I get it - choosing your wedding photographer is tough!
You want to make sure you have the right person to capture your day but every photographer you meet is a little different, all offer different things and most confusing of all - are all different prices!
So where do you begin? What questions do you need to ask? What should you expect to pay?
I hope to answer all these questions and more in this complete step by step guide to choosing your wedding photographer
1. Know Your Budget
There's nothing worse than finding a supplier that you absolutely love and then realising they're way over budget. You can read my blog post on How Much is A Wedding Photographer to get a better guide but for full transparency, average pricing can be anywhere between £1,300 and £3,000+.
The first step is to discuss together how much you can legitimately spend on photography and keep that in mind as you search. Photography will be more important to some people than others but it's definitely worth considering that one day the images from your wedding will be all you have to look back on.
Most photographers will have starting prices listed on their website, you may need to send an enquiry off for full pricing but having that starting price allows you to at least narrow your search.
2. Choose your Vibe
Now for the fun part! The start of your search.
You probably aren't sure what style of photography you like yet but thats okay! Once you start looking you'll find that some vibes stick out to you more than others. Do you want something bright and airy? Or dark and moody?
Is your wedding going to be a bright and colourful affair or traditional and timeless? You need to consider these things - hiring a bright colourful photographer because you love the richness of the colours won't really work if you're planning a rustic wedding of muted brown and autumnal tones.
For me, my images definitely lean more toward the creative and moody side of things - I can shoot bright and airy but darker is 100% more my vibe.
Top tip - your venue and styling, colour pallets etc will have a huuuge impact on how your final images turn out so always keep that in mind
3. Consider Their Shooting Style
Most wedding photographers have their own way of shooting during your day. Some will be 100% documentary or photojournalistic which means they have no input to any shots and just capture the day as it unfolds - this can seem appealing if you don't 'like' having your photo taken but to me just isn't an option at a wedding.
Real talk? If you're hiring a purely documentary photographer, in my opinion, you may as well use a friend with an iphone
The majority of photographers though will work in a mix of documentary, candid, prompted and posed images. That's not to say you need to spend your whole wedding posing - it just means that there are some images during a wedding day that NEED some input from a photographer.
Imagine your family shots, trying to get organised and your photographer is just standing there giving no direction? Nah not for me. I'm the first to tell Uncle Bob he needs to move because someone shorter is behind him, and Auntie Karen still at the bar? What's she look like I'm gonna go get her!
4. Think About What Products You Want
Do you want a purely digital package or do you already know you want some prints? Does an album sound like a lush idea to you or maybe just a USB to store all of your images?
This is worth thinking about - some photographers will have packages that increase in price with add ons such as albums/prints etc and some will just provide digital copies.
Then if you want an album - make sure you get to see a sample and feel the quality - those bad boys aren't cheap so you need to absolutely love it!
One other thing to consider at this stage - how quick is the turnaround on your wedding images? Do you want them back sooner or are you happy to wait? Average wait times are around 8 weeks for a wedding (I have quicker turn around times though, in case you wanted to know)
Real Talk: It doesn't actually take 8 weeks to edit your gallery - it's probably about a solid week of full time work.
There are 2 issues in the industry that make it longer. Firstly is that a lot of wedding photographers do this alongside a full time job which obviously impacts the time they have to edit (no hate, that was me once). Secondly is photographers overbooking themselves and creating a backlog. This is why I am very strict with the amount of weddings I do in any month. My clients get their images in 4 weeks.
5. See a FULL REAL WEDDING GALLERY
Don't short list your photographers based purely on social media images. Most of what gets posted on insta are the very best images of the day, perhaps couples shots at golden hour or a heavily posed group photo. You NEED to see a whole gallery or you could be left underwhelmed.
You need to know that the photographer you're booking gets a good mix of those candids as well as the beautiful images on their socials. You need to know that they can handle different lighting situations (ceremony rooms and bridal suites can be tricky depending on venue!) and you need to know roughly how many images you can expect.
Top Tip: Typically photographers can deliver around 50 final images each hour - so a full 10 hour day is an average of 500 images
6. Arrange a Meeting
Lets be honest, wedding photography is a significant amount of money to spend with someone! You need someone you know, like and trust and the only way you can get to know them properly is by meeting.
I either like to meet my potential clients at a coffee shop or set up a zoom meeting- seeing each other face to face makes a huge difference.
Write a list of questions you want to ask before the meeting or call. This could be anything from how payments work to turnaround times to how they approach a wedding. Taking a list makes sure you ask everything you needed to without forgetting anything
7. Do you "Click"?
Yes, the pun was intended.
Seriously though - you're going to be spending the whole day with whoever you choose as a photographer. They'll be with you when you're getting dressed in the morning and with you when you're getting tipsy in the evening - you need to feel comfortable around them.
You need to feel like they are going to slot into your day like another one of the guests and that they can match the energy your day will have. Do your personalities match up? Do they fit into what you want for your wedding day?
There's no use booking a photographer thats deathly allergic to dogs if you know your pups are a huge part of your day (I LOVE dogs btw)
8. Take the 'Fluff' With a Pinch of Salt
The words 'award winning' are thrown around waaaaaaay too freely in the photography industry - Im not saying there aren't awards that have merit but A LOT don't. You are not going to know which mean anything and which have been pretty much paid for.
Same with when you see "Swansea's best" or "Industry leading" you can guarantee they're self awarded titles and unless they're in print, features in Vogue's online collective aren't really features. I'm not gonna start banging on about these things as I'll go on for hours - all I want to say is to take them with a pinch of salt and don't let it sway you away from a photographer you love if they don't have 'awards' plastered all over their website.
9. Narrow Down a Short List
Now that you have an idea of budget, style and what products you want you should be able to put together a short list.
If you've met a few photographers in person or over a zoom call - you'll probably find that at least one stood out from the others and if not - perhaps you haven't met them yet.
I know in reality it can come down to pricing and package options when you have a short list of suppliers but I'm a huge believer in trusting your gut and I genuinely think that for most people the deciding factor will be on personality compatibility. Don't rule someone out purely because they are just out of your budget if you love the idea of working with them - see if you can move some things around or save elsewhere.
10. Book an Engagement Shoot!
Okay this one's kinda optional I guess but it really does help to have an engagement shoot with your photographer for a number of reasons.
Firstly it's a chance to get to know each other better, if you have fun on your engagement shoot then your wedding will the same.
It's also a chance for photographers to get to know what you like/don't like about having photos taken and helps build up trust.