Choosing a Wedding Photographer - A Guide To Perfect Wedding Memories

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Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Getting married?  Congratulations!  You've set the date and booked the venue.  You are about to embark on the exciting and sometimes stressful adventure that is wedding planning and this planning will culminate in the most important day of your lives.  You naturally want everything to be perfect and the importance of choosing a wedding photographer who will play such an important role on your wedding day cannot be overemphasised.  It's vital to get this right because a good wedding photographer will capture your day beautifully, resulting in a collection of photographs for you to treasure.  These photographs will bring a smile to your face for many years to come, long after your memories of the day have faded and when you have forgotten how much money you paid for them.  Great wedding photography is priceless!

We've put together the information that follows, in the hope that it will assist you in making the right choice of photographer to capture your special day and to help you to avoid the devastation which comes from wedding photographs which you are unhappy with.  Choose wisely and you will have memories to treasure for many years to come.  Choose badly and you could very well end up with photographs you can't bear to look at or even worse, no photographs at all.  This is not a rigid set of rules;  just our take on what you should know when looking for a photographer for your wedding and we hope that it will go some way to guiding you through the minefield that is wedding photography. 

There is a lot of reading here and this is deliberate because there is a lot to think about and so much at stake, particularly if you feel that you can't afford professional wedding photography or are considering allowing a friend or relative to capture your big day because "wedding photography can't be that difficult" or "they have just bought a really good camera".  Our packages aren't exactly cheap we know, but you might find that you can afford our services after all, as we offer fantastic value for money with our all inclusive packages, or you might prefer a bespoke package instead.  Please talk to us because if you write us off as being too expensive without contacting us first, you will never know what would could have done for you.  As creative Yorkshire wedding photographers, we love photographing weddings for fun couples who appreciate beautiful photography, so if we really hit it off, we are available on your date and we can possibly work to your budget, we will. 


One day, one chance

Recently there has been a lot of media coverage surrounding wedding photographers who disappointed couples with images which they were unhappy with.  The couples went to court, successfully sued the photographers and got at least some of their money refunded.  This didn't compensate for the fact that they didn't have an album of lovely photographs with which to remember their special day.  The publicity these stories generated seems to have had the opposite effect to the one professional photographers might have reasonably expected or hoped for; that it would encourage couples who are getting married to do their research and engage the services of a qualified professional to document their big day.  It is very difficult, with all the choice available, to make an informed decision on who to trust to capture your once in a lifetime event and the adverse publicity hasn't done the professional wedding photography industry any favours.  The photographers in question was not properly qualified and the couples perhaps didn't realise this or didn't think it mattered because as they saw it, the price was right.  In one of these cases, the couple had paid their photographer the princely sum of £100 to cover "expenses", knowing full well that this person wasn't qualified and had no experience in wedding photography.  They basically agreed to be guinea pigs to let this photographer practice on.  It sounds harsh but perhaps they got exactly what they deserved as they placed no value on their photography until after the wedding, when they dragged this person through the court.  Remember - all wedding photographers are not the same and the very cheap ones are cheap for a reason.   


Saving money by asking family or friends 

In short, if your wedding photographs have any importance at all, don't!  So often we hear stories from guests at weddings.  They tell us how they saved money by allowing a friend or a relative who enjoys photography as a hobby to take their wedding pictures and without exception, they tell us how disappointed they are and how they wish they'd invested in the skills of an experienced professional!  We've yet to hear anyone say that they were happy because of the money they saved.  Unless you are very lucky to have a professional  wedding photographer in the family, avoid this at all costs.  Just because someone has a compact camera and can take a decent snap in average conditions does not mean that they can cope with working under the pressures a wedding day involves.  And just because they have a good camera doesn't mean they can either.  What would they do if their camera failed or if it rained, for example?  How would you feel to receive blurred images, pictures with lamp posts growing out of people's heads, feet chopped off in images that were meant to be full length and photos taken with no understanding of what makes for flattering light?  Do they have back up gear and are they insured?  Professional wedding photograhers wouldn't even consider working without these things but of course, these things do impact on the price a professional has to charge to make a decent living.  If you value your wedding photographs at all, choose a professional photographer in the same way that you would choose a professional for most, if not all, the other services you engage for your wedding day. 


The danger of cheap wedding photography

We all know that weddings are expensive and with the best will in the world, costs can easily spiral out of control.  The services you need to pay for when planning your wedding can all add up to a great deal of money and in these difficult economic times, almost everyone is looking for the best possible value.  However, value for money does not mean cheap and if a wedding photographer is very cheap, be suspicious as it's always for a reason.  The reasons vary - lack of experience, the desire to build a portfolio of work, photographing weddings at the weekend whilst having the security of a full time job during the week, lack of skill resulting in poor quality work, lack of professional training, lack of professional equipment, no professional qualifications, no back-up equipment if things go wrong, no insurance, the use of cheap products - the list is a long one.  It's impossible to receive a good quality, professional service for a low price in any business.  If a wedding photographer's pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is.  It can be tempting to cut back on what seems like a big expense when you have to cost of everything else mounting up and most professional wedding photographers receive enquiries which come to nothing simply because the couple have set an unrealistically low budget for their photography.  Often the budgets which couples allocate bear no relationship to what true professional wedding photography actually costs.  This is not the place to cut corners.  If you pay a little more for good quality, professional photographs, you will never regret it and you will enjoy them for the rest of your lives.  If you pay too little, you could easily end up hating the pictures and the money you saved will be no compensation for this.  By all means get to know if the photographers you like have packages within your particular budget but be prepared to be flexible and increase your budget a bit to get what you really want from someone you like as a person and who will produce the quality of work you will love.  If necessary, cut back the cost of something which matters less.  Your photographs will be one of the few things which are left after your big day is over and you have just one chance to get it right.  We are always amazed (and saddened) by the couples who will cheerfully spend hundreds of pounds on a cake or a hundred pounds a minute on fireworks but who won't spend a reasonable amount of money on the one thing they'll have for many years.  The budgets they set for their photography often don't even cover the minimum wage for the photographers' time, let alone the cost of a good quality album and sadly, in these economic times, budgets for wedding photography seem to be getting smaller.  


But why are wedding photographers are so expensive...?

Many people think so and prices vary enormously but most qualified, creative, professional wedding photographers are really not expensive when you consider how many hours they work from the first consultation with you until you receive your wedding album.  Their services and the memories they will capture for you are worth so much more than the prices they charge.  They represent exceptional value for money.  They will work longer hours on your wedding day than anyone else you hire and they will still be working for you long after the day is over.  On average, a wedding represents a full week's work for the two of us; not a few hours "snapping away" on the day as many people think.  Compare the cost of a professional wedding photography package with say, the hire of a car for a couple of hours, the price of a cake or the cost of five minutes of fireworks.  If you think about what you actually receive for your money, you should begin to understand that good wedding photography presented in a quality album is not expensive.


How much should you expect to pay for professional photographs?

Prices vary enormously from a couple of hundred pounds to several thousand.  So many things factor into this - the experience and skill of the photographer, whether they are qualified, how long they will attend on your wedding day and the quality of the products used to present your images.  As a very general guide, if you are thinking of paying much less than £1000, you will be taking a big risk.  If your budget is £1600 to £2000, you should be able to secure the services of an excellent professional photographer who will provide high quality products.  If your budget is £2500 plus, this will allow for a larger or higher quality album or one with more pages or pehaps extras such as parent albums, digital files, etc.  This budget will also mean that you have the best professionals to choose from whose level of skill, along with their choice of presentation products, is second to none. 


Unqualified wedding photographers

It's worth being aware that anyone, without any training whatsoever, can set up in business and call themselves a wedding photographer and because almost everyone has a digital camera nowadays, too many people think that they are photographers and that wedding photography is easy.  After all, it's just a matter of walking around with a camera all day, snapping away as people enjoy themselves, isn't it?  Well no, there's a lot more to wedding photography than that!  Unfortunately, the photographic industry is not regulated in this country and there is nothing to stop anyone building a professional looking website, using the services of a search engine optimisation company to get their site ranking highly on Google and advertising their services as a wedding photographer. 


Does membership of a photographic organisation mean anything?

Membership of a photographic organisation is not, in itself, an assurance of competence.  Many organisations ask for nothing more than payment of the membership fee so do not be convinced by someone who tells you that they are "A member of the ..."  Your granny could be a member of some of these organisations if she paid the membership fee!  It doesn't prove that she's a competent photographer at all, far from it.  Look for a photographer who is a qualified member of their particular organisation.  The MPA in particular insists on a certain level of skill and good customer service and their photographers are to be recommended above all others.  You will find those who tell you that being qualified doesn't matter. It's interesting to note that the only photographers who say that qualifications don't matter are the ones who aren't qualified.  Wonder why that is...  For us it's a demonstration of our commitment to providing a high level of imagery and customer service to our clients.  It's a way of showing pride in our work and a desire to strive extremely hard to achieve something tangible - a proper qualification - from a judging panel of highly respected photographers who really do know what makes for consistently excellent wedding photography. 


Where to start looking

Have you been a guest at a relative's or a friend's wedding recently?  Did you take notice of how the photographer conducted themselves on the day?  Were they friendly and courteous and did they seem to be enjoying being a part of the wedding day?  Did you get to see the photographs afterwards and were you impressed with them?  If the answer to these questions is Yes, then this is a good place to start.  Alternatively, ask recently married friends or acquaintances for their recommendations.  Also, an internet search for West Yorkshire wedding photographers, will bring up thousands of results to search through - not an easy task!  Also, just because a photographer comes up on page 1 of a search doesn't necessarily mean that they are skilled, qualified or experienced.  Have a look at the listings on page 1 of the Google searches and see what we mean - there's a mixture of excellent photographers and pretty poor ones so this in its self is no indication of quality wedding photography or excellent service, just good search engine optimisation.


Why qualifications matter

This really does matter for many reasons and here are a few.  Professional wedding photography is a skill and an art which should be valued and respected in the same way as the skill of any other professional.  A qualified wedding photographer will have had their work assessed by their professional organisation and their work will have been certified as being to the required standard.  A qualified photographer will have the support and backing of this organisation so you have someone to go to in the unlikely event of anything going wrong.  The organisation can arrange for someone else to cover your wedding in the event of an emergency, for example if your photographer has an accident or suffers a serious illness.  Professional wedding photographers are dedicated and they would not let a client down unless it was a last resort.  A professional will be able to cope with all the different lighting conditions - daylight, artificial light, a dimly lit church without using flash, bright sunshine, employ creative lighting techniques, capture images in evening light, not to mention working with less than perfect weather, restricted timings and large numbers of guests in order to get you the photographs you want.  They will be able to take images in different styles and pose individuals, couples and groups attractively.  They will have the skill to capture perfect moments during your marriage ceremony, speeches and first dance.  They will carry back-up equipment to every wedding and they will also be fully covered by insurance.  They will work longer on your wedding day than any other supplier and they will be working on your images whilst you are enjoying your honeymoon.  If you choose us as your wedding photographers, we will design a beautiful storybook for you and so that nothing is left to chance, we will invite you to the studio for a preview and make any changes you request before we order it, so that we know that you will be one hundred percent delighted.  To see what we mean, please view one of our beautiful storybook albums.


How to choose a professional

Here are some of the things you should look for.  Obvously the photographer's style will be your first consideration and to some extent, your budget, but after this, choose someone who is a qualified professional.  You can tell this because he or she will have letters after their name.  This means that the photographer has had to demonstrate their competence to a panel of judges from their professional organisation and they will have had their work assessed to ensure that they are producing work to a high enough standard to call themselves a professional wedding photographer.  Make sure that their qualification is in wedding photography.  This might sound obvious but it's no good if the photographer is talented at landscape, commercial or pet photography but has no experience of photographing weddings.  Back to letters after the photographer's name - LSWPP means that the photographer is qualified with the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers but photography might not necessarily be their full-time occupation.  Remember - a MEMBER OF THE SWPP means nothing more than payment of the membership fee.  On the other hand, LMPA, AMPA, FMPA means that the photographer is a qualified professional whose primary source of income comes from photography.  The Master Photographers' Association members are expected to qualify within a reasonable period of time and it follows that if a photographer is dependent on taking photographs for a living, they will be dedicated to their profession and keen to provide their clients with a good service.  They must also provide evidence to the MPA that they are adequately insured and this is vital.  Many professional wedding photographers are members of both organisations but for a qualified professional, look for MPA after the photographer's name. 


Make a short list

Now you have a good idea what to avoid and what to look for, you can start the process of choosing who you would like to meet.  When you have a short list of photographers whose work you really like, narrow it down even further to around three favourites.  If you meet many more than three, you will end up completely confused and you will not only waste a lot of your own time, you will waste the valuable time of all those you eliminate.  Wedding photographers frequently give up their precious evenings to meet prospective clients and couples frequently make the mistake of meeting too many photographers just to see if they can get a better deal, wasting everyone's time.  This is not how you should approach it because for one thing, with wedding photography you will never be comparing like with like, and if you do your homework at the browsing stage, you will know whose work really does appeal to you.  When you have your shortlist of favourite photographers, contact them, preferably by telephone rather than email.  Do not leave it too late - good ones get booked early, sometimes two years in advance, especially for Saturdays in summer.  As soon as you have set the date and booked the venue, booking your photographer should be your next step.  From our point of view, we like nothing more than to hear that couples coming in to see us love our work, know our prices and are prepared to book us.  We never have to pressurise anyone to book and we never would - our beautiful, storytelling photography, impeccable customer service and stunning wedding albums speak for themselves.    


First questions

The most common question people ask first is "How much do you charge to photograph a wedding?" or "Can you give me a quote?"  This type of question is understandable because you haven't done this before and probably have no idea what else you should be asking, but these are questions that drive photographers nuts because they are impossible to answer properly right at the beginning.  The photographer will not be able to give you an accurate answer until they know when and where your wedding is taking place and they have a good idea of what you want in terms of length of coverage on the day, the style of album you want, its size and number of pages and sometimes the number of photographs in it.  You wouldn't phone a bridal gown shop and ask how much a wedding dress is.  It depends on what you want and there are many options to consider, all at different prices.  The question about availability on your date should come first, although there's no harm then in getting an idea if their prices are in your particular bracket and you should do this before meeting them to avoid wasting their time and yours, but be prepared to be flexible.  When couples call or email us and we have established our availability, it's music to our ears when they say "We love your work and we would like to come and meet you" not "How much is your cheapest package?"  Your choice of photographer should come about because you love their work, because you really like them and because you are confident that they will provide you with images that you will treasure, even if they do cost a bit more than you thought they would.   


What to ask when you meet

OK, so you've contacted a few photographers whose work you really like, they are available on your date, you've made an appointment to meet them and you've got a good idea of their price range.  Here are the questions we think you should ask.

Are you a fully qualified wedding photographer and with which organisation?  Remember - LMPA, AMPA or FMPA means the photographer is a qualified, insured, professional.  We are both MPA and SWPP qualified photographers which means both organisations have judged our work to be of a high standard and our LMPA qualification tells you that we earn our living from wedding and portrait photography.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?  The longer, the more experience and skill they are likely to have.  Alex has been a photographer for over twenty-five years, including a full-time professional wedding photographer for fifteen.   

How many weddings do you photograph each year?  A low number can indicate that the photographer has another job or is inexperienced and a high number could suggest that you might not get the level of service you would want.  If they photograph a large number of weddings each year, they simply won't have the time to devote to you before and after your wedding or to creating a personally designed storybook for you.  Yours might be outsourced for design and may therefore look similar to everyone else's.  Our absolute maximum number of wedding bookings in any year is thirty-five.

Will you be the photographer at our wedding?  Some studios who cover a lot of weddings each year will book more than one wedding on certain dates and then pass some of those bookings on to other photographers.  Imagine the scenario - you've spent a lot of time and gone to a lot of trouble choosing the perfect photographer for you.  How would you feel if a complete stranger appeared on your doorstep the morning of your big day?  Upset and annoyed?  Almost certainly.  If you book us as your photographers, then we will be the photographers at your wedding.  Studios with a team of photographers often justify their approach by saying that if your allocated photographer was ill, at least they would be able to send out a replacement to cover your wedding.  This isn't necessarily true because all the studio's photographers might be booked on your date anyway, particular if it's a popular one.  The real reason they have a team of photographers is simple - the more weddings they can cover, the more money they can make. 

Are you insured?  If not, you may have no come-back if anything goes wrong.  The photographer should be fully covered and not just for their equipment.  They should also have Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance.  Our membership of the MPA requires that we be fully covered by both these insurances.  We recommend that as the costs of a wedding are considerable, couples should take out adequate wedding insurance to protect themselves and their investment against unforeseen circumstances, as you could be liable to pay substantial sums of money to your suppliers in the event of you cancelling their services, particularly at short notice.

What happens if you are ill on my wedding day?  We can tell you that we have never, ever let anyone down on their wedding day and our commitment to our clients is such that we would both have to be very seriously ill for both of us not to be able to cover a wedding.  In this unlikely event, we have a network of friends and colleagues who are all qualified, professional wedding photographers who we know we could turn to in the event of an emergency and who we are confident would do a great job.  This is another reason to hire a qualified professional, as they have access to other professional photographers, and our MPA code of conduct means that this is a mutual understanding between us.  We would leave no stone unturned to secure the services of another great photographer to accompany either of us if the worst happened. 

Do you carry back-up equipment to every wedding?  Absolutely essential.  What happens if something breaks down during the day or if a camera or lens is accidently dropped and smashes?  It happens!  Choose a professional and this should be no more than a minor hiccup rather than a major catastrophe.  We each have a complete set of professional equipment plus another full set as back-up.  We've never had to use it - but we have it just in case.  The only way that we would be unable to continue to capture your wedding day would be if both of us, our camera bag and our car were abducted by aliens!  

Will you discuss our photography with us before the day and take into account our likes, dislikes and ideas?  A creative wedding photographer will have lots of their own ideas.  However, this is your day and your ideas must be taken seriously so that you receive the coverage that you want.  Every couple is different and every wedding is approached by us as the unique and very personal event that it is.

Do you work alone, with an assistant or with a second photographer?  Two professional photographers will give you the best possible coverage as they can literally be in two places at once, for instance during your marriage ceremony.  You will receive a much wider choice of images from two photographers and your group photography session will run much more smoothly and be completed more quickly.  This is another area where prices can look quite cheap until you realise that a second photographer and all the benefits that come with having one might cost you extra, typically in the region of £250.  

How do you approach the group photography?  Your photographer should be prepared to take the group shots you ask for and should know who will be included and where the photographs will be taken so that they can work efficiently on the day.  This is something we are really switched on with and we are often complimented on the way we approach this important part of your coverage.  Good organisational skills and experience are essential to prevent this from descending into chaos or something or someone important being missed.  We recommend being realistic though and working with your photographer to draw up a small list of important group photographs which he or she can reasonably cover within the time allowed.  You should then nominate a trusted and responsible guest to take charge of gathering the relevant people together quickly and effeciently so that your photographer can get on with the job in hand and not waste valuable time hunting for people or waiting around.    

Do you work from a list of groups so that these are done quickly?  Beware the photographer who refuses to take a list of a reasonable number of groups because if he or she won't, this section of your photography can be very disorganised.  Two photographers working together make this even quicker and more efficient.  We will consult with you before the day so that we know who is on each group photograph and their relationship to you.  We will also do our homework regarding any issues relating to family politics.  Can the photographer deal with a situation where two divorced parents refuse to appear together on the same photograph?  Could they approach this with tact and diplomacy?  How would they work around this sensitive issue and still keep everyone happy?  These situations can cause a lot of stress for couples but we have suggestions for how to make them less of a problem.

What coverage do you provide on the wedding day?  Some photographers charge for a set number of hours of attendance at a wedding and will charge extra to stay longer, for instance to cover speeches, first dance or both.  This method of charging can be inflexible as sometimes things don't run to time on the day and rates for additional hours or part hours can be quite high.  Some photographers include all day coverage in their package prices.  These photographers give their clients exceptional value for money and is our policy; no exceptions.

What exactly is included in the package we are interested in?  Get a clear answer to this as it's a reasonable question to ask before you commit yourselves and avoids any misunderstanding or unexpected extra costs later on.  Our packages are easy to understand and we will put in writing to you exactly what your package includes.

How many images will you take on the day?  We place no limit on this and we will take as many images as we feel appropriate to give you comprehensive coverage of your wedding day.  We will not present you with thousands of mediocre or poor quality images and photographers who do often lack the confidence and skills to produce good results, using a "machine gun" approach with the theory that if they take enough images, some are bound to be good.  Quality definitely wins over quantity but you can expect somewhere in the region of four or five hundred great images from us. 

How long after the wedding do we have to wait for our previews and how will the images be previewed?  Our aim is three weeks or sometimes four during our busiest time in the summer.  More often than not, your previews will be ready for you to collect when you return from your honeymoon.  With all storybook packages you will receive a DVD slideshow to keep and a password protected online gallery.

Can we and our family and friends order reprints and how much do these cost?  Our reprints are very competitively priced and can be ordered directly from us or through your personal online gallery.  We are happy to post prints out when this is more convenient for you.

How do you approach the design of our wedding album and can we choose the photographs which go into it?  Unlike some photographers who select the images for you, with us you will always choose the photographs for your storybook.  After all, it's your wedding day and your storybook!   Alex will personally design your storybook for you using your favourite images.  Additional images will often be selected by him to compliment your favourites where space and design permits.  

Can we see the layout before you order our album?  We think this is very important.  You will be invited to the studio to preview your storybook layout and we will make any changes you request at no cost to you before we order it.  It's worth mentioning though that Alex is a very talented and creative album designer and without exception, couples are over the moon with their design when they see it and most make no changes at all.

How many photographs are included in our album?  This varies depending on the package you choose. We have packages which are designed for budget conscious couples and include a specific number of images within the package price, whilst most include a variable number, as all our layouts are different and are designed around each couple's choice of photographs and their preferences.

Is there an additional cost for extra photographs in our album?  Most wedding photographers offer packages including an album with a specific number of photographs in it and will charge extra if you want more.  There is an extra cost for additional photographs in our lowest priced storybook package but you will only incur extra costs with our larger storybooks if you request additional pages.

Do we have to choose our album photographs when we first see them?  A high pressure selling technique this one!  Designed to get you to commit to more photographs in your wedding album than you originally paid for, when you first see the images, which is when you are really excited about them.  This will usually result in you spending a lot more money than you'd anticipated, which is, of course, the idea.  Our preferred approach is to let you take your previews away and choose the images for your storybook at your leisure.  You may well want more photographs or pages in your storybook when you see your images but this is your decision.  All we do ask that you come back us with your image selection within three months of your wedding date to enable us to fulfull our obligations to you within a reasonable period of time.

Do you have a contract?  Absolutely vital.  Do not book a photographer without a legally binding contract which is not only fair to them, it must be fair to you as well.  The photographer should provide you with a copy for your records and send you written confirmation.  We use the MPA standard contract which is legally binding and fair to both parties.

How much do you require to secure the date?  This will vary between photographers but should be a fair amount not exceeding 25% of the total package price.  Our usual booking fee is just £300 which is deducted from the price of your chosen package.


Two professional wedding photographers

Why are two professional wedding photographers better than one?  One photographer cannot be in two places at once, no matter how skilled they are.  Two photographers make such a difference to your coverage because not only can they work from two different viewpoints during parts of the wedding day, for example, one at the front of the church and the other at the back, they can make your group photography session much more fun and much quicker.  This is a real advantage as most people hate hanging around at a wedding waiting for the group photographs to be completed and we know that once the important group shots are taken care of, we can have some fun with the couple.  We have a slick and professional way of getting the groups photographs done and with everyone's co-operation, we can accomplish this pretty quickly and make it enjoyable in the process.  It takes a long time for one photographer to get the people together for a group, set up the camera, pose the group, go to the camera position, see something not quite right, go back to the group, fix the problem, go back to the camera...  Working together, we can do this so much more efficiently and if we told you that our packages are no more expensive for having two professional wedding photographers, which would you prefer?


Styles - traditional, reportage, contemporary, confused?

Whilst you are looking, you will probably come across different terms to describe various styles of wedding photography.  Here's an explanation of what these really mean. 

Traditional, classical, formal - the type of photographs you might see in your parents' wedding album, attractively and carefully posed.  Most couples (or their parents!) want at least a few of these, in particular the traditional group shots with close family and perhaps a few couple shots and bridal portraits to show off the bride's gown and bouquet to perfection.  A timeless, elegant style which will still look good when you celebrate your golden wedding anniversary and important because your wedding is one of the few times in your lives when your family is dressed up and in the same place.  These photographs will become more precious over time, especially when certain family members are no longer around.

Reportage, photojournalism - capturing moments as they happen, unposed and with no intervention from the photographer.  Can result in wonderful images with great expressions which could not be captured otherwise.  Requires a high level of observation and skill on the photographer's part, this style is unpredictable and without guarantees. The only style for the ceremony, speeches and first dance as these are impossible to orchestrate.  Some inexperienced photographers call themselves reportage wedding photographers because they do not have the skill or the experience to pose subjects for traditional photographs and their photographs often look like the guests' snapshots - beware!  These so called wedding photographers are responsible for more complaints than any other.  Some experienced photographers call themselves reportage wedding photographers and if this seems very attractive, again beware.  Whilst too many entice couples to book them by claiming that they will work unobserved and unobtrusively "whilst you get on with enjoying your day", are you really sure that you want your entire wedding photographed in this style?  What about the family groups, what about arranging the bride's beautiful gown to show it off at its best and what about specific photographs using the locations around your wedding venue as backdrops?  A true reportage wedding photographer will not make this happen.  They will not organise anyone or anything, assist with the smooth running of your day or work hard to capture any special requests.  If you are still convinced that this style is for you, choose very carefully.  Really good genuine reportage photographers are hard to find and most who claim to work in this style are actually contemporary wedding photographers.  More on this style later.

Candid - the same as reportage or photojournalism.  Images are captured as they happen.

Informal, relaxed - not quite reportage but not traditional either - a looser stye of wedding photography with some intervention from the photographer; for instance they will choose the background for the photographs and give some direction to the subjects.  They will not pose as carefully as a traditional or classical photographer but they will often capture great expressions and interaction from their subjects.  Fun shots with the bridal party and the bride and groom walking hand in hand and chatting  to each other are examples of this style.  The reason the photographer sets up these shots is to avoid, among other things, problems such as trees and lamp posts growing out of people's heads and to choose the most flattering lighting conditions and an appropriate background which results in much better photographs.

Fashion, artistic - usually very specifically posed and often using architecture or unusual backgrounds as an important element in the images.  The photographer may use creative lighting techniques and digital enhancements to create very striking, stand alone images which wouldn't look out of place in a fashion magazine and which you would definitely want to showcase on your wall.  Requires a high degree of creativity, skill and imagination from the photographer and time, commitment and patience from the couple.

Detail - although not a photography style is itself, this describes the images which observant photographers capture during the day to record all the little details which make your wedding unique and personal to you.  Examples are your dress, shoes and accessories, flowers, candles in the church, the order of service, the rings, table decorations, favours, menu, champagne, table plan, etc.  These are quickly and easily forgotten and great photographers know how important these images are.  They also make lovely filler photographs in your wedding album.  As one of us is a woman, very much in tune with what's important to the bride, she is always on the look out for opportunities to capture detail photographs which contribute to telling the story of your special day.  The male half of the team is gradually starting to understand, after much brainwashing and hen pecking from the female, just how important the bride's shoes are!

Contemporary - our favourite!  This style is really the best description of what we, as contemporary wedding photographers, are about and it means that after considering all the styles available, why do you need to choose just one?  Contemporary wedding photography is, in our opinion, the most skillful style of all because if offers something of everything, whilst still being tailored to suit the taste and requirements of each couple.  We have the skill to pose traditional groups correctly, couples flatteringly and brides beautifully, we are very good at anticipating what will happen next, so we can capture the emotion of your wedding ceremony, the hilarious expressions during the speeches and the romance of your first dance as husband and wife, and because we are very creative, our signature style often includes some fashion and artistic images, if this is something which appeals to you.  Why not find out more about our wedding photography service?


Other considerations

Ask to see sample albums containing complete weddings and ensure that the work that you are seeing is that of the photographer you are thinking of hiring and that the photographs have been taken at real weddings.  You'd be surprised at how many so called "wedding photographers" show images taken at workshops and seminars and pass them off as their own work.  It's quite easy to take decent pictures when the photographer is working with a professional model "bride and groom" who know how to pose, being guided by a professional photography tutor who will direct the models and the photographers and give advice on everything from camera settings to lighting to choice of location.  Look at the quality of the printing.  Look for creativity and imagination in the images.  Do the subjects in groups look happy and relaxed or stiff and uncomfortable?  Has the photographer taken time to arrange groups tidily?  Has he or she displayed the bride's dress properly to show it at its best or is it in an untidy heap?  Has thought gone into the locations and backgrounds chosen?  Has the photographer captured great expressions and wonderful moments which could never be staged?  What is the lighting like in their images?  Is it flattering or is the light overly bright in some areas and extremely dark in others?  Can you see detail in the bride's dress?  Can you see detail in the shadow areas of their images?  Have they chopped feet or the bottom of the bride's dress off in what should be full length photos?  Do you like the photographer's personality and could you imagine being around this person for the whole of your wedding day and, most important, does this person give you the impression that your booking would be important to them.  Are they enthusiastic and excited about your wedding?  We certainly would be!

Good photographs - look carefully to see if the photographs are good in their own right.  This is something many people find very hard to judge and we are truly gutted when we hear people raving about "stunning" photographs that are actually very poor.  As with anything artistic, what's good is subjective and everyone thinks differently.  Is it really a good photograph or is it the use of Photoshop that's made it look good?  There is nothing wrong with the use of Photoshop to enhance and retouch images and to create pieces of wedding art.  However, beware the photographer who applies excessive use of gimicky Photoshop filters to the images.  Some of these special effects may look fantastic and very arty now but could easily date your photographs. 

Wedding albums - many couples place a lot of importance of the album itself and whilst the style obviously has to be one you like, it isn't the be all and end all.  Poor quality photographs in a very expensive album will still be poor quality photographs, whereas beautiful photographs in an attractive but sensibly priced album will always look beautiful.  

Unfamiliar venues - most couples ask if the photographer has worked at their venue before and some place a lot of importance on this.  Whilst familiarity with the venue may be considered an advantage because the photographer knows all the usual locations for photographs, you shouldn't be put off booking them simply because they haven't worked at your venue before.  Good wedding photographers who are concerned about providing you with a first class personal service will always offer to visit your venue, usually with you, and this visit before the wedding day is even more important if the venue is new to the photographer.  We are often booked to photograph weddings at new venues and we love the variety and the creativity that presents itself when we're fortunate enough to work somewhere new.  We will always offer to visit before the wedding day and if wedding is taking place a long distance away and involves an overnight stay, we would usually recce the venue the day before the wedding.

Discounts - clients often ask if the price can be discounted.  We do occasionally offer special deals on packages for weekday, low season and short notice weddings but we do not discount for weekend dates in high season.  The reason for this is simple - most weddings take place between the beginning of May and the end of September and during this time, we have to turn away many couples because we are already booked, therefore, there is no incentive to discount on these dates.  Sometimes couples persistently try to drive the price down.  Beware of doing this to the photographer who's work you love and who you really want to book because they may refuse to accept your booking.  The relationship between photographer and client is very much a two way thing and if the photographer likes you a lot and feels that they really want to shoot your wedding, even though their costs are slightly higher than you can stretch to, they may be prepared to compromise somewhere along the line to meet your budget if you are lucky and if you treat them as you should, even it it means you settling for a smaller album, fewer pages in it or less photographs.

Slideshows - wedding photographers are offering this service as entertainment for the guests in the evening and some couples seem to place almost as much importance on it as they do on the photographs themselves.  It's real purpose is to market and advertise the photographer, whose details will appear very prominently on the slideshow.  Sounds like a great idea but personally we'd rather be around and ready to photograph anything that's interesting and which will contribute to the story of your big day.  In addition, as professionals we like the opportunity to evaluate each of your images and decide how best to present them to you.  This might be black and white or sepia, an artistic crop or creative artwork.  We like to take some time to choose so that you get the best possible images and this isn't possible with a hurriedly put together slideshow.  We also like a break and a meal whilst everyone else is eating, as we've often missed lunch because we've been working and food is something we are desperate for to keep our energy levels up during a very long day.  Having said all this, we have all the necessary equipment and we are happy to make a slideshow presentation if it's something that's really important to you.

On the night printing - some photographers offer to photograph the wedding guests, print the photographs on the night and sell them.  We do not offer this service as we believe that if you have paid us good money, then we are not there to make money from your guests.  However, if there is time, we are more than happy to take photographs on request which guests will be able to view and purchase if they wish, without pressure, through our online ordering service.

All your wedding images on a printable disc - this is being offered more frequently nowadays, particularly by part-time photographers who charge cheap prices.  They consider that a printable disc of all your images will be what entices you to book them, rather than a lovely wedding album full of beautiful photographs taken by an experienced photographer with skill and imagination.  After all, once you have all the images at high resolution, you don't need to come back to the photographer for any prints after the wedding.  Think of the money you'll save!  What usually happens is that you receive your disc of images and you put it in a drawer with the intention of printing from it and perhaps putting together your own album.  Time goes by and this never happens.  To remember your wedding, we believe that your photographs should be presented in a good quality album or an Italian storybook.  Prints made at cheap high street print shops will never look as good as those produced by a professional photographic laboratory.  However, if a printable disc is something you would like, please ask as we are happy to provide one as an addition to your storybook package, so you get the best of both worlds.  We find that couples are very often seeing the printable disc as a "deal clincher".  In other words, our refusal to give away the digital files sometimes results in us losing the booking because the part-time photographer down the road will give them it free.  What happens though when the contents of the disc from the part-time, inexperienced, cheap photographer down the road are so poor that no one would have any desire whatsoever to print from it? 


Your photographer

When you've found the photographer for you, be prepared to secure their services quickly.  Call them rather than sending an email, as good ones accept only one booking per day and they can be booked up to two years in advance, particularly for Saturdays in summer.  We find ourselves having to turn many couples away for popular dates, and as we only accept an absolute maximum of thirty-five weddings a year, the number of enquiries we receive far outweighs the number of bookings we can accept.  You will be asked to pay the booking fee and complete a contract before they will consider the date secured for you.  Please do not ask the photographer to provisionally book or hold your date.  A professional photographer cannot take the risk of turning someone else away whilst they wait for you to confirm, just in case you decide to go elsewhere.  Once you have secured your date, you should receive a copy of the contract for your records, along with written confirmation outlining everything which is included in your package.  


Good luck! 

We hope this information has helped you in the search for a photographer for your wedding.  If we can help you further, please don't hesitate to contact us.  If you like what you've seen on our website, we would be delighted to be invited to capture your big day! 

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Alex Durasow Photography, 11 Churwell Close,  WF10 5AD  |  Tel: 01977 730 159  |  Mobile: 07989 928 977

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