Pre-wedding preparations the chances are the closest you came to a professional photographer was posting a selfie on instagram!
Wedding photography is important, it records the best moments from the biggest day of your life for you to look back on when you're both old and wrinkly! It's worth finding the best photographer out there, one you really click with, because you only get one "shot" at capturing your wedding, and they need to make the most of it. But unless your dad is David Bailey, how do you tell a good photographer from a bad one?
Here's ten questions to ask potential snappers before signing on the dotted line...
1) Who will be taking the photos?
Sounds like a no-brainer, but if you're dealing with a big company chances are the guy you meet when you book might not be the guy you get on the day. You need to feel at ease around your photographer, and someone unexpected showing up on the day isn't going to help you relax!
2) What's your style?
See our tip on choosing wedding photography style for the lowdown on this one!
3) Are you insured?
The last thing you need on your wedding day is for the photographer to knock over some priceless antique (whether that be an urn or an auntie!) and cause £££s of damage! But accidents do happen! And things will seem a whole lot worse if you find out too late that they're not insured! Ask to see a copy of their public liability cover before you book.
4) Are the images in your portfolio from an actual wedding?
The practice of hiring models for portfolio shoots is becoming more and more common. And while the shots might be fabulous, they weren't taken under the same conditions and constaints that will be present on your wedding day. Ask to see some unstaged snaps.
5) Can I see a complete wedding album?
Photographers are likely to pick the best pics to advertise their work, but this doesn't give you a true sense of their overall quality. They may take 100 rubbish shots for every good one they show you. Ask to see a complete album and you'll get a much better feel for their work overall.
6) What happens if you can't make it?
Every photographer will always strive to honour their commitments, but sometimes life just gets in the way! What if they're struck down with the flu, or stranded somewhere and they can't make it? Who will take the photos in that case? What is their back-up plan?
7) Will I receive a disk copy of the images?
Will those images be edited? Will they be high resolution? Or watermarked? Make sure you know exactly what you're getting for your money. Low budget photographers ofter just "shoot and burn" onto disk without editing them first. This way you might get 100s of not-so-great images rather than fewer perfect ones. And low resolution or web-standard images are pretty much useless for printing anything bigger than 4x6. And you're not going to want photos with their name or logo printed right across them, so unmarked prints are what you'll need.
8) How long will you stay?
You need to work out exaclty what you want captured on the day and find a photographer who will work around that. Do you want pictures of the bridal party getting dressed? The groom waiting at the church? Then your photographer needs to be there early. Having fireworks at night and want them captured on film? Photographer needs to work late! Find out how many hours their basic package gives you, and how much each extra hour is going to cost.
9) Who has copyright?
If the photographer retains the rights to the pics they can use them in competitions, advertising - any way they please. You need the print rights in order to be able to reproduce your photos, whether thats to print onto a mousemat or give a copy to great-aunt Ada.
10) Do I like you? (probably not one to ask out loud!!)
Your photographer is going to be spending a lot of time with you on the biggest day of your life. It really helps if you get along! Plus, you will look a lot happier and more relaxed in your pictures if they're taken by someone you're comfortable with. Ask yourself if you'd have them as a wedding guest, because that's essentially what they're going to be! If the answer is no, maybe you need to keep looking!