We've all heard the horror stories about dodgy wedding photographers. He turned up late, he didn't turn up at all, the pictures were out of focus, it was all feet, people's heads were chopped off. I could continue... So here's my own guide to choosing a photographer for the biggest day of you life!
1. Do you like your photographer?
It's important to get on. You are likely to spend a lot of time together beforehand and on the day itself. You might see more of the photographer than some of the guests! During the group shots the photographer will be directing all the guests into position so they need to like him/her as well. So you need to feel comfortable with them.
2. How long have they been photographing weddings?
Experience counts. Anyone can turn up to a wedding and take photos, but it takes practice and experience to get the truly memorable shots you'll want to look at again and again. There is an element of luck involved - right place, right time. But the more experience your photographer has the more often they're in that right place at just the right time!
3. Are they full time or part time?
A full time photographer does this for a living. They've done it lots of times before. They also have a good amount of time to dedicate to editing your photos. A part time photographer is likely to have a full time job and is taking photos in their spare time. There are obviously some excellent part timers out there but a pro will be able to dedicate the time to your pictures that they deserve.
4. What comes in the package?
Don't get stung by extras. Make sure their prices are completely transparent and you know exactly what you'll be getting before you book. Is the album included? How much are extra copies? How much are individual prints and canvasses? Is postage extra?
5. Ask to see samples.
ALWAYS!!!! I can't stress that enough! And insist on seeing a full wedding. A sample portfolio is likely to include the best 4 or 5 photos from several weddings. Your album will have dozens of photos all from YOUR wedding. Insist on seeing a couple of entire albums from previous weddings.
6. Ask for recommendation.
Ask your friends. Ask your family. Ask your photographer if it's OK to speak to a previous client! People won't always want to be approached but ask anyway. If he doesn't want to at least try, ask yourself why...
7. What insurance do they have?
As a (legal) minimum your photographer should have Public Liability insurance. A pro will also have Professional Indemnity insurance. This will cover them in the unlikely event that something terrible happens to your photos before you get them.
8. Check the Ts and Cs
OK. It's a bit boring but make sure there's nothing in there you don't like. If there is, say so.
9. Do a bit of Googling
Look them up online. Have a look at their website. Check them out on Facebook or Twitter. Do you like what you see? Does it look professional?
10. What's the contingency plan?
Accidents happen. Your photographer might get hit by a bus or abducted by aliens. OK, it's unlikely, but what's the plan if they do. Make sure there is a plan to find a replacement photographer so you don't miss out.
Hope that's helped!