So, where to start? So many photographers, so many different styles, some expensive, some less so…hard isn’t it? Here’s my take on the subject…all my own personal views of course but I hope it helps somewhat.
You Get What You Pay For
First up, and I’m preparing to be shot down in flames here, don’t scrimp on your photography budget. Sure, you’ll have a budget to work to but, please please, do try and stretch it as much as possible, even if that means cutting back elsewhere. Now, of course, as a photographer, you might expect me to say that, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard stories of couples who tried to work to a small budget for photography and then been seriously disappointed with the results.
Think about it for a second – let’s say a photographer charges £500 for full day wedding coverage with all images supplied on a disk – once they deduct tax (assuming of course they are declaring it) and other associated costs, then they will probably make around £300. Now, ask yourself how much work that photographer is going to do for £300? Typically, from the moment I first meet with a couple, right through until I deliver their final product, I’ll spend somewhere in the region of 65-70 hours working with and for them – for most people that’s almost a couple of weeks work; would you do that for £300? Probably not. The reality is that what you’ll probably get is your images from the day burned to a disk without little or no editing whatsoever, in other words, straight out of the camera, and that’s a big risk to take as a big part of making your wedding images look fantastic is in the post processing undertaken in Photoshop.
Read through a few of the many wedding mags that are out there and they’ll advise you that typically you should be looking at around the £1500 mark for full day wedding coverage with an album, or £1000 for just the images on disk, and that feels about right to me.
Putting on the Style
So, you’ve sorted out your budget, what next? Well, probably a good time to decide what sort of coverage and style you’re looking for.
Coverage can be anything from just part day coverage on the wedding day itself, right through to full day coverage complete with a pre-wedding shoot and perhaps even a post wedding “rock the frock” session. Personally, I like to cover weddings for the full day, from bridal preparations right up to the first few dances in the evening, as I feel that ending a wedding album with first dance pictures makes it look complete. For this reason, all my wedding packages include full day coverage but, naturally, I’ll offer a discount if a couple do only want me to stay up to the speeches.
Now, style, where do you start? Do you even know what you’re looking for? Will you know it when you see it? They say a picture paints a thousand words and nothing is truer than when it comes to wedding photography. so, here’s a list of a few places to start looking (in no particular order):
Recommendation – probably as good a place to start as any. It’s highly likely that you will have had family or friends who’ve been married recently and that you may have seen their wedding images. If you liked what you saw, and got some great feedback about the photographer, then you’re half way there already. Nothing is better than having a first hand account of how the photographer was on the day, what he did to get those fantastic images, and what you got afterwards in terms of how your images were presented.
Wedding Mags – there’s many of them, Scottish Wedding Directory and Best Scottish Weddings to name but a couple. Browse through the photography section and look at the ads – what images jump out at you and speak your language? All ads are different; some photographers will cram them with tons of images; others, myself included, will just go for one big image that we think best represents our style and makes you want to take a look at our websites :-). Here’s my new one that’s about to go into the next issue of SWD.
Your Venue – venues will often have a short list of recommended suppliers who they think fit in with the image they are looking to portray, and photographers will certainly be on that list. There’ll likely be a sample album or two kicking around at the venue so be sure to take a look when you’re there. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll like those photographer’s styles, but it’s a good starting point nonetheless. I’ve just been picked by a couple of venues, Gean House in Alloa and Oran Mor in Glasgow, to be one of their recommended photographers and usually, one thing you can pretty much guarantee is that those photographers on the list will have an in depth knowledge of the venue, which is always important come your wedding day.
Google Search – I say Google but of course you can use anything like Bing, Yahoo etc. In fact, for a lot of couples, this is probably no.1 on the list as the first thing most do when searching for a wedding photographer is to look for wedding photographers in their area to see who’s local to them – did you know that there are over 5000 searches each month for “wedding photographers in Edinburgh”, (and about the same for Glasgow). Of course, what you’ll then be presented with is an almost endless list of sites to trawl through, and I’d guess it’s unlikely you’ll look much further than down to page 2 or 3, as you’ll have already looked at about 50 or 60 by then and hopefully found a few that you like. Another good tip is to look for photographers who’ve shot at your chosen venue, eg “wedding photographer oran mor”, where what you’ll most likely be presented with is a blog post with images shot by that photographer at that venue, and nothing resonates more than seeing images taken at your own venue, as you can start to see yourself in that picture.
Wedding Blogs – these are becoming ever and ever popular as they showcase a lot of different photographers work in the one place and also tend to focus on a certain style of photography that fits the blog. Two of the most popular UK wide are “Rock n’Roll Bride” and “Rock My Wedding”, although, as I say, there is a certain style thing going on with these that won’t suit everyone. Try having a look also at “Plans & Presents” which I can highly recommend (and has some of my work featured as well :-)).
At this stage, by now you will have a short list of photographers (about 4 or 5), who’s style and coverage ticks all your boxes. But what are they like as a person? Bear in mind that your photographer, unlike the majority of wedding suppliers, is pretty much going to be with you all day, so you really don’t want someone you don’t get along with. This is where meeting up with your photographer is key, and is very likely to now be the determining factor in deciding who you go with. And that works both ways too. Often, I’ve met with a couple and just not had “that” connection, and I’m sure they’ve gone away feeling the same too – I’m never then surprised when they decide to then book with someone else which in itself is probably a good thing as to get the best out of your wedding photography, “that” connection needs to be there. If I look back on one or two weddings that I photographed in years gone by that, let’s just say, didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I can probably connect it all back to the fact that I didn’t get on with the couple as much as I usually would do. Thankfully, these are few and far between, but it does just show how important this is.
Blogging is all the rage these days, and any decent photographer will have a blog that is regularly being updated with new work for you to see. But, aside from that, what the blog also does (or should do), is provide a glimpse into the photographer’s personality. Look at their style of writing – does it resonate with you or do you find it boring and all very matter of fact? Now, I’m not for a minute suggesting that you don’t meet a photographer simply because of how they write on their blog but, again, it may give you an insight into the type of person that they are, or aren’t, depending on which way you look at it, and all of this stuff helps.
Finally, thank goodness I hear you saying, the one further thing you need to consider is what you want to do with your finished images and what options your photographer offers. Although, I’ve never been a big fan of giving away all of the images on a disk, I have bowed to public demand and do now offer this with all my packages – in fact, for those that want it, there is a “disk only” package that gives you all the images for you to pretty much do what you want with them. Before I move on, however, I’ll explain the reasons why I don’t like the disk only option. And, it pretty much boils down to what is going to be done with those images and you’ll be the best person to answer that question – what do you do with around 400 images given to you on a disk? My guess, is that you’ll probably do nothing with a large majority of them – they’ll remain forever and a day on the disk or, at best, be uploaded onto a PC. For those that you do want to use, if you decide you want to get them printed (perhaps for family or friends), then I myself have no control on how the finished image is going to look as I have no say in where you choose to get your printing done. Of course, prints done by a professional lab such as the one I use are going to be more expensive, but there’s a reason for that – this being the paper and techniques used in the printing process that will ensure that the print you receive is going to be the best representation both in colour and quality, of the original image. With no disrespect to anyone, I’ve seen a print of the same image from a professional lab and one of the leading high street chains, and trust me, the difference in quality is like night and day…and bad printing reflects badly on me as a photographer.
For me, the only way to have your images presented, is in a quality album – one that will last a lifetime. And, let’s face it, a wedding album is an heirloom that will be taken out time and time again down the years by different generations, and looked through to relive that special day – you just won’t do that with images on a disk. But even albums come in many shapes and sizes, and varying quality, so again, very important that you see what your photographer has to offer. I offer two types of albums which are, I accept, expensive, but that’s where I set my stall out at, as I want your images to be displayed in what I believe are the best albums available – a Graphistudio album from Italy if you’re going for my Storybook package, or an amazing Queensberry album from New Zealand if you want the more traditional offering. Both are made of the very finest materials and will last a lifetime, and couples just love looking through the swatch books when choosing the final finish – there really is an amazing number of different options available.
So folks, there we have it, just my own thoughts as I said at the top, but I do hope it’s provided some food for thought. Naturally, I’ve probably missed some stuff out here, so please feel free to leave a comment or two below if you want to add to this – it’s very much appreciated.
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