Wedding photography is widely considered to be one of the most challenging and demanding of all photographic disciplines.  Most important, of course, is that your photographer is creative and can capture your day artistically, sensitively and completely.  But all this counts for little if their equipment is lacking, their technical skills are poor and their business is not set up appropriately.

 

A good wedding photographer must master a number of critical techniques and styles including portrait, landscape, macro, flash, fashion, reportage, etc.  – and they should be able to do all these both competently and at high speed to avoid getting in the way of the day!

 

Today's discerning wedding couples demand a wide range of compelling images to record their wedding day – so you need to be confident that your photographer has the necessary skills, and more.

 

With weddings, there's usually no realistic chance of a re-shoot so beyond checking their all-important artistic and creative skills here's a list of additional things to check with your wedding photographer...

 

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  • Does your photographer have a back-up photographer available on the day?  Better still, two photographers on-site, all-day – not just an assistant – with three (or more) full sets of pro-level gear?

    One photographer can't be in two places at once. Two photographers generally can! For example. one at each end of the aisle – to get the ceremony close-ups and the long shots.  Or one with the girls getting ready and one with the lads...also "getting ready"!  Two photographers means much better coverage and twice the chance of getting "that shot".  There's also two sets of equipment so, worst case, if one photographer does disappear into the ornamental lake or fall off the balcony during the group shot – and neither has ever happened to us, fortunately – then you still have one left!

  • Does your photographer use full professional level cameras and top specification equipment that's built to capture high-quality images and that can survive the rigours of The Day?

    Pro cameras, lenses and flash systems allow a much greater creative freedom to photographers so they are much less constrained by technical and physical limitations, such as low light, long distance, wide angles, etc.  Colour rendition is better and image distortions are virtually eliminated with the best equipment.  At the same time, professional equipment is built to take the bumps and scrapes that really happen in fast-moving situations like weddings. Remember, the failure of a consumer-level memory card, a dusty camera sensor or the accidental breakage of the only camera your photographer's brought to the day could spell disaster.

     

  • Is your photographer fully insured – not just against damage to their own equipment – but with full Professional Indemnity and Public Liability cover?

    Ask to see their current insurance documentation.  Simply saying they are insured may not turn out to be true – or it could just mean that they are covered for accidental damage or theft of their own gear, which is not much use to you!  A professional wedding photographer will be insured for both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity.  Many venues now insist on Public Liability insurance to cover themselves and, indeed, you – where some claims could actually become your liability!  Professional Indemnity insurance underwrites the things that can go wrong for even the best photographers and it provides another level of reassurance for you – as well as the photographer (!!) - on your most important day.

  • Do they provide a secure online gallery for viewing, proofing and print/product purchase?

    A secure online gallery – specific to your wedding and with a unique URL made available before the event – means that your all your guests can view the images shortly after the wedding to re-live the whole experience.  This gallery then forms the basis of your image selection for prints and an album – and can even be used for sales direct to your family and friends, should you choose this option.  Providing a web gallery within the package also indicates that the photographer is serious about their profession because maintaining such sites takes time, money and commitment. Photography by 'Uncle Bob' generally won't include a secure web gallery!

  • Does your photographer work with professional print laboratories and album makers?

    OK, you can get your prints done on the High Street, or your albums made online, but what's the quality like? Are the print colours true and balanced, will the album binding stay together and what's going to stop that one centimetre thick canvas from warping? Whilst, nothing lasts forever, print labs and album makers that only work with pro photographers will produce much higher quality outputs that will not only look infinitely better but that will last that much longer. OK, it costs more – although not necessarily a lot more – and it's a false economy to pay less.

  • Does your photographer really understand light – both natural and flash – and can they get results in most places, and in most weathers?

    OK, sometimes in hi-speed reportage photography you just have to select the Green Square – aka the 'professional's setting' – and "go for it"! The rest of the time, however, there is more time.  A real understanding of light – which is what it's all about – is what sets great photography from 'snaps'.  Uncle Bob can often be spotted as the guy who – even if he actually owns a flash – leaves it permanently on top of his camera and uses it in every shot. Real photographers use both natural and artificial lighting to modify, augment, shape and even anticipate light to get the best results 'in-camera'.

  • Is your photographer part of an established trading entity – for example a Limited Company – in a secure financial position and with a reputation to maintain?

    Google "wedding photography" – you probably have – and you'll get a billion 'hits' – you probably did!  However, you can narrow your search quite quickly by eliminating those that don't look established.  If they haven't been trading long then you can question their experience, the quality of their work and the speed of their image delivery after the event.  When not dealing with established photographers, there's always the risk the images won't even appear after the event – or be universally awful – or, worst case, the photographer doesn't even turn up in the first place?! Do your homework and ask some questions!

  • Does your photographer provide secure and multiple on- and off-site image back-up, storage and archiving?

     

     

     

    Established photographers use high-end computers and reliable electronic storage media to make multiple copies of all images – both on-site and remotely.  We're not talking one archive copy of your images on DVD – which can be lost or physically degrade with time – but something much more permanent and fail safe.  Check your photographer's archiving policy to ensure that your images will be safe and re-accessible for the foreseeable future.

  • Is your photographer up-to-date with contemporary styles, posing techniques, fashion and creative imaging?

    The wedding photography that 'lasts' is typically described as classical, elegant and timeless.  However this doesn't mean it shouldn't also be up-to-date, humorous and stylish.  Good photographers need to be able to blend contemporary with classical – so your images look great now and into the future!

  • Does your photographer 'speak from experience' and can they provide advice and support – both before and on the day - on a myriad of wedding-related subjects!

    OK it's often photography-related, but a good photographer can help with a whole range of advice and support both before, and during, the wedding.  In the months and weeks before the event, it's important to develop a good relationship – which can really help make The Day go as well as possible.  Email, phone and actual meetings are so important in this process – on both sides – so your photographer should be easily available to help and give advice.

  • Can your photographer anticipate situations and deal with the unexpected?

    Weddings are typically quite fast moving and often require changes of plan throughout the event – where no one can foresee every eventuality.  Timings change, weather changes, even locations change!  Your photographer should be able to adapt to, even anticipate, any changes and have the experience and equipment to still maximise opportunities and deliver the best possible images.

  • Does your photographer work with state-of-the-art post production image editing software on high-end computers to have full control in image re-touching and colour control?

     

    This might sound like techno-babble, but there's a lot of technology behind producing high-quality digital images.  Things like white balance, colour temperature, chromatic aberration and spherical distortion are things you don't need to know about – but your photographer does! Ask them about these things and listen to hear if you get believable response. All of these elements potentially need to be corrected in post-production – for high quality prints and album development – as you will be able to see when things "aren't right" even if you don't know what the problem is called. At the same time, image re-touching is critical and involves a whole range of actions like removing unwanted parts of an image – light switches, No-smoking signs, traffic cones, etc. – as well as the all-important and entirely non-surgical 'improvements' sometimes needed in peoples' appearances!  These are skills that take time to master and the right technology to deliver.

  • Does your photographer understand and work well with people?

    There's often a fine line between getting results and being overbearing! We've seen all sorts of photographers over the years – ranging from the largely disconnected types, who add little value to the day, grab just enough shots and then "clock watch" until it's finished – to the over-dominant, borderline rude, types who corral, marshal and shout their way through the whole event.  There's a whole host of people skills required in good wedding photography and you'll know if your photographer has these as you get to know them and from the recommendations and endorsements of others.

  • Will your photographer really enjoy the day, the whole occasion and the people, and is photography a passion – or is it just a way of making a few quid at the weekend?

    This probably should be at the top of this List!  Many wedding photographers are 'in it' just for the money – where 'it' is seen as a reasonable source of weekend income for not-too-much effort.  The photographers you want are committed professionals who actually enjoy the emotion and the experiences of the whole event.  You'll be able to see this in their work. A good wedding photographer will almost become a member of your extended family for the day – so they need to 'fit in'.  (Remember you can pick your photographer - but you can't pick your family!)  At JLP, we're still in-touch with most of our wedding couples and we cherish the memories of their Days. Basically, we love what we do.

  • Will your photographer really enjoy the day, the whole occasion and the people, and is photography a passion – or is it just a way of making a few quid at the weekend?

  • Will your photographer really enjoy the day, the whole occasion and the people, and is photography a passion – or is it just a way of making a few quid at the weekend?2

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