The Worst Advice I've Ever Heard About Choosing a Wedding Photographer in Leicester
Written by Martin Neeves
How often have you heard a bride and groom say after their wedding that they are disappointed with their precious wedding photographs? Sadly most couples only realise how important their wedding pictures are after the big day - it is then too late. Comments like:
- Our wedding photos are boring and lack emotion.
- We spent all day being bossed around by the photographer, so we didn’t have time to talk to all our guests.
- I waited ages for the photos.
- I am now too embarrassed to show people.
- It has made me hate my own wedding.
- The photographs are horrible, dark and blurry.
The wedding photographs cannot be redone once the day has passed. Too often the photographer is one of the lowest priorities in wedding budgets – after dresses, cars, flowers, cake etc. This is a strange attitude, as after the wedding, your photos will be the only lasting memory of the best day of your life.
To help you avoid the mistakes of others, I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the worst advice I have heard about choosing a photographer for your wedding.
1. We have someone in the family (a mate down the pub – my cousin etc) who is a dab-hand at photography
Wedding photography is very different to taking photos of a subject you are passionate about. More importantly, the difference between a great amateur shot and a professionally taken wedding photograph are streets apart.
Maybe you have a brother/friend/cousin/uncle niece etc who just graduated art school, or an uncle who “has a great camera” or a mate who wants to get started as a professional photographer. As a great sweetener, they “will do it cheaply” or “for free”. So what can go wrong?
- They are not experienced at predicting and capturing candid moments.
- They are not experienced at handling people professionally for any posed photos requested.
- They do not have the correct equipment to do the job – it takes much more than a work-a-day DSLR with the slow lenses that they are normally sold with.
- They do not have the appropriate lighting equipment or flash - or if they do have it, they don’t know how to use it correctly and they don’t know when to use and and when not to use it.
- They do not understand the issues of lighting at a wedding – how to light in a darkened room etc, or more often, how to work with available light in extremely low light.
- They are not experienced using their equipment under pressure so they spend the whole day trying to work their camera, while missing all those great moments that make up a wedding.
- They do not know how to do-post production optimisation of photographs.
- They do not use RAW image files.
- They do not have back-up equipment in case of camera, lens or flash failure.
Think about it: If you're choosing a wedding photographer, then choose a wedding photographer. Remember: Owning a great camera, doesn’t automatically make you a great photographer.
2. She can do it at a great price and undercuts the competition by a mile
A good wedding photographer will:
- Pay taxes
- Be insured
- Invest in high-end professional gear.
- Take time to ensure high-grade post-production and printing.
So if a photographer is dirt-cheap, ask yourself “Where are they cutting corners?”. To do a wedding shoot takes quite a few hours on location at the church or registry office or venue. Then there is the Reception. Coverage will usually take up the whole day. When they have taken your precious photographs, they need editing and optimising to get them to a professional standard. Then when you have chosen the photos for your album, the album layout has to be designed. Each wedding represents a whole week’s work for a good professional photographer.
3. They do occasional weddings as a fill-in
Wedding photography needs an experienced eye. You do not you don't want the photographer using your wedding for practice or making basic mistakes.
Planning to take photographs at a wedding needs precious thinking and a good understanding of dealing with the unexpected issues that will occur.
4. They do hundreds of weddings a year
Alternatively, if someone is shooting 100+ weddings a year – are they doing multiple weddings each weekend or hiring an associate to take the photos for them. Be sure that if they do it all themselves that they can handle the heavy workload, otherwise you could be waiting a long time for your pictures. Also, if they are doing that many weddings each year, are they just churning out the same boring photos at each wedding and will you be getting the best out of them? I strictly limit the number of weddings I shoot per year as I like to keep fresh and give couples the best service possible.
If they use associates, is this an equally talented colleague, a random freelancer or a part-timer? Make sure you know who is going to be holding that camera for your wedding day.
When you phone up or meet are you talking to a sales person or is it the photographer?
5. The venue recommended him
Early in my career, I shot a wedding at a gorgeous local venue and asked the coordinator if I could drop off a sample album for him to show his future clients. He told me I could -- for a price. Maybe I was naïve, but I didn't realise that some venues sell spots on their "preferred vendor" lists. Many wedding venue brochures have adverts by wedding vendors, giving the impression that they are recommended by the venue, but in reality, they just paid for the advert. Of course, this doesn't apply to every venue -- some offer excellent recommendations because they like to see gorgeous images of their venue floating around on the web. But always double-check recommendations against friends, online reviews and your wedding planner before plunking down a deposit.
6. Can you get on with the photographer?
They may have a great portfolio – but he/she is going to be all around you for the day – do you like them? Does their style of photography suit what you are looking for? I like to do reportage wedding photography that is unobtrusive and brings the day day back by capturing the character and emotions of all involved. when I take a handful of posed shots, I do so with a smile as I want the couple and their guests to have a good time.
Not only do you have to like the photos your photographer takes, but you have to like your photographer. Beware of wedding photography mills (they exist!) where you talk to a sales person, view their best sample images, and then get stuck with a minimum-wage photographer with minimal experience to match.
To avoid getting burned:
- Ask to see a complete wedding (or several!) - not just a few “lucky” shots from different weddings.
- Along with the photographer's personality, does their photographic style match your wedding?
- If you're still having trouble deciding, check out review sites such as Free Index to hear what their clients really think of them.
7. Your part to play
Make sure you have given the wedding photographer a good brief of your expectations – do not expect him/her to be psychic. If you are having a traditional wedding photographer, you should discuss the extensive list of posed photos to be taken. However, if you have booked a reportage photographer (like me) don’t give him or her a long list of posed photos as they will not be able to take any candid shots while they are working through your list and the reason you booked them was their ability to document the day candidly. it is important though, to discuss your itinerary for the day and also a handful of posed shots (if required).
It’s important (and polite) to provide food and refreshments for your photographer. If he or she is working for you all day, the last thing you want is their mind wandering off your photography and onto how hungry they are feeling.
Here are some articles that highlight costly mistakes:
If you want to ensure that you are going to have wedding photographs to be proud of, please give Martin Neeves a call on 01455 271 849 or contact me.