Choosing your photographer can be a bit like planning the wedding itself: time-consuming and possibly overwhelming. The pictures will be your permanent record of your special day, so you don’t want to spend your time worrying that the photographer hasn’t got you at your most flattering angle, or, even worse, waiting for the prints to arrive and discovering they weren’t what you wanted at all. If you’re going to splash all that cash it’s important to find the right one. Here are some tips on choosing the best from the rest.
Firstly, decide what style of photography you would prefer. Traditional photographers tend to favour posed shots and plenty of groups but these days there is very little standing around; the industry’s best have got it down to a fine art. The ‘documentary’ style photography is increasingly popular. With this style, your photographer takes lots of candid snaps of everybody, without any posing, and will probably be there from when the bride is getting ready right through to the first dance. Then there’s the contemporary kind, with very stylised, dramatic photographs often posed in romantic locations. Think about what kind of images you’d like as a record of your day, but also make sure that if you choose something like the documentary style you’re not going to be stressed out by having a photographer following you round all day!
Wedding photography isn’t just about the images – communication with your photographer is just as important. You will be spending a lot of time with him or her, so it’s essential that you feel completely comfortable in their company. Think about how they will get along with your friends and family on the day: a professional will find the balance between being assertive without being too bossy.
Establish the total cost and what that includes before you agree to anything in writing. How long will the photographer stay on the day? Does the price include their travelling costs, accomodation and VAT? Ask them if your package includes an album and a specific number of prints so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. How long will you need to wait before you can see your photographs? Some photographers will upload them onto a password-protected area of their website, so that you can view them almost immediately.
An awkward situation can often arise at weddings if a friend turns out to be a keen amateur photographer and offers to take the pictures. It is difficult to refuse without hurting their feelings, but it is always best to rely on a professional for such an important occasion. A good compromise is to let the amateur snapper take pictures in addition to, rather than instead of, the professional, and then give them as a wedding present, or to suggest that someone at each table takes some informal pictures as well. Then, even if you have opted for the more traditional group shots, you will still have some documentary style mementos.
Finally, do your research. Ask around for personal recommendations, particularly if you’ve admired photos of a friend’s wedding. Look at the Master Photographers Association website www.thempa.com: you can search for a professional photographer by area, and membership of the MPA requires adherence to a professional code of conduct which should give you peace of mind.