Choosing a Wedding Photographer – The Lowdown.
I have been meaning to write a blog post on this subject for quite some time. Almost every bride and/or groom I meet has a horror story about somebody they know who had a bad experience with their wedding photographs or a terrible wedding photographer. Similar to when Doctors announce their profession to people they have never met before and get ailments described back to them, the bad photographer story has become my equivalent. I always find this fact a real shame – even in this day and age people are receiving a poor standard of service all too often.
If you are looking for a professional Wedding Photographer to cover your wedding, here is my guide to all the important stuff. In my opinion, Wedding Photographers can be pretty much placed into three categories (warning – contains generalisations):
1. The Weekender.
I use this term to cover those people who shoot weddings on a part-time basis, alongside another normally full-time job. These guys tend to shoot up to a dozen weddings a year, sometimes more, and they are normally at the lower end of the price scale – typically anything from £300 to £750. They are normally decent amateur photographers at best that either dream of shooting weddings as a career in the future, or they simply use weddings as a way to boost their income. Some of them shoot with mid range cameras and have limited post-production skills.
2. The Professional.
These are the photographers that take photos for a living. They tend to shoot the most weddings – normally between 30 and 60, sometimes more. In terms of price, they are normally mid priced – anything from £900 to £1500 with sometimes more for an album. This group should have lots of experience shooting lots of different types of weddings in lots of different conditions, and because of their knowledge and experience they can deal with virtually any scenario of weather or light. Most photographers in this category have professional standard gear, all the necessary insurances, and a secure workflow to protect your images. The majority have a professional qualification in photography and have a membership with a professional body too.
3. The Celebrity.
Wedding photographers in this category cover the high-end weddings. They shoot full-time, but tend to shoot less weddings than The Professional – typically between 15 and 30 per year. They can demand the highest fee, anything from £2000 upwards with the highest earners demanding up to £15000 per shoot. They have a clear identity with their photographic style, often have assistants with them, and sometimes even have Agents to organise their bookings for them. They can afford the highest quality equipment and have a huge amount of skill that allows them to produce amazing images.
What to consider.
Obviously, my views are going to be a little biased with me being a Wedding Photographer! However, I am also married and went through the whole selection dilemma when I was helping to plan my wedding, so I can remember being in your position. Here are my main pointers for selecting a photographer…
There are three things to consider. Firstly your budget – look at the budget for the whole wedding and allocate a decent percentage to photography. I would suggest between 5% and 10% is the norm. Remember, your photos and your rings are probably the only things from your wedding that will last beyond your lifetime. Therefore it makes little sense to spend more on consumables like flowers and cake.
Secondly, make sure you like the style of images your photographer can offer. Make sure you view whole weddings taken by them to give you a real idea of what you can expect. Don’t hire a photographer and ask them to shoot in a different style. Recommendations from people you know normally are a good start.
Lastly, meet with your prospective photographer before booking them. Remember that they will be with you for the most important part of your day, so if they irritate you in any way at all keep looking.
As with most things in life, you normally get what you pay for – although there are exceptions. If your budget will only allow you to afford a Weekender, allow more time to sift though this category as there are some great photographers in this group – some of which will end up in the Celebrity category eventually. You may have to make your way through lots of bad ones first though. Alternatively, consider hiring a Professional for the main bit of your day for the same price – at least then you can be sure of good quality images for the key events such as the ceremony and drinks reception.
Finally, please tread carefully if a friend of the family offers to shoot your wedding for free or as a wedding gift. This is normally the source of all those disaster tales that inspired me to write this post in the first place. Unless you trust them totally, politely decline the offer and keep looking!
The images contained within this post were sourced from various ‘bad wedding photo’ blogs I found on Google, and are not the work of David Michael Photography.