Don’t make these mistakes when selecting your photographer
Hunting for your perfect wedding photographer can be a stressful part of wedding planning, with so many photographers varying across so many price ranges.
Where do you start?
In this article, we go through some of the common mistakes people make when booking a wedding photographer.
Your wedding is likely the first and last time (hopefully) you will get married. so, you can be forgiven for not understanding the importance of a few things mentioned below.
So let’s get right in to it….
But dont be fooled….They are some out there charging high prices outside of their experience. so how can you sus out if a photographer is worth their weight in gold.
Let’s look at some basic tell tale signs and how you should estimate their worth.
So important! – Do they have only one camera? <- Estimation – Should not be charging more than £600 for a day.
Someone with only one camera isn’t taking the responsibility serious enough and isn’t worth more than £600 for a day.
Do they have insurance? – Estimation – Should not be charging more than £600 a day.
Again, not taking the job serious enough , insurance covers them for reshoots and other factors in the event of disasters and a lot of venues will refuse a supplier if they are un-insured.
Shot 10-30 weddings <- Estimation – Should not be charging more than £800 per day
Someone who has such little experience should be caped at £800 per day for so many little weddings. Evidence of this is the small amount of gallery photos, just count the number of different brides you see.
Lack of night/dark photography experience -< £1000 a day
So if all the above are met, the photographer has backup equipment, they have done over 30-40 weddings, they are insured but lack experience with the darker/night shots then this is where I would start to pull in the £1000 cap.
Lack of light is a photographers biggest challenge, being able to take shots in dark environments is what separates photographers. Aswell as that some additional equipment is and can be used to make those first dance shots more effective. But if your photographer is just black and whiting ALL the night shots then its a sign of a struggle.
1-3 years experience and all of the above is met , evidence of 10+ weddings – £1000-£1500
3-5 years experience all all of the above is met , evidence of 100+ weddings – £1,500 – £2,000
5-15 years experience all all of the above is met, evidence of 200+ weddings – £2000+
There are photographers who have shot 3 weddings and are quoting £1,500 out there so just look and seek for the signs.
Now you know what to look for and what to ask.
Make sure you speak to your photographer first before committing.
Be it a 1-hour zoom or a 5–10-minute phone chat.
You will learn so much about them in such a short space of time and you will already have an idea about you feel, but what should they be asking you?
Are they asking you questions about your day?
What pictures do you want?
Are they giving you advice on your day in general?
Are they full of ideas and advice for you pin pointing out potential flaws?
Or are they just telling you how amazing they are?
(This point will be covered more later)
You don’t need to know what camera they use, what tripod they have and how big the memory card is but at minimum ask how many cameras they have. technical issues can happen and so therefore it’s important to check they come with 2 cameras on the day.
But also – 2 cameras on the day means there is less time spent switching lenses between shots and more time taking photos of what’s important.
It’s no hidden myth that a lot of photographers are “award-winning” – so don’t fall for this too easily.
There are certain awarding bodies out there that are credible. But there are also a lot of award companies out there that charge people to enter and select the winners based on client feedback …. feedback that can easily be faked by the photographer themselves for some.
They may of also won awards not even relating to wedding photography aswell.
Just don’t be blown away by the words award-winning and be mindful of it and make sure it’s not your deciding factor.
Look at the photos on their website – these should be the best of the best!
Are they straight and in focus? is everything sharp? are they defined with a good editing style, are people’s eyes open? and do they actually look professional and rich with the definition?
The photos on the website should be the best of the best and you should expect nothing less.
6 Watch out for subcontracting/outsourcing
Photography is somewhat artistic and creative and unique to the individual.
When you choose your photographer your choosing the photo’s they create and so it’s important to know who you are getting.
In 2022 a photography company caused a stir on social media when couples started complaining that the photos they received were not as advertised on social media and rightly so. The reason behind this was the company behind them were just sub contracting all the jobs to any photographer and the company was only displaying the work of the better graded photographers.
The editing was out sourced and so results became mixed each time.
Who you would get on the day was a mystery and complete potluck. it was all about the volume of bookings to them and not care for the delivery of the product.
As the couples never actually spoke to the photographers prior to the wedding, no planning was done, no group shots requested and no care given to each day & planning. It was very much a case of every photographer winging it on the day.
Subcontracting photography companies CAN hide behind a generic name – such as “big smile photos” (just as an example) – you will see very little information about a single person.
These companies can also rotate photographers and have no idea who will be issued to your wedding till a few weeks before. How can they assure the results on Facebook will be the same for your wedding? They simply cant.
You can probably now start to see how risky this is sounding.
And the worst part is if they cant find a photographer come your day they will just cancel you with days’ notice and leave you in the lurch.
You also have to consider what type of photographers would work for these companies? Potentially people who were not good enough them selves to make it work? Inexperienced people? The whole business model in my view is just about volume and profit and not about care for each wedding.
It’s unreliable, inconsistent and completely deceiving morally wrong.
But there are exceptions – You may contact an individual and they may say I’m not free that day but I can send one of my trusted contacts and I will edit all the photos. This is more associative shooting and this is where the photographer has full trust in the individual, likely someone they use frequently and the person editing your photos will be main photographer in hand that you are speaking to.
They will be very honest and open with you about this and for this you should not worry as much.
It’s usually an afterthought but it’s important to know how long your pictures will take to get back.
it’s sad to say but getting pictures back 4-5 months later the moment may have passed for you.
my self-have always prided myself on a 2-week turnaround with people.
Just check it out if maybe something that may not bother you but at least you know what to expect.
4-8 weeks is more normal these days for most and maybe a little longer in the summer.
Typically, those who deliver less (3-400) are more focused on delivering the best – and that’s fine.
But there are also some who will deliver 1000+ and you got to question if they will even take much time to edit them all properly or just rush through them.
At 1,000 you will probably end up with a lot of duplicates of the same moment which isn’t a bad thing it allows you to pick the best shot. Whilst some other photographers will pick the best shot and include it in each moment. they all work differently.
Anything from 400 to 800 is about normal.
If your wedding photography package has a second shooter added to it then this will add another 150-200+ images.
Some will advertise “UNLIMITED IMAGES” which is impossible – how can a photographer provided you unlimited images? I’ve never understood this tactic my self personally and is nothing more than just a way to make the sale sound better.
In the old-world photographs used to be delivered via print but we are slowly evolving to a world of the digital era where what you get is different.
10-20 years ago it was all about the group shots and the main shots. today it’s about the natural/candid shots/group shots & the bride and groom posing ones but some photographers still only offer “album only package” and the digital images are extra.
Just ask and then you know what to expect price wise as digitals may be an extra.
it’s not a bad thing either it’s just something to bear in mind.
The website will say “all day” – but what is “all day”…. typically, it’s all day up to the first dance.
Some will stay longer some wont – just ask.
If you want late night shots then you may need to pay a little extra, whilst some will stay longer by default anyway but not all will be as willing to stay for free and may dash after that first dance.
Planning meetings and questionnaire’s are a way of the photographer to find out about what’s important to you and what’s not, a questionnaire is common too to get the details such as group shots you want , timings, addresses, family structure, family dynamics. These are all the things I tend to ask my self personally. And they should be offering these meetings to you.
I will give my typical structure per couple to get an idea of how most operate.
My own personal typical structure
A hello chat before booking – 30 minutes to find out about your day and your expectations and to give you a vibe of me as a person and to check I can deliver what you actually want.
Deposit and booking contract sent if they wish to go ahead
Keep in touch in the time leading up to the wedding – a visit to the venue is conducted at some point if I’ve not been before.
4 weeks prior – questionnaire is sent to the couple to fill in everything, group shots, family names, what’s important, timings, order of the day, maid of honour name and best man name, a basic family tree structure. A list of surprises that are happening, dress style, list of shots you really want, insecurities if you have any, the list goes on and on.
3 weeks prior – Planning meeting -1 -2 hours to run through the day from top to bottom and run through your questionnaire.
24 hours prior – another confirmation to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you
The big day its self
After care – Delivery of the images
Touch ups or changes as requested if any
Low light venues and party time are without doubt the most difficult technically for a photographer to capture and this is always a good way to measure a photographers skill level. If you find all the night shots are black and white then is a photographer masking the poor results of the image.
Look for the low light shots and see how they look – if your venue is low light and dark then you will need a photographer capable of handling this sort of environment
Any room that needs additional lighting during the day could be dark enough to give a photographer a hard time and more often than not hotel rooms are poorly lit with a couple of lamp shades on the side and no ceiling lights.
No doubt there are cheap photographers out there and expensive ones also. but measure the cost vs experience.
Typically a photographer will start charging £400 for a full day in the early days whilst building up experience and north of £1,500-£2,500 when they are fully fledged with 200+ weddings under their belt and 5-10+ years’ experience.
So, experience is a big key point to what they charge.
But be mindful if you come across a photographer with 10 years’ experience and they are still charging £500 or someone with little experience charging £1,500 that something may not stack up.
Wedding photographer pay’s well and some see it as a way to make “quick money” and jump in to it charging high end values with little experience.
The experience of a photographer doesn’t always come down to how long they have been a photographer for but how their wedding experience is too.
Wedding photography is more than just about photo’s it’s about getting those pictures whilst blending in to the background, it’s about mingling with the guest’s and being part of the day.
understanding the order of the day so they know where to be.
it’s about knowing how to handle that awkward couple who can’t pose properly but still make the photo’s look incredible.
it’s about making the best of any situation come rain or shine.
It’s about giving you guidance on your day, they become some what of a mini wedding planner with you to help you get the most out of your day.
They will make you think of things you didn’t think about your self during the planning and they will give you that nudge to get some photo’s when your day is flying away with you.
I’ve seen photographers too shy to interrupt the bride & groom for photos and before you know the opportunity has passed and the happy couple are left disappointed with no portraits of them both.
A photographer needs confidence. Period. They need to be able to round up your entire wedding party for the shot’s. they can’t be shy; they can’t be timid, and they need to firm and keep things on track. And so, this where point 2 comes in to play.
When you speak to a photographer get a sense of how they come across, the confidence levels and make sure you feel they would control your day as you want it. They should be driving you and asking about your day, asking about your timings and pin pointing potential problems that may come from your day.
you don’t want a “yes” man, you need someone buzzing with ideas, confidence and passion
There are no second chances. The day needs to be perfect
Check how many reviews they have but more importantly if they are recent and applicable to weddings.
be mindful that websites like bride book allow photographers to write the reviews themselves.
So now you may have a good understanding of what to look for in a photographer,
Let’s just give you a quick-fire list of what to ask your photographer.
1 – What happens if you are ill on the day?
2 – Do you have backup equipment?
3 – How do you command the day?
4 – Will I get a contract? – (it protects you both)
5 – How long will my images take?
6 – How will I get my images? Are digitals included?
7 – Are you insured? – (you may not care – but your venue may not allow them to work there without insurance. some ask to see it)
8 – What are your payment terms?
I have hidden this amongst text for a reason.
Couples who go the effort of wanting to know as much about me as possible are the sort of couples i love the most!
The one’s who want to know as much as possible about there photographer for there big day as they know it’s a big decision for them!
So here is a special treat for you – Enjoy £100 off your booking just write “I read your stuff” when you inquire and i will apply the discount to your booking if you decide to go ahead.
It’s just a sweetener to say thanks! as you are the type of couples i love to work with! :)