Even as a photographer I completely understand the worry involved with finding the right photographer. It is such a personal choice, with so many creative, talented and wonderful photographers out there it is not surprising to hear that this is such a hard process and decision. This isn't made any easier as a photographer, there are so many different styles out there and so many personalities within the photography world. I am also very aware that there are numerous external aspects which affect this process so I've put together a few lists and my personal experience of this process.
I am very aware that this is the biggest deciding factor about which photographer a couple goes for, budget is a large part of wedding planning and therefore a huge incentive about the deciding factor on who you do/don't book as your photographer; but I also think you should ask yourself when setting your budget, how much do the photographs mean to you? You spend solong planning your day, from your favours to your theme, table names to colour schemes all the little details that make your day unique to you. The day goes by so fast that your photographs are your real reminder to help bring back memories of your special day, it takes so long to arrive and then when it does it is gone in the blink of an eye. Some people place photography high up in their list of priorities and other couples see other elements as more important focus' and i completely understand all viewpoints. At the end of the day that is what is amazing about weddings in the 21st century. It is completely unique and true to the couple who have planned it.
I am a full time wedding photographer, it is my bread and butter, it pays the bills and drives my inspiration, I attend courses to increase my knowledge and skill, I work throughout the week and in the wedding season, most weekends on such gorgeous special days. This is reflected in my personal cost for a wedding day. Due to the fact this is purely what I do I have a greatunderstanding to the running of a wedding day, I know when to expect certain events, a good photographer will also ensure the smooth running to your day and how and when to grab specific shots. I am happy to admit that I have confidence in the flow of a wedding day and this has something that has only come over time, that along with my education and all the lovely business elements from insurance, equipment and the time I spend editing your images after all affects the price.
Don't get me wrong when I first started my wedding packages were a lot cheaper but that was also to help make the couple aware that my experience was very limited within the industry at that point, so when you view photographers ask yourself why that cost? And how do you feel about that?
Are they full time but just starting out?
Are they part time and therefore have another day job to get back to?
Are they a friend you know who has taken a few wedding's before?
Are they experienced and have years in the field?
Are they established and awarded in the area?
Is this their full time job?
These are just a few questions I think you should ask yourself regarding the photographers budget, I've had a number of couples who had hired friends to do their photography to save costs, that's fine but remember that if they are also a guest there maybe elements or candid moments potentially missed as they too will want to enjoy your day. My own personal opinion is that you do tend to get what you pay for, with a 'higher' charging photographer you have the insurance that this is purely what they do, their website wont have a mixture of Architecture, Animals, Landscapes, Portrait photography on their website. A wedding photographer will tend to work solely with families and people and because of that you know that they know how to capture people and how to capture a wedding. Price dictates experience, knowledge, equipment, insurance to name but a few but also dont forget that you may see a photographer a couple of times before your big day and then on your big day, but there is a lot of work that happens between and after your special day.
So when you budget for your photographer as yourself what do you want your photographer to have for that price? And how important are the images to you?
What style do you like? Photography is very subjective, that's what I adore about this medium! So many photographers, so many styles, so much choice. So start looking around, and look at lots of photographers! Follow your gut instinct when you do, what makes you feel something? Do you look at a photographers work and get an idea for the atmosphere of the day? Do you want something more set-up and posed? Or something more candid and natural. One of the biggest fears a couple has on their day is the thought of the photography, being 'followed' around all day with no knowledge of how the images are looking until you get them back, so when you are looking at photographers work are you happy with the look and style of the full days images? Would you be happy with that photographer to do what they do on the day and be comfortable that they will get the images that tell you about your wedding?
MEET or CHAT
This is invaluable and whenever I can I try and organise a face to face meeting in a pub over a cheeky drink, or if they are further a field a chat over the phone. I wholeheartedly suggest you do this with any photographer that tickle's your fancy. You may adore their style, the way they've captured the day and the guests at previous weddings but you need to meet. Many photographers do purely full day weddings, from Bridal prep through to first dance (and a few songs where the dancefloor is hopefully packed), you want a photographer who you feel comfortable with; someone that during the prep in the morning helps relax or adds to your mornings celebrations and not someone who slightly puts you on edge or feel awkward. A photographer is there to capture your day truthfully as it happens to you so being comfortable in one anothers company I believe to be massively important. So meet, chat and get to know one another, I as a photographer want to make sure you're comfortable with myself and vice versa I want to feel comfortable with you, that way I know Ill be able to capture the images that showcase your day best for you.
SO WHAT NOW?
You've worked out your budget, found a photographer(s) whose style you like, met and chatted over ideas your wedding and photography...what now?
Go with your gut! Are you happy with them? Do you feel comfortable with them? Does the idea of them capturing your day excite you? Do you look at their website/facebook/instagram feed and wonder how they would capture your day??
GET THEM BOOKED IN!
Photographers can get booked up in advance, Ive already got 2018 dates filling up. If you want someone you'll have to get them to book and secure your date, don't hold off, no date is ever secure and solely just for you until it's booked.
As a photographer I stayed true to all the areas I mentioned in this blog, I wanted someone who I knew would bring something to the morning preparations, I also wanted someone whose style both my fiance and I loved, being a photographer I wanted that persons style to be similar in elements but not too similar to mine. Even though I'm a photographer I am not exactly the biggest fan of being in front of the camera, Im used to getting someone to take a photo of me on my camera where I still have the control to edit as I wish. So the hardest part for me was 'handing' that control over to someone else. So where possible I suggest an engagement shoot for anyone who has similar worries to me. It is also another perfect excuse to get the banter going between yourself and your photographer. I enjoyed my engagement shoot so much and I have to admit that it really opened my eyes to the other side so to say!
I hope you've found areas of this blog post useful feel free to leave comments about your experiences or thoughts about finding your photographer!