How to choose a wedding photographer (our top five tips)
Working with wedding photographers from all over the UK, we have seen how much joy great wedding photos can bring to couples, and how taking some time to consider, research and plan your wedding photography can really make the investment worthwhile.
Amazing wedding photography has never been more diverse and accessible! Not only are there more wedding photographers to choose from, but they also vary wildly in their approach, style and end products as well as their level of skill, price and experience. In this post, we’ll give you our top five tips on what to think about when choosing your wedding photographer.
Tip No. 1 – Don’t ask your friend or family member to do your wedding photography.
This might have crossed your mind already and perhaps on the surface, it seems like a good idea. We can see why it would appeal. You might be more relaxed with your friend, you might not have to pay them and they are coming as a guest already. These are also some of the reasons, when considered on the flip side, why they might not be the best option. Let’s do a little quiz to get started.
- Is your friend/family member a professional photographer?
- Are they good at managing time and people?
- Do they have the best kit for the job?
- Are they going to work hard all day and be completely focused on the most memorable moments, documenting one of the most important events in your life for you to treasure for years to come?
- Are they going to edit all of your images conscientiously and supply them in good time?
If you have answered yes to all of these questions then, of course, your friend sounds like they will be perfect for the job. However, if you have answered no to any of them, and have the tiniest suspicion that they might be at the bar while you are having your first dance, then it is time to reconsider. It also might be nice for your friend or family member to be able to enjoy your special day as your guest, rather than worrying about the pressure of getting your images spot on.
Tip No.2 – Find your vibe.
Many experienced photographers have spent a great deal of their career honing their own particular ‘look’ and a couple of shots may have already caught your eye that point to what sort of style you’re looking for.
Next, have a brainstorm with your fiance. Chat about what you like and don’t like, what you are worried about and what your dream photos might look like. What would work practically, is your photographer local to your venue, have you allocated enough time for photography in your schedule, which photos can’t you do without? Thinking about this early on can give you a great starting point and help you to stick to what is important to you.
Here are a few images from some of our favourite photographers and a little glossary of photography styles. You can find more on our website gallery.
When you look through a photographer’s portfolio, have a look to see if they mix styles. You might be able to opt for a more stylised quality in your couple-only photos and a more candid style in the wedding breakfast to capture spontaneous moments.
- What is candid wedding photography – natural, unposed shots. You will likely get some of these from all photographers but some do this style exclusively. This style often catches those moments where people are unaware of the camera and are therefore incredibly natural.
- What is cinematic wedding photography – as the name suggests these are heavily stylised images with extensive editing, colouring and a filmic quality. They are often more posed and intentional in their approach.
- What is documentary style wedding photography – the photographer will direct you very little on the day. They will choose specific shots that tell a story about you and your wedding. This style can overlap with candid.
Tip No.3 – Research, Research, Research!
Once you have an idea of what your vibe is, you can start researching properly!
An obvious place to start are sites where you can save and organise your favourite images, like Pinterest and Instagram. If you are using a planning app then these often have the facility to save your favourite suppliers.
Also, use the knowledge that your venue might be able to provide. Hampton Court Castle not only has a recommended supplier list to help you find local photographers, but we also have a fantastic website gallery where you can see the sort of images other couples have achieved. This is a great way to think about how your photographer’s style might fit with the space and the backdrops as well as the season and light. It will also help you to make sure you allow enough time to reach all the locations you want to capture whilst it is still light!
This might sound obvious but take a thorough look at the portfolios on your short-listed photographer’s websites. How compatible is their approach with your personality as a couple? If your photographer favours close-up, intimate images – will you feel comfortable with that? If they do lots of outdoor and light photography, will they be able to capture a winter wedding with a sparkler arch effectively?
Feel free to ask them lots of questions, don’t be afraid of communicating what you want. The closer you all are to having the same expectations, the more likely you are to be happy with the finished results.
Tip No.4 – Choose a photographer you feel comfortable with.
A good photographer will consider correct lighting, composition and colouring, but when it comes to wedding photography there is more to it than meets the eye. Your photographer is sharing some of your most intimate moments and how comfortable you feel will come across in your photos. Think about what sort of people you work best with and what type of person will suit you as a couple.
Many photographers will offer pre-wedding shoots beforehand so you can talk through the wedding and they can take a few shots so you can all get to know each other better. This can go a long way to ironing out any anxieties you might have and help you to be more comfortable in front of the camera before going into the wedding day itself.
5. Have Fun & Improvise
Planning is all very well but don’t be afraid to improvise on the day! Some of the best shots might be moments you never thought would happen. Indeed, they might be unexpected opportunities. If you have a good relationship with your photographer then listen to their suggestions and see where it takes you.
Having this attitude will help if things don’t quite go according to plan, perhaps it rains or that particular blossom tree doesn’t bloom in time, don’t worry, your well-chosen photographer will be there with ideas and support.
If you do want to try something new, think about things like smoke bombs which can create some great atmospheres, colours and effects. There also might be the opportunity for unusual lighting or night photography. Chat to your photographer, they will undoubtedly have some great ideas and it will also help them prepare for any extra equipment or editing that might be needed.