Finding a Photographer
You'll always remember the excitement and the emotion of getting married, but it's lovely to have a lasting reminder of how young you looked, the friends that attended and the funny moments - to say nothing of hard evidence that you actually fitted into a size 12 dress when you got hitched. A photographer's a vital part of your big day, so take time and trouble when searching for the right person.
Making a ShortlistDo make sure you start looking for a photographer as early as possible in your wedding preparations. Good snappers get booked up quickly and you don't want to spend your life reproaching yourself for not ringing sooner while looking at a dreadful bridal snapshot on your sideboard.
Wedding photographers are so plentiful that they have their own organisation, the Guild of Wedding Photographers (www.gwp-uk.co.uk), with a search facility allowing you to find snappers in your area. Even if you can't find anyone in your area, it may be worth contacting them to see if they can recommend anybody locally.
Independent sites and specialist bridal magazines also advertise photographers, so keep an eye out for potential contacts. However, the best way of getting a reputable name quickly is by that old favourite, word of mouth, so ask your friends, family, local church or registry office if they know of anyone who's done a good job.
Viewing Their WorkDecide how you want your photos to look before ringing potential photographers. There's huge variation between lensmen - apart from the quality of the shots, styles employed are diverse, with some favouring a traditional approach, and others a more unposed-looking 'off-the-cuff' snap, so make up your mind in advance.
When you ring the photographer, they should suggest an appointment for you to see their work. Do not, under any circumstances, agree a booking with a photographer before you have viewed their pictures in person - it's akin to buying your wedding dress without trying it on.
At the appointment, don't be afraid to ask about the snapper's professional credentials. With a digital camera, a tripod and a computer, anybody can advertise themselves as a photographer, so it's as well to be sure you're paying for quality. Question them about their recognised qualifications, what kind of photography they're in and how long they've been in the business to give you peace of mind.
Be very wary of anybody who brings out an album filled with gorgeous pictures of a number of different couples. It's useless for several reasons - you'll have no idea of the type of shots they'll take over a full day, or any concept of how many pictures will be in your finished album. Plus, who's going to have a dozen different brides and grooms at their wedding? Ensure you're shown a complete album from a single assignment, which makes it much easier to deduce how they'll handle the day's work.
Nuts and BoltsTo get good informal shots, it's helpful for the photographer to know basic details such as whether you're getting married in church or in a civil ceremony, how many people are likely to attend and what time of day the service will be at.
Take time to think about the things you want photographed on the day before meeting your snapper. Do you want a few formal shots outside the church, or a complete record encompassing everything from stag and hen nights to the first glass of champagne in the honeymoon suite? A reputable wedding photographer will be aware of the value of less formal moments and happily discuss being there to shoot them.
Financially, photography is one area where a better price usually ensures a superior end product. Be prepared to explain whether you want a single album, a record for your parents, large framed shots or a combination of pictures, although many photographers will offer 'packages' comprising a certain number of albums, single shots, framed portraits and the like for a fixed price.
Even if you strike lucky the first time, it's worth meeting three or four photographers so you feel confident you're not being ripped off for what you're getting. Watch out, however, for package deals that sound too cheap to be true - they almost certainly are.
The final decisionA few things to consider before making up your mind;
- If you've contacted a photographic agency, have you seen the portfolio of the person who'll be taking your pictures? Check this at your appointment and ask to view an album done by the photographer you're hiring.
- Has the lensman already worked at your chosen venue? A good local snapper will probably have done several weddings at the most popular places and have a good idea of the best places and time to take certain shots.
- Above all, do you feel comfortable with this person and trust them to be sympathetic to your needs? Anybody who makes you feel nervous or belittled will not be right for you, no matter how highly recommended they are.