How To Choose A Great Wedding Photographer In Scotland
So the ring is on the finger, and the budget has been set.
It’s now time to allocate your resources to the various suppliers, as you start to build your dream wedding day.
This will normally begin with locking in a wedding venue, so that you have a date and a location.
However today we are going to discuss, how to choose a great wedding photographer in Scotland.
This is a topic in which I have intricate knowledge, as my girlfriend is in fact a wedding photographer.
I have seen first hand the steep learning curve her clients have gone through, as they have struggled with the do’s and don’ts of this task.
My goal today is to provide you with the correct knowledge to go forward with confidence, and select a great wedding photographer in Scotland.
Let’s get started.
Do I Really Need A Wedding Photographer?
Unless you are Mr and Miss Money Bags, your wedding budget is going to be finite.
As a result you will almost certainly have to make compromises.
Now given the relatively high cost of a wedding photographer in Scotland, this may be a place you look for savings.
Because after your wedding day rockets by, you will be left with two things: your memories; and your photographs.
This makes a professional wedding photographer, arguably the most important investment you will make.
Can I Get Away With A Cheap Wedding Photographer?
The digital age has made photography more accessible to the amateur photographer.
Whilst this is great for snapping shots on holiday, sadly there is an increasing number of people buying entry level cameras, and calling themselves professionals.
This is like buying a toy helicopter, flying it around your living room, and calling yourself a pilot.
A true professional camera setup will cost in the region of £10,000, and will take up to 5 years hard work to learn how to use properly.
In addition to this, a real wedding photographer will spend a couple of weeks (including the processing of images), working on your wedding.
So as you can imagine, this level of service comes at a cost.
Anyone who is offering it on the cheap, is more than likely an amateur, who is cutting some serious corners.
Not the sort of person you want to trust with capturing your special day.
Searching For A Wedding Photographer In Scotland
The first step is to become aware of your options.
This can be a bit overwhelming, as you are likely to have a lot of choice.
Recommendations from family and friends are obviously very useful.
You could also ask your chosen wedding venue for suggestions, however they tend to steer you towards photographers who have incentivised them to do so.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they are good.
Wedding exhibitions and wedding directories definitely have their place, but again these are usually occupied by people who have paid to be there, and are not a great measure of ability.
Your best bet is a good old fashioned Google search.
Type in “wedding photographer in Scotland”, or perhaps use your nearest city, for example, “wedding photographer in Edinburgh”.
Because of the way the Google algorithms work, the most experienced photographers tend to bubble to the top.
Plus you can tell an awful lot about a photographer from their website.
What To Look For On A Wedding Photographers Website
Good wedding photographers can be fully booked 18 months in advance, so check availability before you get your hopes up.
You should also expect to pay a minimum of £1,500 for a true professional, although prices can be significantly higher, so check that too.
Wedding photographers are notorious for hidden costs, so scrutinise the packages on offer carefully.
It sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually quite common for the price to NOT include any images (digital or printed).
Next you want to take a close look at their online portfolio.
All good photographers will have one, with the best focusing on quality rather than quantity.
You need to pay careful attention to the basic technical aspects of each image.
Are they in focus?
Are they correctly exposed?
Is the composition good?
Again this might sound ridiculous, but you would be amazed how many amateur photographers showcase out of focus shots in their portfolios.
Bare in mind at this point, the images you are viewing are their absolute best.
So if there are any red flags here, it’s time to move on.
Choosing A Photography Style That Matches Your Personality
Once you are reasonably confident that you are dealing with a professional, it’s time to take a hard look at their photography style.
This is the area in which each individual wedding photographer in Scotland will differ the most, and it’s imperative that you find a style that suits you.
Getting this right won’t just impact the final result, but will also affect your actually wedding day too.
Let me explain by way of example.
A documentary style photographer will blend into the background a lot more, capturing moments as they happen.
The resulting images will be much more relaxed and spontaneous, with you and your guests less aware of the camera.
A portraiture style photographer will be much more on the scene, posing and positioning people to get the shots that they want.
This type of staging can make for beautiful images, but requires you and your guests to be much more involved.
Now there is no wrong answer here, but just be aware that photography is an art form not a commodity.
Photographers might use similar equipment, and charge similar prices, however the experience and type of image you receive can vary enormously.
Take the time to choose the right style for you.
Meeting A Wedding Photographer In Scotland
So the preliminary research is done, and you have your shortlist.
Now it’s time to meet the potential candidates.
How many you decide to meet is entirely up to you, but clearly the smart choice is as many as it takes to get what you want.
During these first meetings, you are trying to establish: whether you like them as a person; whether they truly work to a high standard; and what specifically they are willing to provide.
Do you like them?
This may sound strange, but you will probably spend more time with your wedding photographer, than anyone else on your wedding day.
This doesn’t mean you need to be best friends, however you do need to feel comfortable having them at your side.
This includes whilst you are getting dressed.
A good wedding photographer in Scotland will provide a complimentary pre wedding photoshoot, to help build the relationship and get you used to the camera.
It’s definitely worth asking about.
Are they a true professional?
A real professional photographer will spend in the region of 100 hours working on your wedding.
You will probably only be present for about 10 hours of that, so how can you be sure that the other 90% is being done to a high standard.
Well, there will be clues.
Ask to see an entire wedding day they have shot, not just the handpicked images on their website.
Are they all of the same standard?
Don’t be frightened to enquire about formal training, qualifications, and awards.
For example my girlfriend has a BA in Commercial Photography, and spent two years training under another professional photographer.
Experience counts for an awful lot too.
How many weddings have they shot, and have they worked at your chosen venue before?
Also look for signs that they are well organised, and have the confidence to control a large group of tipsy guests.
Personally I would ask to see the equipment they are using.
Genuine professional cameras are enormous, with some of the best lenses measuring over 200mm in length.
You might not feel this is important, but even the best photographers cannot create wonderful images using average equipment.
The professional stuff also has numerous hidden yet essential features, such as dual memory backup.
This means if one card fails, you don’t loose your images.
There are too many chancers, short changing clients by using cheap hardware.
Don’t fall into this trap!
A quick word on software
This is the area which really sets the professional out from the amateur.
You see even the best cameras in the world, cannot capture the same as the human eye.
This is most evident in the dynamic range, the difference between the lightest light and the darkest dark.
Something which is incredibly important when photographing a white wedding dress, and a black kilt jacket.
Professional photographers get round this limitation by shooting in a format called RAW (it captures much more detail), and then processing the images using software such as Photoshop.
Photoshop is very expensive and takes years to master.
Once more, a skilled practitioner could take over a week to process all of your images.
Sadly there are some who bypass this entirely, shooting in JPEG (the same format your smartphone uses), and handing clients images directly from the camera.
It is imperative that you ask your photographer what software they use, and get them to show you some images before and after processing.
What specifically is provided?
So you like the photographer, and you are sure they are a legitimate professional.
Now it’s time to establish specifically what is going to be provided.
Something which is very important to understand, is the rights to any images taken always belong to the photographer.
As a result you will need written permission even just to print one out.
There are some wedding photographers who will not give you the digital files, and will only sell you albums and wall art.
Others may give you low resolution digitals, which are ok for Facebook but too small to print.
This may seem daft to the uninitiated, I know it did to me when I first learnt it, however make sure every detail is clarified and written up in the contract.
If you are not careful, you may end up spending a lot more than you had first thought, just to get full access to your photographs.
It’s also worth checking your photographer has a backup in case of illness, and insurance in case disaster strikes.
Signing The Contract
All that’s left to do now is sign the contract and pay the deposit.
Don’t feel pressured to make a hasty decision, you can take the contract home and sleep on it.
Expect to pay around a 50% deposit at the time of signing, with the remaining balance due shortly before your wedding day.
This is fairly typical for a wedding photographer in Scotland.
You also really want to share your itinerary with your photographer, so that they can put a thorough plan together.
One final thought too, is to make sure there are no restrictions on photography at any of your chosen locations.
Some churches and indeed a number of National Trust for Scotland properties, can be funny about photography.
And that’s it – job done.
So now you have the correct knowledge to go forward, and choose a great wedding photographer in Scotland with confidence.
Given how quickly your wedding day will pass by, you’ll be glad you chose a true professional to capture all those special moments.
Just remember to select a photographer and a style that suit your personality.
And to make sure that they are the genuine article, providing the exact services that you want.
Whilst you are here, you should take a look at some of the other wedding planning articles, featured on White Rose.
Good luck with your wedding planning.