Choosing the Wedding Photographer of Your Dreams
I talk a lot on this blog about the giddiness of planning a wedding: from engagement to finding the perfect venue that is a mix of unique and classic with a hint of 'something special', the search for the dress and choosing the right song for the first dance. Basically I'm a wedding photographer who blogs about everything to do with weddings without actually blogging about the photography. This is partly deliberate - I love everything to do with weddings and showing off all of the beautiful days that I'm lucky enough to be a part of but I'm not interested in hitting you over the head with a sales pitch. Chances are if you're reading this blog regularly, you're familiar-ish with my work and are interested in booking or have booked or are just nosy or a supportive friend or family member (hi mom!). So I don't feel like I need to give you the whole spiel regularly, I'd rather let my pictures speak for themselves and leave it to you.
I'm getting to the point I promise! Every wedding photographer approaches their business differently, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some are excellent salespeople, able to pitch without you even knowing you've been pitched to, some choose a more relaxed approach and selectively post to social media with a carefully curated feed, many fall smack in the middle. And how we all work varies hugely as well- structuring the day around the photos with carefully constructed timelines and group shots taken with military precision v. hands-off, fully documentary-style and no posed photos at all and again, somewhere in the middle. And there are SO. MANY. PHOTOGRAPHERS. to choose from!
After choosing your wedding venue and booking the date, choosing your photographer is the next major step in the planning process and can feel like one of the most daunting. Your photographs are the time machine, they freeze all of those carefully selected moments and details and they preserve them for eternity. Plus you're spending all day with this person, you're entrusting them with your family and friends, you really have to like them a bit! So how do you do it? How do you make such a huge decision??
From someone who knows a bit about it, I'm breaking it down for you! Here are my five steps to choosing the wedding photographer of your dreams (and no, one is not going directly to www.katemccarthyphotography.co.uk - I told you this wasn't a sales pitch!)
1. WHAT'S YOUR STYLE? Are you really into music and art? Or are you a bit more sporty? Are you having a more traditional church wedding or are you repurposing a field and putting up a tipi? This may seem like a bit of a no-brainer but figuring out what your style is can have a huge impact in the style of photographer you choose. For example, if you are a bit 'quirkier' or into art, a fine-art wedding photographer who approaches the day with an artist's vision and sensibility might be right or you. If you're a bit more laidback and less into the artistry of wedding photography, less concerned with carefully crafted portraits, a documentary wedding photographer might be up your street. FInding your style gives you a great jumping off point and helps you weed out photographers that might just not be for you.
2. READ THE BLOGS! Wedding blogs are an incredible resource (and free! And green! No more stacks of wedding magazines!) and there is literally a blog for every style of couple & wedding. Once you've nailed down your style, scour the blogs for styled shoots and real weddings and find photographers whose work stands out to you. The blogs are amazing for all aspects of wedding planning and most have recommended vendor listings broken down by location. Some of my very favourites are Brides Up North, Style Me Pretty, Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, & Junebug Weddings!
3. THINK LOCALLY! Working out which photographers are local to you or your venue (and there are plenty, I promise!) is a great idea for a number of reasons: there's more of a chance that if they've not shot the venue at least they will be familiar with the area and can scout out killer locations for pre-wedding shoots and bridal portraits on the day. Also, (and every photographer does this differently so this is not a blanket statement!) it can help in keeping costs down a bit. Some photographers charge travel or accomodation expenses (and reasonably too!) if shooting a wedding outside of a 2-3 hour driving radius. Having a local-ish wedding photographer cuts out those charges (and we're more likely to stay a bit later if there isn't an epic late-night drive home at the end of the day).
4. SHOP AROUND! To put it bluntly, wedding photography is one of the more expensive components of the day so it's so so important to find someone you click with, that is perfect for you. And think aspirationally! Pretend for a minute that money is no object, who is your dream photographer?? Sending out enquiries to a few photographers whose work you LOVE, rather than who is most in your budget or who you think you can afford can benefit you hugely. Many of us are part of a very connected referral network so if we're already booked for your date or are a bit out of your budget, we are very happy to give you a list of names of photographers who have a similar style and are available. And set up that meeting or Skype chat! Ask questions! Get to know us! You may love my work but not my personality (oh god, please never tell me if that's the reason you decide on someone else).
5. ASK YOUR FRIENDS! Who shot your best pal's wedding?? Or her cousin's?? Facebook is a very real place and I get 75% of my bookings through Facebook referrals because I shot a friend of a friend's wedding. There's not much more to say than this, I think it's pretty straightforward.
So there you have it! If you've stuck with me through this whole post, hopefully you'll have a clearer idea of what you're looking for and how to find it. And don't forget that this wedding is about YOU. There is no right or wrong way to get married, always do what feels right for the two of you and find someone who gets you and shares your vision of the day. No matter what, I'm sure it will be amazing.