Choosing a photographer is up there as one of the biggest (and often most daunting!) decisions you will make for your wedding. Knowing that you will be looking at these photos and reliving all the memories they evoke, for years and years to come, only serves to ramp up the pressure. But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through this…
As a photographer and blogger, one of the questions I get asked most is who did our wedding photography. When we got married (10 years ago next month!) our photography business was in its infancy, with my husband at the helm. At the time, I was working as a magazine editor, but my first job in journalism was working as a reporter on a local newspaper (much to the amusement of my old schoolmates, who quickly nicknamed me Lois).
After seeing my skills with the ancient office camera (I promise I’ve improved a lot since then!), my editor always made sure I was accompanied on stories by a freelance photographer. Not only did we get on really well, but he somehow always managed to make me look good – even when I was doing ridiculous things like climbing aboard Navy battleships. And it just so happened that he also did wedding photography. So when it came to our wedding, the choice was an easy one.
Back then (when Facebook was just a baby, and Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat were a twinkle in a developer’s eye), there were really only two or three photography styles represented in the Scottish wedding industry.
The prevailing style at the time was for more stylised, posed images – with classic lighting, dramatic skies (Scotland tends to be good for those!), and perfectly placed dresses and veils. Then there were photographers who went for a more candid, or reportage style – capturing moments and with a more natural overall feel.
Over the years, wedding photography has been increasingly influenced by other forms of photography: from fashion to photojournalism, and by trends including vintage – a few years back we were seeing digital images being processed to look as if they’d been taken on film cameras decades earlier.
Wedding photography has also been majorly influenced over the years by wedding blogs, social media and even mobile phone photography (aka the Instagram effect).
Whereas the average wedding photographer ten years ago was male and middle-aged, there’s been a huge influx of young professionals entering the industry since, and women in particular. Nowadays, most photographers take on a far smaller number of bookings as the reality in this digital age is that wedding photographers often spend more time on a computer processing their images than actually behind a camera.
Add in the huge rise in the destination wedding photography market – photographers who will travel anywhere in the world to shoot a wedding – and what this means in 2017 is that there are far, far more wedding photographers than ever before serving Scottish brides and grooms.
Without a doubt, it’s a more diverse and creative industry to be part of nowadays, and this can only be a positive thing. But while it’s great that couples have so much choice when it comes to photography, it can also feel a little overwhelming at times and can make decision making really challenging.
So without further ado (at last, I hear you cry!), here are our top tips for getting amazing wedding photos.
1. Think timeless
Our first piece of advice when choosing a wedding photographer is to think long-term. Buzzwords like reportage, alternative, natural and creative come and go over the years, but what is really important is longevity. When you’re looking back at your photos, will you be blown away by all the memories and emotions they evoke, or cringing at the awkward posing or weird processing effects.
Beware of trends and ask yourself if you will still love this look in 10, 20, 30 years time. If you feel sure that the answer is yes, then go for it!
2. Budget accordingly
As a photographer/blogger, I always feel super-awkward when it comes to writing about budgets for photography, but it really is true that (most of the time at least!) you get what you pay for. As they say in another creative industry – ‘Good tattoos ain’t cheap, and cheap tattoos ain’t good’. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and you may have bagged a rising star who has offered an introductory rate – so long as you’ve taken their lack of experience into account and adjusted your expectations accordingly, then fair play to you my friend! At the other end of the scale, a high price tag doesn’t guarantee quality and great customer experience – so be sure to do your research, whatever your budget.
We’ve lost count of the times we’ve had a really distressed bride get in touch to ask if we can fix her photos, after a friend botched the job. And sadly, the answer is almost always no. Equally, we’ve seen the stress the friend is put under, when pressured into doing something they would never have willingly signed up for. It’s a lose-lose situation. Unless your friend is an experienced and talented wedding photographer (and if they are, perhaps you’d rather give them the day off as a rare treat anyway!), then we’d really recommend not going this route.
We’ve also seen it go horribly wrong when fashion photographer friends (or equine photographers) have been asked to be the official photographer. A wedding day is so different to a fashion shoot (and to photographing horses, I imagine), and serious management and people skills are needed to keep the day running smoothly and on-time, while also making sure everything is captured in a beautiful, creative manner.
Obviously, if you’re not too fussed about your photos then it’s a whole different ballgame. By all means put your budget towards the things that matter most to you – be it your dress or an extra week few days on the beach afterwards.
3. Getting started
Asking friends and your venue for recommendations is a good starting point. Look through the photographer’s portfolio on their website, check out their blog and if you like what you see then get in touch to check their availability and for more details.
At this point we also recommend asking to see full wedding galleries (look to see how they capture the day from start to finish – does it match up in quality and style with the highlights galleries you have seen on their website?).
It’s easy to put together a great looking gallery of images – especially if some of them are taken under the controlled conditions of a photography workshop or styled shoot – but photographing a wedding from start to finish and doing a consistently excellent job, time and time again, no matter what the weather or circumstances throw at you, is much harder!
Your wedding photographer is the supplier that you will spend most time around on the day, so it’s incredibly important that you not only love their work but feel comfortable, and happy, around them. If you’re planning your wedding from afar and can’t meet with your photographer beforehand, then setting up a Skype appointment or chatting over the phone is a good way to check you’re on the same wavelength. Also check out their social media accounts – these can give a great feel for someone’s personality, and comments/interactions with their previous clients can also help reassure you that you’re making the right choice.
Be sure you know what is and isn’t included in the price. Don’t be shy about asking what may seem like silly questions – they’ll understand that you’ve (probably) never done this before and chances are it’s something they’ve been asked many times before.
5. Under the influence
Book a photographer whose style you love and don’t be swayed by what your parents/Instagram/best friend thinks. Booking someone because you love their alternative, offbeat style and then asking them to take uber traditional lineup after lineup on the day is asking for trouble.
6. Talk it through
As well as getting to know the two of you, your photographer will be keen to lock down the logistics for the day in advance. Whether you’re planning to leave your venue and head to another favourite place or just take a relaxed walk in the grounds for photos, they will work with you to make sure the timings for your day fit with what you have in mind.
They’ll also want to know the key family photos you want taken, plus any other important details about the day (if you’re wearing your grandmother’s veil, then be sure to tell them!).
7. Trust your photographer
Leave them to get on with the job and work their photo magic. Nothing kills creativity like a 100 item long list of must take on the day photos – particularly when it’s been pulled from a US wedding website. If you’ve ever been to a wedding in the US (or watched Bridesmaids), you’ll know that they run to a very different schedule to Scottish weddings. Basically, while we’re all getting merry and the banter is flowing, they’re still away taking photos.
8. Step away from the board
Pinterest is not always your friend – yes it’s amazing to be able to save all your ideas in one super pretty place, but stop for a minute and step back. Does your inspiration board look like it belongs more to a sunny Southern California outdoor wedding than to the Scottish, quite possibly wet and windy (although beautifully romantic and atmospheric) day you are really planning?
9. Shine on
Be your best self – confidence shines through in photographs so do whatever it takes to feel comfortable on the day, whether it be booking an engagement shoot so you can relax already knowing how being photographed will feel or having an extra hair/makeup trial to ensure you’re 100% happy with the look you’re going for.
10. Food is good
Feed your photographer. Yes, you’ve probably invested a fair bit in them being there already but it’s a really long, tiring day (ask to hold their camera and see how much that thing weighs!), and it’s scientifically proven that they will take better photos if they don’t run out of fuel. Also, we’ve never met one yet who doesn’t really enjoy pudding. Just saying.
We hope you’ve found this post helpful! If you’re looking for an incredible photographer (or a talented baker or florist for that matter), then be sure to check out our handpicked Wedding Collection. You’ll find the suppliers and venues we depend on there.
All photos by members of the WFIL Wedding Collection