Top 5 tips for choosing a London Wedding Photographer

Looking for a London Wedding Photographer?

How to find the right one for you!

I was chatting to a couple the other day about where to begin and what to do when it comes to choosing the right London wedding photographer. 

One of them was literally pulling her hair out and their partner was feeling extremely overawed and confused about the whole thing.  How on earth do you find the right London wedding photographer when there seem to be so many to choose from all offering a range of different packages and styles.

So what do you need to be thinking about when it comes to choosing the right one for you.  How do you go about it?  What questions should you ask?  Where do you even start?

Talking to Guests at Weddings

I’ve had many conversations with guests at weddings over the years and similar themes seem to come up time and time again…about how disappointed they were in their own wedding photos.  Also gripes about other weddings they have been guests at and the nightmare experiences with wedding photographers who took over and commanded the day like an army sergeant or film director.  There were stories of photographers who disappeared with the couple for literally hours on end after the ceremony whilst the guests were left starving and entertaining themselves! Some people told me about their best mates wedding where the group shots alone took over an hour!

Now I’m not putting down other professionals in the industry of the way they do things, as we are a tight-knit and really supportive bunch, its more a case of everyone being better informed and asking the right questions so you don’t find yourself in these positions at your own wedding.  Couples that are matched with their right-fit photographer really gel and work, you can see it in their photos, therefore everybody is happy.

Here are my 5 key points I reckon you need to mull over and consider when choosing your London wedding photographer

1.  What Style of Wedding Photography do you like?

Style is everything!  Style includes a host of things from how the photographer edits their photos, for example, are they dark, moody, colourful or bright.  Do you use bright vibrant colours or less saturated colours?  Flash/no flash? Colour or black and white or both?  Do they use excessive manipulation and photo retouching?  All of this is style.

What is the photographer’s personal approach to their photography?

There are a host of different styles and genres of wedding photography for you to choose.  Ranging from candid, unposed, reportage, documentary, photojournalistic, editorial, fine art, creative, traditional…the list is endless!  Some styles like traditional, fine art and creative have posed, portraits and formal photos that take time a little time to set up.  Other styles like documentary and reportage are more natural and unposed, where the photographer is more like a fly on the wall and where the emphasis is on telling a story of the wedding day and capturing moments.  (Hopefully, you can guess which camp I fall in!!).

Most wedding photographers do however have a mix of a few styles.

So what style of London wedding photography are you after?  It is really important to have a good idea of what types of photos you like and also which ones you dislike.

How to tell what style you like?

Research, research, research!  Read blogs, google search wedding images, compile a Pinterest board of your faves and add/eliminate as you research.  Have an open mind and try and look at complete wedding galleries rather than one or two favourites from a wedding.  Check out different photographers website’s and also their FB and insta pages and ask to see albums of actual weddings they have shot.

2.  How do you want your day to be?

Have a think…how do you envisage your wedding day?  How will it be?  How will you feel?  Have a think about how you would like things to be on your day.  Have you been to other weddings you can think back to? The important thing is to match yourself with the right photographer for you.  So you need to find out how they work in the first place so there are no big surprises on your day or leading up to the big day.

Some couples would be really happy with a two-hour portrait shoot on their wedding day, or hours of group shots.  (Just a note, this is not my style or way I do things! 😉)  Other couples their emphasis is on family and friends and getting images of everyone having a fun time together.  Everyone is different and that is great.   I embrace difference. So decide on what you like!

Expectations

One thing I always do is make sure I tell and show my couples exactly what to expect with me as their wedding photographer.  I show them a range of wedding albums and how a day pans out and the types of images, moments I capture.  I explain and show real examples of my work and style.  Sometimes we may not be the right fit for each other and its much better to realise this early in the piece and then find someone who does tick all your boxes and who you do click with! 

You will know this from chatting and meeting up with various photographers.  Gauge how are they answering your questions are you getting a good vibe?  Do you feel comfortable with this person?  Can you imagine them photographing you as you are slipping your dress on or making mean work of the dance floor?  This leads on nicely on to number 3…

3.  Personal Connection with your London wedding photographer

I think it is really important for you to gel and connect with your photographer.  Do your personalities mesh well?  Do you like them?  Wedding days are long and it’s super important that your personalities don’t clash, and that they don’t irritate you or annoy you even in a small way.  Photographer and couple need to be singing from the same song sheet so to speak.

For me, it’s also important to like and have a giggle with my couples.  This way I know I am going to be able to capture some really beautiful natural photographs because if you are feeling relaxed and confident with your photographer it will show in your photos. It is such a personal thing being a wedding photographer as I get to hang with my couples all day long on the most important day of their lives.  I get to see it all from beginning to end.  So it is mega important that you feel comfortable with and trust your photographer.

Trusting your Photographer

Ok, so how do we get to do that point of trust?  Easy peasy!  By getting to know your photographer a little as a person.  For me,  I like to have a chat on the phone or Skype, and meet up for a coffee with my couples and see if we click.   Having an engagement or pre-wedding shoot are also excellent ways to really gel with your photographer before your wedding day. 

I’m not saying we have to become best buddies but put it this way,  The communication has to clear, and genuine.  I just don’t communicate by email and then turn up on your wedding day with camera in hand.  I think it is really important to break the ice a bit first and get to know you.  I genuinely have fun and love shooting my couples weddings, I am often moved to tears during the ceremony or speeches.  It is a privilege.  What I’m trying to say it is more than just a job.  It means something.

4.  How do you plan to enjoy your photos in the future?

This one is super important as it does have an impact on how much you may have to budget for your wedding photography.  It is good to know this stuff up front, not 5 years down the track when it is too late.

These may seem like a really dumb question but here’s the thing.   What will you actually do with these JPG images after the wedding?  How will your photographer deliver the images to you?  Online gallery? USB a disk?  An album?

As your photographer my job is to capture stunning, beautiful photos of you on your wedding day but what happens after you get these images?  Questions to ask yourself in what you like or prefer are; how will you view your photos and more importantly relive those memories? on your phone? or on your desktop computer at work?  On a memory stick?  or maybe a photo slideshow?  Or in an album or wall art?

Future-proofing your images

If I had a £1 for every time a person I have met that tells me they still have their wedding photos on a disk lurking somewhere in their DVD collection or on a memory stick in their kitchen drawer, I would be very very rich and probably living in Tahiti! because someday soon in the not too distant future your USB may become obsolete or maybe your laptop won’t have a USB port or maybe your hard drive on your computer dies, or the JPG format you have your images in may not be able to be read on your devices. 

These are all very real eventualities for the future.  I am passionate and feel that photos need to be printed and need to be seen and felt to be re-lived because this is all part of the experience and reliving the memories.  Will your memories be future-proofed?  Will you have something beautiful to talk about and show your children and grandchild in years to come, because that is what keeping memories alive is all about.  So some more questions to think about.  Does your wedding photographer design albums?  Are they included in their packages?  How much do extra spreads cost?  Can you choose your own cover?

So remember peeps!

A photo is not a photo until you’ve printed it!

5. Narrowing down your choices

Narrow down your choices to a few photographers on your hotlist.  Check their availability with your wedding date first and then arrange to chat with or meet up.  Check them out online.   Have a look at their reviews on google, FB and reviews on their website. Ask questions.  Tell them about your plans and see if they are really listening to you. Check out their packages and ensure you understand what is included and what’s not.  Things to look out for; their hours of coverage, online gallery, prints, highlights slideshows, album and album design, engagement shoot, second shooters.  If comparing packages make sure you comparing eggs with eggs!

Remember beautiful wedding photos and albums are amazing memories you can relive over and over again.  This is the one part of your wedding budget you don’t want to cut corners on

View their portfolios and blog posts of an actual wedding from start to finish and have a look at their albums.  Do they have back up equipment?  Back up cards?  What is plan B if they are stricken down by lightning before your wedding?  (Just so you know….I am an active member of local photography groups and have contingency plans in place for such situations.  It has never happened to me. Yet.  But I am prepared if I ever cannot get to a wedding).  Are they insured?  Do they have a contract for you to sign?  What are their payment terms?

Have a chat

Chat with them, find out about them and their history, what makes them tick ask what kind of gear they have, what album design or additional services they offer? Then choose a photographer who consistently shows a style that you like and really rocks your boat.  If what they are saying resonates with you and you love their style and images.  Do it. You’ve done your homework.  Trust your gut instinct.  Now, book them!

Phew, there is a fair bit to do so you better get cracking!

I hope this is helpful and gives you a few useful questions to ask and research to do when looking for the perfect London wedding photographer for you.

Liza O’Malley is a  fun, natural, unposed  London Wedding Photographer capturing stunning photos and memories for quirky, cute couples in Brighton and London.

Get in touch to chat with Liza about your plans or ask any questions.

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