How can I tell if a photographer is good value?
Making sense of the options
I know it’s often really hard to quantify what you get for your money from a wedding photographer. There are hundreds of us out there, and it’s hard to know where to start!
I guess the first and most obvious thing to think about is how much time you are going to get from your photographer. On the wedding day you’ll have me for the day. That means we’ll work out in advance when you’d like me to start, which may be with the bridal preparations, or you may want some shots of the groom before that. I’ll usually stay until shortly after the last ‘set-piece’ of the day. That’s normally the first dance, though you may have fireworks or a special event so I’m happy to stay for that. We’ll work it all out in advance, but if things run late I won’t walk out on you or charge you extra. So, if you book me for the day, I’ll stay for the day.
Getting ready for an amazing day
But wedding photography isn’t just a matter of turning up on the day. Of course I’ll come over to meet you and your fiancé for our first meeting, and you may also like to meet again at the venue nearer the wedding day. That way we can run though the schedule, and have a good walk round looking for locations and ideas that we like, such as where to take some portraits if it’s bucketing with rain! On the wedding day there will be no time to think about that, so it’s nice to know we’re all happy and know what to expect.
After the big day
Then after the wedding I will spend a lot of time editing the photos. The shots you get are all edited and print-ready. I spent many years as a picture editor at The Guardian and Reuters, so I like to make sure every shot is as good as it can be. I usually edit to create a mixture of colour and black-and-white, and depending on your preferences I’ll also create some sepia or ‘vintage’ tones. Again, we can discuss any styles you like in advance.
The right tools for the job
Though it may not be the most important thing on your list, it’s probably also worth checking what equipment your photographer will be using. I’m very much of the “it’s what you do with it that counts” school! But I do use three professional Canon camera bodies, several lenses and flashguns, and I’ll often use secondary off-camera flash or even bring along studio lighting depending on the situation.
Just in case…
Finally, it’s not something we want to think about but it’s important to check your photographer has insurance. Every professional wedding photographer should have it, and be able to show you the documentation. Just in case….
Peace of mind
All of this and more is included in the price, but I guess most of it comes down to how much you like the photographer’s style, and how much the photographer will help make your big day.
What exactly is ‘reportage’?
Reportage is sometimes called fly-on-the-wall photography or photojournalism. Essentially it’s about being unobtrusive and capturing photos as they happen, without interfering. I think most people look better when they aren’t aware they are having their picture taken!
Do you take posed group photos as well as reportage?
Yes. Most couples like to make sure there are some formal family photos. If it’s left to chance it might never happen. I like to keep this part of the day quick and informal, and I recommend writing a short list of groups in advance to make sure we don’t miss any on the day. Try to keep it below around ten, so we have more time for the relaxed reportage and guests don’t feel like they are waiting around too long. It’s also worth ‘volunteering’ someone from both families to make sure we can gather people together quickly.
Do we really get to keep all the photos?
Yes! I’ll always give you your photos on a DVD at high-resolution. That means 300-400 photos that are big enough for large reprints or wall art. So you don’t have to come to me for any expensive reprints.
How long do you stay?
I tend to cover a wedding from the bride’s preparations to the last set piece of the day, which is usually the first dance. But we’ll work out a schedule together in advance, so I’ll start and finish whenever you need me to. And if the wedding runs over, I won’t charge you extra or just up-and -leave. In my experience, no wedding ever goes exactly to schedule!
Do you cover civil partnerships?
Yes, I am very happy to photograph your special day, be it a civil partnership, a wedding or a blessing.
Will you cover weddings outside your region?
Yes, I’m very happy to travel. If the wedding is within a couple of hours’ drive of my base in Lewes it’s included in the package price. If it’s further afield just get in touch and I’ll let you know what a travel fee would be.
Will we end up paying any more than your listed price?
No. My prices are all-inclusive, with no hidden extras, and include location visits and travel. The price you see is the price you pay.
Can our guests buy prints through you?
Yes. Your guests can buy reprints direct from me via your web gallery. Of course you may decide to organise reprints yourself, because you will have a copy of all the photos. But many couples don’t want to have to collate all their guests’ orders. It’s completely up to you.
Do you check out the venue beforehand?
Yes. On the wedding day I like to concentrate on getting the best photos, not second-guessing an unfamiliar venue. So I always like to visit the venue beforehand, ideally with the bride and groom so we can all be happy with our idea of how the day will pan out. That’s all included in your package price.
Do you work alone or are there two of you – some photographers seem to work in pairs?
I usually work alone. I try not to be too obtrusive, and having another photographer makes that harder. I also find the experience of being the only photographer brings me closer to the wedding. I can be involved with the wedding, the guests and the flow of the day much more if another colleague is not distracting me. And I don’t have to worry about them getting in the background of my shots!
I have never felt that I’ve missed anything by not having a second photographer, and I guess more importantly neither have my clients! Though if it is an unusually large wedding, or there are exceptional circumstances that mean I can’t cover the essentials, then I will bring in a second shooter. I’ll always work out a schedule with the couple in advance, so we’ll know if it’s necessary.
How long do we wait for the photos?
Your web gallery will be ready within around two weeks of your wedding. The mini proof book normally arrives from the printers within three weeks, and I’ll package it up with your disc of high-resolution photos. But if you’d like the disc before then I’d be happy to send it to you. You can use the mini book or the gallery to choose your photos for the album, prints and cards.
Are you insured?
Yes, I am fully insured for both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity. I include my insurance details in every contract, or just ask if you’d like to see them.
What are the table cards you mention?
I’ll have quality little cards printed with your name and date on them, and the web address and password of your gallery. They can be placed on the tables or given to guests during the wedding. That means guests can take them away and know where to go to find the photos, so it’s one less thing for you to do. If you’re really organised you can even send me a favorite photo to have printed on the cards.
We may want to order an album in the future. Is there a time limit?
No. If you decide not to order an album or prints with your initial package, or if you decide to order another copy of the album, you can come back to me at any time.
Should we have a password for our web gallery?
Some couples do, some don’t, it’s completely a personal choice. You may also like to ‘vet’ your photos first. That means I can give you two a special temporary password, so you see the photos before anyone else, then just let me know when you’re happy for your guests to see them.
How do we get our album or prints?
You can use the mini proof book or the web gallery to choose your photos. Just give me the filenames and I will do the rest.
For the coffee table album I recommend choosing around 150 photos (a handful either side is fine), and I will individually design the layout. I’ll send it to you as a PDF, so you can make any changes before it goes to print. If you live nearby I will drop it around by hand. If not I will send it to your home or work at no extra cost.
Do you do parents’ albums?
You’ll be pleased to know I take off £100 for any additional copies of the coffee table book, so it is a very cost effective way of presenting your parents with their own album.
What are your presentation boxes?
The presentation boxes are co-ordinated black boxes covered in Buckram textured paper. The lid of each box has an embossed area, which holds an image from your wedding. The boxes for the coffee table book and the mini proof book also have a looped ribbon that lies partially underneath the book, to help you lift it from the box without having to get your fingers down the side.
I like the look of the full package, but is it possible to swap some of the products?
Of course. My full package is just a collection of the most popular options. For example, you may decide to take out the thank-you cards and put that value towards something else. It’s important to choose what’s right for you.
We’re interested in booking you, so what do we do next?
Thanks! You can drop me some details via the contact form or give me a call. I recommend meeting up, as it’s important to make sure you like your wedding photographer! I’m happy to come and meet you whenever it’s convenient, or you’re welcome to come to see me in Lewes.