Feature: The Foolproof Guide to Booking a Photographer at a Wedding Show

Wedding Show, wedding fair, bridal expo… or whatever else “season” is once again upon us. Here at Graham Crichton Photography we absolutely love doing them – so much so that Graham is actually writing a book all about wedding shows in his spare time!

With the biggest and what we consider, the best, wedding show in Ireland taking place this coming weekend in Belfast – the Wedding Journal Show – here are our top foolproof tips to booking the perfect wedding photographer at a wedding show.

 

Research who is going to be at the show

Most shows will let you know who is going to be attending a show in advance in a show guide or magazine. You can also search social media by typing in the name of the show you are going to and seeing who comes up.
Researching in advance will allow you to check various styles from different photographer’s websites. That way when you arrive at the show, you will know who you like and don’t like and the style you are looking for.
Chatting to a photographer at a show can save you having to go and visit them afterwards. All the while seeing the same albums and chatting to the same people that you would at a one to one meeting.

Visit every photographer’s booth – even the ones you don’t like!

It is worth popping in to see every photographer at show when looking for your ideal one. Even if you don’t necessarilly like a photographers style it will give you an idea of what is out there. With photography having been commoditised by cheap photographers, it is often difficult to remember that you are booking an artist – not something off a shelf in a shop. Seeing bad work is just as good as seeing good work so you can see the whole gamut of what is available. Some photographers, like Graham, have a wealth of experience – others will be starting out. By visiting all the photographers at the show, you will see why different photographers charge what they do and what you get for your money.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover… but you can!

If an author can’t be bothered to put effort in to creating a cover that will blow you away on a book, then why would an underwhelming and uncreative photographer’s booth be any different? Some photographers (like us) take wedding shows very very seriously! We spend a LOT of time and a huge amount of money to make our booth look amazing. It takes a lot of research and creativity to create an amazing booth. Simply sticking frames on a wall doesn’t cut it for us. We love the challenge and theatre behind making an awesome wedding show stand.

As photography isn’t just about taking pictures – if a photographer has a lacklustre booth, then they probably aren’t a terribly creative person at taking pictures… just saying.

Ask what “show deal” each photographer is doing?

Wedding shows are all about sales. Every photographer will be running some kind of promotion on their stand on the day of the show. This could be a discount off their packages or it could be free products (such as an engagement shoot). Whatever it is, they will be offering some kind of carrot on a stick to entice you. Make sure to not just take a brochure, but to ask what their deal is (and if there is any small print attached to it… like limited time offers). PS: Look out for sneaky deals – see more below!

 

Bring cash or a card

The good photographers book up early. We only take 30 weddings a year, for example, so once we have taken 30… we don’t take any more. Popular dates fill up fast… even if they are 3 years away! To ensure you get the photographer you want make sure you book fast. Most photographers work on a “first bride parting with the cash” approach and won’t hold a date without a firm booking being made. We for example can secure your booking at the show with our booking fee being paid by credit/debit card at our stand.

Bring a bag (and a pen for all your brochures)

A lot of trees die for a good wedding show! Make sure to bring a good strong bag (and someone to carry it!) to keep all your brochures in. Every time you pick a brochure up, make some notes on the cover to remind you what you thought of the photographer who gave it to you. That way, when going through all the brochures afterwards in your own time, you will remember whose brochure you wanted to keep… and whose you wanted to bin… um recycle.

Bring your ‘dream team’ with you

Wedding shows can be an overwhelming experience… especially when looking for a photographer. There will be more photography stands at a show than any other type of vendor. Why? Because everyone is a “phtoographer” 😉 One discearning way to stay focused and to make an informed decision is to bring your dream team with you! You know… your most trusted inner-circle of wedding planning friends. We find the best people to bring are: definltely the groom, the bridesmaids and mother of the bride… oh and perhaps the person paying for it if it isn’t you!

Look out for sneaky tricks

This one doesn’t just apply to photographers… but is worth keeping in mind. Not all vendors are as honest as they first appear. Some will use different sales tricks to help you to part with your cash. When you see a show deal that sounds too good to be true or even a price that looks too fabulous… it probably is.

Here are two of the sneakiest to look out for:

Book now and save A HUMUNGOUS % off your booking – The oldest trick in the book! If someone is offering a huge amount off, ask yourself why? To offer a discount, products and services in the UK and Ireland have to be advertised for atleast 30 days prior at the advertised original price. You would be amazed how many people just pull prices out of a hat. Do some reasearch to check the original price was indeed what the person tells you.

You’ ve won X% off – well done you… Pat on the back: Another goodie in the arsenal of deceitful wedding show tricks. You win a discount, let’s say £100 off when you book. Gee whiz, that is awesome. Scratch the surface and you find everyone has won! Oh and… what happens if you don’t book? Not such a prize after all is it?!

Make sure to ask the right questions

An experienced photographer will be able to answer any of your questions quickly and with a good answer. They won’t have to think about them, as they will have been asked before. In our case, by hundreds and hundreds of brides.

Here are the top questions you NEED to ask EVERY photographer you speak to at a show:

How long have you been in business and how many weddings have you photographed? There is a reason experienced photographers charge what they do. They have a wealth of knowedge, experience and equipment to not just do the job, but to do an awesome job. Graham has been photographing weddings professionally FULL-TIME for ten years. He knows what he is doing. Remember to ask how many weddings a photographer shoots during a year too… some photographer’s might be landscape photographers for examople, and only shoot 5 weddings a year!

Have you been to my venue before? Although, it shouldn’t necessarilly be a deal breaker, booking a photographer who has been to your venue before may make things easier for you and for them. Graham has been to most of the wedding venues in Northern Ireland over the years. Those he hasn’t been to, he will take a trip out to, to make sure there are no surprises on the day!

Other questions to ask:

Are you insured?
Is photography your real job?
What happens if you are ill?
When will I get my pictures?
Do you have PROPER backup equipment (not just cameras, but double the number of lenses required too?)
Can I see reviews?
Can I see complete Weddings? (Anyone can fill an album with pictures of different weddings!)
Will you actually be the photographer I will get on the day?

That’s a lot to take in, but the most important thing to do is… Have fun on the day at the wedding show. Graham and I love exhibiting at them. We love meeting excited brides and grooms. We love creating a breathtaking and unique booth. Have fun too…. and like the people visiting the show, we like looking for free cake too!

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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