Choosing the Right Photographer
Finding the right photographer to capture your day is just as important as finding the right wedding venue to celebrate your love. If your dream wedding is a cosy, rustic barn with fairy lights, you won't be booking the swish upmarket & modern hotel in town, will you?
Booking the right photographer is about more than just finding the someone within your price range who has availability.
When you are spending one of the most important days of your life with someone, you want to make sure that you are going to be happy and comfortable around them.
Finding a photographer who is on your level is so incredibly important - not just for making you feel relaxed and at ease, but for bringing out your personality. When you are uncomfortable around someone, you may feel closed off, unable to fully embrace the emotion of the moment or cannot immerse yourself completely in your day.
So while you may love a photographer for their style, price or packages, meet with them over a coffee, call or a video chat and really ask yourself "Can I be myself with this person?"
If the answer is no, then even if that photographer delivers the best images in the world, you may find yourself a little bit alienated from your own wedding photographs.
My Top Tips to Finding the Right Photographer For You
Take a read through some of my top tips for finding the right wedding photographer for your day
Understanding Wedding Photography Style
A photographer is just like any other artist. They've honed their skill over the years, and have processes and practices in place that work best for them. They'll also have a style that they prefer - this may be reportage, documentary style, photojournalistic, fine art, candid, traditional or relaxed & natural. That's a lot of word salad right there if you aren't clued up on the different styles available.
There's no right or wrong way to capture a wedding - well, unless all the photos are blurred and key shots are missed, but that's another story. When you are hiring a photographer for your wedding, it's really important to understand their style and accept that.
A photographer's style is really part of their identity, and makes their work unique and personal.
So if you are looking for a long list of group shots and want to provide a full itinerary for the photographer to strictly follow, then maybe a natural, candid photographer isn't quite for you. Equally, someone who is a natural light photographer isn't likely to want to produce the in-vogue direct flash style images you may have seen on Instagram recently. It's not that these photographers will refuse these requests on principal - instead, think about what their specialism is and you can also ask them directly about what they think on the trend or style you are looking for. A wedding photographer may also make some stylistic choices in-camera that influence the look & feel of the images - such as depth of field. Professional photographers use premium lenses that add a more luxurious finish to photos, while other cheaper lenses may lead to your images looking a little flat.
Some things to consider: what's their approach to photographing candid images? Will your couples portrait time take up a huge portion of your drinks reception? How will they photograph the key moments of the day - your ceremony, the speeches and the dancing? Do they have a flexible approach throughout the day? Do they work to a specific shot list that you provide, or do they take a more creative & personal approach to capturing your day? Do they offer a service that covers a specific number of hours or is their coverage based on events, e.g. getting ready to the first 3 dances only?
While all photographers are essentially doing the same thing - taking photos of your wedding, I like to use the following analogy to help my couples explain the differences between wedding photography specialisms:
Would you hire a guitarist for your wedding and then make them play piano? It's all music after all, so what's the difference? The guitarist might get away with bashing out a few good notes, but wouldn't you just rather hire the pianist?
Wedding Photography Editing Style
This one's closely tied in with photography style, but while the former section is more about how a photographer shoots their weddings, this one is more about the final end stage product.
As a photographer, an editing style does evolve over time - it's a creative endeavour after all, and there's always something new to play with. Our tastes do also change over time, and those chocolate coloured contrasty elopements may one day be the thing of Instagram-Past.
Your photographers portfolio should be updated with their latest images - and this should be a reflection of the style they currently edit in. While some photographers may offer each couple a selection of editing styles to choose from, be sure to check that this is a service they provide before your book.
Many photographers have a signature style that they tweak over the years so if you are looking for those aforementioned glorious dark chocolatey styles you've seen in Glencoe but found a photographer whose portfolio is beautiful but is full of light and airy images then maybe you'll need to continue your search. Some photographers may relish in taking on a new editing challenge, so it may also be worth asking them in your enquiry or dropping them a DM on their socials. Either way, don't go ahead and book your photographer and assume that they'll edit in whatever style you suggest.
It's also worth learning what style suits you and your day. As a photographer, I follow others in the industry both locally and around the world. There are a lot of talented people out there and I can love their work and editing style - but I won't necessarily want that for my own wedding day.
Ask yourself what will suit your day and your venue. If you've chosen a really colourful wedding venue such as the Royal Botanic Gardens or Newhall Estate, then would you want an editing style that loses a lot of that colour & warmth?
It's also worth understanding what the editing process involves - will the photographer significantly alter your appearance, remove distracting objects as standard, or will there be an additional charge for this service?
Trust Your Wedding Photographer
Placing trust in your photographer isn't about whether or not they'll turn up on the correct day or not take blurry photos of all the key moments. It's about an implicit understanding between both the couple and the photographer about how the day will be captured.
When you are hiring an experienced photographer, understand that this won't be their first rodeo. As much as they'll want to understand the timeline of your day and any unique events or activities you'll be planning, trust that they'll know how to capture that in the best way possible even if it's something that is a little different from the traditional wedding day.
An experienced photographer will always be one step ahead of you on the day, and will think and plan how and where they are going to be throughout each stage of the day.
So when you have that first chat with your potential photographer, always ask them what their process is for the day. If their answer doesn't fit within your vision of how you'd like your day to run, then maybe they aren't the right photographer for you.
If you are unsure of what your own vision might be - speak to a few photographers to learn which style & approach you'd prefer. You may want a photographer that's completely hands-off and just roams around in the background offering no guidance or direction, or you may indeed prefer someone who throws themselves into your party to grab the moments that matter to you, or perhaps someone like myself who is in between and knows when to take a step back and let the magic happen.
Whatever approach you prefer, make sure any photographer you hire matches that vision.
Placing trust in your photographer is one of the most important things you can do - from the way they shoot your wedding through to the final edit and delivery stage. By chatting with them during the pre-booking process you'll have a chance to evaluate whether they understand completely your vision for the day. If you think there's a disconnect, then you may want to continue your search and save yourself a lot of stress on both sides.
As a photographer, I want to deliver my very best to every couple - and if I don't feel that I'm the right fit for your day, please understand if I decline your request to book. It's in your best interest, trust me!
Can You Be Yourselves?
You're not spending the rest of your life with your photographer (you've found that special person already), but you should ask yourself can I spend a day with them?
Unlike any other supplier you hire, photographers are arguably going to be spending the most time with you - with videographers coming in a close second. I'm with my couples from around 11am through to 9pm at night usually - that's a lot of time to spend with someone you barely know. I'll be there when you step into your dress, when your mum and dad burst into tears of joy at seeing you in your outfit for the very first time. When you are kissing your new spouse and being intimate during couples portraits, you'll want to have someone who doesn't intimidate your or make you feel like you can't be yourselves.
Some photographers will have a more extrovert presence in the room, some more introvert - and some, like me, are in between. You'll want to hire a photographer who is going to match your energy. My style is to be there amongst the action, chipping in with ideas when needed, laughing at the jokes - and throwing some in myself - as well as offering guidance and support to anyone who needs it. My approach puts everyone at ease and enables them to relax around me as they would a friend - and means they become less and less aware of me as the day progresses.
Each photographer is different, and you may prefer a more hands-off approach, where your photographer is neither seen nor heard. If you are unsure of how a photographer might be on the day - have a chat with them. Even just a 10 minute chat over Zoom or the phone can give you enough insight into their personality and how they deal with a wedding day.
Are They Familiar With Your Wedding Venue?
Is it always advantageous for your photographer to have worked at your venue before? Yes and no. Some photographers will have their venue shot list and location spots all planned out and many will get reused again and again for each wedding. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but don't underestimate how exciting a new venue is for a photographer. It's a chance to flex their creative skills, try new things and explore compositions from a fresh perspective.
As a wedding photographer, I always strive to create unique images for my couples, even at the wedding venues I'm working 5-6 times a year but I relish the idea of a new venue. So while you may be tempted to go for a photographer who knows the venue very well, don't be put off by one who isn't familiar with it as this may lead to an explosion of creative magic that truly make your images unique.
And remember, all new venues I cover get a free venue visit where I meet up with your events coordinator to run through how they manage your day, scout for shot locations and assess lighting so I'm totally prepared for the challenge ahead.
Your Wedding Photography Budget
By no means would I ever encourage you to spend more money than you can afford on your dream photographer. A wedding day should always be about celebration, rather than putting yourself into debt over a party. However, if you've got a set budget and the wedding photographer you really want is over that limit, instead of feeling that this person is out of reach consider reviewing the budget in another way. Unlike catering or flowers, your wedding photography gallery is going to be around for decades to come. Rather than thinking about your wedding photography being a cost, it's useful to think about it as an investment. If the difference between your perfect wedding photographer - someone whose style you like and who you'll feel comfortable around - is £300 higher than your budget, then consider that an investment in the quality of your images. If you are going to feel more comfortable around a certain photographer, then you'll have a deeper connection to those images than if you are feeling nervous or anxious in front of the camera. The quality and value of a wedding photographer is subjective, so one couple may value the services higher than another - but it should be about how you feel about them.
Another way to look at it is over the course of your married life. If you really wanted a photographer who was £300 more expensive, then that's just an additional £30 per year of expense by the time you celebrate your 10th wedding anniversary. Having wedding images to cherish for decades to come is why you are investing in a professional wedding photographer to begin with - so if you feel you can spare £30 a year over the next 10 years to invest in a gallery that you can look back with love and affection, then maybe expanding your photography budget is something to consider.
Good luck in your search - there are so many talented Scottish wedding photographers out there with a range of skillsets and artistic styles. Take your time to find the right photographer - but when you find them, snap them up before someone else does!