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Feature: Navigating the Mine Field of the Internet Wedding Photographer – Finding Your Wedding Photographer

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There are lots and lots of ways of finding your wedding photographer these days. You can ask your friends and family who shot their weddings and to see their wedding photos. If you attended a wedding of a friend, you can even see if their photographer was fun and friendly on the day. Lots of people (used to) go to wedding fayres and pay a fortune to get in navigate the treacherous waters of the “show deals” and “competitions”. Then afterwards you have the unenviable task of wading through the endless piles of brochures you picked up when you get back. (PS: See my advice for attending shows here)

OR… you can grab your OH (other half… don’t you just love anacronyms?!) and then cozy up on the sofa with a cuppa or snuggle in a booth in a bar with a pint and hit up the interweb.

This is exactly what Graham and I did just the other evening after work! Yes folks, it’s happening for real this time! Graham and Hannah are officially getting MARRIED OURSELVES… in the land of my Fathers… Wales! So of course, unlike here in Northern Ireland, where we have a whole network of top class photographer mates to choose from, in Wales we know no one. So we find ourselves in the same position that many of you guys out there are in – and OMG (another great anacronym there…) it’s hard work!

Having spent last night looking for a lovely person to photograph our wedding in Wales I thought I would share with you some of the things I found out / did to find the few people that we contacted.

Start really early or be realistic about the fact that your favourite photographers could already be booked

Graham and I only just decided to get married a couple of weeks ago and are doing it in 6 months’ time!! So this is as early as we could start ourselves, however we know that there is a good likelihood that the first few people we like will already be booked. Now at this point you have to take a deep breath if you find the same thing and keep the faith up, as there isn’t any point getting upset about it if you’re not going to change your date to book that photographer (and yes that has happened us a few times, where couples have changed their date just to book Graham – check out this blog post about Natasha and Mark who changed their day to book us) then you have to be a grown up about the fact that someone else might well have got there first. Don’t get your heart set on someone until you KNOW if they are free or you risk major disappointment. (PS: Remember, you haven’t booked a photographer and stopped anyone else booking them until you have signed a contract and paid them a retainer!).

If you do find though that they are busy and not available on your wedding day, it’s well worth asking them for recommendations and names of other photographers. Afterall, they will know who their competitors are who are closest to their style and way of working. Graham know’s his… but he isn’t saying who 😉 lol.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Gosh guys there is a lot of rubbish out there, we are lucky we have a good idea of what sort of style we want, what sort of person we want to photograph our wedding and very importantly a realistic idea about how much we expect to pay for the work we want.

Have a good think about these before you even hit Search, what sort of stuff do you like? Do you like Classical or contemporary? Do you want to pretend your photographer isn’t there or do you want to look like the girls in the magazines in your wedding dress?  Remember most weddings though are a mixture of different “styles” of photography.

Would you like your photographer to wear a suit/ nice dress/Trousers, (some ministers can be really fussy about that point – We always dress for the occasion but a lot of others don’t and can get into hot water in some churches)

Also set what you are willing to pay in your mind for instance if you can absolutely only afford £1000 steer clear of the £2500 start price guys unless you are willing to make the cuts else ware to have them. If not it will just leave you feeling cheated because you can have the guy you want.

A side note on this though I found that I mostly went with my gut instinct when landing on the home page, I gave it 2 seconds to Impress me, I don’t know if that’s a hang up of being in the industry or not but you guys who’s pages opens to a full page of text? Sorry not interested, I moved on, you didn’t even get the chance to impress me with your work or your witty personally I’m looking for a photographer SHOW ME THE PICTURES!!!!

Keep Digging past page 2!

My last comment leads right on to this… the people that we contacted yesterday were from pages 3-7 of Google/ Bing searching. Page 1 of google for most of my initial Key searches which if you are interested were “Wedding photographer South Wales” and “Wedding Photographer Cardiff” we mostly directories and people paying google to be there and those are really really good at SEO (full page of text guys, I’m looking at you) but like I said, I want to see the work when I land on the page. Not a page full of writing about how great you say you are, I want to be the judge of that. The photographers I liked the look of were way way further down the list than I had thought they would be. This was a bit of a surprise to me as mostly, as I’m sure you know, for most things past page 3 you aren’t even looking at the things you asked google to look for, not so in this case.

Think outside your comfort zone with your search terms

Use “Style” searches

Also use the style you are looking for in your search for instance “laid back Wedding photographer Cardiff” that way you hit both Laid back wedding photographers and Wedding photographers Cardiff win win no?

Use “Venue” in searches

Also try using venue titles + wedding photographer or Photography you don’t even have to use your venue if you think it might make it feel less special. You know if you see lots of other weddings there.  this sort of search usually take you to photographers blogs. You will be able to see a whole wedding day not just the show stoppers they have in their portfolio.

Don’t limit yourself to your location or to where you live

Now although I said my initial searches were for Cardiff and South Wales, we’re not ruling out Bristol, Swansea, Newport or Monmouth in our search of the perfect wedding photographer. You never know we might even take someone from here with us in the end. Same goes for here, Try Northern Ireland rather than just Belfast, Try Ireland for that matter especially if you are thinking of holding your wedding near or across the border. Most people will travel these days even if it’s for a small fee. Remember getting the right person is way more important than maybe having to pay an extra £100 in travel money.

About GRAHAM

Graham Crichton is an award winning professional wedding & portrait photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 10 years of experience and having photographed hundreds of weddings he has photographed weddings all over Ireland, the UK and abroad.

About HANNAH

Hannah Crichton is the principal photographic assistant, blogger and studio manager (and other half of Graham Crichton Photography). Hannah and Graham recently married themselves in Ynysybwl, Wales, where Hannah is originally from. Hannah loves “everything wedding"!

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