This is part two of five. Here’s part one.
One thing you certainly want to find in a wedding photographer is professionalism. To be sure they won’t let you down since there’s no chance to re-do the wedding if it goes wrong. And to have a good experience in the run up to the day. I sometimes hear from my customers that one of their other suppliers is hard to reach, doesn’t answer their questions, etc. You don’t need that!
Since we’re talking about professionalism, it’s worth asking a photographer if they actually are a professional. By which I mean – do they do this for a living? It’s not a guarantee of good service, and plenty of part time photographers will do a wonderful job for you. But generally speaking, assuming they want to, it will be easier to make this their full time job if they’re serving their customers well, getting recommendations and building regular relationships with venues. No judgement either way, but do ask the question so you know what you’re getting.
A good website is a sign (but again not a guarantee) of professionalism. It takes time to answer all the questions, put together a beautiful portfolio, publish an organised price list and make it all look good and consistent. A disorganised freebie site with no prices but just “contact me for a quote” makes me think they haven’t put the time in. And www.joebloggs.com is a lot better than www.joebloggs.freewebsites.com/whatever. It’s really not that hard to make a good website if you’re doing this for a living.
For goodness sake make contact with all the photographers you’re considering and ask questions. Don’t just read the website and put them on your shortlist. See how quickly they get back to you and whether they answer your questions properly. Obviously you want a friendly and helpful reply that feels like they’re genuinely pleased to hear from you. I mean they should be, right?! This is before they’ve even got your booking.
When you meet a photographer, try to get a sense of whether they can answer your questions easily. If they do this all the time, chances are you won’t be asking them anything new. Ask about backup equipment, insurance and paying their taxes. This is fairly uninspiring stuff, but the way they answer lets you know who you’re dealing with.
People sometimes ask me what happens on the day if I am ill. It’s a good question, but another one which no one’s ever asked me would be: “Could you tell me about any of the things you do to be prepared and reliable? Whatever comes to mind – doesn’t need to be everything.” Wow, I could answer that question all day. I print OS maps in case my two satnavs and two phones fail. I bought the UK’s most reliable car and service it twice a year. I carry cold weather gear and snow chains in winter. I’ve jump started limos and given first aid to wedding guests. I shoot to multiple memory cards and back everything up. This stuff is so easy to reel off it’s even fun so don’t be afraid to ask. Again, it’s not just the answer itself but how easily they answer that tells you a lot.
It’s like choosing a restaurant to eat in. You can’t see the kitchens, so you can only go by how clean the windows are, how nice the menus look, how friendly the staff are, etc. You can’t be sure what it’s like to work with a photographer until you’ve done it. But by doing detective work, plenty of googling and asking questions you can get a good idea.
This is part two of five on how to choose your wedding photographer. Please do ask if you’d like me to add anything to it. Part three is about experience.