Wedding Photography - common questions
13th February 2016
So, here's what we reckon are the 30 most common things we get asked about wedding photography. We've gave general answers to some, and also included our own point of view on others. I'd imagine if you asked other photographers these same questions, you may well get some different answers.
I suppose what I'm saying there is a disclaimer of sorts :) But we have been as honest as we can.
If you have any other questions, please pop a comment at the bottom, and we'll answer as soon as we can.
1) How much does wedding photography cost ?
Oooo you've started with the tough one eh lol. Wedding Photography is a luxury item, there's no getting away from that fact. By that I mean you can live without it. In saying that though, you could quite happily survive without even getting married!
But all good photographers train and practise for years, and invest a good percentage of their fee back into equipment, advertising, promotion as well as feeding their families.
A top wedding photographer could easily charge up to £5000 and above. I know a few that do - and they are always booked out.
But there is a market, and a photographer level to suit every budget.
From a few hundred pounds to many thousand.
Do you get what you pay for ? In most cases , yes.
Many photographers just do it part time, at weekends, so they don't need to make all their living wage from their fees, but there are downsides to that as well, most common in turn around time and experience.
I'm not knocking part time photographers, there are many I know that are better than "full time" ones, but it makes you wonder 'why are they not full time'.
But back to cost, in Scotland for a full time photographer with lots of experience and lots of weddings in their portfolio they can show you, you should expect to pay between £1000-£2000 for a day lasting from roughly 11am to 8pm. Maybe half that for a half day (up to 5pm) ? Albums MAY be extra.
You can cut costs with wedding photography for sure, you could get a friend or family member to shoot your big day, but it all depends on what you see as important to your day. You get one chance to capture the day and have a tangible reminder to look at with your grandchildren so it's worth getting a good photographer.
2) Do photographers have to be full time ?
No. I mentioned above about full time and part time, but the advantages of full time photographers (usually) are faster turn around time, far more experience in knowing how a wedding works and generally can do more weddings for even more experience (mid week for example). But... let's be honest... anyone doing anything based out of their house at weekends and a full time job to pay the mortgage will be cheaper. At least they SHOULD be. Most of the time it's not important if a photographer is full time or not, but most of the scary stories you hear about wedding photography are from part timers who have nothing to loose.
Someone that relies on their photography to pay the bills and feed their kids may well have more fizz to ensure you get a better end product.
This is a generalisation though, I know a few great part time photographers who are working towards becoming full time, but I also know a few that I hear say "I'm going to start doing weddings and I think "oh my.... you shouldn't!".
When you are looking at a photographers web site, make sure there are lots of sample photos from different weddings. When you meet them you should be able to have a look at a few sample albums too.
I've seen photographers advertise shooting weddings for £500 and all the photos on their Facebook page are from training days where they haven't worked with a real bride. So view lots of their work.
3) Are all photographers the same and will give me the same photos ?
Absolutely not. Every photographer has their own style and way of working. This is where you have to look at their websites, meet them and see sample albums.
You have to pick a photographer who's photos you like, and then trust them to do the same for you.
4) I want a lot of candid & natural photos. Is this always possible ?
In most cases yes. It's a similar answer to number 3 above ^ , look at the photographer's style.
Many photographers advertise themselves as "candid" or "reportage" photographers. But if you book them, don't expect any family shots and groups pictures with mums and dads. A true reportage photographer is almost invisible on the day and just captures what happens.
Some new photographers say they are reportage style, but quite often it's because they haven't learned how to pose people, interact or work lighting.
Our own style is about 70% natural & candid, and the rest semi-posed. But we always make sure the day flows with no interruptions.
An example of a semi-posed photo is at the bottom of this page. I asked Angela and Gary to stand together for a minute or two and have a cuddle or just hold each other while I checked the light, and we got a beautiful set of about 6 photos with pure natural looks and touches with no input from me.
5) What if I don't like getting my photograph taken ?
This is actually asked quite a lot. But meet up with your photographer, or a few of them and fine one that puts you at ease. He/she will be able to chat with you and relax you a bit more, and then if you have a pre-wedding shoot, this actually helps you to see how easy the wedding day will be for you.
It's natural to be nervous, but your photographer will help you there.
6) A pre-wedding shoot ? What's that ?
A pre-shoot is a small photo shoot, usually about an hour, with your wedding photographer, a few months before the wedding. You might talk about how to stand, what will happen on the day and how the photographer works throughout the time they are with you.
On our pre-shoots it's as much a chat and a get-to-know-you than it is a photo shoot. By the end of it you'll feel more at ease. Every couple starts off all nervous and worried, but an hour later, they know how the wedding day will go and are usually all excited about the photos.
7) How long do I need a photographer for ?
There's two basic packages... day time that covers up to roughly 5pm, nowadays that usually takes you up to the speeches, so you'd get some preparation shots, the ceremony, some family groups, some lovely bride & groom alone shots, then some speech shots.
Or you can cover up to the first dances.
Most photographers don't work to times as weddings rarely run to time.
There are other ways to do it, but those two are the main ones. But, if you wanted, you could have coverage from 9am to midnight, or even extending over a few days.
8) How long before I see my photos and how many photos will we get ?
This can vary because some of the answers above (such as part time photographers). I'd say most pro photographers would have your photos ready for you to view in 2-3 weeks.
I think personally any longer than this and I'd be worried. Just make sure you ask this question to every photographer you meet up with.
Regarding how many photos, I can only answer that from a personal point of view. Our couples generally get 300-400 on a short day package, and 350-500 on a full day package.
9) Do I have to get an album, or can I just get a CD/USB stick ?
Entirely up to you I suppose.
Some photographers only do album packages, others just do shoot & burn (onto a cd).
Personally, I prefer to see couple have an album, otherwise your photos will never be looked at and cherished in the years ahead.
Who knows if we'll be looking at Jpegs in 10 years time in the same way we no longer watch VHS tapes for movies.
But you'll always be able to pick up an album, feel it's weight, sit it on your lap and tell the stories to your wee ones or grandchildren about your day - and why your hair looked that way all those years ago :)
10) What parts of the day are actually photographed ?
This is another open ended one, but if I answer it from the point of us shooting a normal wedding up to the first dances... we'll start about 11am, do detail shots of dresses, rings etc, some shots of the girls getting ready, all the excitement, some of the guys once they're all ready, the bride in her dress, right through the wedding ceremony, the kisses and cuddles after the ceremony, family group shots, some bride and groom alone time, back to the guests before dinner & speeches, then maybe some more fun shots of the wedding party before the first 20 minutes of the dancing at night... finishing with a one last photo of the happy couple before we leave.
11) What if the weather is bad ?
Every good photographer will be ready on your wedding day with plan A , B and C - sometimes even D.
Bad weather doesn't faze a good pro photographer, and while it might not be what you want, you shouldn't let it bother you too much either.
We're in the UK , expect anything to happen weather wise.
We always carry white brollies with us, and a big sheet to stand on so we can still go out in most weathers and get beautiful photographs for you.
Good wedding photographers are skilled in shooting indoors too.
12) What if the day runs late... will the photographer have to leave ?
That's something you'll have to check with your photographer, and the package you have chosen, but in most cases it shouldn't matter. Most weddings don't run to time.
If I had a pound for every time the bride & groom told me the first dance will be at 7:30 and it was ages after that, I'd be a very wealthy man.
Well actually I wouldn't ... the maths would be something like 30 weddings a year where the dance doesn't start on time = £30 , over 5 years £150. Ach.... I'll just take the wife out for a nice meal instead :)
13) What if the photographer's camera breaks down ?
I wish more people asked this. A good pro photographer will have at least one back up camera to switch to in an instant. We carry about 5 cameras on an average wedding day. But this is a question you should ask any photographer you are considering booking as no matter what anyone says - cameras DO fail at times.
14) Will there be a back up of our photos ? What if we loose our copy ?
Again something you need to ask all photographers you are considering.
We have heard some terrible stories of photos being lost or deleted by photographers before the couple get them. Sometimes weeks or months after the wedding. Disaster !
From a personal point of view, we have at least 6 copies of every photo taken, held at two separate geographical locations for a year after the wedding, and from year two until forever we still keep 2 copies.
15) Can we give the photographer a list of photos that we want taken ?
Thing is, if you've booked a certain photographer because you love their style and what they have shown to shoot on a regular basis, you should trust them to get what they need.
There's no harm in having a dialogue though, email a list and say, could these be incorporated into the day ?
We have our way of shooting including family & group shots, every photographer will, but ask... it may well be that all the photos on your list will be taken anyway, but sometimes we'll be given a list that includes things like "Dad kissing me on forehead as he cries with happiness"... you can't set that up... let your wedding day happen, and trust your photographer.
16) What about deposit and payment ?
In most cases like anything else to do with your wedding, the photographer will only say the date is secured as your once a reservation fee (deposit in easy terms) is paid. The balance varies from person to person, but ours is due 2 weeks before the big day.
17) Can we pay for the wedding in instalments or by vouchers ?
With us yes. Many couples send money each month. Some have encouraged friends & family to by vouchers as a wedding gift to maybe pay for the album.
18) We'd like nice scenery in our photos, is this always possible ?
We did a blog recently about picking a venue that suits the photography you have in mind, but you just have to think about what you want in your wedding photos and where you're holding your wedding.
Some inner city hotels offer very little for photos, especially if the weather isn't nice, but sometimes if there is a nice location close by, the photographer can take you there either after the ceremony, or even after your meal.
19) Do we need to feed the photographer?
I giggled there thinking about a zoo and a sign saying "do not feed the animals!".
This topic always appears in bridal magazines and blogs.
There's no real answer to this.
Some photographers have it in their contract that they must be fed, other don't.
But the photographer is one of the few people with you potentially from 10am to 9pm without a break at times so it's good nature to offer.
Again, just ask the photographers you are meeting.
Photographers should never sit with the guests though. It's most common for a bar meal out the way to be laid on with a soft drink or two.
We just let the couple decide if they offer us a meal or not.
Sometimes we'll gratefully take a feeding, sometimes we'll politely decline.
20) Should the photographer have their own insurance ?
That's a bold and definite yes. No working professional in any field should be doing so without the proper insurances. Some bigger venues will actually ask to see vendors (photographers, DJ's, bands, florists etc) insurance in case of trips or equipment falling.
Indemnity & liability insurance is a must for a photographer.
21) Do we get all the photos taken on the day ?
This varies from photographer to photographer, and probably from package to package.
I can only answer this from a personal point of view, and we give all the finished & edited photos on a USB stick - in Hi-Res and small copies for social media etc, as well as an HD copy of the slideshow.
22) Can we print or edit our photos ?
Almost the same answer as above. For our bookings, you have the rights to print the photos yourselves as often and as large as you like and they don't have any watermarks. Editing is not as easy, as we prefer to do any adjustments for you, as we don't want any crazy copies being put on Facebook and people thinking it was our work.
23) Can we share the photos online and with other people ?
Yes... to a degree. There are limitations , but none that affect the average couple. We encourage florists, make-up-artists, bands & DJ's to get in touch with us for copies so we can share the love.
We always retain the copyright on all our photography , as do almost all photographers.
24) What time does the photographer leave at night ?
We mentioned earlier about time running on, and photographer's schedules, so it's hard to say.
I'd imagine some photographers will say you've paid until 8:30 so I'm off now...
But we stay until we have the shots we need. If that's 8pm, 9pm, whatever it takes.
Our average 1st dance package leaving time is 8:45pm.
25) Will there be photos taken of the girls AND the guys getting ready ?
That depends on the logistics as much as anything else.
If everyone is getting ready on site say at the same hotel/castle where the wedding is taken place, then most probably yes.
But if the girls are getting ready say at mums, the guys at another house and the wedding is somewhere else, then the important photos are the girls.
The photos of the guys will be taken at the venue before the start of the ceremony.
Sometimes the guys are later than the girls and just make it in before the bride arrives. Don't let your fella be like that lol.
26) Are there photos taken during the meal ?
Of the actual eating... generally no.
This isn't nice to see, and it's usually when the photographer gets to stop and sit down for the first time since leaving the house.
27) We have a friend/relative that is into photography, can they take photos too ?
This is up to you and your photographer to plan.
We suggest that everyone is asked to have no phones or cameras out during the ceremony. We've seen so many photos ruined by lines of smartphones sticking out everywhere.
Also, your guests are there to be at your wedding as you invited them, they should chill & enjoy it.
Remember that time on a wedding day is extremely tight, and you & your booked photographer will have a plan to go here at this time, and there at that time.
If cousin Sal is stopping us every few seconds to get "one for me!" you might miss out on your proper photographs as it will be too late.
You wouldn't go into an expensive restaurant and then let your uncle make you a sandwich as he's really quite good at it your mum says :)
I personally don't mind other photographers at the easy parts of the day, and enjoy a tech/gear chat with them, but not if it interferes with making beautiful photos for my couple.
28) Are we allowed to have photos taken during the actual ceremony ?
That's something you need to check - especially in church weddings.
There are some clergy that will not allow any photos during the ceremony at all.
It's rare, but it does happen now and again. There's ONE down our way like that.
Sometimes the photographer is asked to stay in a certain spot, usually behind a big pillar out the way.
Usually it's because some bolshy photographer in the past has annoyed them with flash and running around their church.
We never use flash during a church ceremony, and we are very stealthy and quiet.
But I imagine some new photographers will go into the church with all flash guns blazing.
We'll often attend rehearsals to meet the minister and make sure they're on our side.
29) Will friends & family be allowed to ask to have photos taken during the day ?
I can only answer this from my perspective again, and yes, we always get small groups asking for photos either of themselves, or with the bride & groom. We always oblige.
30) What's this "Trash The Dress" shoot I've heard about ?
A photo shoot weeks or months after the wedding where you go to a beach say ad get some real cool artsy photos, away from the wedding day and really hamming it up.
Or maybe your wedding day was rainy - you can go out again in your dress somewhere nice and get some real glamorous photos.
We usually do these for free, when we can fit them in.
And you don't actually have to TRASH the dress, maybe just get a few wee stains on it.
Wow , that took some typing.
Bound to be a few typos in there... sorry mum :)
Now, for a slideshow of beautiful wedding photography by GWS...
Please feel free to leave a comment or ask any other question below.
By Fud: I was wondering if there was any 'accidental' up skirts if you would share them with the father of the bride and the best man etc
By Grahame: Yes, but more often than not, it's not an accident.