Tips for booking your wedding photographer
1 – “We just got engaged! We should start planning our wedding right this second, right!?”
Whoa there! There’s no rush! Take a minute, have a coffee and maybe one more Jaffa Cake. Give yourself a little time. If you’ve just got engaged, you’ll want to enjoy the engagement a little, rather than diving head first into planning your wedding. Enjoy sharing the good news with your family and friends. When you’re ready you can get cracking on the hunt for your wedding photographer and all your other wedding suppliers. For now, though…wallow in your new engagedness!
There is one piece of advice I’d give when it comes to timings though; when you finally settle on the right photographer, make sure you confirm the booking as soon as you can. Call, text, e-mail, smoke signal…whatever you like, just get the booking confirmed in their diary. In pen. Preferably permanent marker. Just so you won’t have to worry about anyone else pipping you at the post and booking them for your wedding date. On a couple of occasions I’ve had people get in touch on a date I’m already booked for only to have them reply telling me that they’d had me picked for a couple of months and just hadn’t got around to contacting me. So don’t dilly dally!
2 – “We’ve never done this before so have no idea how much we need to spend. £4.50 and a packet of Quavers should be enough, shouldn’t it?”
You might not have given this question much thought before now, but it’s worth thinking about just how important wedding photography is to you both. When you get a minute, have a chat to each other about where it sits on your wedding priority list. If it’s near the top, then you’ll maybe want to spend a fair bit of time (and budget) making sure you get someone who’s just right for you and your wedding. If it falls somewhere below the colour of your napkins, then maybe not so much.
Being a photographer, I’m obviously a little biased, but I truly believe that your wedding photographs are one of the few things that you will carry into your married life that will remind you of your wedding day. Your photos and wedding albums will become your new family’s first heirloom. I like to think hundreds of years from now, great-grandkids all over the UK will be rummaging through a dusty attic and stumble across a wedding album, exclaiming over the photos and wondering who these distant relatives might be. Photographs seem to have that effect on us, and knowing that yours will become a part of your family’s history is something pretty special.
You both need to work out what’s best for you and your wedding, though and working out how much of your budget to put towards photography will help you with your search. Have a look at the photographers that you really like and see what their prices are and perhaps use that as a basis for your budget.
3 – “Ok, we’re ready to go! Where do we start looking?”
Now that you’ve worked out how important a part photography will play, it’s time to begin the search for your photographer. Here’s a few tips to get you going.
First off, there’s everybody’s friend, the mighty Google. After you’ve tried searching for ‘most awesome amazing wedding photographer in the world ever’ and not got very far, you may want to try searching for photographers in your area. Or, for the name of your wedding venue (e.g. “Blackbrook House wedding photography”). If you’re ahead of the game, you may already know what style of photographer you want, in which case you could try searching for that.
Then there’s the wedding blogs and bridal forums. Most of the big wedding blogs have pretty decent vendor directories that can help give you some ideas. I’m currently writing a post on the best websites for wedding inspiration and ideas, so check back here soon for that. Bridal forums are good because they let you talk to other people who have their wedding coming up and others who are already married for help, advice and recommendations.
Before the internet (I know. I struggle to think that far back too!) people still managed to find and book photographers. And whilst I’m not suggesting you go rooting through your recycling bin for that copy of the Yellow Pages, there are a few internet-free ways to find a photographer who’s right for you.
Friends. Most of us have them. And now is a good time to put them to good use. If they’re already married, it’s worth asking them about their wedding photographer. How they found them in the first place and whether they’d recommend them. If they’re not married, they might know a photographer. Put the word out there and see what comes back.
Wedding fairs are another way of finding your photographer as well as other wedding suppliers, and yes, I know that most will advertise on the internet, but some will also promote in wedding magazines and local press. What’s also so great about these events (besides getting to sample loads of cake and chocolate) is that you get to meet people face to face, which helps you get a better idea of whether they’re the right person to photograph your wedding.
4 – “I’ve started looking and there are so many different styles! Which one do I want!?”
Yes, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking your wedding photographer. Gone are the days where photographers just stand with their tripod shooting endless group portraits. Now you have contemporary, alternative, editorial, fine art, documentary, quirky, traditional…the list goes on. Fear not though, I can help!
To start with, try not to get too caught up with genres and labels and focus more on the photographer’s work. While these labels can be a useful guide, you can quite often find two people refer to themselves as – for example – documentary wedding photographers, yet showcase totally different styles of photography on their site. So let your eyes be the judge and find the photos that you connect with.
Are you the sort of person who would want a lot of formal group shots and portraits of you and your family? If so, make sure you’ve seen plenty of evidence of this on the photographer’s website. Will your wedding have lots of lovely handmade details? Then make sure the photographer has an eye for making the little things look good. Are you not one for being in front of the camera and want someone who will just blend in with your guests? Have a look at their blog, view a single wedding and see if the photos look like the vision you have of your own wedding.
5 – “My wedding venue’s in the Outer Hebrides, do I need to find a photographer who lives up there?”
Gone are the days where photographers limit themselves to working within their hometown. More often than not you’ll find that photographers travel all over the country to shoot weddings, and sometimes all over the world. So if you’ve only been searching locally, think about expanding your search. For example, I live in London, but I have family in Derbyshire, so I consider myself to have two bases from which I can travel to weddings. Most of us have similar situations, so don’t be afraid to look a little further afield. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to travel to your wedding.
Thanks to newer, faster internet and services such as Skype, it’s so easy to have a virtual natter over coffee with your photographer. You don’t need to stick with someone local just because they have a studio that you can visit. I regularly chat to couples on Skype, and it’s so convenient for everyone. I can still show all my sample albums and you can see my work and get to know me a little without having to leave the comfort of your sofa. Of course, if we’re not too far from each other, it’s always nice to get out of the house for a bit!
So there we have it. Some of my top tips for finding the right wedding photographer for you, without losing too much hair or sleep. Remember to enjoy your engagement and each part of the build up to your wedding day. Set your budget and find the photography style that you love. The rest will soon fall into place and one day soon, you’ll be holding in your hands your new family’s very first heirloom. Your wedding photographs!