One of the first people I called after we had set a date was the lovely lady who I wanted to be my photographer! I knew that I wanted Carla from Custard Cream Photography. We had met at a training course years ago and hit it off straight away! We had a similar way of looking at things, we liked the same things and had a very similar photographic vision. Thank goodness she was available! Now I know not everyone has a professional photographer friend!! So here is a little guide on what to look for and how to decide on whats important to you and your day :)
When I first meet up with my lovely couples, we have a good chat about their day and they get to hear all about what I have to offer so we can make sure that everything is perfect! This really is the best way to make sure you have chosen the right person so definitely arrange a get together with your shortlisted photographers before you book. Your photographer is someone who you spend all day with on your wedding, so it needs to be someone who is compatible with you :)
Style - What images do you like and what ones do you want for your day? Do you want traditional, posed photos? Do you want dramatic imagery, which usually involves flash and again posed options? Do you want someone totally in the background, offering a more documentary style? Do you want relaxed, natural, fun images capturing the day as it happens? I fall into the latter category so let me tell you all about it! My aim is to capture your day exactly as described, in a fun, natural and relaxed manner. Yes there will be group shots, if you want them!, but we can have fun with them. Especially the bridal party shots. The couple shots will still be romantic but will also be you! They will reflect you as a couple and will show your love for each other without being cheesy and without being too posed. Tons of mingling shots, people having fun, laughing and enjoying your day and images of all those details you spent ages creating and designing! and lots more :) You need to decide whats important to you, what type of images you want and what reflects you both and your personalities. This will help you to make your list of your favourite few photographers, ready for those wedding consultations!
Personality - This to me is one of the most important elements. You spend all day with your photographer so you need to make sure that you like them!!! They have to be someone that you can get on with, that your not afraid to ask to help on the day if need be (I have helped with dresses, pinned up bridesmaids when the zipper has broke, helped find missing buttonholes, helped lost guests and even helped with bra malfunctions!!) and someone who can blend in with your guests rather than being annoying and bossy! So when your looking around and meeting up with photographers, bear all of this in mind, its your day and you need to feel relaxed and confident with all of your suppliers.
Their Work - Always ask to see complete galleries of work. Most websites will have photographers best images on and their most favourite. What you need to see is variety, that they have provided a consistent level of work and how they have handled a wedding day from start to finish. I have a huge selection of images on my website and I also post loads on my Facebook page with wedding previews and so on. When I meet up with couples I have a selection of sample albums which will show a wedding from start to finish. I think this is so important as you get to see the finished product, the finished images and a good selection of colour and B&W images. This will give you a really good idea of how they work and what you can expect.
Editing Style - Again, have a good look through a variety of images. These again should have a consistent level of editing. I love colour and I love B&W. Some images will look better one way or the other and your photographer should be able to help you when choosing images for albums and so on. I am not a fan of anything that will look dated in years to come. Thats not to say its right or wrong but again just my style. Some photographers love a vignette, some love to blur the edges and some love to colour pop, B&W with a colour element. My approach is timeless elegance so I keep it simple and I keep it clean and classic. I would hate for a couple to have a wedding album and then look back on it and think why did we do that, why did we like that style!! You can't go wrong with colour and B&W and in twenty, thirty or forty years it will still be exactly as it is!
Testimonials and Referrals - You want a photographer with a good track record so make sure you have a look at their testimonials from other couples and if you can't see them don't be afraid to ask to see them :) I love sharing my testimonials on my website and Facebook page, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!!
How Many Weddings?? - Does you photographer shoot 50 weddings a year or 20? I aim for between 15-20 weddings a year. I then do some portrait, pre school and commercial work. A wedding is a lot of work. Emails, phone calls, pre wedding shoots, pre wedding meetings and venue visits, the day itself, editing, album design, delivery of products and lots more! So by doing 15-20 a year I can ensure that all of my couples get as much of my time as they need. I know that I will be able to communicate and plan with you and that I also have time to share lots of useful information and images through Pinterest and my blog / Facebook page. To me that is important.
The Extra Details - Check about insurance, what kit they use, what back ups they have, professional groups they are a part of, contracts and so on. Make sure you are happy with everything detailed. For example, I have insurance, indemnity and professional liability insurance, I use Canon and have a variety of lenses, flash and back ups. I am a member of the Guild of Photographers and also the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers. I train regularly throughout the year to keep my skills up to date and fresh. All of this is important and essential to running a great business.
Pricing & Packages - Everyone has a budget and this can be a big factor for deciding who you book with. However, don't shop based on price alone. Your images are the one thing that will be there after the wedding day has ended and will be the one thing you can look back on time and time again to re-live that special day. Make sure that the packages on offer are flexible to what you want covered and included, as a starting point and I would say that the most important thing is to tick all of your boxes. If you do go over budget for your photography package then there are always ways you can cut back on by doing some elements diy, its fun, its you and it can save you money. Many photographers will also allow you to pay chunks off your package leading up to the big day which may help. Also try and budget in for a wedding album before the wedding, afterwards there is always something else to pay for! This way you will have a beautiful album for years to come!
Should I get a friend to do it??!! - Unless they are a professional, No!!! If you value your images and you want to look back on them in years to come then hire a professional. Not only will they know what to do thought the day, they can cope with a variety of situations, they know how to get the best shots, they will work tirelessly for you to get everything covered, they won't be at the bar!! and they will make sure that when you get your images they are the very best. Asking a friend who has a camera can be so stressful. For you, for them, for the venue and for your friendship. Is it worth it, in my opinion it never is. If you don't have a big budget, have a chat with your photographer to see if they do any shorter day packages and don't forget, there are plenty of other ways to save money and use this towards your photography budget. It really is worth it!
Wow, lots to think of!! Hopefully these points will help you but don't forget to have fun and enjoy finding your photographer! :) Let me know of any other great tips and ideas you have!
Love Mel xx