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How I Chose my Own Wedding Photographer (and the lessons I learnt)

When I start chatting with friends and couples about their wedding plans, the question that pops up more often is how to choose your wedding photographer in a market with tons of options and be sure you made the right choice. When I was a child, in Italy, people would just go straight to the town photographer, often the only option and a photographer for generations (yes, they were always men…). Back then, there was no much choice nor space for personal taste, different styles and so on. The wedding photography industry has changed enormously since, to the point that nowadays the quest can become overwhelming.

Let me tell you something: I can totally relate to that. When we first started planning our own wedding last year, the photographer was hands down the hardest bit. Choosing the venue? Easy, we knew it was the one from the moment we saw it. The dress? Piece of cake. The photographer? I agonised for months over the choice. Being a wedding photographer myself, I of course valued wedding photography immensely and truly wanted to make the ”right choice”.

In this post, I’ll try to share my own mistakes and insights about choosing our own wedding photographer being a wedding photographer myself.

How I Chose my Own Wedding Photographer

1. I did my homework… And I overdid it

I think this was my biggest mistake. By the time, I chose ‘the one’, I had literally considered hundreds of wedding photographers. Something I would definitely not recommend doing! Unlike what most people think, being part of the same industry wasn’t of much help. Quite the opposite. In an industry full of talents, it was a nightmare to limit our choice to one person and I often wished I could hire more than one photographer so that we could cover a few different styles.

Just like some owners of bridal shops will tell you, there is no point in trying on hundreds of dresses. That will only get you more confused. I’d say it is the same with wedding photographers. It is OK to look at a couple of different styles, but if you overdo it like I did, you just get to the point where they are all equally good and it’s paralysing. Which leads me directly to the next point.

A bride in a pink wedding dress holding a heart-shaped bouquet

2. What do you value the most?

At first, this might sound like an odd question, but the more you think about it, the more you realise it all comes down to this. What is the most important thing about your wedding for you? The one you want to remember and to really stand out in your wedding photos. Some people love beautiful photos of wedding details and bridal portraits that look straight out of Vogue. Some people only value candid and relaxed photos. Some people want a bit of both. Do you want a timeless look or a trendy one? Do you like dark colours or vivid ones?

At the same time, ask yourself what do you value as a customer. Every time, I purchase a service from someone, this is always a very important point to me. If I am choosing you, I want to see you are all in. I promise I won’t be a nightmare and I won’t send you thousands of emails at midnight, but please please do care enough and show it to me. I’m always reminded of this when I deal with my own couples and I try to provide them with the experience I’d like to receive if I were the client.

How I Chose my Own Wedding Photographer

3. Do not just choose a wedding photographer, choose the way you want your story to be told

Yes and yes. Picking up from my last point. It’s not only about the details, it also comes down to the way you see yourself as a couple. Before you hire anyone, ask yourself how you envision your own love story.

This realisation was such a turning point for me. I considered some incredibly talented wedding photographers, whose work I admire immensely, but ultimately their style wasn’t a good fit. In some cases, it might have been overly emotional and dramatic and if you know us, you will know that Paul and I are nothing like that. We are a chilled auto ironic couple who could not pull overly fashionable poses without making fun of each other and ourselves. 

But we also love an artistic touch and you know what? We did not have to give up on that either. This is exactly what drove me toward a reportage style with a creative, artsy twist, which is the same I try to offer to my clients now.

How I Chose my Own Wedding Photographer

4. Budget (the practical stuff)

Like most couples, we did not have an unlimited budget and could definitely not afford the star photographers who charge $$$$. This said, photography was a priority for us and we were ready to pay what it took to have the right person. After all, those are the only memories left after the day and we saw it more like an investment, than a simple expense to tick out of a list.

When people ask me how much one should expect to spend on their wedding photographer, I say it really depends. So many factors go into pricing photography. Are you looking for a full day coverage or something shorter? Would you like a second photographer to cover the moments the main one might miss? Would you prefer an album or would you just be happy with the digital?

In general, I would say an experienced photographer would charge anywhere from £1200 to £3000. Of course, like in every other industry, there will always be people who charge less and that all comes down to personal choice.  They might be just starting out or simply doing photography on the side of a different job. If photography is not a priority for you, something totally respectable, you could be happy to go in that direction. Also, do not forget that many photographers would be happy to do a custom quote if you have specific needs, just go ahead and ask.

How I Chose my Own Wedding Photographer

5. There is no predetermined formula

Surprise, surprise. I just wanted to finish this post saying that there is no predetermined formula that works for everyone. I am not going to give you a list of questions to ask like some blogs and bridal magazines do. Every couple is different and so is every wedding photographer. Define your priorities and all the practicalities, but once you have done that, follow your guts and go with someone you feel you would be friend with. I often joke that the right photographer for you should be like the right person: it has to click on some level. So embrace the quest and once you have made your choice, relax and enjoy. Whoever you go with, just trust them and let them do what’s best for you.

If you have more questions or think I could be the wedding photographer for you, just contact me now. I promise I am the least intimidating person on earth.

Are you looking for more wedding planning tips? Feel free to browse my posts with useful tips and join my Facebook group for ‘Unconventional Brides & Grooms’.

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