Plan a wedding they said, it’ll be easy they said! Well no, not with so much choice and so many options - it’s not easy, and we totally get that.
Planning your big day can be an absolute minefield, so we've spoken to a few fellow wedding professionals to help you along your journey. Over the years we have worked with some INCREDIBLE photographers (just have a look through our gallery and you’ll see for yourselves!), and it seems only right we pass on some of their expert knowledge.
The hugely talented Laura Slater at Lumiere Photographic, Vikki-Kate Hamill at Ghost Photo, and Rowan Williams at Parrot & Pineapple kindly took the time to answer our questions. Laura is based in West Yorkshire, Vikki-Kate in Northamptonshire and Rowan in Birmingham.
We hope these responses help answer some of your burning questions and alleviate any worries you might have:
Where do I start when looking for my wedding photographer?
The first stage of booking your wedding photographer is the most overwhelming stage – where do you begin? “I think before you even start looking you need to be really clear about what you want from your photos and how you want your photographs to fit in to your day”, says Rowan at Parrot & Pineapple. She adds: “After you have a rough idea of what you want then be really specific with a Google search, using descriptive and location words to find photographers that you might like, e.g. 'informal wedding photography Manchester'”.
Social Medial is also a great place to look, particularly Instagram, using descriptive hashtags like #informalweddingphotographer to find the right person for the job. Look out for wedding blogs which feature weddings of a similar style - some of Rowan’s favourite wedding blogs are Mr and Mrs Unique, The Un-Wedding and Way Out Wedding.
Laura at Lumiere Photographic says: “The wedding photography industry is an extremely saturated market which means couples can be faced with a huge list of potential photographers for their day.”
It’s really important to put together a comprehensive list of photographers you would like to contact. Laura recommends firstly looking local: “This means you can meet with a few potential photographers that are in your area. It's so important to meet with photographers and make sure you click with them.” This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, Laura recommends going for a drink, a dog walk, or even to meet at the venue – it’s a great way of building that all important relationship, and seeing if you gel!
That said, Vikki-Kate at Ghost Photo states that she thinks “one of the most common misconceptions is that you need to find out who is super local to you and pick whoever that is." She continues: "If you adore someone’s work who is in your town or county that’s fantastic, but most wedding photographers travel all over the country and beyond!”
So rather than just looking at location, you could look at different wedding photographers' styles for the vibe you like then work out the logistics after, as most photographers will work across the UK. Making two lists is a great start - Local and your Dream List!
What should I look for when choosing a wedding photographer?
Laura says: “You should LOVE your photographer's style. Their style is everything from how they position people within the frame - if they pose their couples or have a more documentary approach. Some photographers have a dark and moody style, other photographers are much more light and airy.”
Figure out what both you and your partner want to get out of your wedding photos. Sit down together and really listen to each other. Vikki-Kate adds: “If you like the idea of having a more relaxed documentary style or you prefer things to be a little more posed, agreeing on what is going to make you love them 30+ years from now is so important.”
Consistency is key, says Rowan: “When a photographer is really consistent you will have more of an idea of how your wedding photos will turn out. When someone isn't consistent, or they are willing to copy another photographer's style, then you may end up with mixed results. Or even worse, something that you really don't like. So always choose a photographer for their unique style”
The best way to gauge the vibe of your wedding photographer is to meet them in person. Laura firmly believes that “if you get an inkling the photographer sat in front of you isn't exactly your cup of tea, don't book them." She continues: "They're going to be there on one of the most important days of your lives, you want to look forward to them arriving, you want to know that you're comfortable around them, which will in turn, lead to gorgeous images!”
Ask yourself, is the photographer excited by my vision? And are they asking questions to really gauge where I am coming from? If the answer is no, then sadly they might not be the best match. On your big day you will more than likely have a whole crowd of guests who need directing - your wedding photographer needs to be assertive and likeable, and able to seek out great moments to capture. Keep this in mind when you meet.
The most experienced photographers will not only come armed with a whole host of photography expertise, but they will help to guide you through your day.
How on earth do I relax around the camera?
Acting natural around a camera doesn’t come easily to most of us. Vikki-Kate quite rightly says that above all your photographer should make you feel totally at ease. “I like to put my couples in some gorgeous light or a lovely back-drop, and then just let them be themselves. If couples are nervous, I often ask them to tell each other why they’re so excited to get married to that person, or how they felt when they saw them at the aisle. That always makes them a bit giddy and instantly relax into each other.”
An engagement (or wedding pre-shoot) is a brilliant way to have a test run. According to Laura: "So many couples seem to have only selfies, holiday snaps or wedding photos, it's rare that people get the chance to have some professional couples portraits taken. You can use the photos from your engagement shoot for your save the date cards, wedding invites or signing book. Once you've had an engagement shoot, you'll know how your photographer works, what to expect on your wedding day, what your images are likely to look like and you'll be way more relaxed!”
What should I be asking potential wedding photographers?
For Vikki-Kate, the number one question she would recommend asking is: "What do you love the most when photographing a couple’s wedding day? This will tell you everything you need to know about whether this person is the right fit for you. The most important part of choosing your wedding photographer is you have to get each other! You’re going to spend one of the most important days of your life with this person by your side, you need to really like them, trust them and feel like they understand you as a couple and what you’re about."
Go armed to your meeting with any burning questions written down. Meeting your potential photographer can be quite overwhelming and exciting when you realise they are The One! Some questions you may want to ask are: What will the timings be on the day? How long will I be waiting for my images? What happens if you can't make it?
On this last question Laura says: "It's not a nice thought, and trust me, your photographer would be more devastated than you!" But even in the rare event that the worst does happen, don't panic, your photographer will have a support network of other trusted wedding pros they can turn to, with Laura adding: "Photographers are a lovely bunch and they are always ready to help each other out."
Rowan has some more great advice on what to ask potential photographers: “Do they work with a contract and what the payment structure will be. When you are handing over a big chunk of money to a photographer then you need to be really sure who they are, how to get hold of them, exactly what you are getting for your money, when the money is due, what happens if either side need to cancel and what rights you have over the images from the wedding.”
My final piece of advice is to really trust your instinct, for this and with all the decisions you will have to make along your wedding planning journey! Have fun, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to give me a shout <3
Big thank you to:
Vikki-Kate of Ghost Photo: Web: ghostphoto.co / IG: Ghost Photo Instagram
Laura of Lumiere Photographic: Web: lumierephotographic.com / IG: Lumiere Photographic Instagram
Rowan of Parrot & Pineapple: Web: parrotandpineapple.com / IG: Parrot & Pineapple Instagram