Wedding photography – the process
Updated: Apr 4
I've written a blog that I hope will help explain the process of choosing and booking a wedding photographer. Then, if it is me you've booked, I outline the order of the day right through to image delivery. Enjoy the read, I hope you find it useful.
Choosing a wedding photographer
If you’ve never done this before – and let’s assume you haven’t, choosing a photographer for your big day can be a tricky business. But if you follow this simple advice then I think you won’t go too far wrong. So, once you've put the obvious things aside – like the fact you can afford the fees, that they are available on your dates and that they are local to you and the venue or at least willing to travel (you don’t want to hire a Surrey wedding photographer when your ceremony and reception are in Aberdeen) – what other things should you look out for? Well, you could also look round their website for further information such as a Questions or FAQs page or even a blog like this one explaining how the process works.
But beyond this the rest in my opinion is quite easy and consists of three things;
You love their photographs
They’ve photographed a number of weddings before, professionally
After meeting/speaking with them, you like them as a person
Let’s explore these elements below in a bit more detail.
You love their wedding photographs
This should be easy to spot - when you look at the images, you detect an emotive response of some sort, be it joy, happiness, amazement or any other positive emotion, you’re probably on to something. You see, looking at art you like increases blood flow to the medial orbitofrontal cortex, part of the brain associated with pleasure and desire – in other words we fall in love with images we really like. So, if you know how you feel when you gaze longingly at your fiancé then you’ll know how to tell if you like someone’s photography.
They’ve photographed a number of weddings, professionally before
The vast majority of wedding photographers are legitimate, hardworking specialists who care about their work and their reputation and are hoping for repeat business. However, assuming you are hiring a professional and not a friend or uncle who’s doing this on the cheap or you’re giving a newbie their first lucky break, following the advice below should help steer you towards hiring the right professional for your special day.
Be sure to not only look at images from previous weddings they’ve shot, but chat to them about their experience, see what stories and advice they have to offer. If you’re in any doubt, ask them to share the online client gallery of a recent wedding with you, this way you get to see all of the images they shot on the day – from the bridal prep right through to first dance. You should be able to tell if they are winging it or not by meeting up with them either at home or a pub or café convenient for you both.
After meeting with them, you like them as a person
After you’ve sat and had a drink with someone for an hour or so, you can usually tell if your mum is going to like them or not and that you can imagine them spending the day taking pictures of the biggest, most memorable day of your life. Remember, this person needs to be professional, presentable, polite, possibly discrete and perhaps above all, likeable.
After you’ve met and you’ve seen some printed photos in the sample albums and coffee table books they carry, you’ve got to know them a bit, you’ve heard them talk you through what they’ll do on the day and you think “yes this is the photographer for me” and assuming you’ve made the right choice in deciding to use Jake Peet Photography for your wedding in Surrey or the surrounding area, let’s find out how to book!
I’ll now explain the process as I run it, remember different photographers might do things differently so if you decide to use someone else, be sure to check with them how things work.
To go ahead I ask for a non-refundable £100 booking fee to be paid directly into my bank account. This secures me for the day and lets me know you are serious. Next, I will draft up a personalised contract in a Word document and email it to you. This outlines a few things such as what happens if I break a leg and can’t make it or if you don’t feed me (don’t worry I won’t’ turn into a Gremlin). It also allows you to fill out the itinerary of photography for the day, things like times and places for me to be as well as the list of group photos – names included please – you’d like me to set up and capture. Read through this and type your name on it to ‘sign’ it and email it back to me. As long as I have this a few days before the wedding that’s fine, but make sure I get an accurate and up-to-date copy because I will print it and work from it on the day.
Technically you can now sit back and relax, no need to do anything else other than say… plan your wedding! In reality though, we should chat again, even it by email or text message. If I don’t hear from you again, I will make sure I check in with an email or a call a month or so before the big day, even if just to chase final payment as I like this to be settled one month before the wedding.
On the day
If you’ve filled in the contract thoroughly, I will turn up at the first location, on time… ready to shoot. Usually this is the location of the bridal preparation. I’ll knock, come in, say hi and introduce myself to everyone (don’t worry I’m not shy) then basically I’ll start shooting. With digital cameras these days and my style of photography, no one needs to pose or worry about being in the way – I love to take pictures of things ‘as they are’, events as they unfold, realistically and truthfully. To me, the truth is the best story that can be told. Don’t’ worry though, I always proof a gallery of images to you before I commit them to disc – this gives you a chance to exclude anything you don’t’ want. This rarely happens though; my clients are always nothing less than thrilled with their photos.
I will continue to follow the itinerary on the contract document and the next stop is often a quick visit to the groom and groomsmen’s location to grab some photos of the guys there, time and traffic permitting. Then heading back to the bride to capture iconic images of the dress being laced/buttoned/zipped up by mum or whoever is responsible for that.
Then it’s time to depart for the ceremony venue, in time to get photos of the bride arriving. I will always touch base with the vicar, registrar or celebrant so I can introduce myself and ask if there are any rules they’d like me to observe during the ceremony. Then it’s business as usual as I discreetly shoot the ‘first look’, the vows and rings being exchanged and finally that hero shot of hero shots, the first kiss!
Outside it's time for confetti, I will set this up with a bit of direction and then sometimes we might do some or all of the groups shots here, but we can discuss this at our initial meeting and you can include it in the contract document.
Once back at the reception location I will shoot the couple and guests arriving as well as the tables, chairs and place settings looking fabulous (before they inevitably get trashed at meal time!). After the drinks and canape reception, I’ll most likely start organising any group shots that need doing. I ask for you to volunteer a person with a loud voice that generally knows everyone – a groomsman or bridesmaid usually – who can help me gather the individuals required. If wedding photography is stressful – and I generally don’t find it to be – then this is the most stressful part, the group shots. In a nut shell it can be like herding rabbits. Most of us Brits don’t really like having our picture taken and when there is food, friends and drink in abundance and festivities to be had, rounding up rowdy revellers can be quite a task. This is why I ask for a no-nonsense list with names on and for you to forewarn all persons who are required to be in a group shot to listen out for my shouts.
Once this is done, I will most likely have flagged with you that now is the time for some peaceful portraits of just the two of you away from the crowds. What is nice about this bit is it will be the first time you are ‘alone’ together as a married couple. We will most likely take a walk round the grounds, even up and down a lane or two, just getting some natural shots of you together. I will direct you a bit here just to make sure I get some beautiful images that you will really treasure for life.
Once done, it’s usually straight into the Wedding Breakfast. Let me get ahead of you because you might be announced in and I love that shot as you walk through the standing, clapping crowds and head up to the top table. If speeches are before the meal, I will know this and I will capture what usually turn out to be really personal and emotional images of laughter and tears.
Once you are sitting down and ready for food service, I will make myself discrete and if you’ve read through the contract, I will now take an hour or so to eat, rest and review the images captures so far.
Then it's back to work with what might be speeches, or if they were done before the meal it might be evening guests arriving or sometimes, if the weather is good a few sunset portraits of the two of you. Following that we’ll do the cutting of the cake and usually then, straight into first dance. These photos are often orchestrated with the help of the venue staff and or DJ who will use his or her PA to announce the cake cutting and dancing. Once I’ve got a set of great photos of you and everyone enjoying the disco and throwing your shapes on the dance floor, it’s time for me to leave and give my feet a rest. I will always give you a bit of warning just in case you want a few last-minute shots of you with family or friends.
After about two weeks I will have edited and processes your photographs. Out of roughly 800 to 1,000 images shot on the day, you should expect to receive about 250 to 300 of these. The first time you will see them is on a password protected gallery on my website. Once you’ve logged in and had a good look, its over to you to let me know if you want me to exclude any or even add in any you think I may have missed. Sometimes if I think the image isn’t’ aesthetically good enough to ‘make the grade’ so to speak, it might be of sentimental value to you, so always ask if you think something might be missing.
Once satisfied its time for me to prepare colour and B&W copies, add them to your USB drive and post or transport them to you for final delivery.
I hope this helps to explain how things work when you book me as your wedding photographer. Feel free to add comments below and good luck for the future, whatever it might hold.