4 Picking your photographer – Gill’s Wedding Diary

Written by    Last updated: September 8, 2006

Agency advantages?

As well as photographers who work independently, there are a number of photography agencies; these can be good and save you some leg work, but if you make an appointment to see work from an agency, you may find that the person you see is not a photographer at all, just a salesperson. There was one agency that we were really disappointed with. Not only did they send a salesperson round, we were also told that they wouldn’t let us know who our photographer was until a month or two before the wedding! They also brought round a range of different photographers’ pictures, which meant nothing without meeting the photographer. They were really pleased with themselves because they could offer us a service where not only could they superimpose a picture of us on a brandy glass (don’t ask!), they could add guests to the photos even if they weren’t there and even change the background! Tacky just doesn’t cover it! They were genuinely amazed that we didn’t book them there and then! On a serious note though, if you do book through an agency and the worst does happen ‐ for example if the photographer falls ill ‐ they are much more likely to be able to provide you with a replacement at short notice. If you choose an independent photographer, like us, find out what contingency plans the photographer has in place, just in case!

Deciding on Dennis

My mum and dad came with us to meet our photographer, which was especially handy as Dad has a great knowledge of photography ‐ not to mention the chequebook! All four of us immediately decided that we really liked the photographer that we finally chose. His name’s Dennis Orchard and as he’s local he has previously taken photographs at both our church and reception venue. Listen to me ‐ ‘our’ church and venue ‐ but you do get quite attached ‐ even at this early stage! It was really great to see pictures from the venues and he was more than happy to show us as many albums as we wanted. He talked about what we wanted and asked our opinions, rather than telling us how it was going to be done. He uses a digital camera, which the majority of photographers seem to do. I was a little dubious, but the quality of images he showed us was fantastic and it also gives us much more flexibility ‐ all photographs are taken in colour, but can be printed in colour, black and white or sepia and several shots can be taken one after another to ensure that you get a good picture, rather than having to rely on one shot, or masses of film.

And finally…

We also decided to have some engagement photos taken. Not only did we not have many pictures of us together, but it was also a great way to make sure that we really did get on with the photographer and liked his pictures. We were over the moon with the results and although we were 100% sure about our photographer before we booked him, this was just an extra bit of reassurance, which never goes amiss!

So, that’s one more tick on the list that seems to be getting longer rather than shorter….
The best photographers get booked up quickly, and they are only able to take bookings for one wedding per day. Like most grooms, Mike has been quite selective about which elements of the wedding he wants to get involved with, but he was definitely interested in choosing a photographer. We looked for information about photographers in the same way as we did when looking for reception venues ‐ we searched Confetti, local papers and telephone directories. To get an idea of the sort of styles and albums available on the market, we had a look at a number of different albums and spoke to a few photographers at local wedding shows. We may have been unlucky, but some of the photographers we met were quite pushy, which is obviously the last thing that you want on your wedding day.

Formal or reportage?

Gill and MikeEven though each photographer has their own style, most talked about either formal photography (think all traditional group photos), reportage (also called ‘Hello’ style ‐ very informal with the photographer wandering amongst the guests taking photographs) or a mixture of both styles. We wanted to have a mixture of both so when we phoned around for information, as well as checking that they were free for the day, we also checked that they could do this. We felt by choosing a mixture that you get the best of both worlds. We’ll get those traditional shots that we have to have, but also get a relaxed feeling with some more natural pictures.

Money money money!

My mum did a lot of the phoning around photographers to ask for information and she had a chat with quite a few of them. If they sounded nice and friendly, they made it on to her short list! Again, ‘pushy’ photographers were ruled out straight away. Even at this early stage we discovered that some photographers were already booked for the day. The most expensive photographer may not always be the best but you do need to be prepared to pay quite a bit. Remember that not only are the reception and the photographer probably the first two things that you will book, these are probably the two most expensive things as well. It can start to look as if your whole budget has been spent, but don’t despair!

We made a few appointments with photographers to see their work. Some will come to your house while others offer appointments at either their homes or studios. Most photographers offer some kind of discount or special offer if you book with them on the same day as the appointment. For this reason, if you have a particular favourite in mind, see them last so that you are in a position to make a decision as to whether or not to book them there and then and take advantage of the discount offered.

David Bailey or David Blaine?

You need to see a couple of complete wedding albums. Anyone can make themselves look like David Bailey by putting the best of the best photographs in a compilation album, so don’t be fooled! As well as looking at the photographs themselves, you need to remember that you have to choose your photographer for their personality too. Whoever you choose will be around you on the day for longer than even some of your guests, so try to spend some time talking to them to check that you all get on!

Each photographer offers a number of different packages, depending on the style and amount of photographs to be taken, the time spent at your wedding and reception and the number of photographs that you receive at the end. The package that you choose will probably depend largely on the amount of money that you have to spend, but most photographers are fairly flexible with the packages that they offer and can fit around what you want and what you can actually afford.

Read Gill’s diary next month to see how her wedding planning is going and to pick up some handy tips along the way.

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