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It’s Our Turn: Choosing a Photographer

As I mentioned in my first post about our wedding planning, who would do our photography was the million dollar question when we got engaged. Everyone asked the question, and we would just shake our heads looking slightly baffled at the task we had head of us. We knew it would  be a tough job for us, but actually choosing a photographer has easily been the toughest job so far in our wedding planning.

We know it is a saturated market out there. Wedding photographers are ten a penny, really good ones who actually care about your wedding, not just fulfilling a job, are definitely rarer. Yet the day we decided to create our shortlist was really stressful. You see, we are our perfect wedding photographers. Yes that may sound egotistical, but it’s true, we offer the level of passion and service we think a couple getting married deserve, as well as a style of photography that we feel doesn’t just tick a trend box, but rather will last a lifetime and more. Happy to admit we did not look at anyone in our region, we owe it to our clients past and present to uphold the fact that we think they made the best choice!

We started by listing the photographers we knew of and admired. We also looked extensively at the Fearless Photographers directory, of which we are honoured to be members. Something we regularly came across was a great portfolio and then we would delve deeper into the photographer’s whole weddings and see that they were either lacking consistency or worse, just very very average across a whole wedding. There was a lot of tea involved. Tom in particular struggled. He has been honing his craft for over fifteen years and is a very technical photographer – it was impossible for him to step back and not be critical when he saw basic technical errors or missed opportunities. It also seems a lot of photographers out there struggle with basic white balance…

In the end, we went with our gut feeling, contacting a photographer who we have seen in magazines and enjoyed his work. He has his own style, but the images will continue to look great in years to come. He captures wonderful little moments in a documentary style, much like us. We arranged a Skype meeting and he was instantly likeable, in fact, very similar to Tom. We’re not going to ‘out’ him though, as we don’t think it is fair to add any extra pressure, but we are sure we will be giving him a lot of love on here after the wedding. So we are all booked and are really looking forward to having him and his assistant be part of our day, because the important thing for us is that we know we can just enjoy being the bride and groom on the day, not worrying about what shots are being taken and thinking ‘oh I wouldn’t do that there.’ As much as we love what we do, we don’t want to feel like we are at work, we just want to enjoy our wedding day!

 

Lina x

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Do people still value high quality wedding photography by professionals?

I usually start my mornings in the office in the same way, with a large coffee and a catch up on social media. This morning Tom picked up on a blog post that had been posted on Find a Wedding Photographer and it has been on my mind all day. As well as commenting on the post, I felt I needed to get some thoughts out here, and would love to hear your thoughts in return.

The blog post is by a north west wedding photographer of some 20 years experience, who says he is giving up on the industry this summer. He essentially says people don’t want to pay for quality photography any more, that they are happy for uncles and friends to take the job, or they want him to drop his prices (which he did) and he has had enough. He says he doesn’t enjoy weddings enough to bother with them.

I find this really sad, but it is a common attitude I have read on various blogs and forums from many older wedding photographers of late. The industry has changed massively in 20 years, from different shooting styles such as reportage and a move away from portraiture; to the introduction of full resolution disks and coffee table books, not to mention the fact that your marketing strategy now has to include a load of social media and blogging rather than an advert in your local paper. It is all really time consuming and requires a certain commitment. And yes, he is correct, there is a lot more competition now from friends or uncles with good cameras to consider when choosing a wedding photographer, or the smaller budgets that may have come out of the economic downturn. This means us wedding photographers have to work a bit harder to find our clients, sure, we need to identify the right people for us, yes those with the right budgets to some degree but more importantly, those the value what we do and have photography high in the priority list.

Being a wedding photographer is not a one day job. It is also possibly the job with the highest stakes on the day. We’re not just getting up and snapping away so you have a few pics to put on your wall. You are also purchasing our expertise; we know weddings inside out, what will happen, what to look for and what to do when things go wrong. We are securing your memories, the only real lasting reminder of your day. When you choose us as your wedding photographer, you are genuinely investing in your future and it always surprises me when I say it, and people say, wow I didn’t think of it like that. Tom and I genuinely love everything about weddings, from the details to the party and especially when you say ‘I do.’ Our eyes will water when the groom cracks his voice in the speech with the rest of your guests, because we completely appreciate how amazing this day is for you, and do you know what? You deserve wedding photographers that want your day to be as awesome as it should be, and then to hand the evidence back to you when it has all finished for you to look back on.

Yes people have budget constraints and they need to work to them. But you should allocate around 10-15% for your photography whatever your budget, trust me, more than ever in the saturated world of wedding photographers you get what you pay for. Attendees of the Knebworth and Hatfield wedding fairs this year would have heard me give a seminar on the subject. Personally, I cannot see how any photographer  can afford to provide wedding photography for under £1000. It makes me question two things; firstly, how long exactly are they spending on your precious images, perfecting them etc, and secondly, is that how they value their own work? We’re immensely proud of what we do and our pricing reflects the sheer level of passion, skill and effort that goes in to our work. We also have to pay our bills too!

Do you really want to put the trust of your lifelong memories in someone who says they will spend the day with you, process the images, create a beautiful album and be passionate about you and your day, when they are earning four hundred quid from it? What exactly would you expect from them?

Recently, one of our clients said to us that they had seen a wedding photographer at a wedding fair who charged under half of our fee and then looking at our work comparatively, they could see the difference. This means a lot to us; I regularly get emails from people that request a price list first and foremost and don’t even engage you in a conversation. This approach really is all wrong and missing the point. You need to meet the photographers you are considering and sense their passion – do they actually care about you and your wedding, will your guests like them? Putting the effort in here will really pay off on the day – if your guests like us as well as you you’ll get a whole set of photos of happy people having a great time.

Of course, one of the other lessons we have learnt over the years, is that we won’t be the right photographer for everyone, and that is ok too. For some couples, it is just not high enough on the priority and they need to find what is right for them and their budget/wedding plans. If people love our work but our packages don’t reflect the wedding they are having, they just need to tell us more about it and I will give them a bespoke quote. Of course we’re not likely to charge 2k to shoot a wedding of 20 people – but if you don’t tell me I won’t know! Disappointingly I have regularly received messages from friends on facebook about our work too, and of course I’d consider our pricing structure if they tell me more about their wedding so I can work out a proper quote, but what usually happens is they just ask for a price list and then disappear.

We will continue to do what we do and love it, and find the right clients. Despite all the industry hoohah about the curse of 2013 this is our busiest year yet and 2014 is currently looking even better. It’s no coincidence we do very well at wedding fairs when many photographers moan they are a waste of time, because we spend time chatting to people, we have a mini-consultation there and then and we start getting excited about your wedding immediately. The passion we have only really comes through when you meet us. We hear so many stories of couples going with cheaper options to get bog-standard images back or worse still, a photographer who just bossed people about all day, and it really does make us so sad.

I think it is good the blogger is moving on in his career, not because it’s less competition (he’s not in our area), but because couples deserve a wedding photographer who is as passionate about their day being awesome as they are. And you know what? Tom and I really are. We love this job, and thank all our lovely clients who give us this huge honour, because that is how we see it.

Lina x

 

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