How to: Choose a Great Wedding Photographer

Bijou’s top tips when it comes to choosing a great wedding photographer; from packages to pricing and beyond…

You’ll be faced with numerous styles and options when it comes to choosing a wedding photographer to capture the special moments of your wedding celebration. And, while it is of course true that you should be focusing on enjoying your day rather than recording it, the photos and videos from your day are an absolutely massive deal.

There are many different styles of wedding photography and the one you choose should reflect your personal style. It will also be the way your memories of your day are ultimately recorded, so our advice would be to err on the side of tradition if you're in doubt. Being at the cutting edge of such things may be awfully impressive on the day, but if in 20 years you haven't got a good picture of the bride and her family together on her wedding day, you're going to regret it. As always, we would recommend covering all of the traditional bases and then adding personal touches around the edges.

Your Wedding Photography Shortlist

Once you've selected your preferred style of wedding photography, you'll need to create a shortlist of photographers who appear to suit what you're looking for. References from friends are a very good way to get some ideas – reading wedding photography reviews online is another. We've also brought together some of our favourite wedding photographers for you in the 'Our Partners' section of this site. Ultimately however you're going to have to take the plunge (and yes, it's a big decision), so in order to best equip yourselves we would suggest that you at least do the following:

  • Look at a wide variety of images on photographer’s websites
  • Ask questions (as many as you like) by email or on the phone
  • Read reviews/testimonials on the photographers website and social media pages
  • You should also consider whether the photographer know your chosen wedding venue. If not, he/she may be relying on the venue staff to know where the best photographic opportunities are and of course there's a risk that something will get missed. In an ideal world you would see photos that your chosen photographer has taken at your chosen venue so that you can really get the best idea of what you're signing up for.

Technical Questions to Ask your Wedding Photographer

You may not have thought about this in advance, but there are also some technical questions that you should ask of your wedding photographer. These questions are important because you need to know what exactly you’re agreeing to before you sign the contract.  

What format does the wedding photographer shoot in? 

Ideally you want the most flexibility possible, so they should be shooting in RAW, and you should be getting these source files along with their edited versions so that you can make more later if you'd like. This is the modern day equivalent of getting hold of the negatives!

How many shots will you get on the day of your wedding and who will edit them? 

In a perfect world, you want your wedding photographer to be snapping away constantly throughout the day and you wouldn't want a single shot to be deleted. You never know what gems they might accidentally shoot and you don't want them deleting that one candid shot of Auntie Betty that they might not love but you think is the most perfect representation of her character.

Who will have copyright of your wedding photographs? 

If you own the copyright to your images at the end of your wedding, then you’ll be able to use them however you wish in the future. If you want to have your images featured on a real wedding story online or if you’d like to submit them to a magazine, you won’t have any issues – because you’ll own the images. If the photographer retains the copyright then you’ll need to ask permission if you want to use your images elsewhere - forever.

Will you receive a wedding album, separate prints or a disc so that can print your own? 

We advise chatting about what you want in regards to wedding photography images as a couple before you meet with a wedding photographer, so that you’re prepared to discuss different package options.  

Does the wedding photographer have appropriate insurance? 

This is always a tricky one as of course there's very little that financial compensation can do if your photos all get deleted from the photographer's hard drive. But if it would make you feel better to be covered, then it's worth thinking about.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Wedding Photographer 

Aside from choosing the perfect wedding venue and identifying a dream wedding gown, choosing a wedding photographer should be quite high up on your list of wedding priorities. This isn’t an element of your wedding that should be chosen in a hurry – so here are some quick-fire things to think about when making your decision. 

  • Location of the Wedding Photographer: Some wedding photographers work on a national basis, so travel isn’t an issue. But regardless of where your wedding photographer is coming from, check in their contract to see if they charge for mileage. If they are travelling from far, and charging you mileage, then this could change the price of your package substantially. 
  • Do you have chemistry with the photographer? If you don’t seem to be getting along on the phone or during your first face-to-face meeting, then it's probably a no. 
  • Has the Photographer won any awards? It might be worth looking on the photographers website to see if they have won, or been nominated for any awards. 
  • Wedding show offers: Some wedding photographers might offer a 'wedding show discount' if you happen to meet and book them at a wedding show. If you’re heading to a wedding show in the near future, it might be worth speaking to a few different wedding photographers to see if they are offering anything unique, compared to if they weren’t attending the show. 

 

A photographer capturing the first dance as husband and wife
The bride kissing her father - the ultimate wedding day photograph

Choosing a Wedding Photographer: Bijou’s Top Tips

Book early 

Good wedding photographers book up quickly, so make this one of your first priorities and confirm as soon as possible…but only after you've met them and have confirmed that the ‘chemistry works’. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them on your day, relying on them to get the best record for posterity, it’s important that you feel comfortable with them.

Get it in writing

Make sure you get a written contract confirming all of the details, including costs. Does, for instance, the contract require you to feed the photographer?

Communicate

Talk through how you want things shot on the off-chance of wind or rain with your photographer. Be inspired by shots you have seen, collect them and share with your photographer. Pinterest is ideal of course for storing such images.

Send a 'photos we definitely want' list

Drawing up a list of pictures may sound obvious, but unless you do it, you will forget something or someone! Check out our recommended list of 60 must-have wedding day pictures to print and give to your wedding photographer.

Choose a package that works with your wedding budget

Decide whether you’d like more for your money at the time of booking, or if you’d like to stick to a lower cost and then worry about buying an album once your wedding is over. 

Plan the day

If you are getting married in a church think about your guests waiting for the photography session to be over before they can move off to the reception venue, if it rains, standing outside for hours can prove problematic. Many couples these days take the essential pictures at the Church and then move everyone to the reception venue so that drinks and canapés (and a roof!) can be provided while the list of family shots is being worked through.