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Advice on choosing the right wedding photographer for you:

I'm often asked for advice on photography in general but last year I was asked:
'Do I need a professional photographer at my wedding?'
Of course I replied 'yes, let's set up a meeting!' but later it got me thinking of why the question had been asked and I thought it would be a good idea to write this article.

The honest answer is, of course; guests do take good photos at weddings, but by employing professionals you are ensuring that the images you receive are not only a consistently good, complete record of what can be a very long (and happy) day, but also you're getting images by experienced, creative people dedicated to capturing shots from the preparation and build-up right through to the evening event; the smallest detail of a tiara or a bouquet to the wide open spaces of the venues; candid, fleeting looks that are gone in an instant to the largest group shots.

One of the reasons I love shooting weddings is it's live, good wedding photographers are multi-disciplined, at any given moment on the day they need to be portrait photographers and landscape photographers, elements of reportage and fashion photography as well as architectural and product photography - on the day - it's all in the mix!

When shooting weddings and other events, both myself and my assistant need to be unobtrusive one moment and directing huge groups of people the next, we need to be aware and in the moment and still thinking ahead. Once it's all over we need to be designers and digital retouchers editing 100's of images into a collection which not only tells the recent story but also allows you to relive it again and again in years to come.

Pictures, whether in a frame or an album, stored digitally, or even loose in a shoebox play such an important part of our lives, looking through a set of photographs has the power to refresh the feelings that, left to our own memory, would eventually fade or be forgotten entirely, that's why when I'm asked to be a photographer at an event, it's more than just a job, I can honestly say it's a privilege.

Okay, so on with the advice, my top 5 tips for choosing a wedding photographer are:

1. Shop around:
The people you choose to photograph your wedding should be as carefully chosen as your dress
or suit, flowers or venue, wedding fayres are a good way to meet photographers face-to-face and see their work, but search online and in printed media too, keep examples of styles or shots you like to give them an idea of what you're after, if you've decided on a venue, you could arrange to meet there and discuss any ideas you have with them.

2. All that glitters is not gold:
Professional photography isn't cheap, if it is, there's a reason why and while advances in digital photography have made good photography increasingly easy, in order to receive some great
photographs, there's a lot more to it, professional organisations offer a guide of who you can trust but it's worth doing your own research too, if you're going for a local photographer, ask around.

3. Who's who?
If you're employing a photographer through a company, make sure that you're getting the photographer that took the shots you've seen and like, large companies may sell you on the images their photographers have taken, but then send a different photographer to cover your wedding.

4. Still can't decide?
If you've narrowed down your list but you're still not sure, some photographers are happy to arrange a pre-wedding (test) shoot, you're potentially spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds here, so at around £50 for a test shoot, it could be money well spent.

5. How much?
You need to know up-front exactly what you're getting and at what price, CDs or DVDs of images are a great way to cut down on printing costs or to share your photos online but check if they're going to be watermarked or not, ask about how many you're likely to get, some photographers won't release digital copyright, just prints, if that's the case, ask about the cost of re-prints.
Things like wedding books, canvases and even paper prints vary enormously in quality, if you're in doubt ask to see samples. Enquire about incidental costs too, is the photographer charging you for travel and parking, are they expecting food? To further ease your mind get a detailed quote or contract, a professional outfit won't be offended if you ask for this.

Studio photography tips for clients:

Following on from my article on how to choose the right wedding photographer, I thought I'd write another on how to choose the right studio photographer, so I've come up with the following guide so you can ensure that you get the images that you want at a price that you're happy with:

Modern studio photography should be a fun experience, a chance to capture subjects in a relaxed and informal environment, a good contemporary portrait photographer will not just take pictures, they'll create the enviroment within which to take good pictures, they'll control the lighting and set moods, they'll get their subjects to feel at ease, to show their individuality and allow their personalities to be translated into the shot.

If you live in the UK, almost wherever you are, it's likely that there's more than a few photographic studios within say 20 miles from your home, so your decision of which one to opt for isn't going to be too restricted by distance. Broadly speaking there are two types of photographic studios: independently owned and run and those that are chains or franchises, in both of these groups there are companies to cater for all budgets.

It's worth remembering that a studio is just a space, the kit is simply the tools, the reason you should go to a particular studio over another is the price you'll pay, the customer service there and most importantly, the images that you'll receive.

With studio photography, as with most things, you get what you pay for.
By far the most affordable option for professional photography is to go to a concession store outlet (a shop within a shop), some have mobile photography stands and others have a permanant studio, typically in either of these types of set-ups you'll receive a session lasting between 5 and 15 minutes and you'll be asked to return a short time later to view your images, because of this intensive, high-volume approach your images (which in fairness, may be very nice) are likely to be formulaic and lacking the rifinement that comes from a 10 minute edit, the price you'll pay will be indicative of the print quality and display options will be limited.

From a franchised photographic studio, you're likely to receive a less rushed approach, good overall customer service and a session with a well-trained and experienced photographer, your shoot will last around an hour which gives a much better chance of relaxing into it and your photographer capturing more pleasing images. Your viewing appointment will most likely occur on a different day on which you'll view a selection of images which will have been edited, retouched and design elements included.
The products offered by these franchises will be of a higher quality and from a broader product range, but expect to pay a premium.

From an independently owned and run photography studio you will almost certainly being paying a higher price than from a concession store but not neccessarily more than from a franchised company, you should expect to receive a personalised service, a qualified and experienced photographer and high-quality products.

I hope you've found these articles useful and if you do have any questions that you feel I could help with, drop me a message through the Contact page.





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