Choosing a wedding photographer

01st December 2015
Things to ask about when booking a wedding photographer.
An (almost) un-biased guide from Grahame at GWS Photography

I’ll try to be as impartial as possible here, just offering free advice to couples that are looking to book a wedding photographer. Things to ask and think about.

The main one is very easy… Book me !! Book Me !! Lol

But seriously, have a look through these, and if you have any further questions, drop me an email or phone and I’ll answer any questions I can.

Like most professions, sports, hobbies, jobs : You don’t get judged on how you perform on a good day, when everything is going your way, that would be too easy. You are judged on how you perform on a bad day, or a difficult day, when something could trip you up do you have the ability to still perform at your best ?
An experienced wedding photographer will have come across most situations, and will know how to deal with them – or even help prevent them from happening.

Facebook for example, is full of people who can take great photos, and gather many likes from their friends & family, but many wouldn't be able to be wedding photographers. I don't mean that to sound harsh or big headed in any way - but there is a huge difference from going out in your spare time and snapping a nice sunset in lovely conditions to stepping up and offering a gauranteed service under strict conditions.
A wedding photographer has to know their camera equipment inside out, be great at landscape photography, portraits, lighting, be able to work well in front of and with a large crowd of people and all under strict time restraints - sometimes also in horrible weather.

It can be one of the easiest jobs in the world at times, when you have a pretty couple, lovely surroundings and the light is hitting them just right. Anyone could snap that great photo, but will they be able to do it in the rain, with 5 minutes before the couple are due in for their meal, with kids crying, granny with sore feet, the light vanishing, and people walking around - in front of and behind the couple ?

Anyway, like I say - it CAN be easy. I'm pretty sure if you put me in a good car and asked me to race Lewis Hamilton over a 100 yard straight I'd do quite well. But pick a random day, with lots of twists & turns I'm sure Lewis will do the better job !

Here's a selection of things you might want to consider and maybe even ask your potential photographer for your big, special day...

Insured : Make sure the photographer is insured. They will need their own gear insured obviously, but also public liability. If someone was to trip over a camera bag or the likes, it could get nasty if the photographer has no cover. Also, some venues insist on photographers and other vendors having proper pro insurance.

Back Up Equipment : You never know what could go wrong with camera gear, even pro level , so spare cameras, lenses, flash etc are essential. Makes & models of camera aren’t that important, but check the person you hire has a contingency plan for when things WILL happen. It’s all fine having a £2k camera but that can still get knocked out your hand or a strap breaks during the wedding ceremony. They can’t just turn round and apologise for having no photos. And it it DOES happen.

Meet up with the photographer : It’s always best to meet up in person whenever possible with the photographer. Make sure you get on with them. On most weddings, the photographer will be with you from early in the morning until late at night... so you have to be on good terms and be able too get on.

Smart : If having everyone look their best on the wedding day is important to you, make sure the photographer you hire isn’t going to turn up in jeans & T, looking like they’ve just fell out of a tree :)

Part Time or Full Time : Is the photographer committed to the task at hand. Anyone can take great pictures, and people doing it as a hobby, or a weekend job can often take as good a picture as any top pro, but will they have the time to get your photos back to you quick enough ? Ask how long it will be before you see your finished portfolio. I personally know many photographers that take amazing photos, but they admit to having no time to do their hobby properly.

And yes... how long before you see your photos ? : Most decent photographers should have your full edited portfolio (at least digitally) back with you in 3-4 weeks. Ask how long it will be before you have access to your full set of photos. If it's longer than that ask why. There is no real reason that a photographer can't take a full weddings worth of photos, and have them beautifully edited and ready for you in 3-4 weeks. We try to have ours out within 2 weeks.

Memory card loss or damage : What happens when the cameras memory card is lost, damaged or goes faulty during or even after the wedding ? Until you get your finished photos what happens if disaster strikes those digital files before the job is 100% finished ? Ask the photographer if they have a workflow in place that protects their clients photos from the time they take them to having them stored for the long term.

Experience : Ask potential photographers how many weddings they have covered, how many do they do each year, how many different venues they have shot at. A lot of new photographers have web sites with only a few photos that are taken at training courses with models for brides. This is fine for someone starting out in the business , but they should make you aware that this is the case. Ask to see finished albums. Have they got lots of different weddings on their web site gallery ?

Plan B (and C) : What happens if your picturesque wedding venue is showered with rain all day. Does your photographer have the experience and confidence to shoot a full wedding indoors ? It might sound easy, but this brings a whole new set of things to be addressed and equipment required. This is more important if you're planning a winter or autumn wedding.

But relax ! : Most good photographers – if not all pros have answers to many of these and more “tasks” , it might well be that uncle Bob that has offered to take your photos for free might well be experienced at this kind of task handling , but please just make sure, that whoever takes your big one-off special wedding day photos is up to the task, whether it’s me or not – ask the questions when you meet photographers “What if...”

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying every bride & groom has to go and spend thousands of hard earned money on photography. That's not what every couple wants or needs. Maybe you just want a few photos of the ceremony and some family shots on your wedding day... if you do, that's fine. Anyone that's got basic camera skills can do that for you, you probably have friends that will do that for free.
I have guys (and gals) chat with me every week, that are good amateur photographers - as in, it's not their day job - that take the odd £50 or so for a family portrait. Most then tell me "I'm not doing weddings, don't want to step on your toes!". My answer is always the same... "Crack on!". There's room for all budgets and styles in wedding photography.

You just have to make sure that you get the photographer that can deliver the photos that YOU want.

If you have any questions at all regarding wedding photography, whether you have booked us, or someone else... maybe you want to know what venues suit inside photography, winter weddings, any questions at all... drop me an email anytime. Tel: 01368 864500 Email:

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