We explore some of the key things you should do when searching for your dream wedding photographer, and find out why accreditation is so important.
Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice out there? Start by asking people for recommendations – but don’t just restrict it to family and friends. Your loved ones will probably have only used a photographer’s services once and may not always know what makes a good photographer.
Speak to wedding suppliers and your wedding venue, who will likely have worked (or seen the work of) certain photographers many times over the years and will know who has a good name. Professional photographers will always do everything in their power to consistently deliver great results and maintain a stellar reputation, so a recommendation from an industry expert is really worth listening to.
Enlisting the services of a well-established, experienced wedding photographer (rather the landscape photographer or family friend who likes cameras and may struggle with the pace of a wedding or interaction with family/guests in difficult weather/lighting) means you’re on track to getting wedding photos you absolutely love.
FIND OUT IF THEY’RE ACCREDITED
If you were hiring an accountant or a lawyer, you would expect them to be a qualified member of a governing body. So why shouldn’t this apply to your photographer too? Check to see if your photographer has a recognised qualification in photography and accreditations from an independent professional body. Associations such as the MPA and BIPP train, mentor and accredit photographers through a set of standards to follow, and they give you somewhere to go if you’re not happy with the service you receive.
To become an accredited photographer in the MPA and other professional bodies, photographers need to submit a panel of images from several weddings and these are judged nationally by independent judges. The photographer, if their work is up to scratch, then either qualifies – in ascending order – as a Licentiate (LMPA), Associate (AMPA) or Fellowship (FMPA).
If a photographer has been accredited by a governing body, you’ll have the peace of mind that their photographic skills have been independently verified and deemed to be of an excellent standard.
CHECK OUT INDEPENDENT REVIEWS
Can you remember the last time you went to a restaurant without reading numerous reviews online beforehand? We can’t. The same should go for your wedding suppliers too.
Check out supplier reviews from real couples (here you’ll find ratings and reviews from brides and grooms about the services they received), and it’s always worthwhile checking out a photographer’s reviews on Google Reviews and social media such as Facebook to find out what other people are saying.
DO THEY HAVE A PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE?
Although many of us use social media to engage with businesses nowadays, it can be a cause for concern when a business doesn’t have a website at all. “If a photographer doesn’t have a website and only has a Facebook page, it’s a sign that they are under-investing in their business – and why would you not invest that money if photography is your livelihood?” asks Martin Weir, Secretary of the Master Photographers Association (MPA), Scottish Region.
A website is an indication that the photographer is serious about their business. “It’s all too easy these days to set up a Facebook page, populate it with stolen images and pretend to be something you’re not,” adds Martin.
“I once had a call on a Sunday morning from a father of the bride who was worried the photographer wouldn’t show up. I had to jump in my car and go to Glasgow to shoot the wedding. This couple had spent £1,500 on their original photographer, who hadn’t been replying to any emails. This is why it’s important to go with a legitimate professional.”
LOOK AT THEIR PORTFOLIO
It’s not enough to look at 10 stand-out images from a photographer and decide there and then that they’re the one for you – if a mediocre photographer shoots enough weddings, they’ll be able to cherry-pick enough fluke nice shots to fool you into thinking they’re better than they really are.
To be certain their work is consistently good, look for an extensive portfolio that demonstrates they’re able to shoot in a variety of styles across many different venues and in varying weather conditions. An ability to be versatile is key.
MEET UP WITH THEM
You will spend a lot of time with your wedding photographer on the big day and they’ll likely be the most visible of all your wedding suppliers, so meet up with them before you book to ensure you feel comfortable in their company.
A good photographer will complement your wedding and won’t detract from it in any way. It’s a good idea to meet up at their place of work (if possible), to get a sense of who they are and what they’re all about. Oh, and while you’re meeting them, ask if you can see one of their physical wedding albums – it’ll give you an indication of the quality of the finished product.
LOOK AT THEIR AWARDS
A glittering award is always a good sign, but with so many awards out there these days, it can be difficult to figure out which ones hold more value.
Professional governing bodies such as the MPA have annual awards ceremonies which are judged independently by leading photography judges based on the quality of the photography. In Scotland, the VOWS Awards are the longest-running and best-established wedding awards, and they’re respected because companies are shortlisted after being voted for by married couples, on their overall perfomance, with winners being chosen after a rigorous judging process.
ARE THEY FULL-TIME?
“The wedding photography industry is becoming very part-time, and there are of course some excellent part-time photographers. However it’s fair to say that if you hire someone who does it full-time, then you can relax in the knowledge that they have complete autonomy over their diary,” points out Martin Weir.
“If you hire someone who works shifts and has a job then if push comes to shove and they get moved to another area or they have to do overtime, they’re probably going to sacrifice your wedding before they sacrifice their day job. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?”
IT’S TIME TO FIND YOUR MPA-ACCREDITED PHOTOGRAPHER!
John Hendry Photography | 0141 339 9371
Based in Glasgow’s fashionable West End, covering the whole of Scotland
Julie Lamont Photography | 01698 854968
The team are based in Bothwell, South Lanarkshire and cover all of Scotland
Richard Craig Photography | 0141 636 5901
Based in the South Side of Glasgow, happily covering the whole of Scotland
S.M.K. Photographics | 0141 634 3741
Studio based in the South Side of Glasgow but our work takes us all over including London and Manchester
Weir Photography | 01259 211206
Central Scotland based and covers all areas of Scotland
David Gilbert Photography | 01560 480 048
Based in North Ayrshire, midway between Glasgow and Ayr, perfectly placed to cover all of Central Scotland…and beyond
Dream Day Photography | 01294 221917
Irvine-based and happy covering weddings across the UK. Also international
Paul Walker Images | 01292 442431
Primarily Ayrshire-based. However we cover weddings throughout Scotland
Tom Gibson Photo | 01294 673802
Based in Ayrshire, happy to travel anywhere, even abroad if required
Alastair Burn-Murdoch Photography | 0131 448 2041
Based in Edinburgh and covering the whole of Scotland
Andrew Weild Photography | 0131 5641230
Southern Edinburgh-based but covers all of Scotland
Parris Photography | 01450 370523
Scottish Borders photographers based in Hawick, covering all of Scotland and beyond
Andrew Gransden Photography | 07971 546303
Based near Buckie and covers wedding from Inverness through Moray and across Aberdeenshire
Martin Leckie Photography | 01467 672000
Based in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire and happy to travel throughout Scotland and internationally