There are so many blogs out there giving tips on how to pick your wedding photographer, many that we feel give quite outdated advice. So, we – Hollie and Patrick Mateer here, hello! – wanted to write one from the perspective of wedding photographers who are planning their own wedding. So, a little background first! We actually tied the knot last year, at a very intimate ceremony, just our parents and children (and baby bump – now baby Harrison!) present. This year though, comes our own ‘real wedding’ and all our friends and family will be there. Our wedding blessing will take place at Patrick’s family farm later in 2019 and we cannot wait!
After setting a date, the very first thing we did was book our wedding photographer – Chris, who of course works with us at M and G Photographic – and our videographer, Josh (again, our own filmmaker). We know all too well how quickly wedding photographers book up, so didn’t want to miss out! The decision was simple and based on one thing and one thing only – we love Chris and Josh’s work and there was never a consideration of booking anyone else.
So, for us the decision was easy – but we realise we are in a rarefied position, as we knew right away what we were looking for and what we wanted to avoid. We wanted beautiful documentary photography and video – no posing at all – and we of course knew that is what Chris and Josh always deliver. But for others, we know the decision is a lot harder! There is so much choice out there. So, here are our tips for picking your perfect wedding photographer, hopefully eschewing cliches and outdated advice.
When you book your photographer, you are putting your trust in them, their style of wedding photography and their approach to photographing your big day. It’s a huge decision we know. Whenever any couple books us to photograph their wedding, it’s a real honour.
Lots of blogs we have read while researching this have lumped all photographers into one group, assuming they all follow a set, standard and very traditional pattern, talking about shot lists and poses. This is definitely not how all wedding photographers work these days – and certainly not us. So, we hope the below helps you think about firstly, your wedding day and all the plans you are making – secondly, finding the photographer that will fit in around all of your plans seamlessly.
1. Your wedding is the most important thing – not your photographer. We strongly feel that you should first and foremost plan your wedding the way you want it and book a photographer to fit in around your day. There is no one set way of photographing a wedding – just as there is no one set way of getting married and no template to follow exactly when setting out your dream wedding. So when you do get to the point of booking your photographer (which we recommend should be near the top of your list!) put your trust in them to deliver the style and quality of images they show on their website – then get back to planning the most amazing day ever! If you book the photographer whose work you really love, you really can just leave them to it on the day as they will be very experienced and of course, very talented. You have to plan your day – but you don’t need to plan what your photographer will do! Booking your photographer and working with them on the big day should be stress free and that’s all about picking the right photographer for you, in terms of the images they produce and the style the work in.
2. Find the photographer whose work you love the most. This really is the key one! We know it may seem obvious, but it’s so easy to get caught up in sales pitches and package add ons. Also, on similar blogs we have read (and we’ve read a lot of the past few days!) this is never, ever the main consideration in terms of advice for couples. It really should be! Your wedding photographs will stay with you a lifetime – so book that photographer whose work you really, really love.
So, when doing your own research into wedding photography, we recommend you look through a host of different photographers and their work. Check their websites, facebook and instagram for their latest images and pick out that one photographer whose work speaks to you. You’ll know it when it happens! You’ll find that you love the work of one photographer more than any other – maybe for the way they photograph emotion, maybe for the way they capture natural photographs of their couples together. But most probably, for the way they capture everything on a wedding day in their own unique style.
So, don’t go on the location where your photographer is based – good wedding photographers travel all over the country and beyond. We class ourselves as a Yorkshire Wedding Photography company, but we travel all over the UK and will travel abroad if a couple wants us to! We even have a second base in Hertfordshire. We might be in Cheshire one week, Wales the next, then Surrey, then Derbyshire, then the Lakes, then Yorkshire. It really doesn’t matter where the wedding is – we just want to provide documentary wedding photography for couples who love our work. Travelling to new places is a perk of the job in fact!
If you’re looking for a documentary wedding photographer like ourselves, it doesn’t matter if we’ve photographed at a venue before or not and doesn’t even matter if we’ve met the couple in person before (sometimes we only meet via Skype and sometimes we’ve never met!). We do prefer to meet our couples at least via Skype, but for them this isn’t always possible and doesn’t affect the way we photograph a wedding. Our style is always the same: we step back and document everything without posing, creating beautiful images like the ones on this blog.
Also, every wedding is unique as the people are always different and the couple and their plans are always different. The weather, the lighting – everything is different. So visiting a venue beforehand isn’t really a big help to us at all – we capture real moments, we don’t set up shots or repeat past work – we work spontaneously and our skill is in reacting to unexpected and unique moments. The same will go for all good documentary photographers.
So, in the end, really – and as no other blog on How To Book Your Wedding Photographer seems to mention this, so we feel we should reiterate it one last time! – book the photographer whose work you love the most. This is the most important decision you’ll make, as that photographer you pick is the one who captures all your memories to look back on for a whole lifetime. There’s no point in investing in your dream wedding if you don’t have a photographer who can document everything perfectly for you. If you spend years planning your perfect wedding and then book a cheap or inexperienced photographer – it is most likely going to be a huge mistake. So, we really recommend: invest in the very best photographer you can afford.
Budget is always a huge consideration when planning a wedding and it has been for us. However every penny you spend on your perfect photographer will be money well spent. As wedding photographers we are a little biased, but along with the venue / catering, it’s the one thing you will want to get right. The flowers, suits, dresses, decorations – you want everything to be perfect of course! But to help remember every little detail and key moment, you want a photographer who will perfectly capture everything for you to look back on.
3. Carefully look at the style of the photographer’s images. We know this is a toughie to a non photographer! It’s rare to find a wedding photographer who doesn’t claim to deliver ‘natural images’ these days – natural really is THE buzzword in wedding photography. But they can’t all be natural, can they? The short answer is, no – as wedding photographers it is immediately obvious to us that so many ‘natural’ photographers spend all day staging and posing. So try to look beyond the initial tag line and think – is this the style of image I want on my wall? Can I see myself ‘in’ these images? In the end, this is the important thing – whatever the style is described as, does it fit in with you as a couple and does the way the photographer takes their images actually fit in with your wedding plans and how you want them documented?
As we say, finding a style you love and an approach you identify with is really tricky! But we are guessing as you’ve found your way here, you are looking for a natural / documentary wedding photographer. We keep things relaxed, fun and our images really are unposed. We want you to stay in the moment and we want things to unfold without staging – our images are all the better for it, we feel. Importantly, we let you have the best day of your life without interruptions. So, all the images you see on this page and on our website are non-staged – so think, is this sort of relaxed approach what you want and do you love the unposed, documentary style of our images? This goes for any photography website you come across of course, not just ours.
If you want that more traditional approach, where the photographer is really staging things then there are a host of alternative photographers out there that can deliver this perfectly.
One last thing to consider is, do you want one or two photographers – we can provide either options – some photographers work exclusively on their own and some exclusively as a pair. This is of course a really personal choice to you.
3. Get in touch with your chosen photographer to check their availability – and give them lots of information about your wedding day! The more information you give your chosen photographer from the initial contact, the more information they should give back. Rather than just sending a price, they will be able to tell you all about their style of photography, their approach to working and how this will all fit in in relation to your plans. This personal reply is so useful for you from the very beginning in getting a feel for whether the photographer is a good fit for you.
For us, if we receive an enquiry from an excited couple telling us all about their day, we get excited too! And we can reply with lots of information and links that relate to that individual couple and their plans.
If we get an enquiry that just asks for a price, all we can really do is send a price list and it makes it hard for us to send a personal response – however if someone gets in touch (just as an example) telling us they love our work, they’ve booked their dream barn venue and have planned a really relaxed day with some games and surprises, we can send back links to our barn weddings and explain how our very relaxed approach will fit in around their plans.
So we really recommend rather than contacting lots of photographers for prices, picking out that one photographer whose work you really love the most and getting in touch with them first. If you contact lots of photographers for quotes, it is easy to get a bit lost and start just looking at price and sales techniques. Of course, everyone has a budget, but within that budget, we recommend try to base your decision on the work of the photographer that you really love.
When we reply, we’ll include all our expenses in the quote, including travel and accommodation if needed – then if you book in, you’ll receive a contract to read through and sign (as all professional photographers should do). It’s always worth double checking these points as every photographer has a different policy on travel and a different payment procedure.
4. Spend your budget on the images themselves – not albums and add ons! As we’ve already mentioned, it really is easy to get distracted by the intracacies of package add ons and freebies. A ‘free’ album here, a ‘free’ diamond encrusted USB case there – it can all draw the attention from the quality of image a photographer produces and the style they take them in.
So we really recommend trying to prioritise the photography first and foremost and spend your budget on this. If, after you’ve found your perfect photographer, you still have the budget left over for an album – then great, add this on! There’s nothing better than having your wedding photos printed.
If an album is included in a package, try to look past this and look only at the images – there’s no point getting an album if you don’t have beautiful photographs to put in it!
Top photographers don’t really include albums as standard in their packages these days. When you book for a good photographer, you really are paying them for: their expertise in photography, their experience, their qualifications, their insurance, their top level professional equipment and their reputation (and often the awards they have won). You’ll also find that top photographers don’t tend to want to up-sell you products. We love our job as we love photography – we’re not doing it for our love of sales! Of course, we do sell albums, but we really don’t push this on any couple.
An album, prints – all the bells and whistles! – can be bought after a wedding. We believe the most important thing is to pick the photographer whose work you really love. Albums and all the rest can wait.
5. Ask for a Skype or phone call if you’d like to meet your photographer before booking. So many blogs say ‘arrange to meet your photographer in person to look through albums to see more of their work’ – this really is quite outdated advice! Meeting a photographer for a nice chat is of course great where possible (we know we love to hear all about a couple’s plans in detail and it’s great to get to know them). We understand in fact, that for some couples, this is an absolute must.
However, the whole ‘look through their wedding albums to see more of their work’ isn’t necessary and is a really old fashioned hang over from the days of wedding photography when it was shot on film cameras. This is when all work was printed and presented in stuffy albums in studios – and everything was very traditional and a little formal (and perhaps rather staid). But nowadays, it’s far quicker and more useful to scroll through some blogs by your photographer than look through wedding albums.
Simply put – a wedding album holds 80/90 images – whereas you can see a whole wedding gallery online at the touch of a button, or you can scroll through blog after blog to see thousands of images from different weddings, all from one photographer.
So, the need to trawl through wedding albums really isn’t there anymore! Most good wedding photographers also don’t own a studio – they don’t need one as they’re always travelling from venue to venue – and they specialise in wedding photography, not studio portraits.
For us, our studio is the wedding venue we’re at tomorrow.
Also, good photographers work all over the country – not just locally. So meeting a good photographer face to face can prove hard to arrange, especially during wedding season – but don’t be frustrated by this! If your photographer is really busy and they have an excellent national reputation, working all over the UK, then that is a really good sign!
For us, at least 9 out of 10 of our couples book in right away without any meeting in any way and we feel really lucky that this is the case. We think this is as we have a fantastic reputation, we’ve won many awards, we have lots of reviews ready to read and thousands and thousands of images to browse through online – we also book up really quickly, so couples book in with us fast so as to not miss out. This will go for all good wedding photographers.
However, if a couple do want to meet with us, we are only too happy to do so, in person if they are local and want to come and meet us – but more often than not, we meet couples via Skype or FaceTime. We find – and our couples have found – that a video call works just as well as meeting for a cuppa. So forget the sample album and the studio – it’s Skype and not having to leave your living room for 2019 and beyond!
5. Book in with your photographer quickly! Of course, not everyone books their wedding far in advance, so we realise this isn’t always possible. We’ve photographed some amazing last minute weddings, but these do tend to be in the off season or midweek (it’s worth noting booking your photographer the year as your wedding is in is last minute in terms of booking a wedding photographer). So if you can, book your suppliers early! Wedding photographers in particular book up their key weekend dates one to two years in advance, so it really is best to prioritise wedding photography after booking your wedding date and location.
So if you get in touch with your chosen photographer and they are free, get them booked quickly so as not to miss out! A photographer can’t fully reserve your date until a deposit is paid. This isn’t a sales technique – good photographers really do book up far in advance.
6. Ask any questions you have! Most photographers will have an FAQ like this one (please click here). Our FAQ answers all the standard questions you may have. So any wedding photographer should readily let you know via their website that they are fully insured, how experienced they are, list the awards they’ve won, list the equipment they use and explain how things will work if you book in with them. But, any more detailed questions that relate to your wedding – you should definitely fire away! We know some blogs give couples a long list of important but not very exciting questions to ask their photographer – but all of these should be covered in an FAQ like ours.
The way we see it is that every wedding is different, every couple is different and every photographer’s style is unique, so we don’t believe there should be set questions that every couple should ask their photographer – the simple stuff like insurance, payment details and back up equipment should be a given and should be displayed on a photographer’s website. Instead, ask the questions that matter to you.
All the best with your own wedding plans – we hope we are ‘your’ perfect wedding photographers and you get in touch! But if you pick us as your photographer or not, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading and found this useful! We are getting back to editing weddings, thinking about the finer points of our own wedding (and catching up with Killing Eve when we get the chance!)
Patrick and Hollie – M and G Photographic
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All photography copyright Yorkshire Wedding Photographer M and G Photographic. We are award winning photographers and location is never a barrier for us – we photograph weddings all over the UK and abroad.