Before you book

Choosing your wedding photographer

Finding the right wedding photographer can be tough! Most of us only hire a professional wedding photographer the once, so how do you know what to look for and what should you expect from them? I've put together this handy guide of key things to consider before booking a photographer for your wedding, so you can be sure you're hiring someone you can trust and they'll deliver pictures that'll make your heart melt!

A style you love

Every photographer has their own signature style that they've developed over the course of their career, so look through as much of their work as possible to check it matches what you're after. Their portfolio is usually the best place to start – but to check for consistency – find out if they've posted collections from individual weddings to get a better understanding of their photographic style. You'll probably also find examples of this on their blog or social media accounts, so be sure to check these out too. Ask your photographer about their approach to shooting weddings. Some take more of a backseat to events and capture the day as it unfolds, while others prefer to be more involved and create lots of posed images. Make sure you book a photographer with a style you love.

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The benefit of experience

Every photographer is a beginner once in their career, but would you be fully confident in booking someone for your wedding who lacks experience? Most photographers will have an 'About Me' page on their website: see how long they've been a professional photographer, how long they've been shooting weddings and what other photographic experience they have. An experienced photographer won't come unstuck if something unexpected happens and will be well prepared for every eventuality. It's also wise to have a look at any online reviews left by newlyweds about your photographer. You might find them on a 'Testimonial' page on their website, or on their Facebook or Google business pages.

Personality is really important

You look your best in photographs when you're relaxed, so finding a photographer who makes you feel at ease is essential. You'll be spending quite a bit of time around them on your wedding day, so it makes sense to hire someone you get along with and doesn't annoy you! Arrange to meet face-to-face to find out more about what they can offer. Having a quick coffee or similar is a great way to sound them out and first impressions are usually accurate. A photographer needs to be calm and confident, someone who comes across as awkward might not be the best at blending in. No one wants a flustered photographer!

Professional photo gear

Most professional photographers use either Nikon or Canon DSLRs, and there's really only superficial differences between the two. It's vitally important that your photographer has at least two cameras with them for your wedding. That way, if one camera somehow encounters a technical fault or packs up completely, they still have another to capture your day. Lots of photographers will also carry two cameras at once. This is so they don't have to change lenses as often, so they're less likely to miss an important moment while fiddling with their camera. If you dig a little deeper a DSLR with a full frame sensor is considered more suitable to weddings as they're better at getting sharper shots in low light - ideal for dimly lit churches! If they're using cameras that cost less than a grand it's likely they'll struggle with the demands of a wedding.

Expert editing

To make the most of any photo it needs to be post-processed in software like Lightroom or Photoshop. This ensures the colours are accurate, there's a good balance of tones and detail is sharp. All good wedding photographers will always shoot RAW files as these ensure maximum image quality. However each photo requires processing individually, and most wedding photographers supply around 500 images which is why it can take several weeks to receive your pictures. Be wary of anyone who offers all the thousands of pictures or supplies them within a few days. The chances are your photographs wont have been carefully edited so you're more likely to receive pictures that don't match their potential. Also consider the editing style of your photographer. Does it look natural and timeless, or does it look heavily processed? In recent years the vintage-looking filters of Instagram have been super popular, but think of how these pictures will look in 10, 20 or 50 years time. It's much better to look back and maybe cringe at the fashions and haircuts, rather than the filters on the photographs!

The right levels of insurance

It sounds boring but it's essential you check your wedding photographer has the correct insurance policies in place. They should have both public liability and professional indemnity insurance, alongside cover for their equipment. Some venues will ask to see their public liability certificate in advance of the day and wont let them on site without it; accidents can happen and it's essential your photographer is protected. What happens if they clumsily swing a lens onto an antique vase? You don't want to be left squabbling over a bill. Professional indemnity is a bit different and is designed to protect you, the customer. It can pay for compensation claims if your photographer accidentally deletes one of their memory cards - erasing the photos from your day.

Know your rights

Make sure you know exactly what will be provided in your package, and whether you have the rights to your photographs afterwards. Ideally this should be laid out in detail in any contract or terms agreement they offer at the time of booking. Most photographers retain copyright of the images, but check they will provide you with a licence to make prints and copies of your photos. Some photographers make you buy prints directly from them, others provide a full licence allowing you complete freedom to use as you wish. Find out how they operate beforehand. If they provide digital copies on USB or via a download, are you getting both full resolution files for printing, and lower resolution for sharing online without any watermarks.

Wedding photography pricing

The average cost for a professional wedding photographer in the UK ranges between £1000 and £2500, largely dependent on their experience and location. It seems like a lot of money to pay somebody, and not every Bride has a budget that can stretch this far. However, a photographer will likely spend 40-60 hours in total on a wedding when you include the hours planning, travelling, shooting, transferring, backing up, editing, post-processing, saving and so on. Then there's costs for transport, materials for personalised USBs or albums, packaging and postage. A professional photographer will also have invested thousands in top quality equipment which needs replacing and repairing every so often, along with computers and hard drives and other business equipment. Then there's insurance, website costs, advertising expenses as well as taxes on top. If someone is offering wedding photography for a fraction of a price of most professionals, then consider if they are cutting corners somewhere. Is that on equipment, their insurance or on the amount of time spent processing your pictures afterwards. While its a bit of a cliché, it is generally true that you get what you pay for. If you're expecting professional quality pictures, it's likely you'll need to pay the prices of a professional.

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