How to choose the right wedding photographer.
Part 2 - Your wedding photography options
Your wedding photographs are the physical memories you’ll cherish when the flowers have faded, the honeymoon is a distant memory and friends and relatives have returned home. You will be able to look back at these images, and be transported back to your big day. You will be reminded of, not just the day, but the run up to it as well. Maybe how you both met, with lots of emotion and lots of connected memories intertwined.
So what are the options to capture all these wonderful moments. Who is the right photographer for you? And how do you find them?
Budget of course is a consideration. The cost of a wedding will add up, and add up quickly. Because this is the case, try not to leave the photography till the last minute. Take the time early on to find your ideal match up.
Asking friends or family!
If finances are tight, or photography is not one of your top priorities, but you still want some shots of your day, then of course the option of asking a friend or member of your family could work. Maybe a friend who is a hobbyist, or an uncle that always has his expensive snazzy camera with him at family events. This would save you a good chunk of change and get the job done right?
Wrong! Well in most cases it would be. Let me go through some things to consider if this is an option for you.
Of course this might work! Maybe your friend or uncle with the expensive camera can take wonderful pictures. But it's a long day for a photographer. Will they be up to the task and willing to get all that is needed? All that you require. If they are simply an enthusiastic amateur photographer, then they may not have the range of kit that is needed to get those all important images, you may not realise it, but a professional photographer will often have thousands of pounds in equipment with them. Not to mention all of the editing equipment and the all important back-up systems at the office that are needed, so your precious memories remain protected. It is most likely safe to think that this may not be the case with your friend and family. And this is never a problem, till it is a problem, and then it is a big one.
Your day’s photography can often be demanding and take place in ever changing lighting situations. Something your photographer needs to be prepared for. And does your friend or family member have a spare camera if their's fails? You can be sure that a professional photographer would have. And it would sure be the dumbest luck that on that day, of all days, your wedding day - your friend’s camera would fail and breakdown. Or as I have seen a few times, run out of batteries very early on in the day, as they did not realise the amount of work and sheer quantity of picture taking they would be doing, and just did not plan for such an eventuality or drain on the battery.
I have seen first hand, in the past, at friends’ weddings, the same horror story. The mate with the camera in a panic as all good intentions go out of the window and they curse the day they agreed to do this. They are taking the request serious for their friend, however, they did not realise the full extent of the struggle till the day was on them, and something simple has gone wrong, and now they feel they are letting you down. I have known one person in similar circumstances, rush out and buy spare dedicated batteries and a flash gun as they were struggling with the built in pop up flash and the amount of shots they were taking, even at the beginning of the day, were proving a drain on the battery. They knew it stood a good chance of running out part way into the day. So they ran out part way through the wedding day. And spent, not a small amount of their own money, on this extra kit, that they would personally, hardly ever use again. That's a true friend, and all round good guy. But I am sure you can agree, not an ideal situation to find yourself in. There was a quite a lot of stress surrounding this moment, and it did not need to be so. Enough curve balls can be thrown at you on the best of wedding days, with so many variables, you don’t want to leave too much to chance. Especially something as important as the photography.
If you have that same mate or family member, let this person leisurely take some shots for your collection throughout the day. Just don't burden them with too much. For theirs and your sake. Just see it as an added bonus, to have alongside your chosen professional.
Another reality could be that your well meaning friend, or uncle with the nice camera doesn't panic and just goes about the business of taking pictures of the day, without any stress at all. But by the end of it, will you actually have a true representation of your day that you deserve, after all the hard work you have put in, and money you have invested? Only you will be able to answer this question.
Of course, if you are on a tight budget, and you know the right person - then this can be a viable option. Just be aware of the many pitfalls and do your homework, and make sure you tell them what you are after, as they may place a heavy burden upon themselves and this might not be realised till the wedding day itself. Or you may be disappointed with the results and by then, it is of course too late. Also, you might want to avoid your wedding day being responsible for any bad blood between friends and family. It is simply not worth it in the long run. Of course, don’t be coerced into spending money that you don’t have, just be aware of its limitations. And if these limitations give you cause for concern, then maybe you can shuffle some of your budget around in order to make it happen.
The semi professional.
Maybe you go for a ‘professional’ but look for a cheaper alternative, you look for someone that will shoot your whole wedding day, put the images on a disk and give you that for somewhere between £400-£600. After all, you can edit them later, and get them printed, even make yourself a book online. And it is a fraction of the cost of what some photographers are asking, which also negates the need to ask a favour from a friend or family member. If this is your line of thinking, make sure you read part 4, which focuses on digital negatives, printing options and book design. I will touch on it briefly now, but this extended information could save you a lot of time and hassle.
So, this is a viable option. But you may have noticed the world professional above in quotation marks. There are after all ‘professionals’ and professionals. And quite often you do get what you pay for. There is so much more to good, professional photography work, than just the day’s work clicking away. There are many other considerations and, if you understand some of these, then you may start to see the value in choosing the right professional. Don’t worry - if you have not considered these things before, then you are not alone. We are, after all, living in a world, where ‘everyone’ is a photographer. Where digital technology has brought professional looking gear into the hands of the average consumer. Where fantastic, and near instant high standard visuals are the norm. Just think about how good our camera phones and screens have become. So getting someone to take pictures is the easy part. It is getting the best you can that is the trick. So don’t be surprised if you get your disk of pictures, and they are nothing more than a collection of snaps. Do you have the software, or time to colour correct them or make edits? Are you really ever going to get the time, after the wedding, and after the honeymoon, once you have started back at work, to get those photos printed, framed for your wall or made into a book as you promised yourself you would?
I know photographers, artists and other creatives that have gone this route, as they know someone in the business and have called in a favour, and despite being in the industry in some form or another, they still haven't gotten around to it. After all wedding photography is not their calling. It happens time after time, and turns into a job that gets pushed back and back and back. In short, life takes over. This is totally normal, and we often ask and demand too much of ourselves.
This so called cheap option, and that disk, then quite often turns out to be quite an expensive disk, because you never get any value from it. It just sits in a drawer being forgotten about. Remember as with all professional services, you should be looking for a fully finished product, and one that you deserve.
Ask yourself this, would you be joining the caterers in cooking the meal on the day or arranging your own flowers? Maybe you would, but I find it highly doubtful in the majority of cases. I do often see people banding together to cut costs of course, maybe you have a budding baker in the family for the wedding cake, or a friend that is a hairdresser or a seamstress that can make some alterations to the bridesmaids’ gowns. If that’s the case then brilliant. Make the most of these. But unless you are a very fortunate, and know the right person, then consider prioritising your photographer up there with such things as your venue and items such as the dress. The important parts of the day that you would not entertain the idea of taking a shortcut on.
If you do happen to find one of these options, and you are happy with what you have found, then all power to you. Maybe they are an aspiring professional, and you have caught them early in their journey. Just please don’t hold out hope for full coverage, capturing all those moments in detail. After all, they could be still learning their craft.
But please remember, that there really is no second chance in all of this. So if you are going to spend all that time, effort and money on arranging the most fabulous of occasions for you and your loved ones to share in. Do yourself a favour and don’t forget to budget for a photographer. You not only want to find the right wedding photographer, one that creates images that you fall in love with, but you also want to find one that you get along with and feel comfortable with and, most importantly, that you trust. After all, your photographer will be with you for most of the day, you will be spending a lot of time with each other. They will be in closer proximity to you, your friends and family, then almost any single other one person on the day. They will be there for all the moments that matter, and they will stay out of the way when not required, be respectful to you and your families when you need that time away from the madness of the day. In most cases they are with you from start to finish. And the right photographer, the one that you connect with, will be able to reflect this by capturing those unique one of a kind moments. Moments that you will look back on and cherish.
So my advice is, choose the right one for you. Make your photographer one of your top priorities, and you wont regret it.
In time, you may forget how lovely your flowers were, or how the chicken dinner tasted. But you will remember the feelings of the day; truly great photographs will help take you back to that moment and help you relive that memory time after time.
We all have to consider our finances; no one is suggesting you go out and find the most expensive photographer out there. But instead, by considering your wedding photographer as a priority in the early stages of planning, then you have the time to find the best one suited for you. And we all have different wants and needs. We all have different styles that we would be looking for. So take the time, find that right photographer, that right team or the right studio that can work with you, and help make your wedding day the best possible experience, not only on the day, but for the many years down the road that lie ahead for you both.