Nobody wants to be disappointed with their wedding photographs so let me impart some advice on how to choose the right wedding photographer for your wedding day.

How To Choose The Right Wedding Photographer for YOU

I’ve been shooting weddings now for 12 years so I’ve been around the block and I’ve seen and heard a lot. Like you no doubt, I’ve also seen all the stories in the papers and on the radio chat shows over the years about the couples who were ripped off by a photographer, or who didn’t receive the photographs they were promised or who received a gallery of images that were horrendous. 

These are the more dramatic examples but there are countless more that don’t get reported. Those disappointed couples who realised on their wedding day that they had hired a photographer that was difficult, rude, unhelpful. A photographer who spent hours taking photographs of just the bride and groom meaning that they missed most or all of their reception. Or in general, just didn’t live up to expectations.

At most weddings I shoot, I will generally be approached in the evening time by a guest where they will start chatting about their own wedding photographer. It normally starts with a friendly “Hey how are you? I’ve been watching you work throughout the day you know and I wish we could have hired somebody like you for my wedding…..” And then the story unfolds. It could easily have been a wedding from 6 months ago or 20 years ago but the memory still lives on. More often than not, it’s not a good memory as they share with me their regrets on their choice of wedding photographer. Often they are too embarrassed to show their wedding photographs to their friends afterwards.

Nobody wants to make wrong choices when choosing a wedding supplier. You have too much invested. You want your day to be amazing, to pass without stress and to have beautiful memories of your day spent with your family and friends brought to life every time you look at your photographs in the years and decades afterwards. Often, this is not the case however. It happens so frequently and it’s the same mistakes that couples make over and over. So, I want to set the main ones out here and hopefully if it just means that 1 couple ends up making a better choice from reading this, then that is 1 less potential nightmare for a couple.

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How to choose the right wedding photographer for YOU..!

 

The most common mistakes when choosing a wedding photographer

 

Photographic style & approach

There are many different photographic styles out there in terms of how photographers shoot on the day. For example there are formal wedding photographers who produce images that are very posed. They would approach each wedding in a very rigid and structured way which will result in a very predictable set of images from the wedding.  In order to do this, they need to be in control throughout the day. Therefore they tend to be at the forefront directing the events and people. Generally the day is more about the photographer and photographs rather than the wedding itself.

On the other hand there are photographers who adopt a documentary or more fluid approach to shoot your wedding. The reality is that every wedding is different so their aim is to tell the actual story of your day through the photographs they take.  They do this by remaining more in the background and shooting what is happening as they see it without being constrained by a big list of ‘must have’ shots.

Documentary type photographers are either strictly documentary style only with absolutely no posing from the bride and groom and no posed family photos.

Or, there are photographers which adopt a documentary approach but who do photograph the family photos and also photograph some bride and groom portraits  – less posed with just a bit of guidance if and when needed and definitely not the cheesy type….. I would fall into this latter category but I do also have some couples looking for the strict documentary style also.

ireland Wedding Photographer 1 16One of the most common complaints I hear from previously married couples is that their photographer took too long taking photographs and that the photographs were very posed and cheesy. Or that the photographer was in everybody’s faces being bossy and demanding throughout the day. If you choose a formal type of wedding photographer you will experience an element of or most likely, all of this. So be aware and ask yourself is this what you want on your wedding day…?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with either style or approach. You need to decide what sort of photographs you want from your wedding and whether you want a photographer trying to control everything during the day. A lot of couples choose a formal photographer without realising that they should have looked at somebody who takes a more documentary approach.

Processing Style

One vital thing to consider on how to choose the right wedding photographer for you is to look at photographers processing styles. Many photographic styles come and go just like fashion. Some photographers produce images that are very light and over exposed, some are the opposite – dark and moody, some produce mainly black & white, some produce images that are very warm in tone, some vivid colour and some photographers have no consistency at all. Some photographers can also have a very abstract style or may have a tendency to use contrasting light and shadow in their photographs. Others love to take portraits in big open landscape settings.

It is absolutely vital that you find a style that you love. If you don’t already know what you like, spend time looking at different photographers and what they produce because this is what you can then expect from your wedding images. No use complaining afterwards that your images are all underexposed if you chose a photographer whose style was dark and moody when you were expecting bright vibrant images.

Before choosing a wedding photographer, go through their portfolio. Don’t just judge by the first few images. Really delve into their work. When you find somebody, make sure that you LOVE what they produce. That way if you are being honest with yourself, you will not be disappointed with your wedding photographs.

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Wedding Photography Budget Is Not Realistic

How much does a wedding photographer in Ireland cost?

What is the cost of wedding photography in Ireland?

 

Well there are plenty of surveys out there which will tell you the average spend by couples on a wedding photographer in Ireland. Depending on which one you look at, they will inform you that the average spend is anything from €1670 to €4000. Remember, this is the ‘average’ spend. So it is not the lowest or the highest amount of money Irish couples spend on their wedding photographer.

(https://www.onefabday.com/ie/how-much-does-a-wedding-cost-in-ireland/) & (https://www.weddingsonline.ie/blog/wedding-spend-up-nearly-10-according-to-new-irish-wedding-survey/).

The reality is that you can get a ‘wedding photographer’ in Ireland for as little as €800 for a full day. But honestly, don’t go there…!

Quite a variance in spend eh..? Unfortunately though, these ‘average wedding price surveys’ don’t mean very much as they provide absolutely no detail as to what this average spend includes. Is it full day photographic coverage or partial day coverage?  For example just ceremony to start of dinner..? How many photographers are included – 1 or 2? Is an album included? If so what type of album? A cheap storybook album or medium range album or a top of the range fine art album? A little album with a few pages or a larger album with lots of pages…? Lot’s of important pricing factors but no detail provided. 

In a nutshell, as with everything in life you get what you pay for

 

Loads of couples make the mistake of choosing a cheap wedding photographer. Some reasons can be because:

  • They decide they don’t have the budget.
  • Photographs are considered not that important (until afterwards when they see the results).
  • Or they opted for the “friend with a camera”.

 

My personal view on this is that a lot of couples decide on their photography budget without researching the actual price of wedding photographers who produce the type of images that they love and who work in a style that they want. Therefore they decide on a figure that is too low and doesn’t reflect the market. They then try and find a photographer to fit into their budget. The photographer they find is cheap because generally they are lacking in experience and / or they are just not great at their job. Resulting in a disappointed couple and regrets for the rest of their lives.

I’ve receive loads of enquiries from couples each year asking if I can reshoot their wedding purely because they’ve been let down by their wedding photographer and they have been devastated over the images that were delivered to them. It is scary how often this happens. It’s completely frustrating too as these situations can so easily avoided if the couple had just been realistic about their photography budget and invested a little bit more.

If you find a photographer whose work you love but is costing more that you anticipated, find the money elsewhere by sacrificing something. Many couples splurge needlessly on elements for their wedding day that they do not need or that their guests will not even notice or care about.

Photographs are the only things that will remain after your wedding and will become priceless over time. Some couples do understand this before their wedding and invest properly at the outset. However, many only come to realise this afterwards when it’s too late. The discarded wedding shoes will not appreciate in value. Nor will the dress and dead flowers or the fancy invites and all the limousines. Your photographs do remain with you and become an investment.   

Here’s a thing. In a survey of wedding couples who were asked after their wedding what they wished they spent more on, photography was in the top 3 –  (https://www.theknot.com/content/newlyweds-top-wedding-regrets)

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Experience

I do believe that if you hire somebody with little to no experience of shooting weddings to photograph your own wedding, then you forfeit the right to complain about the photographs afterwards. It doesn’t matter if your pal is a press or fashion photographer or whatever and is going to shoot your wedding. They could be the best photographer in the world, but if they are inexperienced in shooting weddings, the results will not be good. Weddings present perhaps the most challenging photographic job there is and the photographer has only one chance to get it right.

Only an experienced photographer can deliver consistently good wedding photography. We know what works and what doesn’t work on a wedding day. We are able and well used to working on the fly – with ever changing weather and lighting conditions that we cannot control. With family and guests – different personalities, emotions and sobriety. Things going wrong. Weddings are live events and yes, shit happens. Timelines constantly changing. Dealing with camera shy brides and grooms. Difficult priests and horrendous church & ceremony venue lighting. We know the order of the day, what happens next and where to be positioned to ensure success. We know how to work alongside other suppliers especially videographers and not to get in each others way. We know how long things take on a wedding day and the impact they have. This knowledge only comes through the experience of shooting loads of weddings. Big and small weddings, weddings in all the seasons and climates. Weddings in great locations and poor photographic locations. Constantly shooting under strict time pressure particularly when weddings run late and the hotel is looking to start the meal.

 

Bottom line – choose an experienced photographer if you care in any small way about the quality of your photographs you receive after your wedding.

 

 

Make sure that your wedding photographer is insured

In Ireland, anybody can grab any old camera and call themselves a ‘wedding photographer’. And they do. There are plenty out there.

It’s also very easy now for anybody to produce their own website and populate it with purchased stock images. Or to just steal wedding images online from other photographers and fool prospective clients into thinking that those images are their own.

Therefore make sure that there is an extensive portfolio of real weddings available on a blog and ensure that they have insurance.

Cheap and inexperienced photographers generally will not have public liability insurance and this is required by all reputable wedding venues.

 

Communicate

When you’ve chosen your wedding photographer – communicate in the run up to your wedding. We are many things but we are not mind readers. If you want specific photos please, please tell us before the wedding, not afterwards. Please also be specific. Telling the photographer that you want a photo of the “bride with her family” can mean all sorts. This is an important one so I have a separate blog on this – click here.

Likewise if you are planning on and want photos of for example a sparkler shot on your wedding night, your photographer needs to know in advance. Don’t just spring it on him or her without warning.

A properly established and experienced photographer will provide opportunities for you to communicate in advance of the wedding. Please use them..!

 

Be realistic

Before, during and after your wedding don’t expect the impossible from your photographer. We can deal with a lot but there are limits. We are only human. Most of us are nice humans though…! 🙂

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Trust

So assuming that you have booked an experienced wedding photographer that you LOVE and discussed with them what you want, just sit back, trust in them and let them do their job. Your wedding day should not be about stressing about any of your suppliers. If you have chosen proper professionals, you should have no reason to stress. Relax and enjoy your day as it’s now all about You and your family and guests.

Then wait for your photos..!

 

 

A few other tips for ensuring your day is perfect.

 

 

 

 

Do not let other people dictate to you what you want.

On wedding days and during pre-wedding meetings with my couples, I see this for myself all the time. I’ve had countless brides complain to me over the years about others interfering with their plans, adding unnecessary complications and stress in advance of the wedding and on the day itself. I’m referring here to close friends, bridesmaids and in particular family members – mothers of the bride or groom especially.

There is a tendency for some bridesmaids particularly those who are already married to give their opinion as to how you approach your wedding and the type of wedding suppliers you should hire. Mothers also. They are doing this out of the goodness of their heart in an attempt to help and guide you but remember this is YOUR wedding – nobody else’s. Just because your bridesmaid and best friend recommends a photographer doesn’t mean that they are a suitable fit for you. People’s styles, tastes and priorities differ. You decide what YOU want and go for it. Otherwise, you will most likely regret it.

 

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Priests

This is not common but it does happen and when it does, it can be extremely upsetting and annoying for couples. If you are opting for a church wedding whether Catholic or Church of Ireland, find out from your priest before you book him how he treats photographers and videographers during the ceremony. Some priests (a minority) to put it frankly, do not like us and ban us from the alter or sometimes the church entirely. I’ve had weddings where I’ve had to shoot the entire ceremony from the front door or the gallery at the back of the church. Sometimes the couple finds out about the ban just before the wedding (at the rehearsal) or worse on the day itself – so no warning. It’s disgraceful and it’s not right but it happens. Communicate with your priest in advance of booking and don’t get caught out.

If you are having a civil ceremony all should be fine. I’ve never encountered an unfriendly civil celebrant and don’t ever expect to.

 

Winter weddings

It’s cold and it gets dark early. Here’s a blog on winter weddings in Ireland and things to be aware of.

 

Keep on time

Finally, do your utmost to keep to the timeline on your wedding day. It’s a pity that in Ireland we don’t employ more wedding planners or appoint friends to be Masters of Ceremony to help keep things on track. Therefore, most Irish weddings do tend to run late. Sometimes very late. When they really start to deviate from the timeline, things can quickly become difficult. Believe me, you do not want your memories of your wedding to be dominated by the stress you felt on your wedding day.

Late timelines generally mean that the time allocated for your wedding photos becomes compromised and you do not get the range of photographs that you wanted. Or there isn’t enough time to get settled and relax into your photoshoot. Or, there is not enough time to get all the family photos you wanted. Most Irish weddings are delayed due to bridal preparations taking longer than expected. It’s important that you allocate loads of time to this when talking to your hair and makeup artists and to keep track of the schedule as the morning progresses. Again, if you choose proper hair and make-up professionals, this should not happen. But you do need to communicate clearly to them in advance so that they understand your timeline. Like photographers, they are not mind readers.

Be realistic about time if stopping off at pubs or different places on the way from the church to the reception. These stop-offs will take a lot more time than you think…!

The Irish attitude of ’sure it will be grand, I’ll be there in a second’ doesn’t help unfortunately…! 🙂

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How to choose the right wedding photographer

I hope at least you’ve found some of this ‘how to choose the right wedding photographer’ post useful… The above points are based on my opinion having photographed weddings as a full-time career over the past 12 years. All the issues raised can also apply to videographers. Like photographers, there are truly great wedding videographers out there but also many you would be well advised to avoid.

As a wedding supplier and photographer, I can also say that the above works both ways. We also want the right client for us. We want clients who choose us because they love what we do and will appreciate what we produce for them. Nobody wants clients who have completely unrealistic expectations, are rude or who are unreasonable. Both parties need to be a good fit for each other. Before you book your wedding photographer, don’t have a phone call – preferably have a video call or meet in person. Nothing beats this as a way to truly determine how to choose the right wedding photographer and client.

If you are interested in checking my availability for an upcoming wedding, get in touch with the details and I’ll get straight back to you.