How to Book/Choose - A Photographer by Monir Ali

The last few months the media has been a buzz with nightmare stories about weddings and in particular the wedding photography or rather the photographers.  During the process of your wedding planning, you will at some point come across the unenviable task of choosing your wedding photographer! (if you want one).

So how do you choose? as a photographer, this is unbiased and objective advice from a me? I have tried to relate the answers to the questions I get asked, and also how I manage my client’s expectations.  

There are literately 1000s upon 1000s of potential people who want to take your photograph. Just type wedding photographer in Google (64 million results) and see for yourself. So how do you cut through the chaff and find the gem that will make you happy?

So whose right for you?

As a guesta mate based on membership of some photographic organisations, there’s around 8,000 potential photographers for you to hire.  One thing to bear in mind is that the wedding photography sector is one that has been faced with a lot of challenges, the biggest one being that there has been a surge of hobbyist photographer who shoot weddings.  Some are good, and some to dire to even think about it.

Identifying a good photographer is difficult, so where does one start, 70% of my clients come from recommendations. So start there, talk to work colleagues, friends see what kind of experience they had with their wedding photographer.

If none of your friends have got married recently do a web search, but be wise in your search terms, typing wedding photographer in Google will throw up over 62 million items. Be more precise “Asian wedding photographer Manchester” or even name your venue, this way the potential photographic suitor will have worked there too “Asian wedding photographer Capesthorne Hall”.

Have a good look at the photos, search around the galleries, have a look at their blog. Here’s the cool part, all photographers, myself included will dazzle you with the pick of the crop, the bride and groom shots. But does the photo gallery have more from the day. Are there group shots, reportage, and candid.

When you have shortlisted your photographers, go and see them, and make sure you have a look at a complete wedding, and not just the best shots he she wants you to see. If he /she can’t show you a full wedding WALK AWAY.   This goes for Wedding videographers too, its all to easy to see a highlight video but what will the other 4 hours be like.

Key Questions to ask:

Do you have any formal training as a photographer?

Do you have any qualifications as a photographer?

Are you a qualified member of a professional organisation?
(This is a tricky one as there are a lot of organisations out there, and some you organisations all you need to-do to be a member is pay a fee. If they are a qualified member then this has merit, being a member of a particular organisation does not make them a professional photographer.) 

Are you full time photographer? (this will effect how much you pay them)
Can you show me a full wedding album?  
Do you have Public liability and professional indemnity insurance?
Do you spend time on Continuing Professional Development?
How many weddings have you covered?
What is your style of photography (this will affect your ultimate choice as if there style is not what you’re looking for, this will create issues)

The rule of thumb is if they can answer yes to the first 7 questions then they should be in top of your shortlist, the other factors then become subjective choices.

How much should I pay?

That totally depends on your viewpoint of the value you place on your wedding memories.  It’s hard to say what an average price should be, as a business I know what my costs are to run the business, and that is taken into account when we price each wedding. But consider what else you are spending on then make an informed judgement. For example, if you’re spending £300 on a wedding car to take you to the venue from home, a journey which is 45 mins, then can you justify paying a professional fulltime photographer to cover your entire wedding day for £300 and then provide you with an album? 

Ultimately the final choice of photographer is dependant on a lot of factors, ask the right question, look at the right work and see if you get on with them personally, if you don’t then don’t book him or her even if they are cheap.

Article by Monir Ali of moniraliphotography.com

You can check out monir's facebook page here here and his blog here

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