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How to pick your wedding photographer

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From engagement shoots to cutting corners, Elinor Block asked four wedding photographers to share their top tips for perfect wedding day imagery...

It might sound horribly narcissistic, but ever since we had the marriage discussion (which was probably six months into our relationship), I've always wanted a brilliant wedding photographer. For me, this means someone who can take emotional but beautiful shots, and provide us with long-lasting memories of a day that will, no doubt, go by very quickly.

I just want photographs that will mean I still look good even when mascara is halfway down my face after blubbing all the way through my vows. And my partner agrees. It's not that we're massively vain, it's that we want the memories to look lovely. And after my wedding dress is totally ruined from the whole day (I’ve been warned they always get ruined), I want something to show for the day, other than just a big bill for flowers.

I asked four top wedding photographers to share their advice for perfect wedding shots...

Jon Dennis

What's the best advice you'd give to any couple getting married?

''It’s an obvious one, but enjoy the day! A stressed or unhappy bride and groom don't make for good photos. Weddings can be stressful, but remember that the only important thing on the day is that you're there to marry each other."

What do you think about engagement photos?

"Don't use it as a practice shoot. Do an engagement shoot if you want pictures of you both before you get married, as the experience of having an engagement shoot is generally completely different to what you go through on the day."

How important is the background?

"Great people make great photographs, and a great background isn't essential but its well worth thinking about what you're giving your photographer to work with and how you want your photos to look. Don't think its essential for your photographer to know your chosen wedding venue, I love to go to new places for the first time!"

Adam Prossser

What's the most important thing a couple should think about when choosing a wedding photographer?

"Choose a photographer that has pictures in their portfolio that capture the way you would like to remember your wedding. For example do you want a photographer that will make a straight forward record of the day or a photographer that will capture the romance and bond between you and your partner? Or what about all the detail touches you have slaved over for months? These things can easily be overlooked. Additionally though, try not to shop on price! When budgets are tight it's easy to look at the pound signs before the work/talent/ability itself. Try to research photographers that tick the boxes visually and then narrow down to what fits your budget."

What's the best advice you'd give to any couple getting married?

"When planning your wedding, if the photography is important to you on the day, make sure you allow plenty of time for the formal family and friends group images as well as portraits of you and your husband/wife. These pictures that are more creative take time and it’s wise to consult with your photographer about how long to allow. Also, it's often nice to take some time out during the wedding to have intimate pictures of just you and your partner as newly weds, away from the hustle and bustle of it all. This gives you time to breathe and spend a bit of time together while settling yourselves before going back to all of your family and friends."

How important is it for the couple to spend time with their photographer before the wedding?

"A great time to spend with your photographer pre-wedding is at the venue. You can show them round and point out all the things you love about the place so that they can capture it from your perspective on the day! For me, getting to know my clients a bit prior to the wedding is important because I don't like to rattle out the same routine. Every wedding is unique and capturing it should reflect the couple in question."

Anna Pumer

What's the best advice you'd give to any couple getting married?

"Do not scrimp on your photography budget. The photos are the lasting memories of the day, and so many couples are left upset and disappointed because they chose a cheap photographer who didn't capture the emotion of the day and missed all the important moments. A professional photographer will also have invested in the best kit and will put in the time and effort to make sure your wedding photos are incredible - and this includes hours of post-processing to really make them shine. Cheap photographers will just 'shoot and burn' - giving you flat, dull, unedited photos. You should put aside at least 10% of your wedding budget for the photography, and make sure you look at your prospective photographers' portfolios, and even ask to see a wedding in full to make sure they didn't just get lucky on a few shots."

How important is it for the couple to spend time with their photographer before the wedding?

"If you don't meet your photographer before the wedding, even just on Skype, you're taking a risk, because you don't know if you click. This person is going to be with you all day long, on one of the most important days of your lives, so it's vital you feel comfortable with them. I often meet my couples twice - once to visit the venue with them, and again just for a cuppa and a chat. Also, if the photographer gets to know you well, they will be more emotionally invested in the day - at my most recent wedding I actually teared up during the speeches! Wedding photographers aren't just suppliers, they're one of the most important guests at your wedding."

How important is the background?

"Not half as important as the light. If you find a great background in beautiful light (ie not bright sunlight) then you're winning. Would you prefer a squinty face with a great background or a photo where you look absolutely incredible? Let's be honest - if you look stunning, no one's looking at the background anyway! A good photographer will know this, and make sure you look your best in every photo."

Emma-Jane Lewis

What's the most important thing a couple should think about when choosing a wedding photographer?

"Normally, the first step in choosing a wedding photographer will be going down to style. Do you like contemporary, documentary or a slight hint of fashion? This will narrow down your focus. Once you have found the photographers you like meet with them for consultations to see if you will get on with them as they will be spending a lot of time with you but also a very personal time, so you need to get on with them."

What’s the best advice you'd give to any couple getting married?

"Make sure you ask to see photographer full wedding images, not just the best bits in their showcase. You want to see a whole wedding for consistency. Also make sure the photographer has a number of years experience and have the correct insurances. (Kit cover, Liability insurance, indemnity cover.)"

How important is it for the couple to spend time with their photographer before the wedding?

"It is important to make sure that the photographer knows what you want on the day. The more information you can give them, the easier their job is and the more likely you will get the images you would like. This isn't about contacting them with every little change. But having one initial consultation and sometimes a meet before the wedding. The rest can be done with wedding plan emails and guest lists and images you would like. Putting together a contingency plan for bad weather is also good."

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