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What to look for when choosing your wedding photographer

Whether you’re going for a small and intimate or having a big family gathering, your wedding will almost certainly be one of the happiest and most memorable days of your life - not to mention the most expensive! It will also no doubt be the most carefully planned and skilfully organised 24-hours you’ve ever spent, with a ‘To Do’ list as long as your arm.

So considering how much time and effort is put into achieving the 'dream', it seems only logical that you’d make sure you find the right wedding photographer to capture those precious memories.

With many couples today not having access to a huge budget (or parents with deep pockets in which to dip), they are understandably looking for way to cut costs. But even when working with a tight budget, it is still advisable (and possible) to put the quality of your wedding photographs ahead of volume or price. So if it does come down to cost, always go with a reduced coverage package from a highly experienced photographer (and receive a small collection of stunning images) rather than opting for an entire album of mediocre shots, which will only lead to disappointment and some serious post-honeymoon blues.

When budgets are being squeezed in all directions, it can also be tempting to ask a friend with a 'good camera' to photograph the wedding. Now whilst saving money is always going to be an appealing idea, it isn’t necessarily a great one.

Even professional photographers need many years of experience to learn how to 'capture' the right moment, so any novice is likely to buckle under the responsibility of having to record your Big Day. Add to that the fact that they probably wouldn’t have the proper equipment to deal with every possible scenario (let alone the back-up cameras should anything go wrong) and you can easily see that saving a few pounds in the short term can often cost you dearly in the long run.

So, assuming you sensibly decide to opt for professional help, what is it that you need to look for when choosing a good wedding photographer?

Complete weddings not just the best shots

When looking through a photographer’s portfolio, make sure that the examples you are shown reflect the complete coverage of a wedding, not just a carefully prepared handful of the best shots. Images should consist of both the bride and groom preparations, the service (ideally photographed from the front and back), the couple shots, lots of natural photographs of the guests, the speeches and the first dance.

There should also be a wide range of completely natural, emotive images that tell a story and offer personal glimpses throughout the day.

The flower girls playing outside as they wait and the groom checking his watch for the hundredth time that day. The bride as she arrives in a flurry of nerves and her father’s look of love as he gives her away. The guest’s reactions to the speeches – those who laugh and those who sit with their heads in their hands. The beautiful detail on the back of the dress and those gorgeous designer shoes from Jimmy Choo. The sweeping staircase and stunning bridal bouquet. The something old, something borrowed, something new and something blue.

Photographers that are confident in their ability to deliver will show complete weddings on their websites. Ours can be viewed here

Quality, Quality, Quality

Make sure that none of the images in the portfolio you view are too dark or too bright. Blown out images are a disaster when photographing such occasions as they often lose all the intricate detail on that designer wedding gown. Colours and skin tones should also be consistent and pleasing, with no strange colour casts!

Lights, Camera, Action!

One of the most important elements to be taken into consideration when taking photographs is the lighting. People should never be photographed directly into the sun as this results in dark shadows under the eyes (racoon eyes) – a look that is guaranteed to add years to even the most youthful and fresh-faced person!

You also need to check that the images all have an aesthetically pleasing composition - rule of thirds or centrally composed generally works best. Or in other words, make sure that the Mother of the Bride doesn’t appear to have a tree growing out of her left shoulder, or an entire row of guests are suddenly beheaded in the group shots.

An easy way to see whether the couple were happy with their choice of photographer is to look at their expressions in the photos. Do they look comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera, or do they have a false, staged smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes? Are the photographs of the guests natural and show them smiling and enjoying themselves? Above all else, are all the images flattering? No one wants to be depicted not looking his or her very best!

Important photographer background checks

Find out how long the photographer has been in the business and whether they work full time. A really good wedding photographer rarely does this work as a sideline as they’re simply too busy and in demand. It’s important to remember that whilst a fledging photographer may well be brimming with great ideas and good intentions, they will not have the experience necessary to guarantee you the results you’ll expect. And when it comes to photographing the biggest, most important day of your life, there are no second chances.

An experienced wedding photographer – one that has been going for at least 5 years – is also more likely to be able to ride out the recession. The last thing you want is for them to go out of business weeks before your Big Day, leaving you in the lurch and photographer free.

On that note, you also must check that the photographer has insurance (especially if the photographer is not full time). This is particularly important in this economic climate because without insurance you are not protected – not just from the photographer in question, but also from the other suppliers they work with.

Does the photographer carry back-up equipment? Whilst it’s rare to have problems on the day, if the worst should happen, you want to be safe in the knowledge that they can carry on photographing your wedding AND have backups of all the images they have already taken.

Do they work as a single photographer or as part of a team? One of the many benefits of having two photographers with you on the day is that they are able to capture the excitement and atmosphere from every angle. So for example, during the service whilst one is discreetly covering the exchanging of rings and vows from the front, the other can photograph the guest’s reactions and get that all important 'back of the dress' shot.

And finally, it is important to have a good rapport and chemistry with your photographer, so make sure that you are able to meet up and get to know them in the run up to your wedding day.

purple wedding bouquet purple bride heart place name bride holding purple wedding bouquet purple flower detail order of service