Trawling the web for wedding photography tips can be exhausting. So, we caught up with four of the UK’s most talented snap-happy experts to find out the shortcuts to discovering your dream photographer, this year’s hottest photo styles and why it’s best to go your own way when it comes to your perfect ‘I do’.
Meet the experts…
What’s hot this year in the world of wedding photography?
Andy Gaines – Wedding photography can go through trends – the most recent trend of the last year or two being ‘epic portrait of small couple in vast landscape’. However, I would always advise couples, and photographers to avoid trends and fads and create images that really reflect who the couple are. Capturing them, their friends, family, how they felt on that day and their love for one another are the images that are timeless, and really hold their meaning as the years go by.
Albert Palmer – 2017 saw wedding photography taken to new heights of creativity. I think the bar was set even higher (which I didn’t think it was possible!) I think the whole industry has taken another step forward and people are creating art and making amazing memories for their couples.
Luis Holden – The straight answer is I have no idea! I think photographers should just follow their own path, whatever that may be. For me – I love keeping things on the move, lots of action, docu-style!
Sam & Louise – Wedding albums. Wedding albums seem to be really popular again after a bit of a lull over the last couple of years. It’s so nice to see that couples are actually getting their photos printed again.
What’s not? Is there anything couples should avoid?
Andy Gaines – Couples should do whatever makes them happy. Weddings aren’t about trends or fashions as I have mentioned, they are about love and celebrating in their own unique way.
Albert Palmer – Not really – if you like a photographers work then hire them!
Luis Holden – Staged, forced, clunky ‘posing’. Keep it real, keep it authentic!
Sam & Louise – Wedding awards. There are SO many around now. Anyone can set them up, they aren’t regulated. Avoid booking a photographer (or any supplier in fact) purely on the basis that they’ve won awards. It really doesn’t mean anything.
Is there one mistake that most couples make when choosing a wedding photographer?
Andy Gaines – Other than not choosing me? My advice would be – It doesn’t matter where a photographer is based, they will often travel anywhere not just in the UK, but in the world. Couples need to pick someone whose photographs they connect with, and someone they also connect with as a person. Around a third of my weddings are overseas, that’s not just couples from the UK inviting me to their destination weddings, but people based in other countries who recognise that my style and approach really suits them.
Albert Palmer – Um, I don’t think so. I mean, generally speaking if you like someone’s work and it resonates with you then hire them! As long as you’ve looked through a LOT of their images and made sure you like what you see. It’s a cliché, but the wedding photography is one of the few things left after the wedding day (apart from the marriage and rings!) So, if photography is important to someone then I’d recommend budgeting appropriately for it. But, being realistic not everyone values photography and that’s fine too!
Luis Holden – Just delve into the blog posts – you’ll be able to get a real feel for how a photographer shoots – not just the key shots but all the in-between, inglorious random moments too.
Sam & Louise – Some couples make the mistake of trying to compare what a photographer offers on a “like for like” basis, based on the “stuff” that’s included in a package. But photography can’t really be compared in that way. There are too many variables – approach, style, price, experience, talent etc.
What are the basic style of wedding photography that couple scan choose from?
Andy Gaines – I personally focus on natural, documentary, storytelling, creative photography. There are lots of different styles out there not only in approach but also in editing styles. Picking what suits you as a couple is so important as photographs have to stand the test of time, and you have to fall in love with them.
Albert Palmer – Alternative, traditional, documentary/reportage, fine art, film vs digital (arguably you shoot differently if you shoot film.)
Sam & Louise – Opinions on this vary, but in my mind, there are 3 main types. 100% photojournalism/ documentary style wedding photography where nothing will be posed at all. Contemporary, photojournalism led, so coverage is mostly natural, but it also combines some traditional elements such as a small number of group or posed couples photos. Then there’s traditional, which is much more structured, with lots of posed images, group photos, bridal portraits etc.
There are lots of individual styles within these though, such as fine art wedding photography.
Are there certain standard wedding photo packages?
Andy Gaines – I personally offer 3 main packages but all include unlimited coverage of the day. I don’t believe that you can tell the full story of the wedding day without being one of the first to arrive and the last to leave the dancefloor at the end of the night. To do less I don’t feel would do the couple justice. Most of my couples choose the album package as there is nothing quite the same as seeing your photographs in a quality album and being able to relive the day and emotions again and again.
Albert Palmer – Most photographers offer an ‘all day package’ where they cover the bridal preparation right through to the party. But no, there is no ‘standard.’ Each of us are different and have different ways of working. Some charge an hourly rate, some include engagement shoots or albums and some charge different amounts depending on the day of the week and the time of year.
Luis Holden – Most photographers will offer some kind of digital photography package within various coverage options.
What’s your top tip for finding the right photographer?
Andy Gaines – You need to find someone whose work and personality you connect with. For great photographs you needed not only a skilled photographer, but someone who understands you and who you are, and you need to feel comfortable with them and be able to relax knowing you’re in safe hands. It shouldn’t matter what season you get married in, what time of day, what the weather does or how dark the venue is, a great photographer can create great images no matter what.
Albert Palmer – If wedding photography is important to you then my top tip would be to start looking early. The good people go quick, especially for prime dates.
Luis Holden – Follow the blog, follow the Insta, get a feel for who you are booking.
Sam & Louise – The right one for you will be out there. Don’t rush into booking because you’re bored of looking or because they all seem the same. We aren’t! If you get bored trawling Google, do an image search using your key words instead. You never know, a photo might catch your eye and lead you to the perfect photographer.
We bet you’ve got a good photo album?
Andy Gaines – I’m really passionate about printing photos and being able to enjoy them ‘in person’ rather than them being lost at the bottom of a hard drive or laptop. I have a range of albums on offer to my couples that are hand printed with a range of cover choices. Albums are the perfect way to relive the story of the day, not just for the couple but for their children and their children too. Each album is personally designed by myself and is a beautiful, bespoke piece of personal art like nothing else. Although I didn’t take my own wedding photos (of course), I did design my own album and having that album is so important to my family and is a great talking point for the children about people they know today and those who are sadly no longer with us.
Albert Palmer – Yup, I love albums. Seeing the wedding printed out in story form is very satisfying.
Luis Holden – It’s almost passable!
Sam & Louise – Shamefully, no. We still haven’t got around to sorting our own wedding album out more than 2 years after our wedding. I can now totally appreciate how it happens! Where does the time go!? It’s on the to do list though.
You must have been around lots of weddings, what is the best wedding day advice for brides?
Andy Gaines – Quite simply – to enjoy, live and love every moment of the day. Be able to forget about plans and go with the flow. And most importantly, take some time together as a couple away from the celebrations. A perfect time for this is to slip away for a few moments with your photographer and make some portraits and really take a few moments to breathe and reflect on just how wonderful it is to be married!
Albert Palmer – My bit of humble advice would be to plan to have lots of free time during the day. Allow extra time for getting ready. Allow extra time for the service. Allow LOTS of time for the reception. You might have group shots to do, saying hello to everyone and no doubt there will be LOTS of canapes to eat. Speeches often tend to run for longer than expected and it’s not uncommon for a lot of first dances to start an hour late. So, plan for lots of time and don’t worry if things don’t go to plan.
Luis Holden – Just embrace it. Embrace all the cool things about your wedding day and yeah, embrace the minor mishaps too! Embrace it all.
Sam & Louise – As best you can, try to take everything in your stride. Go with the flow. Don’t worry about things that can’t be changed, don’t micro manage. You will have a much better time if you adopt the approach “what will be will be”.
What’s the best/most original idea you’ve ever seen at a wedding?
Andy Gaines – The best and most original idea I’ve seen is couples who plan the day exactly how they want it, not how others want it. The ones who want to celebrate and have fun with their friends and family. It becomes less about the ‘wedding circus’ and more about love!
The most original and inspiring ideas I’ve seen is great friends spending time together on the morning of the wedding and really celebrating – from swimming naked in lakes to hanging at climbing walls, seeing people do things they love with people they love is what it’s all about!
Albert Palmer – Simply to make a wedding as personal to you as possible. Don’t feel the need to cut cakes, do speeches and dance in front of everyone awkwardly if you don’t want to. Elope to Italy/Iceland/New Zealand and do things your way. It’s about celebrating your love with your nearest and dearest. You don’t ‘have’ to invite your cousins who you only see at family funerals.
Luis Holden – Not original but anything that brings action and movement to the day is photography-food for me. I do love a bit of limbo on the dance-floor.
Sam & Louise – At a wedding a few years ago I noticed there were only 9 tables in the room, but 10 on the seating chart. Confused, I looked closer and noticed that the extra one was called “heavens table.” It included all of the names of the couple’s relatives who’d passed away. I thought that was really sweet. It was so subtle, but thoughtful.
Spending all day looking and talking about weddings sounds like a dream, so what’s the best part about your job?
Andy Gaines – My wonderful couples! I am so fortunate to attract the most awesome couples who really want to have the best day of their lives. I know that I will turn up on the day and everyone will be happy! I get to know families and friends, share in their happiness and joy and give them meaningful images that I know are about more than just one day, but they tell their stories and their love for one another. I also love the fact that I get to see my couples again and again as their friends book me for their weddings, and as families grow we meet again for family shoots!
Albert Palmer – It sounds really cheesy, but I love the fact that the photographs I take become the memories of the day. The photos get passed down to generations and treasured.
Luis Holden – I just enjoy meeting people, quirks and all. Easily the best part of my job.
Sam & Louise – Our couples. We are so lucky to work with some of the most amazing people. There’s nothing better than knowing that you’re leaving them with memories that are going to still going to be talked about in generations to come. The thank you emails we receive sometimes make all the late nights and sacrificed weekends worth it.
Any final parting words of bridal wisdom?
Andy Gaines – It’s your wedding.It’s about you and your partner and your love for one another.That’s all that matters. It’s your day and it will be awesome!
Albert Palmer – Have fun! The day is here, things may not go to plan, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourselves.
Luis Holden – Focus on you and your guests having a cracking day rather than getting hooked up on the ‘details’ and the ‘show’ of a wedding. The best weddings that I have ever been to are all about people having a bloody great time, how it should be!
Sam & Louise – A wedding can be whatever you want it to be. There are no should’s or should nots. As long as you end up married at the end of it all, that’s the most important thing. If you don’t want a cake, don’t have one!