What should I look for when choosing a wedding photographer?
Wedding photography isn’t all about an expensive camera, it’s about capturing a story. It’s no coincidence that in French and German they say to “make” a photograph, not take a photograph. (Interestingly they “take” selfies – a subtle but important difference that English does not allow for.) And that’s what you’re asking your wedding photographer to do, to make a visual record of one of the most precious days in your lives. It’s all about you entrusting a photographer: their eye, their vision and their skills, with your story. It’s a big deal.
Your wedding day photography is an investment that you’ll be glad you made years down the road, bringing to life your special day for those who were not even born when you were married and reliving all the emotion of those special moments together. It’s a photographically captured story you’ll take with you forever.
We caught up with award winning photographer Alexa Poppe to get her views on great wedding photography and she captures the magic of each of very special wedding day she is entrusted with. We put questions to her that we hear from the couples we help on a regular basis.
How can we find the right photographer for their wedding? What factors should we consider? How might we best find the information we need to make an informed decision?
I get a lot of bookings through personal recommendations, and as a couple nothing beats this.
A good place to start is your friends and family. Did anyone you know get married recently and if so, did they rate their photographer? Ask your friends for recommendations. You can also ask them if you can look at their wedding photography and see if it’s your vibe. What might be right for one couple might not necessarily right for another.
Other good sources of recommendations are your wedding planner, venue, social media, wedding blogs and online reviews.
Have a good look through these different options and try to narrow your search to a certain style of photography you prefer that fits with the type of wedding you are planning. There’re so many different styles in photography. Some are more formal and fashion shoot orientated whereas others work in a more relaxed documentary-style to tell a story. Try and determine what the two of you want out of your photography.
When you narrow your research down to a shortlist, take some time and look at a larger album of a wedding day by each photographer and not just the 'poster couple portraits'. Remember, your couple portraits are just a small portion of the entire collection of photos you will receive, so it’s important to look at a range of wedding day photographs they have taken to get a feel of how your photographer captures the entire day. You can do this by taking a look at your shortlisted photographers’ social media accounts and website to get a real vibe for their style. Then, have a chat or meet up with your preferred photographer to ensure there is a good rapport and their approach is right for you. You’ll be spending a big part of the most important day of your life in this person’s presence and entrusting them to record every special moment, so it’s really important you feel super-comfortable with them.
Lots of our couples get married in a UK destination that’s not close to their home. How do you build a good understanding of what they want from you and a good rapport with these couples when it’s unlikely you will meet them face-to-face ahead of their wedding day?
I always recommend a face-to-face meeting if possible, as it’s much better to have that interaction with someone who’ll be spending most parts of your special day with you. Your photographer shouldn’t be a stranger on the day. However, if a face-to-face meeting is not possible, I usually arrange a Facetime call or Zoom meeting to see if we’re a good fit in the first instance and then another one closer to the wedding to go through the details of the day and to get some more information about the couples so I can see what's important to them. This helps ensure I capture personal touches and document a better, more personal story that I might otherwise be able to achieve.
Should we go with a photographer recommended by the venue they have booked?
I would say it is a good starting point because a photographer on a recommendation list will have photographed at that particular venue before and it’s always a bonus for the photographer to know your venue and surrounding area well as they will know all the best places for the photography you want to capture. However, it’s not essential for your chosen photographer to know your venue before the big day. We’re all pretty good and searching out all the best areas in and around your chosen wedding venue as we shoot.
I would expect venues to recommend a few photographers with different styles on their list, so you should still do your research!
How much of our wedding day should we book a photographer for?
To tell the whole story of your wedding day well I really like to shoot the entire day: from bridal preparations through to your party. Who wants a half-told story, right? I totally understand it’s not within everyone’s budget, or necessarily what every couple wants. In these cases, I can shoot half a day or so, and I still try my best to document the part of your story you booked me for to the best of my ability.
Can we have photography at more than one location on our wedding day, maybe incorporating the beach/woods/local beauty spot?
It all depends on timeline of the day. Sometimes the schedule is very tight and we might just have time to use the grounds of your venue, but that's not to worry, there’re always nice spots to find for beautiful portraits. If the weather and timing permits, we can venture to the beach or woods. I usually discuss this with the couples at their pre-wedding meeting. Sometimes the timeline can be adjusted to make some time to drive to the beach if it’s important to them. This is particularly true of small intimate weddings and elopements where the day is a little less hectic and more flexible than larger events.
How much should we expect to pay for wedding day photography and what should we expect in return?
I offer various packages with prices starting from £500 for elopement weddings to £1550 for a 10-hour full-day wedding shoot. My prices are mid-market, but I hope I always deliver a high quality and well-done job for every couple I work with. It’s for this reason that I limit the number of wedding bookings I take each year, ensuring every couple get the very best of me.
In terms of what you get, every photographer is different, so I can only really speak for myself. As I mentioned before, the story of a wedding day is best told with a full day coverage, this is typically 10 hours, sometimes more. You can expect to receive 450 plus professionally edited images, a USB stick in presentation case, a couple of fine art prints and an online gallery to share with your friends and family. If you’re having a smaller celebration or an elopement wedding, I offer smaller packages to suit your requirements and budget.
It’s a good idea to check what’s included in your package before your book your photographer. Check that extras you want can be added on, and at what cost. It’s important you know what you are committing to up-front and no one will mind you asking.
How long after the wedding should I expect to receive my wedding photography? How will I receive it?
You’ll receive your wedding day images between 4 to 6 weeks after the wedding depending on the time of year. If you have booked a full-day package, you’ll receive a link to an online gallery and USB stick in the post. If you opt for a smaller package, you’ll be able to download their images from an online gallery.
What’s the best way to get prints or create a wedding album?
Couples and their guests can order prints direct from my online galleries, making life really easy. Wedding albums can be ordered from me any time after your wedding as an optional extra. I have a range of options including smaller duplicates and parent albums – just let me know what sort of thing you are looking to create and I’ll work with you to find the best solution for you.
Should guests be taking photographs whilst our wedding photographer is working on our wedding?
Stopping guests taking photographs at weddings is nearly impossible. However, they can get in the way during ceremonies, we’ve all seen those images when the bride walks up the aisle and all you see is phones and ipads either side of it. It's just not a beautiful image. So, I suggest asking your guests to go 'unplugged' during the ceremony at least. In fact, have a word with your registrar or celebrant as most of them are more than happy to add this to the “turn your phone to silent” message at the beginning of your ceremony!
Some photographers do not offer smaller packages for smaller weddings. What do you offer to these couples?
I offer bespoke packages for smaller weddings, however, spaces are limited during high season weekend dates. They range from 2-3 hours coverage for elopements to half day or full day coverage for small weddings. You can expect to receive the same service from me whether you book a smaller or larger wedding. This includes a pre-wedding consultation where we can get to know each other, I can get a good understanding of your photography requirements and answer any questions you might have. The only difference is the photographs will be delivered via download from an online gallery. Having said that, USB sticks, prints and albums can be purchased as an optional extra.
Where can couples see more of your work, the different services you can offer and make contact with you?
I have a few options for packages listed on my website's prices page. This provides a guideline to give you a rough idea of some of the options available. Please do remember these can be adjusted to suit exactly what you are looking for. You can contact me via my website, Facebook or Instagram.