Picture perfect: 4 crucial steps to hiring a wedding photographer

Focusing on a few key areas can make the difference between finding the perfect wedding photographer and taking a shot in the dark, writes Matthew Hall

Choosing the right photographer is a gauntlet that every couple will have to run at some point in their wedding preparations.

It can be a nerve-wracking challenge to face: just look at the number of reports over the last few years of weddings ruined by sub-standard photographers.

Let’s make no bones about it – the UK wedding photography market is over-saturated. People with little or no talent (or experience) can spend a few thousand pounds on professional kit and assume they are photographers. The phrase ‘all the gear, no idea’ can all-too easily sum up this group of individuals, who have brought such negative press to the wedding photography industry.

But it doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. The truth is that the UK wedding photography industry has a huge amount of talent in it, and there has never been a better time to find a talented, professional photographer who can capture your special day perfectly.

Following these four simple steps will help you weed out the bad apples and help you make sure that the photographer you pick is the right one for you!

1. Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance

This is an excellent way to eliminate the amateur and weekend photographers. Every professional photographer worth their salt has both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance – both of which are required for any form of accreditation with a professional photography association such as the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photographers) and SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers).

2. Full wedding albums

When you hire a wedding photographer you want to make sure that they are going to capture beautiful photographs with some degree of consistency – rather than just the odd one or two lucky shots. While many photographers’ websites show off their best single photograph from each wedding, this is no guarantee they can maintain the quality throughout the entire day. Ask any potential photographer for an example of an entire wedding album they have done for a previous
client to make sure you’re happy.

3. Personality

This is surprisingly a factor that a lot of couples overlook. There is no point hiring a photographer who creates stunning images if your personalities clash and you want to spend the entire day avoiding them! Always meet the photographer before hiring them to make sure you will get along on the big day. Good chemistry is one of the foundations of great photography: I always say a good wedding photographer should be chosen based on 60% their personality and 40% on their ability.

4. Price

This is one area that’s so easy to get wrong when working out the budget, and it’s because of a lack of knowledge. Do you know just how many hours of work go into producing a set of wedding photographs?

For example, I charge £1,095 to photograph a wedding, which typically means 8-10 hours of coverage on the day. To someone who’s unfamiliar with the workflow of professional photography, this seems that I am charging approximately £110 per hour of my time! But this really isn’t the case.

99% of photographers now shoot in a format called RAW, which produces high quality, professional images – but requires extensive post production to get the most from it. The average wedding photographer will put in anywhere from 15 to 40 hours of work after the wedding day to produce the images to a high standard. If you include pre-wedding meetings, a photographer can easily put in about 35-45 hours for ‘one day’s work’.

When you look at things in this light, it should help put the photographer’s charge into perspective. Will the photographer offering to shoot your wedding for £495 really be putting in the same amount of time or care to produce the best photographs possible?

As a general rule I would recommend budgeting between 5-10% of the total wedding budget on the photographer.

How you choose the right photographer is ultimately down to you, but hopefully these tips will help you make your decision with much more confidence.

To see some of Matt's amazing work, visit www.mbh-weddingphotography.co.uk

PhotographyMichael Deluce