NOTE: I’ve not shot weddings for a few years now but this following advice should still be valid and a good starting point for anyone looking for a good (not just cheap!) wedding photographer.
Every-time a firm closes or makes redundancies more ‘Professional Photographers’ appear on the scene, this is an unfortunate consequence of there currently being no regulation in this industry, leading to the kinds of Horror Stories that hit the national press.
So how do you know who’s genuine and who’s a chancer???
To help guide you, I have prepared a whole list of FAQs for you to ask EVERY Wedding Photographer to ensure you get the coverage & service you want & deserve. If your Photographer cannot answer positively & immediately to these then don’t just walk away… RUN AWAY !!!
Are you a member of a Professional body?
Being a member of a Professional body brings many benefits for the Wedding Photographer, but it’s also a measure of Peace of Mind for you too. There are usually Codes of Practice one has to adhere by, membership also gives you someone to act as Adjudicator in the event of a complaint. But most of all it means your Photographer can network with other Photographers, and building up such networks is vital in the event of injury or illness to help ensure coverage of your Wedding.
Do we get a Contract clearly stating what’s what?
Any Wedding Photographer operating without a solid, clear Wedding Contract is an IDIOT !!! A contract protects both you & your Photographer by clearly stating what’s included in the service you are paying for. It needs to be long enough to cover the essentials but not so long you are put off reading it. Clarity is vital for both parties.
What happens if you are ill or injured for our Wedding?
Wedding Photography tends not to attract those prone to illness, but it does happen so your Photographer MUST have a plan for this eventuality. Commonly, the solution is that through Society/Association membership the ill Photographer could quickly call upon a whole bunch of colleagues that may be able to step in at the last minute. I am part of a local network of other SWPP members and can call on at least half a dozen of those in such an eventuality; additionally I am party to an active Private Forum of over 200 Professional Photographers, so coverage is pretty much a certainty.
Are any photos on your website from actual Weddings?
Every Wedding Photo on my website is from a Wedding I have covered myself as the main (usually sole) Wedding Photographer.
How many photos will I see from my Wedding?
A typical full-day’s Wedding may result in up to 1000 image being taken. These are then edited to remove anything unflattering, test shots, repeated shots (taken to hopefully avoid blinking) and anything technically at fault. The result is usually 200-400 images showing the full story of your fabulous Wedding, and all will be presented as ‘Print Ready’. This means they are final images ready to print. Many of those images, at my discretion, will also have effects applied to WOW you and show the image in what I feel is its best light; and several will be in Black & White / Sepia too.
Do you shoot RAW or JPEG?
This is a technical question but the accepted rule is that Professional Wedding Photographers should shoot in RAW format. There are a host of reasons for this but as the files created need further processing by software on a computer it gives you an indication of ability and professionalism.
How long should we allow for photos after our Wedding ceremony?
Being a Wedding Photographer means loving to shoot photos, so the longer the better for the Photographer; however, taking you away from your Wedding, Guests & the Party for too long is not really a good idea however great the resulting photos may be. A balance has to be struck, but if we can have at least 20-30 mins alone with you as the newly married couple then that’s great.
Even better is that often there is ‘spare’ time not only immediately after the Group photos but again after the Wedding Breakfast as your venue turns-around the room for your evening bash. This added opportunity can be useful for some more adventurous photography, or even where the earlier stint had to be curtailed due to the weather
How many Group photos do you take?
Group photos are usually seen as a necessary evil by everyone concerned. None of your Guests want to be in them, but your mum especially wants them. The key to successful Group shots is keeping their number to as few as possible, and ideally anything less than 8
Even moving quickly, which is rare, your Guests won’t like being herded around too much so a rough rule of thumb is to allow 2 mins per Group shot. Hence a big list could easily mean there’s no time for photos of you as the happy couple !!! Its also important to have your Best Man &/or Ushers involved as they know people and can prepare one Group while another is being shot; this significantly speeds up the process.
Can our Guests take their own photos?
Absolutely!!! Its their day too. Again some Photographers won’t allow it, but so long as I (as your paid Wedding Photographer) have your attention when I need it, your guests are welcome to step in and snap away merrily.
The only time I cannot allow another Photographer to be present is on our ‘Private time’ with you alone as the newlywed couple.
Will our Guests & Family be able to see our photos online?
That’s entirely up to you. Your photos will go online in a Password protected gallery, so if you allow your Guests to know what the password is then of course they can view them. Canny Guests know the Password is usually the Bride’s new surname, so if you don’t wish them to view we need to know and we can simply add a random letter or number to confuse them.
What sort of Professional training have you undertaken in the last 12 months?
Ongoing training in Photography is all part of being a Wedding Photographer, and anyone committed to their art should be attending at least 2-3 events every year to hone their skills, learn new ones and refresh their style. Sadly most Wedding Photographers don’t seem to value such ongoing training, and their work stagnates and becomes boring as a result.
Do we have to Book you when we meet with you, or can we think about it?
No. In fact you are welcome to take our advice ,and this guide to Choosing your Wedding Photographer, and go investigate others. We’ll hold your date for a further 7 days for you to return should you wish to book, after that the date will become free for other couples though.
Do we get one Photographer or two at our Wedding?
Presently I operate on the basis of 1 Wedding Photographer per Wedding, and there are a number of advantages to keeping it that way. I reserve the right from time to time to have a second Wedding Photographer along for training or assisting purposes, unless otherwise agreed such training assistance will be FREE of charge to you.
Can we pay in instalments?
Of course!!! Not everyone has an unlimited budget and being able to pay over a number of months can make life so much easier for many. Your Wedding Fee must be paid in full prior to your Wedding day though.