I see a lot of posts on Facebook asking for recommendations for a photographer, or asking about budgets and how much a photographer should cost, or ???. Then there are the horror stories of how a couple is so disappointed with their pictures they are reduced to tears, or how, 3 months after the wedding they have not received anything and the photographer has gone to ground. I thought I would share a few thoughts on how you should go about choosing one that is going to complement your day and provide you with worthwhile memories.
But I am going to disappointment you by answering that question in another post because the first question to ask is whether in fact you want a photographer.
I have known people who freely describe themselves as not being “photograph sort of people”. They do not think of having that sort of record to trigger memories. Most of us though are not like that. In lists of things people save from a house fire, after important documents and pets, photos and photo albums often come next. We want that pictorial witness of important events and loved friends and relatives. Wedding photographs tick both these boxes. Weddings are undeniably important events but they are also a time when family members get together, often one of the few times when they all get together.
So you have decided that you want photographs but when all the guests will have their phones and will be taking pictures, why should you pay for a photographer? Everyone has a budget and what you save on a photographer you could spend on something more important to you. It depends on your priorities. So why pay for a photographer? Obviously, being a photographer, I’m biased but these are the advantages:
1 Your photographer has the sole purpose of taking the pictures that you have previously discussed and is being paid to take the pictures you want. Your guests will be taking the pictures they want, that will satisfy their own agenda. You might end up with pictures of Auntie Mabel’s hat, and little Jimmy playing up on the dance floor and none of you signing the register or your first kiss.
2 Your photographer will (probably) be allowed privileged access and be free to roam to the best vantage point for the shots and not be confined to their respective seats on the appropriate side of the aisle.
3 Your photographer will have had years of training and practise honing his craft and will know how to deliver effective pictures where you are in focus and the background out of focus, or where the whole group is in focus, or where the lighting is just right to achieve that “professional” look, or where the composition is unique and telling.
4 Your photographer will have the equipment he or she will need to do the job you are paying them for. This will include sufficiently charged batteries, memory cards with enough capacity, back-up camera in case of failure, a bag full of lenses, speedlights and modifiers. Not like your Mum, who promised to take a picture of the cake but you know she’s hopeless at keeping her phone charged.
5 Cameras on mobile phones nowadays are good, some are very good, most are adequate. None yet quite match the quality and flexibility of a DSLR or mirrorless camera. They are fine for posting stuff on Facebook but will not be up to making big prints or heavy cropping.
6 Your photographer will spend at least as long after the event post-processing the image files so that by the time you get them, they will be the best they can be. I quoted for a job once (not a wedding). When I explained that the price included post-processing the client said “I don’t want any of that Photoshop stuff”. I turned the job because post-processing is an essential part of the creative process.
Hitched.co.uk surveyed 2800 couples to find out the average cost of weddings in the UK in 2019 and how that cost breaks down. Making up a total of £32 000, the top ten spends are:
- Venue hire – £5,406
- Honeymoon – £4,645
- Food – £3,887
- Engagement ring – £2,419
- Drink – £1,587
- Wedding dress/outfit – £1,313
- Photography – £1,155
- Mini-moon – £1,135
- Entertainment/music – £1,005
- Video – £968
Of these, the only things that last beyond the big event are the rings and the photo/video.