Documenting your day for posterity is a helluva responsibility – so how do you go about finding a photographer who’s up to the job? We take a peek behind the lens with Claire Muir’s straightforward, easy-to-follow guide to sorting your wedding photographer in Scotland
Whether you’re new to the engaged club or you’ve been betrothed forever and vowed that 2022 is your year, one of the first steps towards ‘I do’ is booking a photographer. If the mere thought of getting started makes you want to run for the hills, we get it. But… it’s actually not that scary! Especially as we’ve pulled together all you need to know, from the basic practicalities to the nitty-gritty details you just can’t overlook.
1. Start with style
Scotland has many photographers with many different approaches, so research is key. And finding the style of wedding photography you like best is a pretty good place to start.
“Natural, unposed images? Something more formal? Or maybe a mixture of the two?” suggests Lee Fletcher of Lee Fletcher Photography.
He advises checking out editing styles, too: “Some snappers tend towards bright, colourful images. Others prefer a moody, storytelling approach. Make a moodboard of your favourite images and it’ll be easy to match that with photographers in your area when you start your search.”
2. Shortlist a few
“Once you’ve found a style you like, have a look at in-depth portfolios,” suggests Cara Frew at Ayrshire-based Cara Frew Photography. “We’re usually more than happy to share full galleries to give you an idea of exactly what you’ll get.”
After looking at a few weddings from the same photographer, you’ll start to see a pattern emerge and really get a feel for their work. Ticking your boxes? Then stick them on that shortlist!
3. Beware of budget
If you’ve not yet fine-tuned your financials, fast-track that task – you don’t want to be agreeing to a service you can’t afford further down the line.
The average price for wedding photos in the UK comes in at around £1,500. Costs vary depending on the number of photographers (more on this later) and how far they have to travel to your venue. In general, though, you get what you pay for, and the higher the cost, the more experienced they’ll be.
You’ll possibly be offered the choice between a package deal or an hourly arrangement. “Packages are a good option for a bigger wedding celebration as the cost is set in stone for the number of hours involved,” explains Cara. “Hourly is good for those with smaller celebrations who may only want photography for a couple of hours on the day.”
Other things to note here are travel fees (most charge a per-mile rate over a certain distance) and whether or not you’ll feed them (not essential, but a nice thing to do).
4. One photographer or two?
Having a ‘second shooter’ certainly has its plus points – a wider range of angles (especially during key points like the ceremony, the speeches and the first dance); a snapper for each prep location (a real treat if they’re quite far apart) and loads more venue and detail shots before the guests arrive.
Most professionals have industry friends they can call on if needed but will be equally happy to go it alone. The decision comes down to you – and your budget, of course – but if you’re not sure, ask your photographer’s advice. They know their stuff!
5. Get to know them
“Look for a photographer whose style and personality mesh with yours,” urges Samantha Mosca at Tower Photography. “You’ll likely see your photographer more than any of your guests – and maybe more than your partner!”
She’s right – this person is going to be with you all day and it’s so important you feel comfortable around them. Traditionally, photographers like to meet potential clients to make sure they ‘get’ one another, but these days Zoom calls are a speedy way to have a chat and find out if you’re a match.
“It’s important for me to get on well with my clients, and my first check is that they laugh at my jokes!” adds Sam. “It sounds totally self-absorbed, but I talk a lot and want my couples to feel relaxed around me.”
6. Check they’ll deliver your images as you want them
It may only be the beginning, but it’s important to think ahead to the end result, especially as it can impact on price. Do you want your fave photos in an album you can order for yourselves and your family? A selection of large prints? Or a digital file that leaves you flexible?
“My albums are handmade to perfection by a local artisan album-maker,” says Lee. “But not everyone wants the fine-art experience, so I have a great hybrid digital-plus-print package. You get the same number of images you’d get in an album printed onto beautiful fine-art paper and presented, along with a wooden USB stick, in a gorgeous walnut gift box. It was a really popular option last year.”
7. Read the small print
Your chosen photographer’s contract terms/wedding agreement is a must-read before signing on the dotted line. Make sure you understand all the little details, from the full cost breakdown and deposit details to insurance and what happens in the unlikely event of an emergency.
You’ll probably have covered much of this before you get to the contract stage, so just make sure you’ve had fully transparent and honest discussions to ensure everyone is happy, then sign.
8. Be organised
At the end of the day, all your photographer wants is to get the shots you want. It may sound simple, but achieving that takes a lot of prep, especially if you want to avoid last-minute decision-making as you head down the aisle. Don’t worry, though – they’ll keep you right.
Expect to be asked about the timings of the day (they’ll want to know how long they have to capture everything) and for a list of the important images you definitely don’t want them to miss. They’ll ask about the venue too, although they may well have shot there before.
And if not? Not a problem, says Cara: “I like to do a recce to get an idea of space and lighting, as well as shooting options in case it rains on the day. If, for some reason, I can’t make it before the big day, I’ll arrive early so I can have a look around before everything starts.”
9. Say yes to a pre-wedding shoot
Essentially a practice run, these are offered free of charge by many photographers and they come highly recommended.
“It’s such a good chance to get really comfortable with your photographer and to capture the time before you’re married,” suggests Sam. “Plus, you can use the photos on your invitations.”
Lee agrees: “I firmly believe it helps us achieve better images on the day. You get to ask questions, practise poses, see how I work and get used to the lens being pointed at you. Almost everyone says they hate being photographed at the start but when they see how beautiful the images are, they’re really excited for the wedding photography.”
10. When it’s all over, be patient
In a post-pandemic world, Scotland’s lovely photographers are more in-demand than ever. You’d usually be looking at six to eight weeks before you receive your images but, just now, you may need to exercise a little extra patience. Most, like Sam, will tide you over with a small preview gallery, though: “I send five to ten fully edited photos on the day so you can post on your socials or send to family and friends who couldn’t attend,” she says.