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Choosing your wedding photographer in seven simple steps!

Your wedding day is likely to be the biggest day of your life. You have probably toyed with thoughts of your wedding day even before you met your partner. You'll know whether a religious ceremony is important to you or not, even your favourite flowers, cake or music! You'll likely already know if you'd prefer a large luxurious wedding with all your favourite people or whether a small intimate affair suits you better. Whatever the thoughts and ideas of your special day you will no doubt want them beautifully documented. Choosing the right photographer to capture such special memories takes careful consideration and that's exactly why I decided to write this blog.

Newly weds cutting their cake at Hinton St Mary Estate Dorset


Choosing your wedding photographer is tough, there is no doubt about it. There is such a wide variety of styles, as well as prices and packages it is almost impossible for it not to feel overwhelming. Everyone also has a mobile phone these days. It's easy to entertain the idea that guests will take lovely photos on their mobile phone and to not have a photographer at all. BELIEVE ME I WAS THAT PERSON! I married quite a few years ago now and I didn't have a clue about wedding photography, I was that bride that thought 'oh I know someone with a nice camera, I am sure that they won't mind taking some photos'. I was naïve enough to think that owning a lovely camera would give me beautiful images from my day. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yes, they looked the part on my wedding day with all the lovely expensive gear but did they understand lighting? no! Did they understand how to operate the camera in anything other that auto mode? no! Did they have any experience working in the wedding industry in a fast paced atmosphere with low lighting - no! Were they familiar with editing programmes and had their own unique editing style? I think you can guess the answer. I started seriously pursuing my passion in photography a couple of years after my wedding and it was a steep learning curve, I have been in the wedding industry now for nearly ten years and I have learnt so much about it.

SO DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKES I DID LET ME HELP YOU!



newly weds dancing their first dance on their wedding day. Abbots court Dorset photography by Louisa Jane

Tip #1 - What is the wedding photographer's style?


There are so many different photography styles, from documentary wedding photography (candid, unposed imagery) to fine art (elegant poses, and artistic compositions) to anything else in between. it is important that you and your partner are both drawn to a similar style of photography. The photographer's portfolio should be able to deliver a consistent looking style of images throughout the wedding day.


As well as the style of images the next question to ask yourself is "Do I like the final edit of the images? " Again , a good photographer should be able to provide consistent looking images under a variety of different lightings. Some photographers edit with a strong, bold and colourful finish where as others have a softer, muted appearance. You may also notice that certain photographers have a dark and moody feel to their photography and others prefer a light and airy look. It is worth really looking at the final edit and consider what it is about the photographer's edit that you really like.


Tip #2 - What experience does your wedding photographer have and how long have they been in business?


Put bluntly wedding photography is tricky! A wedding photographer is never just a wedding photographer they are likely playing the part of wedding coordinator and master of ceremonies too. They are constantly liaising with other suppliers with the timings of the day (the caterers, the band, the registrar/ vicar) as well as your guests, you want to make sure that you are choosing someone that has skills which make people feel comfortable and at ease and works well with other suppliers so that your day runs smoothly. A photographer that is in the early stages of their career is unlikely to know the full intricacies of a wedding day and although choosing a beginner photographer is not necessarily a bad thing, it's likely they are yet to develop the other skills which are required on on a busy wedding day (timings, confidence organising large groups etc) and this is certainly something that is worth thinking about before you book someone.


So my advice here is to not only check out their website but make sure that you look at Google reviews, social media as well as talking to people about whether they have employed them for their services and what they felt about them. Researching their business will not only give you an idea on how they are constantly looking to improve and develop their business but it will also give you a clear indication as to whether they will be around in the next few years too. A business that has been trading for a few years is definitely a much safer option than one that has been trading for a few months.


Tip #3 - What is your wedding photography budget?


It is important to think about the budget you have for your wedding photography and although it is a deciding factor for a lot of couples, it shouldn't be the basis of your decision. I always believe that a photographer should be open about their packages from the start and in turn so should you as a client be transparent about your budget. I always make sure that I include my packages on my website. You can see them all by clicking on here .


There are so many varying factors that come into why a photographer charges as they do including, their experience, their location, the time and attention they spend on editing, what the package itself includes but it is important to note that high-end prices do not always guarantee the highest quality and attention to detail and reasonable pricing does not always depict low quality either, so bear that one in mind!


Newly weds portrait sessions. Photography by Louisa jane. Dorset wedding photographer

Tip #4 - Are there any extras in your wedding photographer's packages?


Once you have found a few photographers that you like and their work fits with your budget have a little look at what is offered within the package. Consider factors like preview pictures that you can share with your friends and family shortly after the wedding, do they have a second shooter? In what format will they deliver the images will there be a presentation box with prints or are they all online for you to download only? Does the package include an engagement shoot or a slideshow with beautiful music? It is at this point you and your partner need to weigh up what is important to be included within the package you would like.



Tip #5- Check the photographer's availability

It is a great idea to narrow down a selection of photographer's work that you really like. So now it is time to contact your favourite photographers and see if they are available. Popular wadding photographers get booked up quickly so don't feel that you are contacting them too early if your wedding date is still a couple of years away! Bear in mind though that if you want only want a few hours of photographic coverage (two or three hours) on your wedding day in peak season then a photographer is unlikely to book this date out for you unless it is the year of the wedding.


bridal party with champagne at Larmer Tree Gardens Salsibury

Tip #6 - Do you like your photographer?

Great, you have found a few photographers whose photography style and edit you like, they fit within your budget and they have your wedding date available. Now is the time to meet up with you photographer or have a zoom meeting with them if you're not local . If you have heard great things about your photographer and you have seen galleries of their work already this is is all really positive. But if your paths haven't crossed at all, it is important to have a chat with them before you book, You will be spending a lot of time with your wedding photographer on the biggest day of your life and it is vital that you feel comfortable and relaxed with their presence. I have written some fantastic questions for you to ask your wedding photographer when you do have a meeting with them so you obtain all the information you need! Check that out below.


Tip #7 - Ask to view a wedding photography gallery


You would have learnt a lot from speaking to a couple of photographers and you will know which one best suits you. If you are still unsure about things it is a great idea to ask if you can view a full gallery from a previous wedding that they have shot. As I have mentioned earlier every photographer has such a different style of shooting and editing, looking at wedding photos from a whole wedding day under different lighting conditions and timeline pressures is a great way of seeing how consistent they are with the work that they produce. So don't be afraid to ask to have a look at a previous wedding gallery. On a side note make sure if a photographer has been spending time emailing or having a meeting with you but you feel that they are not the right fit for you, Please drop them an email to thank them for their time and let them know that you are choosing another photographer.



Bride and Groom exchanging vows on their wedding day. Dorset wedding photographer


Helpful questions to ask you photographer before your wedding photographer.


In what format will my images be delivered? When you are choosing your perfect wedding photographer. How will you be receiving your images? This is important as some photographers might only deliver prints and albums where others will give you downloadable images for you to print as you wish. Make sure that you are clear on what the photographer delivers so that you aren't disappointed.


Can you describe your editing style and process ? It may be that you don't really know why you are asking this question but you can ascertain a lot from a photographer by asking this. Photographers that have been in the wedding industry a long time will have a specific way of editing and production of their images. Some photographers outsource this part of the work; others individually edit each image. If the photographers do edit all their own images you'll find it will also differ again with the level of editing. Some are more particular about what they want to do to each image and will use more powerful photo editing programmes where as others will solely look at standard editing features such as colours, temperature, gradients and exposure.


How long until I receive my images? Do you offer preview pictures to share with friends/ family online?

It is always lovely having some sneak peeks of images after the wedding so check out if this is something they offer. Some photographers have a longer editing period too depending on how many weddings they like to take on a year and how vigilant they are with the editing process ,so make sure you ask them how long the turnaround is for your wedding photos.


Do you have insurance?

Anyone operating as a wedding photographer should have public liability insurance, professional indemnity and insurance to cover their equipment.

What is your experience photographing at my venue or somewhere similar? Although it is not essential that a photographer has worked at your venue at all but it is always helpful to hear their opinion on lighting at a venue and beautiful areas for photos. More often than not if a photographer hasn't shot at your wedding venue before they will arrive a little bit earlier on your wedding day to have a look at the venue before they start shooting. (well that's how I work anyway!)


How many images will I receive? . It is important to be clear on approximately how many images you will be receiving with the package you have booked for.


Can you explain your working style? some photographers have a more hands-on approach with posed shots whilst others will focus solely on capturing real moments and not prompt at all. It's always a great idea to discuss their working style so that you have a clear understanding on what to expect. If you have chosen a photojournalistic photographer they may not carryout group shots for example.


Do you take photo requests? You may have a wonderful idea for a photo so you'll want to know if your photographer is happy to have a go at something creative. Equally you'll want to know if your guests can requests photographs with their families or with you as a couple on the day.


Are you happy to travel? Most photographers are more than happy to travel and expect it. However it is worth noting that most photographers will charge after a certain distance and you may have to pay for overnight accommodation if there is a considerable distance between where the wedding is and where the photographer resides.


Will there be a gallery online that I can share with friends and family? Most photographers offer an online portal so that you can share your images with friends and family, it will also give your loved ones the opportunity to purchase any images for themselves. Definitely ask about this though as beginner photographers may not have this feature.


Do you offer a printing or album service? Not every photographer does this but it is worth asking about if this is something that you would like.


Do you charge for over time coverage? Most photographers will charge an hourly rate for any overtime that occurs on the wedding day, discuss with you photographer before the big day as to whether they are able to stay if things overrun on the day and what the cost will be.


How do you keep your wedding images safe? Camera equipment is fantastic these days and all professional photographers should have cameras with dual camera slots making sure that each photo taken is backed up to two cards as they shoot, so if one of those camera cards fail you have another to rely on. A photographer should be backing up your images at home or as they travel back from your wedding. One on an external hard drive/computer and another to the cloud. May I suggest that when you receive your gallery of wedding photos from your photographer. Make sure you back them up in various places too. I can't believe the amount of couples that come back to me years later saying "I can't find my USB with my wedding photos" or "I didn't download my wedding photos online".


What is your back up plan in case you are ill? Every professional photographer should have a back up plan in case they can't make your wedding day or they are taken ill so find out what you photographer does. Whilst you are at it check out what they do if there is a malfunction with their equipment on the day too.


Do you have a contract? This is the most important part. Make sure there is a contract between you and your photographer. This will make sure that both of you are protected.



Well I hope that you have enjoyed reading top tips on how to choose your perfect wedding photographer as well as some useful questions to ask them too. May I wish you all the best of luck in your wedding planning and a long and happy future together. if you would like to consider me to be your wedding photographer please drop me a message I would love to hear from you. Contact me



Photography by Louisa Jane logo dorset wedding photographer


 


Louisa Jane wedding photographer Dorset

Hi, I am Louisa! I am based in Gillingham, Dorset

I  have been a wedding photographer for nearly a decade. My journey into wedding photography began with a profound desire to capture authentic moments and tell unique love stories. Fuelled by a deep passion for creativity and love for working with people,  it was then that I found my love for wedding photography.

My work has been featured in various online publications I have won awards within  documentary photography competitions. I am known for having a natural photography style,  but equally love to push the  boundaries of my creativity with  more curated images too.






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