It's estimated that there are around 50k wedding photographers in the United Kingdom. With so many different styles and photographers to choose from, how do you choose your wedding photographer? It's a big decision, and you want to get it right. Your wedding photographs are going to be the thing you look back on in years to come to help you relive the memories of your wedding day. It can seem overwhelming. But it's worth investing the time to make the right choice. So pop the kettle on, I'm here to help and give you some completely impartial advice.
For me, it boils down to 3 important things. What I like to call "the three P's" for helping you choose your dream wedding photographer:
Let's talk money.
A good wedding photographer is not cheap. For more information about the cost of wedding photography, including a breakdown of all the hours I spend on a wedding and my associated costs, check out my article Why Is Wedding Photography So Expensive.
The average spend on a starter full-day wedding photography package in the UK is £1,590. These are averages, there will be some cheaper and some that cost more, the cost will also depend on what you want and how many hours are required. If you're in the south-east you could expect to pay more than you would for a Yorkshire wedding photographer like myself.
Different photographers will have different pricing and package options, some include albums and engagement shoots, some offer hourly rates. Variety is the spice of life, right. I have based my pricing around what I've found most of my couples tend to want, but I'm always willing to discuss bespoke arrangements.
How much of your budget should you spend?
With wedding photography, you really do get what you pay for. You should be prepared to set aside around 10-15% of your wedding budget for your wedding photographer - more if you're having a smaller micro-wedding or elopement.
If your dream wedding photographer is slightly over your budget, work out how many weeks there are between now and your wedding, and break down how much extra you'd have to save. If the extra cost of your dream wedding photographer works out at about the cost of a high-street coffee or two a week, then wouldn't that be worth saving for?
After all, once the venue has packed away the chairs, the cake has been eaten, and the flowers have faded, your wedding photographs are going to be what remains.
This is perhaps the most overwhelming element when it comes to choosing your wedding photographer. If you have a notepad handy, now might be the time to grab it.
Experience isn't everything, after all an 18-year old wonderkid can win Olympic gold, but in the field of wedding photography, you need to know you're in a safe pair of hands - you only get one shot at it. Your wedding doesn't come around every four years as the Olympics do.
You want a professional wedding photographer for sure, photographing a wedding requires much quicker thinking and technical skill than say a photographer who works in a controlled environment and with studio lights - things move so quickly on a wedding day, lighting conditions change, and you need to be confident that your photographer will capture all the important moments - that's what you pay good money for.
Your uncle, who has a camera, isn't up to the job. There, I said it (unless your uncle happens to be an experienced professional wedding photographer of course). I've seen some seasoned wedding photographers use some very questionable posing. So the number of years they've been a wedding photographer isn't always the be-all and end-all.
There are so many good photographers out there - and as many not so good ones. A photographer's portfolio will be the first thing you'll head to, and for good reason. If a wedding photographer's images make your heart flutter or make your smile beam, you know you're in the right place.
This is the real minefield. I'm going to try and break this down into digestible chunks for you. Shooting Style:
Wedding photographers will shoot in different ways, some will be candid and photo-journalistic in their approach, not wanting to spend hours posing you and focusing on capturing moments as they naturally occur - almost like a fly on the wall most of the time. Some other wedding photographers will want to spend more time posing, working in a fine-art style which can result in some really stunning images of the type you'd be used to seeing on the front of magazines. Some might fall somewhere between the two. Some shoot in a very traditional way, some in a more contemporary style. There is something to be said about whether a photographer shoots with prime or zoom lenses. There are advantages to both. This is a little technical, so I won't go into it in detail here - a subject for another article perhaps.
Light and airy, dark and moody, vintage or modern. So many editing styles to choose from. Bright poppy colours, or a more desaturated look.
The real key here is finding what type of images your eye is naturally drawn to. Consider setting up a Pinterest board, or having a folder on your PC/Smartphone where you store images you really love, as these images build-up you'll get a sense of which style you naturally prefer.
And remember, you're going to have your wedding photographs forever. That new editing trend could look tired and of its time in a few years. My suggestion would be to go for a timeless look, but it really is a matter of preference when it comes to editing style.
Wedding photographs you'll love forever
If you are a couple who don't like to take life seriously, then find a wedding photographer who feels the same. If you want your wedding to look like a photoshoot, then find a wedding photographer who can make it happen. If you want natural and relaxed storytelling images, shot in a timeless way, with a slight cinematic vibe - then maybe I might be your guy. Most of my couples choose me because I focus on the natural storytelling shots, and keep things nice and relaxed in my couples sessions - getting great images, but without feeling like you're taking part in a serious photoshoot. Remember, you'll have your wedding photographs forever. That's kind of a big thing.
This is the most underrated part of choosing your dream wedding photographer in my opinion. Their personality. You're going to be seeing more of your wedding photographer on your wedding day than you are any other supplier, and in fact most of your guests. They are going to be like an extended member of your wedding party. They will be there with you when you are getting ready, through the ceremony, and as you tear up during the speeches. It's so important that you can get on with your photographer on a personal level and have a good rapport with them. Before making your ultimate decision, I would always ask to schedule a Zoom call with your prospective wedding photographer. Get the kettle on, or pour a cheeky glass of something if it's a Friday night, and have a good chat. After all, what else is there to do on a Friday night at the moment.
In fact, I always ask this of my couples. I want to get to know you before your big day, so there's no awkwardness and everyone can feel relaxed - it's super important to getting great images. Especially if you haven't chosen to add an engagement shoot to your package.
So there you have it, the "Three P's" of choosing your wedding photographer. I hope this information has been helpful in helping you begin to choose your wedding photographer.
Don't rush into a decision, after choosing the venue the wedding photographer is the most important thing for most couples. Memories fade as time passes, but your wedding photographs will help you relive the most special day of your life. Invest in your wedding photographer, you won't regret it.
Here are a few quickfire extra pointers you may want to consider:
- If you're getting married in a barn or a dark venue, take a look at how photographers work in low-light situations.
- Your venue may recommend photographers, check them out but don’t feel restricted, see if there are other photographers that suit you better before making a decision.
- If you’ve got your heart set on certain shots, like couple’s portraits at sunset, nighttime portraits, or a sparkler send-off photo, then you need to talk it through with your photographer.
If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out and get in touch
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