If you are planning your Wedding – finding the right company or individual for your photography or video (or both!) can be a real challenge. There are some key considerations you should take to ensure the big day runs as smoothly as possible, which we have carefully broken down and unveiled here. These tips could save you time, money, and an awful lot of stress!
In raw terms, you should consider the following factors: Style, Equipment, Price, Experience, Communication, your relationship with the Photographer/Videographer, what happens after the Wedding, and unfortunately you must also consider what happens if something goes wrong.
There are many different photographic styles. Some Photographers prefer to shoot very formally, others like to push the creative boundaries, and produce very abstract work. Some follow a more documentative approach, whereas others like to get more involved and directly control the photos they produce.
What style of photos do you like? Your photographer should take the time not just to explain their photographic style to you, but also to understand what you want from the day – As a professional it is your photographer’s responsibility to adapt their work-flow to suit you. This is your day, not theirs, but remember that whilst you may have your own preconceived ideas – this is their career after all. They should have the experience to know what does, and doesn’t work, The more comfortable about what your photographer is going to produce before the day, the less you will have to worry about.
Working together to bounce ideas around and discuss the locations is a great way to refine the creative style of your day beforehand, and remove any last minute stress.
Does your Photographer have the correct equipment to shoot a Wedding? Do they have a backup system in place to prevent images being lost? Do they own, or rent the equipment they use? These are all considerations you must make to ensure that your mind is at ease before the Big Day.
Some Photographers share equipment, or rent it specially for events. With rented equipment there is an inherent risk that a previous user has damaged the equipment, or a key bit of kit is missing. The worst time for your photographer to find this out is on the morning of your Wedding Day. Owning your own equipment doesn’t automatically offer any guarantees either. A busy Photographer may be using their camera(s) for hundreds if not thousands of photos every single week. You may feel uncomfortable about asking a photographer about their equipment, some photographers may find it intrusive as you are questioning the fundamentals of their career, but look at it like this: If you book a flight, you want to know the plane is well maintained, so when you book a photographer’s services, you should want to know that their equipment is well looked after too.
When taking price in to account you must consider two things, firstly what you can realistically afford, and secondly – whether what you are getting is value for money. If it sounds too good to be true, that might just be the case. If the price is in the high-end bracket – does the service offered have the credentials to justify this?
There is a massive range in prices and services available to anyone booking a wedding photographer or videographer. Different photographers also offer different rights to their customers about how they can use the photographs afterwards. Whilst some Photographers offer an “all-in” fee – others offer cut-price weddings, but comfortably make their money when you are forced to buy the photos individually afterwards. Some give you rights to the files, and some will only allow you to buy prints. Understand exactly what you are paying for before hand, so that there are no nasty surprises that put a dampener on your day, or tarnish what would otherwise have been treasured photographs.
With the recent advances in technology, more and more people are taking advantage of affordable professional, and semi-professional equipment. Whilst this has done wonders for couples with regard to driving prices on Wedding Photography down, it has also had an industry wide impact on quality, and service. A very easy market for this new breed of “self-taught” Photographer to get into is the Wedding Industry. The clients here are not Marketers, or Advertisers, or Media Buyers who understand the warning signals – but are instead honest, vulnerable people. There are hundreds of fantastic Wedding Photographers in the UK, and it is unfair to say that there are not “self taught” Photographers within the midst of it; you just need to have the confidence that your Photographer is one of them.
Photography and Videography are both easy concepts to understand, but near impossible to master. A good photographer can easily adapt to different lighting conditions, and understand how to work different scenarios to their advantage. This understanding can only really come from practice. Lots and lots of practice.
You have every right to question the experience of your photographer, and should be encouraged to do so. Having confidence in their ability is a crucial part of removing any elements of worry from your day.
How easy is your photographer to get in touch with, and how well do you get on with them? If you love their portfolio, but you can’t get on with them in person, or find their company tense or uncomfortable – then this could be a one-way ticket to disaster.
Any negative vibes you have can be amplified with all that is going on during the big day. It is vital that you have absolute trust in whoever is standing behind the lens. If you are worried they don’t know what you are looking for then it is a sure bet that you will spend a significant section of your day wondering if they have remembered that shot that you e-mailed about 3 months ago but didn’t get a response. You may then look at them with resent on the day, and feel very nervous about seeing their shots afterwards. This may have a negative impact on your thoughts about their photos, no matter how good their work turns out to be.
In addition to the communication with your Photographer, you should also consider your relationship – Is this a friend who would otherwise have been invited as a guest? Are you currently considering a friend who is pretty handy with their new camera?
If you are seriously considering getting a close friend to Photograph your Wedding, you should also consider several points; What happens if they make a mistake? What happens if they don’t get the shots you want, or accidentally delete the photos? This exact scenario is sadly something we read about frequently in industry publications and forums. We would strongly recommend that you hire a professional who you can trust, who won’t feel like they are missing out on enjoying the day with you with the added responsibility of your treasured Wedding photos.
Is your relationship strong enough with this friend that if they totally ruined your Wedding Photos it wouldn’t do permanent damage? With all of these considerations, you should ask yourself if it is really fair to put this pressure on someone who lacks the professional experience, regardless of budget.
After the Wedding
What will happen after the wedding? When can you expect to get the Photos or Videos delivered to you? Do you get the rights to use the photos yourself?
Depending on a Photographer’s workflow, schedule, and ability – it could be between 24hours, and 12 weeks before you see your photos. Again – this is something that you should check well in advance to avoid an anxious wait after the day. You should also consider how these will be shown to you; will the photographer bring the photos to your house for viewing, will you go to their office, or will they send you samples over the internet or in the post?
It is recommended that whenever possible you should go through the photographs at a “viewing” afterwards. This gives you a chance to look through the photos with your photographer, explain what you like and what you don’t, and this way they can use their experience to help you build photo albums, or crop prints for different frames – If your photographer cannot take the time to offer you this, perhaps it is time to question whether they are a photographer because they care about your photos, or because it pays their bills. (In reality it should be a bit of both!)
What if it all goes wrong?
What happens if your photographer is ill on the day, if their equipment breaks, If the photos or if the photos are lost?
What happens if in 5 years time you lose your photos? Can they be recovered?
A good photographer is capable of working on their own, but cannot depend on it – falling ill, or any other scenario that stops them from shooting your wedding should be planned for. Some photographers work in teams, or have a backup photographer on standby who is already aware of who you are, and knows what you are looking for on your day. They should also have spare equipment in case their main camera fails or they have any other problems. If there is a problem with equipment, and you have already paid for the photography – whilst we can all agree it is more about the memories than the money, all good photographers should have the insurance, or financial backing to compensate you should this happen.
If the worst came to the worst, and you lost all of your photographs, be it through theft, a computer malfunction, property damage, or any other of the multitude of things that could happen, it would be devastating. Find out what your Photographer’s backup process is. It is advisable that any photographer shooting digitally should keep an archive of all of their work in at least two different formats, and preferably at two different locations. Independent backups make it a lot harder to lose everything – and having this assurance in advance is confidence inspiring. If your Photographer cannot offer you this service, then you should look at a way to do this for yourself. (A good suggestion is to write all of your photos to DVD’s and give a set to two different close friends – this way if anything happens you should be able to get a set back from at least one of those friends!)
However, it is understandable if your photographer charges a storage or recovery fee for this service. Backing up your work takes up space on their archives that does not earn them any money, and also prohibits them from using this storage space for other jobs. If they archive to disks, or data centres, then you must consider that it would take them time to load your archive back into their system to reproduce/re-send you the work.
In summary, there are many considerations to make when selecting your Wedding Photographer. There are thousands to choose from, and each will surely promise you that they are the best choice for you; after all, the survival of their business depends on winning your business!
This list is in no way exhaustive, but was put together by the team at Ivory Haze Ltd, a Berkshire and London based Photography and Videography Company as a guide to help couples everywhere to help them make the right choice about whom they hire.
Whether you choose to work with Ivory Haze, or not, careful consideration of all of the above points, should help you to not only choose which professional to hire, but more importantly; to have confidence in them.
Above all, whether you are a photographer looking for tips, or a customer looking for a guide – We hope that you have found this useful. We hope that you enjoy your upcoming Wedding, and we hope can look back at some fantastic photos in the years to come.