked in.
A huge weight felt like it had been lifted from my shoulders. So what had I learnt now?
Booking a supplier is a big deal. You need to be able to trust them. And how will you know if you can trust them without having met them first? Yes you can read the reviews, but how do you know if your personalities will gel? Maybe not such a problem if they’re dropping off a cake and you won’t see them, but the photographer is likely there all day. And not only that, we are there when you are in your bra and pants getting steadily more stressed and nervous.
This is why I make it my mission to get to know my couples as well as I can before the big day. This helps my couples feel more comfortable around me and trust me, which ultimately makes them feel more relaxed in front of my camera. The result = beautiful images.
And now, for the main event: Two simple steps to making that all important choice!
STEP ONE: Do You Like Them?
If the answer is no, don’t book them.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you actively hate them. I am naturally a high energy individual (comes from doing every school play since I was 5 and was Mary in the nativity - thanks Mum) and I knew that I didn’t want the same energy from my photographer. And some people would find it very difficult to have a chatty person in the room with them when they’re getting ready. But my couples love it - they like having someone there who is super hands on and can talk them through their nerves. They are happy for me to help them when things go wrong and step in when it feels like too much. They trust me to help them, and I like feeling like part of the family, rather than someone who watched things go wrong and didn’t help.
I have put so many brides into their dresses because no one in the room can fathom hook-eye lace ups. I have fixed zips, looked after mobile phones, laced corsets, fixed buttons holes to lapels, put socks and shoes on, and I love it. And my couples love it too.
A good photographer (and indeed, any wedding supplier) will be willing to have at least a phone call with you before they take a deposit. If they are pushing for a deposit, then leave it - they’re more concerned with the booking rather than you as an individual. And you deserve to be treated like the individual that you are.
No two photographers are the same. Our personalities are all very different, and that is one half of the package you are choosing to be with you on your wedding day.
STEP TWO: Do You Like the Images They've Previously Produced?
If you don’t like the images they have previously produced, don’t book them.
"But a picture is a picture right? How can you not like a picture?" I hear you ask. Let’s take a look at their website (or what images they’ve taken to wedding fayres). Websites are basically the shop front windows for photographers - we have chosen which images go up there, and they’re usually our best work that we enjoyed taking. Here you'll see a photographer's individual style and you need to make sure that style matches up with what you want from your pictures.
"I don’t know what I want from my pictures! I just want pictures of my wedding day!" Okay, so say you really want group pictures of everyone, but the photographer you’ve chosen has only put up images of couple portraits. How do you know what their group pictures look like?
A checklist of considerations:
• If images of your family having a great time are most important to you, book a photographer with lots of family images on their website.
• If images of the two of you together messing around are most important to you, book a photographer with lots of couple portraits on their website.
• If natural, unposed images are most important to you, book a photographer with mostly candid images on their website.
• If pictures with your children smiling at the camera are most important to you, book a photographer with lots of brides and grooms with their children on their website.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ll leave it there! But yes, it really is that simple, and we really can break this down into just two steps. Do you like and trust them? Do you like the work they have produced before?
And that’s it folks.
And actually - this is the recipe to finding all of your suppliers. The results will be that you trust them all implicitly, can have open and honest conversations with them before the big day, and they will want your day to go brilliantly. There wasn’t a single supplier at my wedding who I had not spent a good amount of time with, and I trusted them all totally. And I had an amazing day.
Corrr, what a blast for my very first blog! Thanks for reading all the way through! If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them so please do get in touch!
Best wishes - and happy wedding planning!