Questions to find the perfect wedding photographer
The photographer is an extremely important part of a wedding day, after all it’s how you will remember your wedding in the years and decades to come.
The photos need to be perfect. And whilst perfect is different for each bride and groom, finding a photographer who can deliver what is just right for you can seem an impossible task – and sometimes ‘making do’ can lead to disastrous results and more than a little anguish.
We like happy weddings here at Dine, which is why we have put together a panel of Yorkshire based wedding photographers to give you a list of questions which will help you find the perfect custodian of your wedding memories!
Mark Flynn (markflynnphotography.com) – Mark is a photographer with over 20 years’ experience and comes fully recommended by the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP). Whilst he has travelled the length and breadth of the world pursuing photography, he is happiest putting a contemporary twist on somebody’s wedding day photographs.
Howard Barnett (howardbarnettphotography.co.uk) - Howard is BIPP qualified and has won photography awards from the likes of Sony, Fuji and Nikon and comes recommended by one of the UK’s top wedding venues. Not only that, he has been in the privileged position of taking photos for almost every kind of wedding including traditional Asian and West Indian weddings through to religious and civil weddings. In total Howard has successfully photographed over 500 weddings!
- The key questions
These are the questions you are best asking straightaway. The questions which can give you a quick and clear indicator of how seriously the photographer takes their job.
When we broached the idea of doing an article in this ilk, both of our experts agree on a vitally important question to ask:
- What are your qualifications?
Photographers without qualifications can take wonderful, breathtaking photographs, but the odds are that by choosing a photographer who has qualifications in photography, you are choosing somebody who is simply more knowledgeable about the subject. Not only that, they will know how to get the best from a crowd, even difficult ones!
Mark Flynn says, “Ask us if we are a member of/recommended by a professional body like The British Institute of Professional Photography. It’s not essential to being a photographer, but it can give you a great ‘picture’ of how seriously we take photography.” Howard Barnett agrees, adding that, “Along with a BIPP membership, you can look for educational qualifications such as HNCs, HNDs and BAs in photography".
- How many weddings have you done?
The start of the career is always the most difficult for wedding photographers, as one of the most valid qualifying points for the brides and grooms looking for a wedding photographer should be “how many weddings have you done and would the clients vouch for you?”.
At this point you may lose some potentially great wedding photographers if their current experience is limited, but is it worth the risk? “Popularity and success are a sign that the wedding photographer is doing something right” says Mark, which makes perfect sense as word will get around about somebody who is putting out substandard work, or who has a bad attitude. A photographer who is continually working will almost certainly have a back-catalogue of testimonials at their disposal, along with the experience needed to make the most of your wedding photographs.
Though there could be such a thing as too popular, with Mark’s final caution being, “Be careful with photographers who are too busy, as the ideal photographer is the one who gets to know the bride and groom and gives 100% effort to the success of your wedding day and your photographs”.
- Can we see your testimonials?
A natural follow on to enquiring about experience is to ask for testimonials – after all, you want to know that the previous brides and grooms were delighted with the service.
Testimonials used to be all about letters, though in today’s digital world you are just as likely to find them online. If your photographer has a Facebook or Google Plus page then that is a good place to start, as Howard says “Google Plus and Facebook are fantastic ways to show potential clients what people think of your service, it also allows you to see who has been a client, letting you contact them directly for more questions”.
Along with being able to find people on social media and the internet, the photographer should also have recommendations handy from previous clients, so be sure to ask them directly. “It is a good idea to speak to some recent brides that the photographer has worked with. Not only will this give you a real insight into the photographer’s work, it will also highlight what they are like to work with, preventing personality clashes,” says Mark.
- What equipment do you use?
You shouldn’t be expected to know a great deal about photography equipment, but your photographer certainly should.
“Even if your knowledge of photography equipment is limited it is important to ask at least one question,” says Mark, “Do they have a backup camera if one should suffer a fault or break?” I bet you didn’t even think of that one, it seems like something the photographer should have covered as standard, but sometimes that just isn’t the case – so ask! And if you are feeling like digging deeper into a photographer’s equipment, you could begin to ask questions about the type of equipment they have. Howard says it strongly when he says, “I wouldn’t accept anything inferior to a Nikon D3 or D4 and a 24-70 F2.8 and 70-200mm F2.8 lens”.
That likely didn’t make any sense to you, but there is another article here which will help you on this score. There are two things you need to be sure of:
- They have a backup should their first camera fail.
- They are using equipment of sufficient quality.
- Catch them off guard
Photographers have to answer questions all the time, and without it being their fault they can be underprepared for unusual, but extremely important situations – so be prepared to test that!
Our favourite two questions (and possibly the most likely) are:
What will you do if you fall ill before our wedding? Nobody is infallible and as human beings we are prone to falling ill at the most inconvenient times – but you need to make sure that the photographer is prepared for this eventuality. “This is one question that is very rarely asked but certainly it must be one of the most important,” says Mark, “Make sure that your photographer has a plan in place, such as a reserve or person on standby should they not make it”. At the very least by asking this question you will be able to make sure that, even if there wasn’t before, there will be a plan in place come your wedding day!
What will happen if it rains or goes dark? A little known, but increasingly common trend amongst photographers is the penchant for photographing in natural light only. Whilst usually not a problem at weddings through the summer, during winter weddings the light can become dim and the only way to take external photos is to provide your own lighting. So if there is a good chance the light will begin to fail at your wedding you need to make sure that the photographer will be prepared. Howard puts it best, “The UK weather can often be wet and gloomy, but that doesn’t mean your wedding has to be. Make sure the photographer has fully waterproof equipment and, if you need them, access to a portable light.
Food For Thought
There are some questions which you may still want to ask after the “key questions” are done and dusted and you are interested in taking the conversation further. These “follow up” questions will have answers which will only be right or wrong depending on your preference, so we will simply list the questions!
- What is the style of photography?
- Have you previously worked/are you recommended at the venue?
- What is your personality/working style?
- When and what will we receive after the wedding?
You will naturally think of your own questions when you speak with your photographer, but the questions throughout this article should help you find somebody who will successfully photograph your wedding after all, that’s what we want!
You might also like to read more in our Blog.