Friday, 12 March 2010

How to choose your wedding photographer

Emerson photography, wedding photographer based near Sunderland, Durham, Newcastle and covering the North East, providing unobtrusive, candid, modern photographs of your wedding day.

Intrigue and Industry Insider knowledge!!

Wedding photographers are a varied bunch – some good, some less so, as in all walks of life.  Hiring a wedding photographer is something which most of us will do only once. We’ve never done it before – what should we be looking for?  What questions should we be asking?  I got married myself last October (2009) and realised that for anyone outside of the ‘wedding industry’, choosing a photographer is a bit of a challenge. So I thought it would be helpful to put together a quick checklis.  Nothing didactic or over the top - just a few, hopefully salient pointers...

• How long has the photographer been in business for? There are a huge number of new start businesses out there – statistics tell us that although things are better than they used to be for new enterprises, at least one third of start-ups are still going bust within the first two years. So today’s entrepreneurial wedding photographer may have gone back to his day job after the recession loosens its grip. Don’t lose your deposit to tomorrow’s telesales guy. Lack of experience usually shows up pretty quickly too.

• Do you like the photographer’s work? This may seem blindingly obvious, but when we’re on a budget (and we usually are!) price is always going to be an issue. It’s very tempting to take third, fourth or even tenth choice of photographer so we can afford an extra bottle of wine on each table at the reception. Without getting all corny and schmaltzy about it, your photos will still be there when the wine is long gone (along with the food, the flowers and after the dress has been ebayed!).

• Does your photographer have insurance? Most photographers are classed as ‘sole traders’. They are lonely little one man bands, ploughing their picturesque furrows through the landscapes of their clients’ lives…. Or something… Fact is, we work alone – what happens if I get hit by a bus the day before your wedding? Hopefully it’ll never happen (hasn’t yet, touch wood!) but if it does, your photographer should be fully insured so at the very least you’ll recover all your money. Secondly, your photographer should have a very solid network of other wedding photographers to step into the breach if a disaster does occur.

• Ask to see a whole wedding. This old chestnut crops up all the time in bridal forums, but for a good reason. If you go to a bridal show, or have a photographer come to see you, there’s a good chance he / she will have a few huge prints of their best work, and usually a sample album or two. Make sure you’re seeing a full day’s coverage so you can make an informed decision about style and content – some albums are a collage of a photographer’s best work.

• Why can’t my uncle take the pictures? He’s got some amazing pictures on Flickr and his camera cost hundreds of pounds! Well, he can. And he may make an excellent job of it too. For some couples, a family member or close friend with a camera is just the ticket – free / cheap photography, carried out by someone you can relax with and are close to. But I wouldn’t recommend it…… They are known within the industry as ‘Uncle Bobs’ – talented (sometimes!) amateurs with an eye for a nice landscape or portrait. A working pro will have several backup solutions in case (for when) things go wrong; two or three cameras, lenses and flashguns, a system in place to make sure the day flows whilst making absolutely certain the couple get the photos they want - a good few years experience helps here….

Finally, although I could go on for hours, (!) just look at the pictures again. They’re what count – not the price, not the fancy talk, not the flashy website. It’s all about the photographs.

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