By Sheryl Oobaloos
Congratulations!! You’re engaged! You are about to embark on one of the most important, and exciting chapters of your life! A happy marriage starts with…you’ve guessed it… The big day. Your wedding! It is the day that most girls have been planning and dreaming about waaaaaaay before they even met Mr or Mrs Right. (sorry guys, it’s true) From the moment they first walked about the house with a pillow case on their head, making their younger sibling (boy or girl) be the groom, the dreams were set!
Now I am going out on a limb here, and suggesting that moooooost of the planning is being done by our brides here. It isn’t always the case, I have had some awesome ‘hands on’ grooms in the past. But generally, they like to nod and say “yes dear”. ‘Happy Wife; Happy Life’ guys….amirite?!
The one part of the planning that they do like to have a say on is actually the photography. Your Wedding Photographer is going to be with you ALL DAY. And pretty close. I’m like a very loveable third wheel. From the makeup and hair with the girls, and cufflinks and buttonholes with the boys, all the way through to kicking off the shoes and partying the night away. So, finding the perfect photographer is a pretty big task.
I have recently been in your shoes! Yup, although myself and my own Mr Right have been married for nearly 10 years now, we are planning our vow renewal (I actually had to go back and change that from ‘I am planning MY vow renewal. Sorry hubby) …
The most important part for me is the wedding photographer. I have to say that right? Well, when we got married, we had an intimate elopement on the beach in Florida. The only thing I regret is that we didn’t research photography and just booked the one that came with our package. The pictures looked nice on the site? WRONG. Our wedding photos are everything I try not to do. Posey, contrived, no thought for storytelling or emotion. They literally clicked the button, and sent the images as they were.
I looked through well over 100 websites searching for our vow renewal photographer. I eventually contacted seven !! YES SEVEN, out of a hundred. There were 3 on my top list, but one stuck out. And I knew, because as soon as she replied and said she was available, I forgot about the rest. So what was I looking for in a wedding photographer? I will go ahead and tell you what I think you should be asking yourself when finding the perfect photographer. Buckle up!!
Can I envisage ‘us’ in this portfolio of images?
If you are a camera-shy couple, you are not going to want posey style pictures. You are going to want someone who captures the day as it unfolds, and encourages you both to just be you. Let me do all the heavy lifting!
When I work with my couples, I have been watching you all day, working out how your dynamic is as a couple. When we go off to do your ‘couples shots’, I want you to be as relaxed with me as possible, and I literally just send you off for a walk. I already know where the light looks good and the scenery is pretty. I just need to add you in and make you both look marvellous and capture you in love!
My talent is making people who hate having their photos taken, LOVE their wedding photos with my timeless, documentary and storytelling yet whimsical style.
I am having a winter wedding. Does this make finding the perfect photographer harder?
Not at all, but it will change things a bit. Winter weddings are just as beautiful as summer weddings and becoming very popular. My diary in December is often busier than July. The festive time is fantastic for bringing your families together and it’s often a ready made theme! Winter comes with a whole different set of photography skills though…
Light is limited. You cannot rely on being a natural light photographer all day. In the depths of winter, it is dark by 3pm. If you want outside pictures, you need a photographer who can work quickly and efficiently to get these for you.
Your photographer is going to have to be using a flash for at least 80% of the day. Make sure you have seen a full gallery of a winter wedding. Do you still like the look of the images?
You want a Sparkler Exit when the sun has gone down? These can be tricky to shoot! Make sure you have seen sparkler pictures!!
I am having a summer wedding. I really want sunset photos. Do I need to consider this in my package? Can we extend on our package?
Yup, in contrast to winter, that sun is setting later and later. I shot a wedding on the summer equinox….they would be wanting to party at the time of sunset (9.30pm) so we did their photos as late as possible before the evening guests arrived at 7.30pm.
I am getting married in the UK. What do we do if the weather is changeable?
If you are looking for a wedding photographer in the UK, you already know that the weather here is well…. British! It’s just as likely to rain on an August date as it is to be sunny on a November date. My advice is to remain as fluid as you can with contingency plans, and make sure you have seen pictures of all weathers in a photographer’s portfolio.
Some of my all time favourite images have been taken in foggy, stormy or hurricane weather!
It is very very rare that it rains ALL DAY with no break. But if it does, are you happy having your group pictures and couples pictures taken indoors? Something to think on when booking your venue. Are the interiors well lit and beautiful. If it does rain all day will you be happy with that as your backdrop for your photos?
I can only see a few pictures from lots of different weddings on a photographers website. Can I ask them to see a full gallery?
We want you to! We would much rather you asked lots of questions and we would love to show off full galleries to you. After all, that is our final product and we are very proud of them. Every photographer has a few amazing couples that are more than happy to be ‘poster couples’ with their gallery, and I always ask their permission to share their big day.
I LOVE this wedding photographer’s style, but I don’t think they’ve been to my wedding venue. Does that matter?
Personally? NO! I travel all over the UK with wedding photography even though my local base is The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham, Oxfordshire and Bristol. There are so many wedding venues within these counties. Tell me what style/vibe of wedding you are having and I know I will have something similar up my sleeve.
Are you having a Church ceremony then a Barn wedding in Autumn? Tell me, I will find one or two galleries that I think you will like. Are you having a full festival in a field with a celebrant then 5 bands in the height of summer? I’ve got ya!
I know there are some ‘fashionable’ photography styles. I want my gallery to look timeless in twenty years.
A good wedding photographer will have a consistent and timeless editing style. Check their websites, but also their social media. You are likely to see images from the past weeks and months on their instagram… do they still look like they were taken by the same person as shot the ones on their website? You don’t want to regret the colours, style or theme of shooting/editing 30 years down the line. True colours and skin tones would be what I advise looking for.
How do I know if I will get on with our potential photographer?
Speak to them! I know we are all guilty of doing everything via email, private message DM’s, tagging on social media. You cannot beat the old fashioned ways to gauge a personal connection. I am happy to chat on the phone, Skype, zoom, FaceTime and answer all of your questions. I always try to meet with my couples in person before the big day, though geographically it isn’t always possible.
I hope this has been useful in helping you to choose the right photographer for you. Remember there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer, and just because your friend had a certain photographer doesn’t mean they will be right for you. If you are ready to speak to me about your wedding, I would love to have a chat.
Sheryl is passionate about shooting your wedding, your way. No cheese, no stiff posing, just real love, emotions and fun!! Consistently in the Top 50 list for the very best UK wedding photographers, she pushes the boundaries with creative techniques. Sheryl is an active writer, and loves sharing her years of expertise via her own blog and guest writing for other top blogs and magazines! She’s also one of the loveliest girls around and spends her days at home snuggling her 3 dogs!
Find Sheryl at www.oobaloos.co.uk
Right image by Chui King Li Photography