The Ten Commandments for perfect wedding photography.

one of the most common things I get asked is how people can avoid making mistakes when booking a wedding photographer and how do they go about booking the right one for their wedding. Of course there is no substitute for thinking ahead and doing sufficient research, but there are some key points to consider that can help you out with this decision.

1. Make a Hit List

It can be very easy to become enamoured with a photographer who is showing you lovely glossy pictures of the previous weddings they have attended. But be sure to have a look around and make a short-list of your favourite photographers, compare their styles and see which one works best for you and your wedding theme. Take a comprehensive look at as much of their material as possible to help make the best call as to whether they are the best Photographer for you.

2. Be organised and book well in advance.

Any good photographer will have a pretty busy schedule of weddings and most will be taking bookings anything up to 2 years in advance. As soon as you have your date set in stone or have a good idea of when you will be having your special day, start talking to and meeting the photographers you have earmarked on your list.

3. Choose a Photographer with a compatible personality

When picking your photographer obviously the quality of their work is very important. But it is good to remember that your photographer will become part of your day, they will interact with you and your guests at some of the most important parts of your day. Finding a photographer that you feel comfortable with is essential as this will be the person responsible for organising your guests for group shots and other important shots throughout the day, if they are a quiet and withdrawn individual they may not have the necessary confidence to command the wedding party efficiently, similarly nobody wants a loud “jack the lad” photographer who feels the need to take over your day.

4.Make a list with your photographer of key elements of the day that are important to you.

A good photographer will know the type of shots that make a good set of photos for any wedding day. However each couple will have a part of their wedding that has particular significance or added meaning to them, relaying the importance of these moments to your photographer will allow them to ensure they capture the specifics you are after. Although no photographer can guarantee you any specific shot from the day, having a clear idea of the types of shots you would like gives the photographer a clear plan of how they are going to approach your day. Give your photographer a list in advance of your wedding of what means a lot to you, or perhaps something quirky that you would like to attempt, after all it is your day … go nuts !!

5. Decide how much coverage you will need.

Most photographers will offer a range of packages to determine how long they are required. Some couples may decide that they only want photography up to a certain point in the day and don’t need professional photography after that point, others may have a lot going on and feel they need a photographer for more of the day or the wedding and evening in its entirety. When deciding how long you need, I would encourage couples to think carefully, be prepared for elements of your day to run over, the bride may be stuck in horrendous traffic or have a last minute wardrobe disaster or Auntie Doreen who has flown halfway round the world might be running behind schedule, I have seen it all in my time and this does have a huge impact on the photography for the rest of the day, you don’t want to enter your last hour of photography and realise that you are yet to finish the best man’s speech, cut the cake and have your first dance. Similarly you don’t want to book your photographer for hours and hours and find that after all the key points have been captured they are circulating the room capturing the world and his wife for the 18th time as every conceivable shot has already been achieved. Talk to your photographer about your day and how much is going on, a good photographer will be able to advise you on the correct length of coverage.

6. Decide how you want your photos presented.

To some photography is the most important part of their day, they want photographs they can treasure forever and proudly display in their home, at work and to everyone that knows them. To others it is just a traditional part of a wedding that they incorporate into their day. For the latter digital packages are usually the best way forward, they receive a digital folder containing all of their images for the day and they can do what they wish with the images once they receive them. For the majority of the clients I have worked with, most will chose a package which will incorporate prints and an album, all good wedding photographers should have bespoke album packages available, to provide a beautifully crafted reminder of your day. When meeting your photographer before booking, ask to see examples of such albums. Also some photographers will offer a service to provide additional extras such as signing frames, thank you cards etc, again a good photographer should have examples of such items available at your first consultation.

7. Pre Wedding Shoot ?

In my experience one of the most important things to offer in a wedding package is the pre wedding shoot or as some may traditionally know it “the engagement shoot”. This gives couples and the photographer a chance to get know each other a bit better and to create an idea of what to expect on the day from both sides. It also gives the photographer the opportunity to practice certain poses and ideas before the big day. Ask your photographer if this is something they offer and ask to see examples, sometimes results from these shoots make great images for signing frames, table cards or thank you cards.

8. Group shots

One of the most important areas of your day to to give additional consideration is your group shots. These photos take meticulous planning by the photographer, not only to capture the shots that you require but also to get everyone organised and still keep the schedule on track. Any good photographer will sit down with you prior to the wedding and make specific plans for this part of your day. Starting by choosing a member of the wedding party (usually best man or groomsman) who you collectively feel has the necessary confidence and authority to be able to prepare the next group while your photographer is shooting the group before, as the last thing you or the photographer need is to be stood waiting while guests frantically try to track down missing members of the wedding party last seen at the bar !! A well thought out plan of action between you and your photographer can help to make this important yet frantic part of the wedding run nice and smoothly.

9.Pre wedding consultation

For me personally I cant stress the importance of having a thorough pre wedding consultation. This is the chance for you and your photographer to really get to know each other and for you to lay out a clear marker as to what you expect from your photographer on your day and vice versa. This is the opportunity to make sure that your photographer is on the same page as you and ready for your big day. Its also a great opportunity to raise any concerns you have with your photographer about, posture, positioning, uncomfortable body areas etc, if your photographer is prepared you are more likely to achieve exactly what you are looking for.

10. Enjoy yourself and have FUN !!!

All steps and preparation for your wedding photography will have been in vain if you look rushed and stressed in your pictures. The above steps should at this point leave you feeling content that all of your photography concerns have been taken care of. Too many times I have seen couples who have made such unrealistic meticulous schedules that during their day they have been rushed off their feet trying to fit it all in and become flustered and even upset when things don’t fit the schedule exactly. This is the point when you have to trust that you have covered the day with a realistic schedule and that you have chosen a photographer that can deliver your needs. If you have this trust then you can enjoy your day and let your photographer blend in and work their magic.