Ask LH: How Can I Find A Good Wedding Photographer?

Hey Lifehacker, We're getting married soon, and are in the process of trying to find a photographer. Part of the problem is that we're overseas at the moment, which means we're restricted to communicating with photographers online. Are quote comparison sites like serviceseeking.com.au and photoportal.com.au worth the time? They sound convenient, but I don't want to pay for something that doesn't deliver results! Thanks, Bride-To-Be

Photo: Shutterstock

Dear BTB,

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s latest data, the average wedding in Australia costs $36,200. With that kind of money being thrown around, you definitely want to capture the festivities for future posterity!

While it might be tempting to ask a friend or family member who happens to be a handy with a camera, this is usually a bad idea. Even if you pay them handsomely, you're still essentially asking them to be a hired hand on your special day, which may cause offense. Plus, they will be more likely to shirk their responsibilities once the food and liquor start flowing.

Comparison sites are a handy starting point, but you obviously need to do some additional research on top of this — insist on references, examples of their photography and clearly tabled quotes before making any decisions.

As with most things in life, the price you pay tends to be intrinsically linked to the quality of the service. If money's tight, you're probably better off choosing an entry-level package from an established photographer than getting the full works done by an unproven newcomer.

Conferring from overseas shouldn't be a problem in today's digital age; most photographers will be more than happy to exchange comprehensive emails with potential clients. (In fact, you don't really need to meet face-to-face until the wedding rehearsal.)

Probably the most important thing to consider when choosing a photographer is the time and location of your wedding. Ask the photographer to send through some photos of similar jobs they've done; be it inside a church, on the beach or wherever the ceremony is set to take place.

If possible, also get them to show examples that took place at a similar time of day and during the same season as your own wedding. Some photographers are more adept at capturing photos in faltering light, for example. This will give you a much better idea of what your own photos are likely to look like.

On a final note, I'd personally skimp on premium "add-on" services such as canvas prints and video. You're going to have stacks of photos and videos from the guests in attendance which will be better suited to sharing on social media. When it comes to the professional stuff, all you really need is a single photo album that will be your primary memento.

If any readers have additional tips of their own to share, let BTB know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Speaking as a photographer, the first thing I suggest people do is ask friends if they have any recommendations (both for good shooters and ones to avoid). The second thing is to do some research into them - find a photographer whose style matches what you're looking for. Get signed contracts re services.

    Two things re the above article's advice - the "show examples that took place at a similar time of day" is way granular - good photographers are good photographers. And be aware that canvasses, prints, etc. when ordered through the photographer will have a LONG guarantee on them (unlike prints from Big W, HN, etc.) and the files will have been properly prepared for printing, not just for looking at on screen. Most photographers these days will also provide you with a set of images already sized for social media.

    And don't follow that idiot advice from Choice earlier this year and pretend it's not a wedding booking. That was too stupid for words. Weddings are entirely different to shoot from something like a portrait session.

    And make sure you talk to the photographer before you book, be it in person, on Skype, whatever, to make sure you're a good fit with them. They're documenting one of the most important days of your life, and you want to be confident that they'll do the kind of job, and behave the way at the event, that you want. And when you do talk to them, ask all the questions you want, this helps both parties.

      good photographers ar e good photographers. This is true to an extent, but it's still a good idea to hire someone who has photographed similar environments to your wedding. Just because they intrinsically know what camera settings to use doesn't mean they have a knack for capturing great dusk photos, for example. Basically, you don't want them experimenting on the job.

        "Good photographers" are NOT people who simply "know what camera settings to use," that;s the point of looking at their previous work and looking for endorsements.

    I can recommend this website - http://www.photographers.com.au/
    P.S. I'm not affiliated with them.

    Great points in the article. But when you do choose one. Run the photographer's business through ASIC. Why?
    We had a bad experience with one that came highly recommend, saw his stuff, looked good. He even had contracts to photograph the australian open.
    Fast forward a year and still no photos. We had to run through consumer affairs and VCAT. Only to find through ASIC he'd been running his business insolvent for 2 years (bankrupt with a gambling problem), so legally his invoices with gst weren't valid.
    It took us threats of legal action to get our photos and even then we still didn't get what we'd paid for, just some CD's with our photos and no work done to them, or canvas prints. We lost a few $.
    What's worse a whole bunch of wedding's he'd done suffered a similar fate.

    Last edited 01/08/14 4:33 pm

    i got married in late 2010 and photographers are very pricy, i went with this place called precious memories that is run by a husband and wife team very reasonable price the photos were awesome they also did some video and albums ect... but i highly recommend them as they were very helpful on the day and i really liked the photos...here is there site..http://preciousmemories.com.au/

    As a former photographer, I would also recommend that you, as the client, be *very* specific about what you want and expect.

    Don't get into a situation where you book x hours thinking that the travel time between the wedding and reception venue doesn't count. The photog might then end up leaving before some of the moments you want captured, such as the cutting of the cake.

    Give them a list of photos that you want, both posed (eg family on church steps) and candid moments (eg bridesmaids getting ready), then discuss that list with the photog. There's nothing worse to a photog than "Oh, now one with Aunty Jan. Now one with Aunty Bev but not Aunty Jan. Now one with..." It's irritating and often a waste of time as clients often don't end up buying those photos.

    Can't stress the advice enough that if you don't have a lot of money, pay for a basic service with a good photographer. The last thing you want is to have 200 poorly exposed and slightly blurry photos rather than a dozen amazing ones.

    Last edited 01/08/14 9:48 pm

    Look at past work. I went to a wedding where every photo was passed through a filter. And then cropped in ridiculous areas. There was not a single nice photo in the entire set. If that was my wedding I'd flip shit.

    I use to video weddings so my advice comes from this perspective. Photographers are with you all day. Get the word of mouth and ask about how they were on the day. You don't want to get the photos back and see a lovely shot but remember, that was when the photographer was rude to my mum telling her to get out of the shot.

    My fiance found our wedding photographer through that photo portal site (http://www.photoportal.com.au) after the two photographers we got recommended by friends were both booked out on our day. It was handy to use as a shortlisting tool and then we reviewed everyone's work from their websites and asked them all for quotes. Thinking back on it damn it was a long process (doesn't help that the fiance is picky) but we're happy with guy we've got booked in. The comments section here is right though: research, research and research.

    What's the view on a videographer? Is it worth getting one of those as well, and how much does it cost?

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