Got some burning questions you want answers to before committing to a photographer? Nicole Conner asks the experts so you don’t have to…
Your photographer is one of the biggest investments when you tie the knot. Not only will they spend a huge amount of time with you on one of the most important days of your life, but their work is your main keepsake once the confetti has settled. Picking such an important supplier is no small task, and if you’re anything like me you’ll no doubt have 100 questions that need answering before you make a final call.
What if you love their style but don’t like their vibe once you meet? What if you’ve booked a venue that isn’t very photogenic, or the photographer falls ill on the day? Well, we caught up with some of Scotland’s top snappers to ask these questions and more, to steer you on the path to greatness (great pics, that is!).
1. How much should I expect to spend on a wedding photographer?
Most photographers offer a few different packages, giving you as much or as little coverage as you wish. Dougi McMillan Photography has three packages: the Full Shebang (£1,850) covers the whole day, and includes a pre-shoot, personalised USB and 50-page album.
“I ask for a deposit of £200 to secure the date, with the balance payable 21 days before the wedding,” he says. He also offers a half-day option (£1,300), as well as the Short and Sweet (£950) which works well for elopements and mini weddings; this gives three hours of coverage and more than 200 edited images to download from an online gallery. “I can also tailor all of these packages to suit you – just ask,” adds Dougi.
2. What if I love someone’s work but we don’t get on when we meet?
A piece of advice that has stuck with me while working in the wedding biz is this: if you wouldn’t invite a supplier to your big day as a guest, don’t hire them – and that applies even if you’ve fallen head over heels with a photographer’s images.
Dougi McMillan is very clear that the first contact and initial stages are really important for both client and supplier. “Not gelling with a couple is a situation that has thankfully never happened to me,” he tells us. “I like to have early meetings with my clients to discuss their plans and their vision for the day. I need to feel that there’s a rapport with them, that they get me both as a professional and as a person – too much talking, wacky humour and all!”
Dougi notes that a couple will have come to him because they like his work, so it is crucial to “build a relationship and trust going forward”. He does this by keeping in regular contact with his clients, as well as by doing pre-wedding shoots to calm the nerves and to give the couple a feel for how he operates.
“A photographer should be professional, approachable and friendly to everyone,” he says. “Once clients get to like you as a person, you have a responsibility to deliver a quality service.”
3. What if something goes wrong on the day?
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, as Robert Burns famously put it, but don’t fret: a professional photographer will have a back-up should illness or emergency disrupt plans.
“If there is an issue on the day and I am unable to attend, I have fellow photographers who can step in at the last minute,” says Holly Blackwell of For Love + Thistle Photography. “It’s in our contracts, so clients are aware we have contingency plans in place.” She also comes prepared with several cameras so your day is safe should a technical fault arise.
4. Our venue is not very photogenic. Can you work around this?
“If a venue doesn’t have great spaces to shoot in, I’ll often suggest an area nearby,” Holly Blackwell tells us. “City-centre venues can lack outdoor space, so the likes of botanic gardens, pretty cobbled lanes and parks are great to venture to on the day.”
Even so, she recommends scanning your venue for indoor and outdoor photo ops: “The weather is incredibly hard to predict and having spaces inside for photos is just as important as the outside,” she says. “And even if you don’t think the decor is brilliant, if there’s good natural light we can work with that.” If gorgeous photos are really important to you, though, aesthetics should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re choosing a venue.
5. What if I’m nervous about getting my wedding photos taken?
Shy in front of the camera? You’re not alone, insists Allan Forrester at Biggar Picture Photography: “At least one half of every couple feels like this. My biggest recommendation is to take your time selecting a photographer and chat to the ones whose style you like – it’s a good way to find someone you’ll be comfortable around.”
Allan also advises choosing someone who offers pre-wedding shoots, so you know what’s coming and can prepare yourself: “More often than not, you’ll see from the pre-wedding shoot that there’s nothing to be nervous about. It’ll also help your photographer get to know you both and find out what you’re comfortable with.”
6. What if I want staged shots that don’t match your photo style?
Communication, according to Allan at Biggar Picture, is key. He catches up with his couples a few weeks before their wedding to find out exactly what type of images they want (this is because group shots, for example, are time-consuming to set up, so a schedule needs to be worked out). “If the group shots can’t be adjusted to suit the timeframes, we’ll find a solution. This could be stealing time from other parts of the day for other shots, or making a plan to ensure we get all the images done in a timely manner,” he explains.
As for shots you might have seen elsewhere and want to recreate, Allan says he’s up for the challenge: “Even if it’s one of my own photos you want to recreate, I love making it unique to you,” he tells us. “Whatever challenge or concern you have, speak to your photographer and help them to find a solution that’ll give you the images you’re dreaming of.”
7. Who owns the finished pictures?
“Imagine you walk into an art gallery and see lots of amazing original paintings,” says Rachel Spence Photography. “You fall in love with one of them and decide to buy it. You take it home and hang it on the wall, show all your friends and family and enjoy that artwork – you own that actual painting. However, the artist is still the author of the work and owns the right to call it theirs – no one can copy or use that painting in any way other than for their own personal enjoyment.”
With photos, she explains, couples are buying the rights to use their wedding images for personal use, and can print them as many times as they like, or share them on social media (a tag for your photographer is always nice!), but you cannot sell them in any commercial way.
8. Are the photos edited or photoshopped?
Every photographer has their own particular way of editing images, so choose someone with an aesthetic that matches your vibe. “Your pictures will need editing and when you pick a photographer you have to look at how they do this,” clarifies Rachel Spence Photography. “We all have different styles of editing and you have to like how the final images look as yours will be done the same way.”
And, of course, if there are any ugly lamp-posts, signs or bins spoiling an otherwise gorgeous shot, Rachel can photoshop these out.
9. What if I don’t like the pre-wedding images?
Vicki Woods of Willow & Wilde feels that if the connection between photographer and client doesn’t feel right from the start, it probably isn’t. “In the 20 years I have been in the business, I have never had a client not like their imagery or their experience with me. But some couples may change their mind after booking, and that’s okay,” she says.
“We want our couples to fall in love with their images. They may not swoon over every single frame, of course, but when you’re capturing moments between people at their most vulnerable, that is when you get raw and honest emotion. And you only get that when you’re on a certain level with your couple. You need an understanding of each other, and if that’s not there, it will show in the pictures.”
Vicki also believes that pre-wedding shoots are great to alleviate nerves, and it’s important that couples are fully happy with their choice: “If it doesn’t feel right after having these images taken, it’s a sign that perhaps this photographer isn’t for you.” And if you’re going to cancel, doing it sooner rather than later will be best for all concerned, she stresses.
10. What if I can’t afford to buy an album straight away?
Don’t worry about this – most photographers will be happy to accommodate you after the wedding. “I don’t offer traditional albums as I find them quite dated and overpriced,” says Faodail Photography’s Rebecca Mackie. “What I offer is 200 high-quality lustre 6×4 prints presented in a hand-wrapped glass box – as well as unlimited digitals. I find looking through individual prints easier, and this is a unique way of receiving your images. And you’ll be surprised how cheaply you can print off more using a high-quality printing service.”
Willow & Wilde offers albums as an addition to its packages, and these can be purchased at a later date. “We always recommend letting your pictures ‘soak in’ and not rushing into just filling an album and having it ready ASAP,” says photographer Vicki Woods. “We want your album to be beautifully curated with meaningful imagery, and that takes time. All our packages come with a USB and presentation box so you have a back-up and something tangible from your investment with us.”