London wedding photography – How to choose your wedding photographer
Choosing your wedding photographer can be the most confusing and daunting task when planning your wedding. Most people have never had to find or hire a photographer before.
Where do you start? What do you look for? How do you know how much to spend?
Before you get overwhelmed with the options, I’ve broken it all down into 9 simple steps you can take to choose your wedding photographer. It’s important you make the right decision for you.
1. Searching for your perfect wedding photographer
Personal recommendations are invaluable. I love a good recommendation, we all do.
We use Trip Advisor to research our holidays; companies like Airbnb are based on the premise of trust and recommendations. We have Trust a Trader, where people can recommend tradespeople, and who doesn’t read the reviews on Amazon? I certainly do.
We trust what people say and we particularly trust our friends and family. Perhaps a friend or a family member has someone they can recommend or one of your other wedding suppliers just raves about a particular photographer. Almost half of my bookings come through personal recommendations. It is a fabulous place to begin your search. You do, however, still need to make sure that this person is the right person to photograph your wedding. The wedding photographer who is right for your friend might not be right for you.
Google wedding photographers near you, wedding photographers near your venue, wedding photographers + your venue, wedding photographers + the county your venue is in. Have a look at the testimonials on their website (here are mine) and their Google reviews (here’s mine)
2. What is your wedding venue like? Have they photographed a wedding there before?
This will affect your choice of wedding photographer in terms of style and look because not every photographer will shoot in the same way. It can be useful to see if a photographer has photographed at that venue before. You can google their name + the name of the venue to check but honestly…they may or may not have worked at your venue and it really doesn’t matter. If they are a professional photographer with good skills and have shown they can cope with a variety of lighting scenarios they will be fine. Every year I work at venues I know and I work at venues I don’t.
I enjoy working at venues I know as I generally know what to expect and I have a relationship with the team who work at the wedding. The challenge for this is to keep things fresh, to make sure you don’t get stuck in a rut shooting the same places in the same way. Thankfully for me, I very much take my inspiration from the couples I work with. They guide me in my choices for photos and they each bring their own style to the day. It never feels like too much of a challenge to find something new and different in places I know well. I also make sure to only work at the same venues a limited number of times a year so even though I am a recommended supplier at places like Horniman Museum in London and Pembroke Lodge in Surrey, I love to mix it up.
I also love working at new venues. There is something really exciting about visiting a new place. The light, the rooms, the outdoor spaces. Finding those little, hidden, places that others might not spot, but offer the most beautiful photo opportunity. It’s always fun and allows for a different type of creativity because it’s all fresh and new. The challenges for new venues are often logistical rather than creative. Is the venue easy to find? What’s parking like? What are the events team like? Will the satnav try to send me into a field via a hedge on the way to the venue (this actually happened to me once!)? I often overcome these challenges by researching the venue before the day and if it’s not too far to travel to I will visit in person. Obviously if it’s the other side of the country this isn’t possible, so in that situation I tend to turn up an hour early to have a wander around and get my bearings. I also like to scope the venue out on Google Earth and have some very handy apps that tell me all where the sun will be in relationship to the venue! It’s amazing what you can work out with a bit of internet searching and a clever app or two.
3. What kind of look do you want for your wedding photography?
When looking at how to choose your wedding photographer, this is where the fun part kicks in. Start browsing Google Images, Pinterest and Instagram to look at different kinds of photography.
Then start creating a list of photographers you like. Each wedding is unique in terms of the timeline, what you’re having and who you are as a couple so do keep this in mind when you’re browsing other people’s weddings! Make sure you do your homework so you can really get a sense of what you like as a couple. Maybe it’s bright or maybe it’s dark and moody. Maybe it’s reportage where group photos are only taken on request and usually of a more photojournalistic style. Maybe it’s more natural (like my style) where we do a few posed portraits, lots of captured moments and the details of your day. You might like photos where there is much more focus on couples photos, or you might want it to be more about your guests. Do you like a more emotional and intense feel to the photos or would you prefer a brighter and happier vibe?
4. Do you like their wedding photography work?
This seems a bit obvious, but make sure you look through the work properly and find what really grabs you. What do you feel when you look through the photographs? Can you imagine your wedding captured in the same way? If you want family photos do they do these? Do you like soft colours or a more vibrant feel? By looking through a variety of different photographers’ portfolios you will begin to get an idea of what sort of photography you like and what you don’t.
Photographers are often asked to explain their ‘style’ and this is not always straightforward. Many photographers shoot with a mixture of approaches to capturing a wedding day. I like to combine candid photographs, where I can capture the emotion and the real moments as they happen, with beautiful, natural portraits and editorial-style details. Have a think about what you like and what appeals to you. Choose whether you would like someone who will record the day in a purely documentary way, which will sometimes mean no couples photos and family shots. Or would you like someone who offers a storytelling approach but is also happy to do a small number of family photos and relaxed couples photos (this is the approach I take). Or maybe you prefer someone who offers a more traditional way of shooting, which includes more of the formal, posed photos and you are less interested in the more candid photographs.
When you have found a few people whose work really resonates with you make sure to look at their portfolios. You can also ask to see a wedding in full, to make sure they didn’t just get lucky on a few shots. Most photographers are on Facebook and Instagram, which is also a great way to see their most up-to-date work.
These are photographs you will have for a lifetime. You have to be happy with how they will look and the approach that the photographer will take to capture your wedding day.
Have a browse through my Surrey wedding photography, Kent wedding photography and London wedding photography here or if you are getting married further afield I have plenty of work to show you here too.
5. What’s your wedding photography budget?
Price and balancing a budget is always going to be tricky. What’s reasonable for one person may not be for another. Try not to base your decision purely on price! When budgets are tight it’s easy to look at the prices before the work itself. Try to look for photographers that tick all the boxes visually and then narrow down to what you can work to budget-wise.
I know it’s easy to say (and I might be a tad biased) but don’t scrimp on your photography budget. The photos really are the one lasting memory of your wedding day. So many couples are left disappointed and upset because they chose a very cheap photographer, with limited or no experience, who didn’t capture their day the way they wanted. There is only one chance to photograph those important moments and if you miss them you don’t get a chance to do it again. A professional photographer will have invested not only in the best kit but also in developing their skills and knowledge. They will put the time and effort in to make sure your wedding photos are amazing. This includes hours of post-processing and editing to really make your images look fabulous. You really do get what you pay for.
If you simply love the work of a particular photographer it’s worth chatting to them and trying to make it work financially, obviously within reason. Bankrupting yourself isn’t the way to start married life! Many photographers offer a range of packages. Some offer gift vouchers so your guests can pay towards an album, for example. Many will also offer reduced hours of coverage for a smaller price. Don’t immediately rule someone out because they are a little over your planned budget.
A good rule of thumb should put aside at least 10-15% of your wedding budget for the photography. Having images that in 20 years time will make you smile, laugh and feel the emotions of the day is worth the investment.
For more advice on wedding day budget, check out my blog here
6. Have you met the wedding photographer? Did you get on?
This is one of the biggies when choosing your wedding photographer. I like to be there as a support to my couples as well as their photographer. I like to be able to offer advice and guidance, and assist where needed both before and on the day. Building a relationship with my couples helps me to understand them and to know what’s important to them.
If possible, meet in person or have a video chat. Make sure the person you choose is someone you feel comfortable with and trust to photograph your wedding. I’m always flattered when one of my couples emails me after the day to say it was like having another friend there. This is the relationship I like to have with my couples, it’s personal, I feel the emotions of the day and I am massively invested in capturing their day in the best way I can because of it.
Here’s a full list of questions to ask your wedding photographer
7. What’s important to you with your wedding photography?
You’re probably thinking – how do we make our wedding special to us, and will the photographer get that? So I put together a few ideas on how you can make your wedding unique to you as a couple to help you choose your options.
Do one or both of you not look forward to the idea of being photographed ? Find a photographer who is confident working with you and gels with you. I’ve got a blog full of advice on how to feel more confident when being photographed especially if you’re not keen!
If you’re really looking for a photographer to nail amazing group shots, then find a photographer who has plenty of examples to show you so you can see their style. Here’s a blog where I share how to get fantastic group photos on your wedding day.
Maybe you’re lusting after the kind of photos you see in wedding blogs and magazines, like awesome confetti shots? (here’s a blog on which confetti to use – there’s loads of choices now!)
Do you want to make sure you capture all the gorgeous details, such as the flowers, cake and stationery, that you have spent time choosing? Take a look at some ideas for wedding decor and details.
8. Create a shortlist of wedding photographers
OK, so now you’ve probably whittled it down to 2 or 3 photographers and you need to pick one.
The key questions to double check:
- Can they work with your budget?
- Are they available on your wedding date?
- Are they willing to travel and is that extra or included in the price?
- Do you like their work?
- Do you get on with them?
- What’s included in their pricing? What are the optional extras? (Here’s info about my wedding photography pricing packages)
9. Think about booking an engagement shoot
While an engagement shoot isn’t right for every couple, and there really is no need to have one. An engagement shoot can be a great idea if you’re nervous about having your photo taken. Plus it’s a chance to meet your photographer and for them to get to know you. They can also be a lot of much fun, even if the idea initially fills you with dread! You can find more information about my engagement shoots here.
And now it’s time to make a decision! Whichever photographer you choose, make sure you follow these steps on how to choose your wedding photographer. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
Thanks for stopping by