So, you’re here because you are recently engaged and want to start considering wedding suppliers, or perhaps you’ve booked a wedding venue in Warwickshire and you now want to start the search for the perfect wedding photographer.
I’ve been photographing weddings internationally since 2011, so I have a clear understanding of how important wedding photography truly is. Weddings in general can be a large financial outlay, and the decisions can seem overwhelming.
The photography is the one thing that can tie everything together – capturing the vision of your outfits, details, food, cake, and relationships to be re-experienced for years to come.
With experience of over 250 weddings, I wanted to make a list of my top tips to help you choose the right photographer to create those memories for you.
Without further ado, grab a notepad, a pen and a glass of your chosen beverage (mine is either some orange squash or a G+T, slimline!) and let’s do this…
1. Think about how you want the experience of your wedding photography to feel.
I know, this sounds like a weird thing to have at number one, right? You’d think perhaps it would be something related to their photography style, or their price, or whether they’ve photographed at your venue before. These can all be important factors, but please remember that your wedding photographer is going to be with you at every main moment during the course of your wedding day. It’s vital to spend time thinking about how you want to FEEL on the day with them alongside you. Are you happy to prioritise the photography over everything, which may mean taking time away from your guests during the drinks reception or being whisked out halfway through your main course because the sunset is really special. Or are you a couple that want to have something more relaxed and would rather hire a photographer that will blend in and just capture natural moments with a focus more on your loved ones than you and your new husband/wife.
There are no right answers here, just be aware that many photographers have different working styles.
The feedback that I receive the most is that it felt to my couples as though they had another close friend at the wedding, one that happened to be taking photographs. It’s my ability to connect with people in general that allows me to get the images that I do. I’m not sure I could do that were I to solely approach each day with the idea that I wanted the photography to be the most important thing. At least, not to the detriment of the experience as a whole.
I’m thankful that with the breadth of experience I have, that I’m able to produce an incredible collection of images that do include some breath-taking portraits but without constantly directing my couple or bossing their guests around. I’m able to tell when it’s an appropriate time to spend longer on the family formals if perhaps there’s an elderly relative that’ll take a little longer to walk round to join us, or allow my couples an extra few minutes to finish their dinner because hey, I only need a minute or two of that sunset to get something really special.
And listen, I also have close photographer friends that have couples willing to fly over to Iceland and get up at 3am every morning to capture the light in the name of photography and they are truly mesmerising images. It’s just about getting clear and being honest with what works for you – without the pressures of what your family or friends or social media say to do.
Write some words down on your notepad that come to mind when you picture your ideal wedding photographer, or if you’re struggling with that, just the wedding day itself. These can help with the actual search for your photographer in the next step…
2. Remember, wedding research can be overwhelming.
So, you’ve got a better idea in mind of what you’d like to experience from your wedding photographer. Now, how on earth do you match that with an actual human being!?
Each and every one of us has the power of holding the entire world in our hands in the form of a mobile phone. The wedding industry, especially since I’ve been working full time within it, has changed dramatically to have more of a focus towards online marketing. Gone seem to be the days of wedding fayres or ‘just use Uncle Bob down the street’.
This is incredible because we have so many choices available to us, and this is horrendous because we have so many choices available to us.
I know first hand from some of my own brides that they’ve actively had to unfollow wedding accounts on Instagram or delete their Pinterest boards once the majority of suppliers had been booked for fear of having FOMO over the endless barrage of new wedding features that are presented to us the minute Facebook realises we are ‘Engaged’.
It’s really important to look through a variety of photographers websites, and I definitely would recommend following some wedding accounts on social media that have a strong ethical foundation behind posting why they do such as the wedding blog Love My Dress. When looking through these I would be asking yourself what is it about a certain portfolio or a way the photographer expresses themselves that you connect to? All of this is with the goal that you will be narrowing down the parameters of what you’re looking for – and I think over-researching can actually eventuate in you just feeling confused and unsure about what you like and don’t.
I often say to my couples on the phone at the first stage of enquiry that it’s important that they connect with you in a way other than ‘well they tick the boxes’. By that time they’ve decided they like my images, the price on my website seems to fit within budget, they’ve probably read a few reviews and it all looks promising. If they get on the phone with me and it doesn’t feel like a chat with an old friend, or they don’t get that feeling that they feel safe with me, then I tell them they should keep speaking to people until they feel that.
Use the words that you wrote down in the last step to narrow your google search or instagram hashtag results. Some often used to find me or others with a similar style would be ‘natural wedding photography’, ‘artistic wedding photography’ or ‘documentary wedding photography’.
If you want someone that IS more focused on the photography as the priority then look for lists of the Best Photographers recommended by Harpers Bazaar, or Tatler, or Vogue. I also have a handful of peers I can recommend if you don’t connect with my style as such but still wanted a trusted recommendation.
3. Question: Do they REALLY need to have photographed at your venue before?
So, you’ve got a handful of people you really like and now you’re beginning to compare them…
When I googled the term of ‘Tips For Choosing A Wedding Photographer’, it seems to be such a common recommendation that you ensure your photographer has photographed at your venue before.
Let’s deep dive into this.
It can absolutely make you feel safer in the knowledge that they understand the venue and are familiar with the ‘great spots’ for photographs or even have a working relationship with the wedding manager already. These things are ABSOLUTELY all bonuses and can make the world of difference. However, in my opinion, they make the world of difference to an inexperienced or perhaps slightly nervous photographer.
I have photographed at the same venues multiple times and I’ve photographed in countries I’ve never even stepped foot in before let alone photographed a wedding in. It has made no difference whatsoever to the quality of work I create.
Your wedding photographer, regardless of their style, should be able to command confidence. They should have an unshakable certainty that they are going to do a great job for you, no matter where that is or what happens. They should work hard before the wedding day on creating those conversations with you so that they understand exactly what is expected from all parties when the celebrations actually begin.
The benefits of hiring a local wedding photographer is that more often than not it’ll be easier for them to come along to the venue to meet you (as I do in Warwickshire with all of my couples) beforehand – but this is about further strengthening the relationship you have with each other. It does not mean that they will necessarily do a better job on the day itself.
It’s also worth remembering that there are so many factors at play that can make the same venue dramatically different from one wedding to the next anyway and personally I wouldn’t want to do the same cookie-cutter bride and groom portrait locations every single time. My couples are so different and have their own reasons for choosing that venue; my job is to learn what those are and do that justice.
Don’t worry too much about whether they have photographed at the venue before. If they are local (same county or close by) then I personally would feel it appropriate to ask them to meet you at the venue for the reasons I mentioned above – the focus on building on that relationship between you. If they aren’t local but you love their portfolio/vibe over the others and there are spots you particularly love about your venue, don’t be afraid to tell them!
4. View a full wedding gallery!!
You’ve got a shortlist, their portfolios seem to suit the words you wrote down in your initial brain storm, they either have or haven’t photographed at the venue before but we’re throwing that one out the window anyway… What’s next?
ASK TO SEE A FULL WEDDING COLLECTION.
I can’t say this any clearer. We are living in the day and age of Instagram ‘hero’ shots, as they are known in the industry. Instagram is truly an incredible thing, connecting societies from all over the world, allowing spaces for people to be themselves and supporting and showcasing small businesses and upcoming talent. It can be a drain on the mental health, but that’s another blog post. For this purpose, it’s incredible.
Until. It’s very easy to post one photograph from a wedding and give the impression that every other photograph was equally as breath-taking. It’s very easy to collate all of those ‘one images’ into a portfolio and make it look as though you’re the next Big Thing.
I know, because I’ve worked in this industry for ten years. I know, because I know people that have hired a wedding photographer based on a handful of images and then been unhappy with their ability to capture all the different parts of a wedding day.
As a wedding photographer, I’m also a documentary photographer. I’m a portrait photographer. I’m a commercial photographer. I’m an automotive photographer. I’m a fashion photographer. All on one day, within a matter of hours and often shifting hats from one second to the next. You need to be certain that whoever you choose isn’t just particular to one style and won’t be able to capture the memories from your day unless they fit into that.
My full wedding galleries are all actual weddings from Warwickshire, across the UK or international. My couples have their own password-protected log in and are able to mark any images they don’t wish to be seen as private. I’m then able to share those galleries out with prospective couples freely.
5. Take the conversation off email and on to the phone.
I feel as though the last few years I’ve witnessed an increase in society in general wanting things faster and easier. The days of meeting photographers at their local studio and looking through heavy leather-bound albums are gone. For those of us who rely heavily on word of mouth or internet marketing, this is only a positive change.
In the way I approach my business, I won’t take a booking without speaking with my clients on the phone or a meeting in person. I have so many peers in this industry that have been happy to provide information via email in the name of ‘automations’ (speeding the process up), but remember you’re going to be spending one of the most important days of your life with your photographer and allowing them into very personal parts of your life.
It’s very important that you connect with them in ways other than how quickly they responded to your emails. I’m not scared to say that my personality separates me from a normal ‘documentary photographer’ – I approach a wedding day with an utmost respect for not directing anything or changing how the day naturally is, but I also make it important to connect with guests and the other suppliers at the wedding. Some couples would rather a photographer that blended in completely and that just isn’t me.
If your photographer is in Warwickshire I would definitely recommend suggesting a meet up over coffee or lunch, if not then perhaps a Facetime or Zoom call!
6. Let's Talk Pricing.
I’ve written a lot about the investment into wedding photography over the nine years that I’ve been working full time within the industry.
I think the conversations that are to be had about money are more relevant than ever as we’ve been in such a state of uncertainty as a nation as of recent times. I know from various conversations with friends and listening to endless business podcasts that our financial understanding of what to invest into has become a lot stricter than it ever used to be before, across the board.
Weddings come at, normally, a substantial cost. As we grow older, our couples grow younger. I went full-time in 2011 and my couples tend to be between the ages of 23-40. A 26 year old in 2011 would have been 17, and we are now dealing with a generation of wonders choosing to tie the knot that perhaps don’t have as much financial contribution as they once would have done.
The market is considerably more saturated than it also ever used to be with the rise of affordable cameras and the increase of workshops and a more liberal understanding of how ‘appropriate’ a career in the arts is. It’s an amazing thing and as the Creative Rebels say – “now is the best time to be a creative.”
It also means for those of us offering wedding photography services, we are competing on a financial level with so many more people. I am fully confident in my ability to produce incredible work for my couples and I believe 100% in the prices I’m charging to reflect my service and my experience. However, it can be difficult to understand why one photographer charges X amount compared to the next charging £500 less (another reason for getting them on the phone!)
The photographs from your wedding will exist through generations and I’ve often said to couples that the cost broken down into a daily rate is pennies. I’ve returned to my couples houses years after their wedding and their walls (and phones) are adorned with my work – that’s very difficult to put a price on.
Because I live in Warwickshire and want to experience and champion the incredible venues we have available to us on our doorsteps, I am able to offer a reduced fee for weddings in Warwickshire itself. You can see my pricing page here if you want more information on this.
Don’t let the budget spreadsheet stress you out, this is meant to be an enjoyable time! However, do consider just how much it’s worth spending X amount on those favours that tend to be left on tables vs having images you can cherish for years to come.
7. Your photographer isn't just for the wedding day.
Just like a dog isn’t just for Christmas, you know the saying.
It’s true though. Your wedding photographer, unless that’s specifically the only work that they do, doesn’t have to just be for your wedding. So many of my couples are now my closest friends, to the degree that I would have them attend my own wedding (if that’ll ever be a reality!)
Often children can follow not long after the marriage celebrations and I’ve now photographed many pregnancy, newborn and general family sessions for couples of mine from through the years.
You’ve invested so much time into your relationship with them that it’s such an amazing experience to be able to continue that.
I really hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of 7 Tips For Hiring A Warwickshire wedding photographer. If you have any other suggestions I could add on, please do feel free to reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or @claudiarosecarter on Instagram.
Thank you for reading! Lots of love, Claudia xx
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