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Choosing a wedding photographer

Choose your wedding photographer as soon as you have confirmed a date with your venue. The best photographers book up over a year in advance for popular dates and only ever photograph one wedding a day. There are lots of professional photographers available but finding one which you both feel comfortable with and who takes photos in the style and manner you want can be a challenge. It can be tempting to just accept an offer of free photography from an amateur photographer - perhaps a friend or family member, but this is something you should think carefully about. Professional photographers, particularly those specialising in wedding photography, have spent years perfecting the art of getting great natural shots of you and your guests, and most importantly have the editing and presentation skills to produce a wedding album you will treasure.

Qualifications and Societies

While you don’t need to chose the latest award winning photographer, some couples like the reassurance of finding one who is a member of one of the professional photography associations such as the BIPP, MPA or SWPP, but the most important factor to consider is whether you like their work and will be comfort able spending such an important day with them following your every move. Before booking, check your photographer has public liability and professional indemnity insurance.  

Ten points to consider when choosing a photographer

  • Do they offer full-day coverage, from wedding preparations at the bride's house until you leave the reception?
  • Are they familiar with your chosen venue? Have they photographed weddings there before?
  • Do they work with an assistant or alone?
  • Do you shoot in the photo-journalistic style? If you do, will you also do some traditional wedding photos?
  • How many photos do they generally take?
  • Who has the copyright of the proofs and does the photographer retain the right to use images of your wedding in his brochure on on his/her web site?
  • How soon after my wedding will my proofs be ready?
  • Will they be taking digital photographs, and will they be available on the day of the wedding?
  • What is included in their basic wedding package and what extras do most couples opt for?
  • What are the charges for additional prints or extra albums for parents?

What pictures should I ask for my photographer to take?

This really depends on the style of the photographer you book.  A traditional photographer will be happy to do more group shots than one with a photo-journalistic style.  A photojournalist will capture events as they unfold with out people having to pose and look at the camera.  Most photographers will be happy to photograph the bride getting ready, and if there are two of them then the other photographer will generally photograph the groom getting ready. Most professional photographers will know the standard shots to take i.e. signing the register, cutting the cake whilst the more observant photographers will also capture all the other moments from the day, such as mum wiping her eyes, the groom looking around as the bride approaches and Uncle Burt catching 40 winks! If you have any specific shots you require remember to tell the photographer in advance, and ideally remind them again on the day.  

How long will the photography take on the day?

Once again this depends on the style of photography you choose. A traditional photographer will take longer to do the group shots than a photo-journalistic photographer simply because he will do more group shots. Group shots can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on your choice of photographer and the cooperation of your guests. Most photographers will require the bride and groom on their own for half an hour or so to get some shots of the two of them together, but this can be very special time together. Most coordinators suggest you should allow an hour or so for photography but check with your photographer to see if this is long enough for the shots you want.  

How do I keep my guests occupied during the photographs?

Champagne, Champagne and more Champagne!  Most guests are more than happy to stand and chat with each other for up to an hour whilst they may be required for the group shots provided they have a drink in one hand and preferable a canapé in the other. If the weather is bad then ensure there is sufficient room indoors for your guests to stand and for photographs to be taken. To while away the time it can be a good idea to have a small jazz band or string quartet.  A magician or entertainer can also be a good idea to mingle with the guests whilst they are waiting.  

How much should my wedding photography cost?

Wedding photography can cost anything from £100 to £5000 and you really do to get what you pay for. Remember that you are paying for far more than the day itself. A good photographer will spend time before the wedding familiarising themselves with the venue and meeting with you both, and a considerable time afterwards editing the photos and putting them in an album.  Albums are available in a wide range of styles and sizes from classic handcrafted Italian leather albums to very contemporary magazine style layout where you can have lots of images on a page all bound in a aluminium cover with a photograph of the happy couple on the front.  

Wedding photography on a budget

Good quality wedding photography comes at a price. When budgeting for your wedding cheap photography can seem like a good idea. However, from our experience in talking to people who compromised on their wedding photography they said they had been disappointed with the results. There are a number of photography studios who specialise in touching up disastrous wedding photos taken by well-meaning amateurs, the total cost of which far exceeds the cost of hiring a good photographer in the first place. Some have even been too embarrassed to show their album to their friends. Some photographers will be able to offer you ways of spreading the cost of your wedding photography with a payment scheme, particularly if you have booked well in advance. If your budget really is tight, discuss the best way to minimise costs without compromising quality, such as the photographer only attending for the ceremony and an hour of the reception.  

Will it make a difference if my photographer uses film or digital?

Many traditional photographers still use film cameras, shooting every wedding in a similar way with a set number of photos and poses, and they get great results. However most photographers now prefer to use digital cameras which allow them to shoot infinite number of shots from different angles and with a variety of lenses ranging from ultra wide to telephoto giving the bride and groom a huge choice of pictures to choose from. The advent of digital has given both the photographer and client a greater choice in the way their work can be presented. A digital picture can be reproduced in colour, black and white, sepia or a hue that complements the image or follows a theme. Digital images can easily be digitally enhanced to get remove unwanted background signs, or blemishes on skin. Digital SLR camera have the capability of capturing images in more tricky situations, allow the photographer to preview the results and in many ways now offer a quality that beats film. Also, a digital photographer will make several copies of the wedding images and archive at different addresses whilst a film photographer will only have one set of negatives, which increases the risk of losing your precious images.  

Camera shy couples

It is natural to feel self conscious, and added to being in front of a camera, most people are not used to the constant attention they will be getting from their photographer. However, after the first few shots you will find that you naturally relax and start to form a relationship with the photographer, and even their dreaded camera. Enjoy yourself, and the attention. Many couples say that they felt like film stars by the end of their wedding day. And remember, if you feel happy you will look happy and your wedding photographs will look great!


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