1. Not all photographers can deliver any style of photography
In the same way that opera singers struggle singing rock songs and not all artists can paint in watercolours; not all photographers can photograph in any style. There are many styles of photography and wedding photography and an established professional should be able to discuss theirs and demonstrate it through their website. If it’s not clear to you, ask. Try to have a think about the type of photos you already display around your home and think about how your wedding photos will fit into this.
2. The photography is only 10% of the job
You have to be able to get on with your photographer and connect about your ideas. They have to be able to listen to you, your ideas, concerns and suggestions and apply these during the pressures of the wedding day. They have to meet all your friends and family and in a short amount of time has to make them feel comfortable enough to have their photo taken. They have to plan for every eventuality and afterwards make sure everything is backed up and saved in an orderly and safe fashion. Then there’s the sorting out of the hundreds or thousands of photos they might have taken on your wedding day on multiple cameras. Then these need to be sifted through, which is the hardest part as they will have to decide which photos to keep and edit and which ones to pass over. Then there’s the editing, this is huge. Every photographer uses a different technique and has a different style using different technologies and software. In the past few years photographers have been into ‘vintage’ or film look photography and many use presets for this developed by companies such as VSCO. Others work to create their own look and will take 5-10 minutes on each photo, meaning 500 photos can take up to 40 hours to edit. Then the photos need to be presented to you either via an online gallery for proofing, on a media device such as a USB key or DVD or within an album, which the photographer will usually design for you.
3. There’s more to professional photography than a nice camera
When you book a professional photographer you’re doing more than renting a camera and its user for the day, you’re also paying for;
- Years and years of training, experience and specialist knowledge
- Someone special ability to make people feel comfortable in front of a camera
- Insurance policies and back up equipment
- Planning and organisation skills to reassure you on your wedding day
- Having your photographs organised, sifted, edited and presented to you
- Your photographs to be stored and backed up for an agreed amount of time
- Someone who can design you a custom album or additional print products
- Running costs of transport, electricity, consumables, batteries, food and clothing to deliver the service.
4. You will get what you pay for
Most photographers are honest and embarrassed about their costs and the prices for their services. Running a photography business is expensive and our accountants help us ensure that we’re not running at a loss, although many photographers rarely make any profit from their businesses. A good wedding photographer will deliver a set and limited number of weddings each year and will need to make an annual salary as well as covering costs from this work. If a photographer wants to earn £25pa and photographs 25 weddings per year (the average is 25-30) then they will need to charge £2k for each wedding (which is WAAAAY over most people’s budgets and so much more than I would want to charge). From this £50k they will need to pay tax & NI, insurance for their equipment and public liability, business services such as their accountant and website, servicing and updating of their equipment, running a car or other transportation, training and development expenses, overheads of their business such as rent or utility costs.
Your photographer knows that these costs will need to be taken into account. Discounting or working below this level will make your job extremely stressful for your photographer and you run the risk of making them resentful of knowing the costs of delivering your photos are more than they’ll make and they may be better off not taking on the work.
5. It’s more about the person than their equipment or lenses
If when you meet prospective photographers you’re not made to feel at ease and you don’t think they’ll fit in with your family and friends they they’re probably not the photographer for you. If they don’t make you feel reassured and in control, you’ll be worrying about your photos all day and up until the day they are delivered. Meet as many photographers and you can and decide with your heart.
6. Your photos will take some time to be delivered
Please be patient. In a recent survey of a group of professional photographers they spend around 4 minutes on each photo they will present to you. This is between backing them up, sorting them into order, sifting through them, cropping, straightening and correcting things like white balance and exposure. Many also apply effects and filters and may spend time in Photoshop removing blemishes, smoothing skin and removing distracting elements from each photo. On average photographers present 500 photos and so will spend around 35 hours on your photos, although they can rarely spend more than 3 hours per day in front of the screen and will spread this over 10-15 working days. This is around other tasks such as emailing other clients (40-50 emails per wedding client is typical), designing and ordering albums, administering their business and updating their accounts as well as running their website.
7. What you have in your head, or on your Pinterest board, will not be what will be delivered
Before my wedding day I have an adeal about my wedding photos of this handsome slim chap with slick hair celebrating with imaginary friends with model good looks. What happened on the day was reality and what our photographer delivered to us was his interpretation of that reality. This is one of the reasons why an engagement or pre-wedding session with your photographer is a good idea, so you’re not having the “do I actually look like that?” thoughts with your actual wedding photos.
A documentary style wedding photographer will rarely pose or position you or stage a photo, unless it’s during the group shots and sometimes during the couples shots later on. Their job is not interfer with the day and set shots up but to take opportunities and capture moments as they appear. If the moments you’re hoping for do not happen, your photographer won’t be able to capture them.
8. It’s the one thing you will regret not prioritising
In survey after survey couples state that they regret not prioritising and spending more on their photography. Glamor Magazine conducted a survey in 2014 and 30% regretted poor wedding photos. ‘The Knot‘ also conducted a survey that said that many people regretted not hiring a photographer and leaving the important job to a family member or friend.
After all the decisions and spending, the photos will be the only thing you have left to remember it all by. The day will fly past and not having photographic evidence of who was there and what happened when must be terrible.
9. Photography from ‘unplugged’ weddings is always better than having a free for all approach.
I have discussed elsewhere the concept of the unplugged wedding. By having a single rule, that your friends and family are not allowed phones, cameras etc to use on the day, it ensures that not only are they always totally connected in the moments and the events of the day as they take place, but it also gives you far greater control of the photos that end up online and on social media.
10. Most photographers travel, so don’t limit yourself to local talent
Most people only look for photographers in their local area and often end up booking the best of a bad bunch. It’s more important that you find the right photographer, even if they are based miles away. Although you may have to pay a little extra for travel and accommodation, it’s a tiny amount compared to other wedding day costs. Nowadays we have email, phones and skype to communication with each other and our clients, and this will be how 90% of your pre-wedding and post-wedding communication will be with your photographer regardless of whether they live at the end of your road or 250 miles away.