Should you go with the first wedding photographer you see? Should you go with the one offering the lowest price? by Richard Linnett

As with all things purchased 'shop around' on the internet, in literature, listen to recommendations from friends and family and attend wedding fayres. Talk to as many photographers as you have time for and draw up a short list. Do not make a decision in a rush. After your venue the photographer may be the next most expensive part of your wedding, depending upon how much photography you want and how in demand your 'favoured' photographer is. Another reason not to rush is to get to know the photographer a little better choosing someone you know you are more likely to get on with, more on this later.

A good photographer will capture the emotional moments.

A good photographer will capture the emotional moments.

The Internet is really every photographers 'shop window' these days. Many wedding photographers do not have a high street shop, especially if they specialise in wedding photography. If they have a shop then go and see them and go through their work with them at what is usually a free consultation. Images should be in a style you like and appeal to you, and once taken these images will ideally be yours for a lifetime and should have a timeless quality as well as a record of how you were and how you felt. I would also suggest reading as many reviews as possible including those on Google as well as those on the photographers website.

Capturing that moment when the bride and groom may kiss as a married couple for the first time! Photographers need timing. Taken at Shrewsbury Castle.

Capturing that moment when the bride and groom may kiss as a married couple for the first time! Photographers need timing. Taken at Shrewsbury Castle.

Your photographer should be artistically and technically competent, but also remember they may be with you all day, so someone who is friendly, sensitive and who is going to make taking the photographs enjoyable and even fun. You and your guests are there to have a wonderful time, so a person who is going to be able to get on with you all with patient, assertiveness and a sens e of humour is more likely to be inclusive of you all and their character is therefore an important consideration.

A wedding photographer can use natural light as well as flash lighting. This silhouette has enough detail to add to the interest in the picture.

A wedding photographer can use natural light as well as flash lighting. This silhouette has enough detail to add to the interest in the picture.

Your wedding photographer also needs to be a great communicator, listen to you first and then adding in experience and ideas that make your photographs the joy they should be. They should also make it clear exactly how they will photograph your wedding so that you know exactly what you are paying for and know you are getting value for money. They should also be happy to answer your questions and enthusiastic about their work and there is perhaps a sense that they don't just do it for the money.

Drinks reception on the drive and lawn in Shrewsbury Castle.

Drinks reception on the drive and lawn in Shrewsbury Castle.

Ideally cost is not your only consideration, but perhaps be honest about how much you have budgeted and if the person is definitely the photographer you want it might be better to book them for less time and get the quality of images you really want. It may be a case of 'less is actually more' and the last thing you want to be is disappointed in the final wedding pictures.

Wonderful wedding at Shrewsbury Castle with a lovely family.

Wonderful wedding at Shrewsbury Castle with a lovely family.

Once you have booked expect high professional standards from your photographer with the best of before, during and after care service. Your photographer is probably the one professional working with you on your wedding whom you will meet a number of times and you deserve the best on one of the most important days of your life.

On the courtyard beneath Laura's Tower in Shrewsbury Castle.

On the courtyard beneath Laura's Tower in Shrewsbury Castle.

All the images in this article were taken at Shrewsbury Castle, a wonderful Shropshire wedding venue.

Why not let Uncle Tom or Auntie Julie do your wedding photography? by Richard Linnett

There is a lot to be said for a relative or friend taking your wedding photographs and my first wedding photography 'booking' was for my brother over thirty years ago. I am writing this article to clarify a few key points from my perspective on the difference between a relative taking wedding photographs and a professional.

My brother's wedding I did as a present for him and I included a beautiful album too. Cannot say I was not just a bit anxious as it was my first time organising a lot of people in front of a camera, although training as a teacher at the time did help, and no doubt I made lots of mistakes. It was also back in the days of film and I had to wait for the negatives and the prints to come back from my high street chemist before I knew I had captured it as well as I did, all very stressful. In those days as an amateur I had a dark room and specialised in black and white edits and have included a few of my modern black and whites in this blog.

By the way, I am not in any of my brother's wedding photographs!

Spending time in the bridal suit with the bride and her bridesmaids produces pictures which reflect the excitement and emotion

Spending time in the bridal suit with the bride and her bridesmaids produces pictures which reflect the excitement and emotion

So like me Uncle Tom is a loved family member, a passionate amateur photographer, and he will certainly get good images of your wedding. They will be special because he took them and he will have an advantage in that everyone will relax because they know him and trust him. Many people do have a relative or friend taking their wedding photos and although I don't know for sure, many people will love their wedding pictures because they were taken by someone close to them.

But, is it fair on Uncle Tom? He will be put under some demanding expectations and however reassuring his family are, he will feel under a lot of pressure. He too will also not be in any of the pictures!

Or, does the bride and groom, and everyone including Tom want to be carefree about the wedding photographs, relying on me, a professional, to make sure the images are wonderful? Tom can certainly take pictures, I always encourage people to join in as long as I am able to do my work.

Now I have referred to uncle Tom, but this applies equally to Auntie Julie, not to mention any family or friend who loves their photography just like I do.

Photographic and wedding experience

Great expectations

A professional like myself has the photographic and wedding experience to get those photographs that people will love and use to remind them of a wonderful wedding day. I am very used to the pressures of photographing one of the most important days of a couple's life together and there are so many brides and grooms who will vouch for this. Brides and grooms, and Tom, want to enjoy the wedding. Will he get stressed out not wishing to let them down?

Tom may well have taken some wonderful pictures in the past: landscapes, family pictures and the like, and some may even hang on the wall at home- beautiful. As a professional I have taken thousands of wedding images under all sorts of lighting conditions. I am not only applying my understanding of light, photojournalism, portraiture and artistic composition but I am continually learning and developing as a professional. There are hundreds of online galleries, framed images, photobooks and weddings albums providing my clients with fantastic works of art.

That mirror shot can capture an inner thought. But what is such a beautiful bride thinking?

That mirror shot can capture an inner thought. But what is such a beautiful bride thinking?

People skills!

Uncle Tom is a fantastic accountant and loves photography because it is so different from work. Uncle Tom may even have done some people management courses and is willing to do a bit of research on wedding photography on Google and Youtube. However, I have an open and friendly persona and have learnt through experience to get on with people and make them smile, even if I have only just met them, gaining their confidence quickly and leaving them having enjoyed the experience of being photographed. I am beyond worrying about camera settings and knowing how the composition of the photograph will work; I am into the soft skills of working with the bride and groom, their family and friends, to get the very best images which reflect their memories of their day.

Fantastic equipment

Cameras do not take pictures, photographers do!

 Uncle Tom probably has a really good camera and other equipment, he is an enthusiast after all. When I go to a wedding I also have all sorts of backup equipment, I backup all the image files I make because my cameras take two memory cards. I shoot in what is called ‘manual mode’ giving me full artistic control of how the camera records the light and situation; this is where the creativity comes in.

I also guarantee the tones and colour quality of my images and do all the editorial work on them before clients see them. I have specially calibrated screens in my studio which show the picture as it would come out of the printer. Uncle Tom does very well with the equipment that is personal to his photographic needs, wild life photography, etc., but he is not generally using it to photograph weddings every weekend.

Looking at her very best before going to the Ceremony here in the Bridal Suit at Rowton Castle in Shropshire

Looking at her very best before going to the Ceremony here in the Bridal Suit at Rowton Castle in Shropshire

Contracted and insured – it is peace of mind

Assured and insured

I will talk to brides and grooms about exactly which pictures they would like, take them in the style they prefer, and present them in a way that will amaze, and I will commit that to a signed contract. If anything goes wrong I carry business and public liability. I pay for insurance, it is one of my costs. I am afraid that if anything goes wrong for Tom there may be a lot of sincere apologies and sorrow. Let’s also hope no one is upset or injured tripping over the camera bag and does not want to sue!

A final look before the bridesmaids take the bride to the Ceremony

A final look before the bridesmaids take the bride to the Ceremony

Pre-care and after-care

My reputation your recommendation

I take time to meet brides and grooms, set up engagement shoots in my studio and at the venue. I listen to the bride and groom and give them my advice on what will make for the very best images. I have experience of what does and does not work. I work with Jorgensen and Acerboni to make up the most beautiful of albums and presentations of your images. Uncle Tom does not have access to such companies who only make up albums for professionals with whom they have an ongoing working relationship.

My camera, computer, printers and professional print laboratories are all calibrated so that what you see is what you get. It is in my interest to make sure you are more than happy with my pictures so that you recommend me to all your family and friends. You can read reviews of my work on Google or Freeindex. Uncle Tom will do what he normally does to his pictures, he may use top professional standard software or not, but he is unlikely to have access to market leaders in the presentation of images.

Rowton Castle Shropshire is a beautiful wedding venue in Shropshire

Rowton Castle Shropshire is a beautiful wedding venue in Shropshire

Price and value

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get

Uncle Tom will do the wedding for nothing, no charge because he loves the bride and groom and he will do his very best. I do not love you, but I might like you. I am a quality wedding photographer and this means I am not necessarily cheap, although I do try to be competitive, and if you are on a budget a bespoke level of service can be discussed and for part of your wedding you can have the very best.

I would say that wouldn’t I!

Yes, I want people's business, because I think I can give them something that Uncle Tom cannot. I add value because I have a friendly professional approach to providing people with such high quality images that they will come back for more in the future: anniversaries, first child portrait, family portraits, even their own children’s weddings!

The little boy is the son of the bride and groom who wanted to help me organise the photograph

The little boy is the son of the bride and groom who wanted to help me organise the photograph

Final choices are always the bride and groom's.

All the images for this article were taken at Rowton Castle, an exceptional venue in the heart of the Shropshire countryside.

How soon should you book your wedding photographer? by Richard Linnett

I just published this on my wordpress page and thought it worth including on my website. So if you know anyone still looking for a wedding photographer this winter please give them my details. I am going to include some further articles, advice about looking and finding the right photgraoher in upcoming posts.

The Wild Boar Inn black and white building with snow all around - stunning background for this lovely couple

The Wild Boar Inn black and white building with snow all around - stunning background for this lovely couple

September and yes a few people are still looking to set up their winter wedding including their photographer. Most people book their photographer  at least 6 months or more in advance, but if you want the right photographer for, especially at busy times of year, then the sooner you find the right person the better.

By the right photographer I really mean someone not just excellent with respects to art and technical ability, but also someone who will get on with you and use their experience to be your anchor on the wedding day, especially if you have booked a full day. This means it really has to be someone you have a rapport with, can have fun with, and who is prepared to go the extra mile to listen to you to make sure you get the wedding photographs you would like and deserve. Your photographer has to be someone who will also will your guests, your family and friends deserve that as well.

Christmas wedding at Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire

Christmas wedding at Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire

You really cannot do enough research including into those photographers who have been recommended by friends. You may well start with their online portfolio, check out the standard of their work and short list from there, adding any that family and friends recommend from their wedding or weddings they have attended. Word of mouth and recommendation is very important but make up your own mind.

Once you have your short list arrange to meet the photographer to discuss your wedding in more detail beyond date, time and venue. I think this should be without charge or obligation and either at your venue or at the photographers studio if they have one. Key things are that they are not only friendly but also professional, with a sense of humour, a sensitive listen manor and whom you feel you can trust and put faith in. They should be very enthusiastic about being imaginative with your ideas, treating you and your day as special opportunity to photograph you at your best on a unique day. and you should also feel that pictures they take of your day will be as special as the day itself. Look at examples of their work in print as well as online and ask questions about how individual their cover of your wedding will be. Perhaps there is too much talk of 'packages' which can mean they are not as careful to listen to you as they should be. Some important basics to also remember is what kind of presentation of your wedding images is included in their offer, whether they carry professional insurance and if they are, in the cost important world, prepared to discount their price for a good reason. Quality of cause comes before price, and if you are price sensitive then perhaps it is best to be open about this. Some photographers can work to a budget and will tailor what they offer, a level of service which does not compromise quality so as to match your needs. Less is sometimes more.

So, if you are about to get married I would make a good photographer one of the things you book as quickly as you can.  Please feel free to contact me via my contact page, and remember, it is without obligation! Furthermore, if you know someone who is getting married and you think they have not booked a photographer yet, and you like the sound of this blog, also feel free to share my details with your friend. I will honour a 10% discount to anyone who contacts me and books. Currently booking also get a free engagement shoot, 1 hour in the studio and two 10 by 8 inch mounted prints. I am also happy to do a location shoot in the Chester area.