5 essentials before you book your wedding photographer

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This is a note of caution, not for myself but for all the couples that are entrusting their wedding day to a so-called “Wedding Photographer”. I have recently joined the ranks of this trade and although reasonably new, I have done my best to ensure I give a service myself and my couples can have faith in.

I have personal experience of the pain that comes from a poor wedding photographer and that day remains clear in my mind whenever I pick up a camera for someone’s big day. My experience was on my own wedding day, back in 1999 when photographic film was still being used and the photographer forgot to rewind the film, opened the back and dropping the entire film on the grass in full sunshine. Not an experience I want to relive but I’ll happily go through with anyone that asks. I can name, names but we’ll just say they are a very reputation Cambridge photography company.

Suffice to say, my wife shed several tears on honeymoon recounting the events and still regrets that choice of supplier even today, some 18 years on.

So, my credentials are earned and I now have the responsibilities myself but with a care and experience, only the recipient of such an error could appreciate.

I now have the joy of reviewing my competition and seeing what claims to be a wedding photographer now and sometimes I shudder at what I see. So take care, I don’t want this to be a sales piece, it’s not. Take this advice and ask your supplier, and don’t take their word for it, check their references and see paperwork, this is a once in a lifetime decision don’t get it wrong. Grooms, you’ll never hear the last, brides you’ll cry and regret.

I will happily answer any questions from a bride and groom, and at an initial meeting will give everything so they can make their decision, so should any responsible photographer. Whoever you choose, do the same you’ll only make the mistake once. I speak from experience, I made it.

So here goes, 5 questions to ask your photographer before you sign the contact…

  1.  How many weddings have you shot before?
    Hundreds don’t make you good, one doesn’t make you bad but understand their experience levels, see their book/website and check it’s real.
  2. What specific wedding training have you done? and, with what organisation?
    Weddings are a specific discipline and you need to be highly organised and with a methodical mind, with obvious creative and photographic ability. Just because you can take a photo of a building doesn’t make you a wedding photographer. Interpersonal skills and flexibility to adapt to pressure without showing it is equally as important. Get to know their understanding and wedding credentials, you’ll need that experience on your day. If they have a habit of being hot-headed, that’s not the personality for a wedding photographer, you need calm whatever happens.
  3. Can they provide a contact name for images they use in their sales pieces?
    Several providers have been caught using other photographers images, especially with the help of Google, anyone can show lots of amazing images. Make sure they are their own work and not stolen from another provider, either the UK or worldwide.
    Get a telephone number and speak to the person in the picture. If they enjoyed their experience with a photographer they will want to tell you about it.
  4. Ask what insurance they have?
    With all reputable companies, they will be insured. Just in case something unfortunate happens. Elderly relations, children and heavy equipment don’t mix, be sure you’re (they’re) covered if something unfortunate happens.
  5. Can I have time to think?
    It’s your day, and you are the customer. Don’t be forced into putting down a deposit.
    Photographers get busy and they get booked up but not often from one evening to the next morning and they will certainly be able to tell you if tomorrows meeting is with someone sharing your date. Take care and take time to think. If you’re in any way unsure don’t book immediately, a good supplier will give you time to consider your options and check references.

Don’t forget a wedding can be shot on an iPhone by an experienced photographer and an expensive camera doesn’t take great photos itself. Ask lots of questions and if a friend offers to take your photos, be careful, they could be great, they could ruin your day or cancel just before leaving you with nothing.

There are lots of great photographers out there, unfortunately, there are more trying to make what appears easy money and leaving you heartbroken. Ask the right questions and you will be better prepared.

Take care, do your research and have a wonderful day.

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