Picture perfect – Words of wisdom from the professionals

Don’t make any snap decisions about photographers until you’ve heard the views of our experts

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RESEARCH TIME

A big slice of your wedding budget will be spent on photography, so once you’ve got your date set and your venue picked out, it’s time to start considering snappers. “You should think about choosing your photographer as soon as you have your date confirmed, as we’re always booked well in advance,” advises Gillian Temple of Photography by Gillian (photographybygillian.co.uk).
There are countless photographers out there – so where do you begin? Try looking through wedding magazines, concentrating particularly on real-life weddings. It’s a great chance to see the work for yourself and find out what sort of styles you like. Go online to view more examples of weddings that each photographer has shot. “Definitely don’t jump at the first photographer you see,” says Paul Brown of PB Photography (p-b-photography.co.uk). “The internet allows every photographer to showcase their work and most will have a website, so take your time and check these out. I also have sample wedding portfolio videos on YouTube and I direct clients there to see examples of my work.”
Some photographers will also advertise their prices online and it’s a good idea to look at this near the start of your search – you don’t want to fall in love with one particular photographer only to discover that they’re way out of your budget. Visit wedding fairs and shows too, as this will give you a chance to chat informally to lots of different suppliers and give you a feel for their personality. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your photographer on the day so it’s important that you feel at ease with them.

MEETING UP

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a shortlist, arrange a few meetings. It’s here that you’ll get more of an opportunity to chat and decide if any of these photographers is right for you. “The internet is a great tool for looking around but nothing beats meeting and speaking in person,” advises Gillian.
This first meeting is a chance to talk about your ideas for the day and to find out more of the practical details, such as prices and album choices. “The meeting is about the couple getting to know me and feeling comfortable and confident with me as their photographer,” adds Gillian, “so it’s important for me to listen to what the bride and groom are looking for and to discuss different ideas of shots and styles. We will go over prices, album choices and ideas and complete a contract according to what has been agreed.”
Paul says, “At the first meeting I will try to get as much information as the couple have about their day – venue, type of ceremony, who will officiate, numbers expected and timings they may have been given by their venue. Once I know all that, I will ask them what they want and expect from their photographer.”
Liaising over these details is crucial to ensuring that the photographer can provide the service you want, so don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions before you put down a deposit and make the booking. “You should ask your photographer about what might trouble them – the response they give can help to determine whether you feel at ease and know you’ll be comfortable with them on the day,” he recommends.

GETTING PREPPED

You’ll meet up with your photographer several times in the lead-up to the day so use this time to iron out details such as your list of group shots, any moments that you want to guarantee are captured, and how your photographer will interact with you throughout your celebration. “Have a clear idea of what you want from the photographer and discuss this with them. Show them pictures of what you have in mind if this helps,” says Gillian.
In the run-up to the wedding, set aside some time to think about the style of photos you’d like; and if you’re particularly shy in front of the camera, practise your poses. “If you have a particular idea of what you want your photographer to do, I would advise you to practise these poses so you know you can do it on the day,” recommends Paul. “Are you comfortable doing certain poses and will your chosen venue and date lend themselves to doing certain poses? For example, can you get sweeping landscapes in an urban setting and will you be willing pose outside on cold or wet days?”

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DURING THE DAY

When your day finally arrives, enjoy yourself and let go of any stress – it’s the best way to guarantee natural, relaxed pictures. Good photographers are very experienced in making sure they get shots of all those special moments, so let them get on with it while you celebrate. “As a photographer, it’s my job to capture the day as it happens and to direct the couple to get the best from their shots, but to remain as unobtrusive as possible,” explains Gillian.
“On their wedding day, the couple can expect total professionalism and total commitment as well as an appreciation of their decision to allow me to participate in their day and be part of such a special occasion – oh, and to capture a sense of the emotion and romance of the day, of course!” laughs Paul.
If the worst happens and your photographer falls ill or cannot come on the day for whatever reason, they should have a list of trusted local associates who can step in at the last minute. Be sure to check this is the case before your wedding comes around.

AFTERWARDS

We know you’ll be desperate to see your wedding photos as soon as your celebration is over, but give your photographer at least a couple of weeks to get back to you. They’ll need that time to edit the images and ensure they look at their best for you to preview. Most photographers will show you an edited selection from which you can choose your album photos. Depending on the type of album you’ve gone for, this could take from two to seven weeks, though your photographer will be able to give you a more accurate estimate. “I give my clients a digital copy of their pictures to keep too, and they will get to see a proof of the album before it’s sent off – that way, if they have any pictures they’d like to change, it’s really easy to do so,” explains Gillian.

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