Canterbury & Otago Wedding Photo & Film

How to choose your wedding photographer

Choosing a wedding photographer can be a daunting task, afterall a good wedding photographer will capture photos that will last long after the wedding cake is eaten. You’ll be looking at these photos so many times over the years, you certainly don’t want to cringe every time you see them (I cringe with our wedding video, we went for cheap and I can’t even watch it, but we’re still very happy with our photos).

Ideally your wedding photos will make you smile happy smiles, bring back fantastic memories and be hanging on your wall til you’re 90 – this is a long term investment. 

As with any long term investment, it’s important to choose the right wedding photographer for you and your special day. Your photographer will be with you throughout the day so you need to be able to trust him/her and enjoy his/her company. You need to be able to enjoy your wedding day, safe in the knowledge that your photographer has your back.

A Wedding Photographer should be proficient in a variety of skills, both technical and creative. Ability to deal with pressure, changes to the plan, weather interuptions and maintaining a enthusiastic and positive attitude throughout all matter on the day. Gorgeous photos of a styled shoot with models is different from someone’s ability to keep calm and patient under pressure.

Read on to get the best wedding photographer for you.

1. START EARLY AND DO YOUR RESEARCH

Check out your local photographers as well as those willing to travel. Ask friends and family for recommendations, although be aware that your friend’s opinion of what makes a great photo may not be the same as yours.

When assessing a photographer’s work, simply ask yourself if you like their photos. Don’t limit yourself to just the images on a photographer’s homepage. Take the time to explore their gallery or blog section, and browse through their social media feeds. Look for consistency in their work, rather than just a few standout images, even an average photographer can nail a shot sometimes but not consistanly. If there are specific types of photographs that are important to you, such as family portraits or dancefloor shots, ensure that you are satisfied with how the photographer captures those moments. Keep in mind that some photographers may not feature family or group shots on their website, but they may be willing to provide you with examples if requested (ask to see a full gallery). Photographers should be comfortable using flash and other tricky lighting situations with ease.

Put yourself in the images and consider how they make you feel. Selecting a photography style that you can envision loving for years to come and proudly displaying on your wall is essential. While many photography styles may look trendy on platforms like Instagram or wedding websites, it’s also important to have a photograph that you will be happy to frame and share with future generations, one reason I don’t edit to this year’s current trendy styles, tho I’m happy to do that if you prefer.

2. CREATE A LIST

Reach out to a small number of wedding photographers whose work you admire – I suggest starting with two or three. Initially, there are two key factors you need to ascertain: their availability on your wedding date and whether their services fit within your budget. 

Determining the cost of a wedding photographer can be quite subjective. When it comes to wedding photography, the old saying “you get what you pay for” often rings true. While everyone has different priorities (and of course I’m a photographer so slightly biased !!), I’d be careful cutting corners on the memories you’ll have left from your wedding day. Treat wedding photography as an investment. These photographs will last forever, adorning the walls of your home and serving as nostalgic reminders of your special day. At the same time, you don’t have to go with the most popular photographer in town either.

If you are seeking to reduce costs, instead of hiring a lower quality photographer, consider booking a top-notch photographer for a portion of your day. After receiving responses from several photographers, a leading candidate should naturally emerge. If you find yourself needing to reassess, simply repeat the process with one or two other photographers until you have a clear favorite.

3. BUILD RELATIONSHIP

Many couples underestimate the amount of time they will spend with their photographer on their wedding day. In fact, it’s almost as much time as they will spend with their partner! It’s super important that you feel comfortable with the photographer, that they are relaxed and enjoyable to be around, and that they can help you navigate any potentially stressful situations.

If possible, try to meet your photographer in person before the wedding and before you book. Even a phone call will give you a good idea of whether you’ll click or not. If it doesn’t feel right, move on.

Be open and honest about the kind of day you’re planning and any concerns you have. This will help everyone determine if it’s a good match. It’s also an opportunity to inquire about the photographer’s approach and preferences on the day of the wedding.  Keep in mind that certain photographs require more time to achieve. Some couples are willing to dedicate two hours to their portraits, while others prefer to spend more time with their guests. Ask your photographer how much time they typically allocate for portraits. While the best photographers are flexible, their answer should align with your priorities for the day. 

 

4. CONSIDER PERSONALITY

A photographer’s personality is crucial for ensuring your day is enjoyable, smooth, and well-coordinated. You don’t want someone who acts like a dictator, but you also don’t want someone who is too passive. It’s important to find a photographer who possesses the skills to seamlessly blend into the background, capturing candid moments like a documentary, while also being able to take charge and manage certain situations.

A successful wedding always seems to pass by quickly, so you don’t want your photographer monopolizing your time with friends and family and believing they’re the main event, but you also want to make sure you get those essential shots. Your wedding photographer should excel in communication, be skilled at troubleshooting, and possess the qualities of adaptability, flexibility, firmness, and patience.   A skilled wedding photographer is calm, confident, and capable of putting you at ease. They should be able to keep the day flowing smoothly and handle any situation with professionalism and a sense of humor, whether it’s capturing a group shot with your work friends or dealing with your iPad-wielding auntie.  

 

There is a photographer for everyone and I’m not everyone’s photographer. 😉 If you’re looking for a photographer who’ll swear like a trooper, wears doc martins, sport a pink trendy hairdo or can spout current tv show quotes – I’m probably going to disappoint you! 😉 If you want a photographer who believes in good old fashioned family love,  who is on your cheerleading team and believes in  time tested virtues and values, then I’m all here for it.

 

5. THE CONTRACT AND PACKAGE

Once you have addressed all the necessary details mentioned above, you are almost prepared to secure your photographer. At this point, it is crucial to ensure you’re comfortable with the contractual terms and have a clear understanding of what is included in the package. 

Inquire about the pricing for prints and photo albums, as these rates and quality may vary among photographers. Some wedding photographers may not charge as much for the coverave but a lot more for a quality album.
 If you have opted for additional services such as an engagement shoot or a second shooter (a secondary photographer who assists in capturing the wedding), make sure they are clearly stated in the contract (I always shoot with an assistant, for more angles). Discuss the number of hours of coverage you are paying for with your photographer. your contract should also address any the expenses associated with their travel, particularly for destination weddings. Ensure that you inquire about the payment schedule, including the deposit amount and the deadline for the balance payment. Lastly, discuss with your photographer their contingency plan in case they fall ill or are unable to work on your wedding day. It is important to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Lastly, inquire about the estimated time frame for receiving the final photos.

If you trust your instincts, appreciate their work, and everything seems ideal, then go for it! Mission accomplished.