Suffolk Wedding Photographer
With bookings coming in fast for 2017/18, and the busiest month for bookings (January) just around the corner, we thought it might be helpful to discuss some things you'll want to consider in choosing your wedding photographer. We know it can be a little overwhelming, so how do you choose the right one for you? Let's look at some important things to consider.
Look at their website.
If you are looking for professional photos for your wedding, there is no better place to start than at the photographer's 'shop window' their website. Make sure you take your time and that both of you have a thorough good look through, ideally together. Take note of how they describe themselves, what they offer and what they do. Do you like the language they use? Make sure they offer all the services you are looking for. If you have your heart set on an engagement shoot, do they have an engaging portfolio in this area? Most important is the feeling the website gives you, does it inspire you, or did you yawn, get confused by the lay-out, or just click on you tube and go find funny video's of cats?
Look at their portfolio.
So far, you've decided you like what you see. On a wedding photographer's website you can usually find their portfolio, a big collection of photo's they've taken.Take a look at all of their pictures. Go with your gut feeling - it's just as normal to dislike a picture as it is to 'love' it, that gut feeling is a solid indication of whether your taste and the photographers style might be a good match - and if not, go find the funny video's of cats!
More helpfully perhaps, what should you be looking for? There are a few variables that will make all of the difference from one photographer to the next.
If you talk to many photographers, they will tell you that lighting is 90% of what makes a photo good or bad. One of the best ways to understand lighting is to hold up your hand and face your palm towards a window. Start rotating your hand back and forth and look at the shadows being created. If you face your hand directly at the window, the light falls evenly and cleanly, but if you start moving your hand at an angle, it creates shadows that can look more moody and dramatic. This is what photographers do all the time. We analyze light, not necessarily look at our hands all the time! So as you're looking through photographer's portfolios, you'll start to notice that they use light differently. Some photographers prefer really bright photos that make the world look fresh and airy, others use light to create mood and emotion. Each has an overall style, and there will most likely be one that you mesh with more than others. You may also notice that when you're looking through the websites, they might refer to themselves as 'natural light photographers' which just means that they use whatever light is available to them, rather than using a flash. If you are getting married at a venue on a winter afternoon, with little windows, you'll want to make sure that the photographer knows how to create light when it isn't there.
After lighting, another important thing is composition. That pretty much means, how did they set up the photo? Where are all the important parts of the scene placed? Even when photographers are capturing fast action and stolen moments, they'll still be looking for interesting ways to tell the story. As you look through their portfolios, ask yourself: Are all the photos taken from the same perspective and angle? How does the photographer make things more interesting? Anything that makes you feel you are in the moment is good composition.
Most blogs will tell you that you need to ask photographers what camera they are using. Unless you are a camera buff, this is usually a wasted question. If you are a camera buff, prepare for a long chat! The best photo's aren't really about the equipment used, but if you're racing around a wedding day with a hundred guests, varying location and lighting etc, good kit can make all the difference. Photographers use these tools to tell a story in their own voice, and also use software to edit and alter the pictures to their natural style. Some like to add extra softness and blur, whilst others like to keep as much detail as possible. Some like to make their pictures really vibrant, whilst others more muted. What counts is your reaction to these choices, did you enjoy the pictures, feel the emotions, or did they leave you cold?
Do your homework.
In short, stalk them. Most photographers will have links to their social media pages, open all of them up in new tabs. Look at their facebook, do you like how they talk about and to their clients? If they have a google plus page, read the reviews and see how they respond to them. Do they put sneak peeks up on instagram and how shortly after the wedding? Normally a photographer's social media accounts is a good indication of their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a key factor. You want someone who is going to put their heart and soul into getting you the pictures you deserve.
Think beforehand about what you really want and make a list. Photographer's present their prices differently, so it can be very confusing and difficult to compare. Write down how much coverage you want; are you dead set on having photos of both of you getting ready, neither, or just the one of you? Do you desperately want that picture of your Dad going crazy on the dance floor, or are you doing a lantern release late into the night that you want photographing? Are black and whites a definite must? Can you buy albums after the wedding (when you decide that yes, actually you MUST have an album as you're so pleased with the pictures), or are you financially penalised for doing so? How many photos are included, do they charge per extra image? Write down prices for each photographer that you like and go from there. Ideally the prices will be obvious, and the services clearly described. Being told you have to ask for further details can slow down your decision making process and it often feels awkward having to get involved in a chat with someone before you're even certain you might buy their services.
Arrange a consultation.
We recommend always meeting your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their site and their figures are in the ballpark range, call or drop them a line and see if they're available. If they're not, ask them if they have any recommendations. Most professional photographers network with other photographers and they will be in contact with those who have a similar style to them. They might throw up some photographers you may not have already found and this can be invaluable. If they are available, see how quickly they respond to your initial reply, how enthusiastic are they?
Make sure you want this photographer on your team for the big day.
They're available and you've set a date to meet up. Great! When you're chatting with your photographer, you need to make sure that you like them. This is just as important as liking what they do. Wedding photographers will have one of the closest interactions with you throughout the day, so this is super important. Did they answer all of your questions and put you at ease? Did they make you laugh? Did they seem interested in you both and your wedding day? Or did you find yourself watching the time and wondering when it was all going to end? Be prepared to talk about your venue, your wedding style and what you envision for your photos.
Ask to see full wedding galleries.
Don't base your decision solely on a photographer's highlights. For quite normal reasons a website front page gallery is going to showcase the best photos from a range of different weddings, you're seeing the best of the best. Most professional photographers will offer you full galleries, normally after the consultation when they know what kind of style you prefer and they know more details about your day and venue. This is so they can send you full galleries which will fit best with your vision and venue etc. For example, if you're getting married in Spring, they will know to send you weddings they photographed in the Spring, or likewise with a traditional Ceremony, etc. If they don't offer these up, be confident to ask them to send you two or three. If you see that the whole days coverage is consistent, interesting and tells the story well, you're on the right track.
Review these galleries with a critical eye. Look for the key moments you want captured; did they catch the kinds of moments you'd imagine on your big day, are there some candid moments you can imagine a member of your family or friends making? It's important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people's emotions, make sure they look relaxed and not like a deer in headlights. Whilst you two are important, you will also want to see photos of your guests.
Ask about post production details.
Ask some questions. How many images should I expect? Will they be in high or low resolution, or both? Will I be able to get prints done myself, or does the photographer retain the print licence? Will my images be watermarked? Your photographer should be expecting and be prepared to take care of you from the point of consultation to delivery of the final product (and beyond) if that's not the impression you get, think again.
The process of finding the right photographer shouldn't be a nightmare, assuming your chosen professional isn't already booked, its going to be a combination of emotional and practical considerations, most of which should clearly stand out for you from the very beginning of the process. If things don't feel right at that point, think again. From our own point of view, having a good client relationship is right up there at the top of our priorities, and we manage this incredibly successfully by thinking from the clients perspective wherever possible and ensuring that we really are a good match for the couple before agreeing to shoot the wedding. This makes for a great day out, happy photographers, happy clients, happy family and friends. That's a recipe for beautiful pictures.