5 crucial factors to consider when booking a wedding photographer

fairy lights first dance wedding photo at The Barnyard in Kent

It’s January, and for us that means one thing: we are inundated with potential clients enquiring about photography for their weddings in 2017, 2018, and even 2019/2020…  We know organising a wedding is incredibly hard, as there are so many things to keep track of: Where will you be getting ready? What are the shape of the chairs for the chair-covers? When can my florist get into my venue to dress it – and for that matter, what kind of flowers are available at the time of year my wedding is?!

So much to organise, and even if it’s not your first time getting married, it’s not like there’s a manual for it!

Wedding planners are a good idea, but do be aware that these days ‘wedding planners’ tend no to actually do any ‘planning’, as they are more concerned with venue decor, styles, and themes, for your wedding – rather than the nuts and bolts of actually planning a wedding.  That’s not true of all, and we have an upcoming article discussing wedding planners in greater length.

Here we present the 5 most pressing factors that are cropping up with our many consults this January, as a rough guide to the kinds of questions you should be asking about your wedding photography with the photographers you are considering.  As mentioned in previous articles, choosing your wedding photographer is an important task – with repercussions that last well beyond the wedding day.

1. Photography Style 

Many people incorrectly assume that all photographers are the same, or offer similar styles of imagery.  Photography is a creative art, and like any form of art, the artist you choose will have a massive impact on the final work created.

Things get even more complicated when the traditional labels for styles of photography get blurred by newcomers and part-time photographers (or is that faux-tographers?) who label themselves as “reportage” or “documentary” or “fine-art” photographers, when the style of work they produce doesn’t actually resemble that at all….  “Reportage” is the most misunderstood and mis-labelled we feel, as reportage is a brilliant approach to creating photography, with a distinct style of imagery that flows innately from the process – however many entry photographers love to use this label as they think they can ‘not plan anything and then stick everything in black & white’ and the job’s done…. Unfortunately, it’s really not that simple.

“Fine-Art” photography often suffers from the same mis-labelling, as beginners latch to the term and assume that it denotes a ‘badge of distinction’ or ‘quality’, perhaps misleading brides into believing a fine-art photographer is just better than a documentary photographer.  This could not be further from the truth, with one minor exception: Fine-art photographers often produce the ‘documentary’ style candid images that other styles produce – included with the other images, but it is not always the case in reverse that a documentary photographer will provide fine-art images on top of what they usually provide.  Obviously there are always exceptions to this rule, but as a rule-of-thumb, we find this way of explaining it quite useful.

Mykey Day Photography offers fine-art photography, with a distinctive style we have developed over many years – we provide the grand images you see in the ‘weddings’ gallery, as well as all those candid moments throughout the day (one of the main reason we offer two photographers as standard: the best of both worlds!)

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2. Price – cheap will cost you more…

There are many costs to consider in planning a wedding, and it really does become a case of competing priorities in how you deploy your budget.  Traditionally it is often said you should spend 15% of your overall budget on photography, but of course that can really vary from person to person.

The biggest advice we can give you here, is that choosing a photographer based solely on price is often the absolute worst way to choose – even for price’s own sake.  We’re not even talking about those horror stories where cheap photographers did a bad job (you get what you pay for, etc…) and your images are ruined for life.  We’re talking about the hidden costs and fees in those cheaper photographers’ packages and collections, which will come back to haunt you.

One example of this:  If your photographer is saying that they will be there “from bridal prep to first dance” – does that actually mean what they say?  We’ve known weddings where this time period can vary from 9am to 8pm, or only 11:30am to 6:30pm… Are they absolutely prepared to work extra hours than usual if your day is longer than usual? Or is there a “certain number of hours” hidden somewhere in the T&Cs that they think is enough.  If you do need more coverage – how much are those extra hours?

Another example:  A photographer shows you a big beautiful wedding album with leather backing, glass cover, and metal pages with satin lamination.  But then in your contract, it’s specified a smaller album with basic options is included – and everything they have shown you are all payable upgrades (with a steep cost).  Furthermore, how many pages do they include – are they showing you a 50 page example, but neglecting to tell you that your package only starts with 10 pages, and there’s a BIG cost on each and every page??

Here at Mykey Day Photography, we love to be different (and better).  The albums we show, are the ones included in your collection.  Furthermore, we explicitly state how many pages you have to start with and the cost of any page upgrades.  We also include a standard of 8-10 hours for our summer collections, and a timeline consult to ensure that we won’t be sending you any unexpected bills after the event.

We’ve heard many horror stories, so please believe us when we say “cheap isn’t cheap” as photography is expensive, and you often end up paying for it in the end….

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3. Should you feed your photographer?

This is a very contentious issue within the photography community.  Many do expect, and write it into their contracts, that they receive a hot meal during the day.  Often they expect a seat with your guests (in case a candid moment happens whilst people are eating?), and usually expect the same meal choice as one of your guests would receive. Another approach used to ‘strongly suggest’ that they feed you, is to use the scare tactic of leaving for 60+ minutes to find lunch themselves, reminding you your venue is in the middle of nowhere and implying there may be lost moments.

We could not disagree with any of this any more strongly.  Frankly, we find it ridiculous….

There aren’t very many professions in the world that expect (nay-demand) to be fed for free at work, and even fewer where the cost of that lunch could be £70-150 per plate!  Multiply that by two photographers and an assistant and perhaps your photography budget just increased by over £400!

There are no compelling reasons we have ever heard that have convinced us here at Mykey Day Photography to put ‘hot meals’ (or any meals) as an expectation in our contracts, and so we don’t.  Where offered we will gratefully accept, but to be honest, we’d rather you put that money towards your wedding album – because that’s going to last a lot longer….


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4. Has your Photographer shot at your venue before?

This is usually one of the very first questions we are asked, and at first glance seems like a good place to start, but we may surprise you with the fact that with a good photographer it really shouldn’t matter. Let us explain…

If you hire a top chef, would you ask if they have cooked in that kitchen before?  If you hired a plumber, would you ask if they had worked at your house before? If you commissioned a portrait, would you ask if the artist had painted you before?   Our point being: A professional should be able to perform and create stunning imagery, in any location.  If they can’t, then perhaps you have bigger problems than if they happen to have shot at your venue before…

Some clients feel that only prestigious photographers have shot at ‘all the venues’, but in London alone there are literally thousands of wedding venues.  Shooting 50 weddings a year (always at a new venue) it would take a lifetime to even get through half of them.  We’ve shot hundreds of weddings in 5 different countries, and whilst there are some venues we return to often, some of our best work has been the first time at a new venue.

For that matter we relish the creative challenge of new and exciting locations, and we feel this shows in our work.  Do you really want the ‘in-house photographer’ who is a safe pair of hands, but takes the same humdrum images he takes every weekend at the same venue he always shoots at?  For that matter, does he/she even offer to visit the venue with your prior to get your input on what imagery you would like – or are they just going to deliver the same thing they always do?

Whilst we would never advocate trusting your wedding day imagery with an inexperienced photographer, we would humbly suggest that just because a photographer hasn’t gotten round to shooting your venue yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t the best choice for you and your wedding memories…

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5. Do you ‘click’?

This is perhaps the most important factor in choosing a wedding photographer.  Assuming you are having bridal and groom prep pictures on the day, then actually the person you spend the most time with on your wedding day is your photographer!

Do you get on? Are they funny or boring?  Can you imagine them taking charge of your drunk relatives for the group shots – or will they just hide behind their camera??

There’s not really any advice we can give you on this, as obviously every person is different.  In the past we have even suggested once or twice that potential clients seek other recommended photographers because perhaps we aren’t exactly what they are looking for, this point is that important.

London & Kent Wedding Photographer Mykey Day

Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.

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