It's an exciting time in your wedding planning journey!
You and your fiancé have booked a venue and chosen your wedding date; the next thing to do is book your photographer!
Photographers, especially the good ones, get booked up 12-18 months in advance, so it's really important to get searching for the perfect photographer for you.
Read on to see my top tips for finding the right photographer and the main questions you should ask them before you book!
Once the confetti has settled and the honeymoon is over comes the exciting time to receive your wedding photos.
The walk down the aisle, the tears from your dad as he sees you for the first time, the romantic first kiss between husband and wife and the hilarious best man’s speech: you’ll be able to look back on all those special moments and remember one of the happiest days of your life – not just now, but in years to come.
It’s so important then that you’re happy with your wedding photographs. It can be one of the biggest wedding regrets for couples that they either didn’t capture all the moments they wanted or they ended up not liking the photographer’s pictures!
Lets start with the basics...
Firstly, make a list of photographers who's style you like; read through their website and have a browse at their portfolios. Also... read their testimonials on google - not just the ones they've used on their website.
Secondly, narrow these photographers down and enquire with those you feel the most connection with. I 100% recommend booking in a call, meeting or zoom with them so you can openly discuss your wedding plans and you can get to know one another. You should instantly know if they're your type of person. After all, they spend the entire wedding day with you!
Finally, have this handy list of questions at the ready when you have that first consultation!
1. Do You Have My Date Available?
An obvious question, you’d think, but please include this in the first enquiry email you send so you don't waste each others time. Photographers usually get booked up 12-18 months in advance!
2. How Long Have You Been Working as a Wedding Photographer?
If you're paying a premium price for a photographer you need to check they have the adequate experience working in weddings! They're fast paced days where we only get one chance to get the shot, and if the photographer isn't used to this environment then they may miss important moments. A photographer who’s worked in the industry for a couple of years will know exactly where to be and when.
This doesn’t mean you can’t choose someone who is new to weddings or has only shot one or two, (we were all there once) but know that in photography, you get what you pay for.
3. How Many Weddings Do You Shoot a Year?
Asking this question can flag up a few things such as if this is their weekend hobby or full time job. Note, if a photographer only shoots under 30 weddings a year, this can mean that they care deeply about giving you their full attention and they wish to do the best they possibly can. So maybe follow by asking, is this your full time job?
Don’t dismiss a photographer if it’s not what they do full-time, but be aware that a lot goes into wedding photography, in particular, editing your photos is a long process, so you might not get your images back as quickly.
4. Have you photographed at my Wedding Venue before?
It isn't necessarily a bad thing if your photographer hasn't been to or photographed your venue before however it is always a good question to ask.
If they have shot at the venue before then they will know the best spots of photographs etc. If they haven't photographed at the wedding before, suggest you meet there to have a walk around.
5. Can I See A Full Wedding Album?
From the photographers website, instagram and facebook you will get a feel for their style, but these will only be the cream of the crop, selected to show off their work at its best. To really see if you like a photographer’s work overall, you’ll want to look through a whole album. This will tell you how they capture the story of the day, position themselves at certain moments and will highlight if you like how they take photos in different lighting conditions. Make sure you look out for consistency with their quality and style.
6. What Wedding Packages Do You Offer?
If when you enquired they didn't have their pricing on their website or if they didn't include a brochure in their initial email, ask straight away to see their packages!
The average wedding photographer costs between £1,200 and £2,000 for full day coverage.
You need to ask the general things such as;
1. How many hours they will be with you on the day.
2. How many photos and in what form you’ll get them back.
3. Are the images watermark free.
4. Is there an engagement shoot included.
5. Is an album or prints included.
Get in writing what is included in your package!
Be careful of Hidden Costs!
We have heard so many horror stories in the industry where a couple thought they’d found a bargain and ended up with bad photographs, spiralling hidden costs or even watermarked images they had to pay extra for!!!
7. Will I Be Able to Give You a List of Specific Shots We’d Like?
A shot list is a list you write for you photographer with the absolute must-have photos you want them to capture, like a special detail in your wedding that may get overlooked. This shouldn't be a problem for photographers however please don’t request too many or it can take time away from capturing the candid, natural moments of the day.
8. Is an Engagement Shoot Part of Your Package or is it an additional extra?
An engagement shoot is a brilliant way to get comfortable in front of the camera and get to know your photographer. If an engagement shoot isn’t included with your package, it’s worth adding one on!
9. Do We Need to Provide You with Food?
It’s completely up to you whether you provide your photographer with food, but it’s the polite thing to do and some even have it written into their terms and conditions. They’ll be working 10+ hours for you and will not want to leave the venue to find a takeout and potentially miss the speeches or first dance!
Ask your photographer what they’d like: you can arrange for them to have a plate and sit at one of the tables or somewhere else such as the bar area. They’re unlikely to be taking lots of photos during the meal, as no one wants a camera in their face when they're eating, however at least they're nearby if anything worth photographing happens unexpectedly.
10. Do I Need to Cover Travel Costs?
This should be clearly laid out in your contract to avoid unexpected charges however it's always best to ask your photographer at the initial consultation so you're not surprised by any additional costs. If your photographer is travelling to you from further a field, always expect you require you to pay for travel and sometimes accommodation.
11. What Will You Be Wearing?
Now you may think, what a silly question however if your photographer turns up looking scruffy then it can be a little embarrassing. Jeans won’t do at a black tie soirée.
Your photographer should look professional and wear something appropriate that still allows them to do the job in the best possible way!
12. How Much is a Second Shooter?
A photographer usually has an a la carte menu where you can add on things such as a second shooter, should you want one. More expensive wedding packages will often include a second shooter as standard. This is another photographer who is there to capture different angles, moments going on when the main photographer can't be in more than one place at once such as, the drinks reception while the group shots are happening.
A second shooter is essential for a large wedding, and also means the morning preparations of both halves of the couple can be captured.
13. Will Other People Be Able to Take Photos While You Are?
There’s a massive amount of benefits to an unplugged wedding. You may not have put too much thought into it, but no one wants their walk down the aisle or first kiss blocked by Aunt Pat taking photos on her giant iPad.
14. What Is Your Back-up Plan If You Can’t Attend on the Day?
It happens rarely, and has never happened to me personally (touch wood) however, unfortunately people get ill and family emergencies happen. Its 100% worth asking your photographer what their contingency plan is... they will likely have a network of fellow professionals they can call upon if circumstances change unexpectedly. To be on the safe side, it’s always recommended you get wedding insurance to cover for any last-minute disasters. Listen to your gut if they ignore the question, you have one chance at this day.
15. Do You have Back-up Equipment?
Similar to the previous question, make sure your photographer is prepared for any situation. In this instance I don’t mean if their battery runs out (that’s just a badly prepared photographer), yet sometimes accidents happen: cameras break, lenses smash, external hard drives get damaged. Ask what they have to hand on those situations – a professional photographer will often carry multiple cameras with them.
16. Do You Have Insurance?
A professional wedding photographer should have both professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance and they should be happy to show you their insurance documents if asked.
17. How Much is the Deposit + when is the final balance due?
Knowing when both the deposit and final payment is due will help you budget for your wedding and secure your photographer for your date. All of these dates for payment instalments should be given in writing and also within your contract.
If a photographer is asking for a hefty deposit such as 50% of the balance, ask why, as our expenses are mainly on the day and after your wedding. A deposit of 25% is normal practice.
18. Will We Receive Digital Copies of All Images and When?
Most photographers shoot with digital, so a full set of edited digital copies of your photos is standard in most wedding packages. This is usually around 800+ photographs. Get in writing in your contract the full details of what you’ll receive, including a personal use copyright license which allows you to print out your wedding photos. Don't be caught out by photographers who make you pay for images on top of the fee!
Personally I take 2-3 weeks to return a fully edited gallery, check this timeline with your photographer and ask yourself if you're happy with waiting that time for your images.
Ask yourself these questions after you've met or spoken with each photographer:
If you would like to book in a consultation with me and chat all about wedding photography please feel free to send me an email.
Laura Jayne is a professional photographer with a passion for showing people how beautiful they are.