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Hollie C’s wedding planning: Choosing a wedding Photographer

mountaintop weddingImage: Erlend Haugen via French Wedding Style

Good Afternoon Trulovers!  You met our newest Belle Bride Hollie C a couple of weeks ago, but today we catch up with Hollie C who is struggling with the whole decision making process of choosing a wedding photographer.  As I got married before I started the blog, I struggled with the very same issue with no basis apart from instint on how to make the decision.

As always I would love to hear from photographers, brides, planners and industry experts in the comments below on their tips on how to choose a wedding photographer. If you are planning a wedding in France, you can catch up with all of our Belle Brides here.

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Hollie C: “One of my biggest wedding planning fears is finding the right photographer.

I work in marketing and over the years have been fortunate enough to work with lots of creative people including photographers, and as a bit of an amateur photographer myself (albeit not a very good one) getting the right photographer is really important to me.

I want our wedding photos to capture the atmosphere of the day, the colours of the flowers and everyone’s outfits, the magnificent mountain scenery of Chamonix and of course the smiles and laughter of my fiancé and I, and our guests.

wedding in chamonixImage: Vanessa Fry Photography via French Wedding Style

I don’t want everyone to feel as though they have to stand to attention on the more traditional shots and I’d like our photographer to be skilled enough to make their way around the venue unnoticed and capture all those moments of people enjoying themselves that Mat and I might not necessarily get to see.

I started researching photographers a couple of months ago but as we were still finalising the location and venue I put it on the backburner, however now we have the venue, I’m keen to book the photographer as soon as I can.

After finding the first couple of photographers via a simple Google search, I went to a couple of wedding fairs in the UK with Mat and my mum and gathered details for a few more potentials who were willing to travel to Chamonix. This list has then been topped up with recommendations from Monica, our wedding planner.

yellow white weddingImage: Charlie Davies via French Wedding Style

Then last weekend, I spent a whole evening reviewing my “shortlist” if you can call a list of 15 short!

Some of them, I was able to discount quite easily on the basis of price or style, but as I went on I found myself getting caught up in the content of the photos rather than the style thinking things like “ooh I love her dress” or “those flowers are gorgeous.”

So I decided to go back to basics and try to write myself a photography brief. It’s the kind of thing I’d do for a photo shoot in work, so why not approach this in a similar way?

wedding in chamonixImage: Helen Cawte Photography via French Wedding Style

It has certainly helped me to clarify my thoughts on what I want and I hope it will be useful for the photographer too.

Whilst I’ve not gone into detail of the specific shots we’d like, I tried to write down some details about the style I want and any technical requirements. For example, because of our mountain themed wedding, the landscape and scenery is high on the list of things to capture so I’d like our photographer to not only be comfortable with the landscape element but also be able to come up with some creative ideas of how to best shoot Mat and I and our guests in those surroundings.

I’d also really like a photojournalistic style and someone who can capture moments and emotions spontaneously rather than too many of the very formal portrait shots of the happy couple and various ‘mini-groups’ of guests.

The other thing I’ve had to think about is the location of the photographer, should they be UK based, France based, or elsewhere?

real life chamonix wedding

Image: Josh Fassbind via French Wedding Style

There are pro’s and con’s for each but for a photographer based outside of France, there are of course obvious travel expenses to consider.

Most of the UK-based photographers I’ve talked to at wedding fairs etc, were so thrilled at the opportunity to shoot a wedding outside of the UK that they were happy for us to simply pay for their accommodation and travel expenses on top of their standard UK fee, and as long as we put them in a standard hotel as opposed to a campsite with all their equipment they were fairly flexible. Others however wanted to charge a hefty “travel supplement” on top of their standard fee.

We haven’t come to a final decision on our photographer yet as we’re hoping to meet up or have a quick Skype session with the 3 that are on our short, shortlist. But to be honest, even just putting together this blog has really helped me get clear in my mind again what I’m looking for and I’d heartily recommend – even if photography isn’t one of your big priorities – to put together a short brief, a couple of paragraphs will be fine, so at least you know that everyone is clear on what you’re looking for.

And of course if you’re planning a wedding in France, whether you’re taking your photographer with you from the UK or if you’re using one who’s based in France, make sure you chat with them before you book, about any additional costs there might be to cover travel / accommodation, that way you can account for any extras within your overall budget.

Until next month, happy planning x

Hollie X xx

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I love how the Trulove community is growing and supporting each other, so do please share your experiences with Hollie on this subject, wedding photography really is sooo important!

monique trulove --wedding blogger

8 Comments

  • Hello Hollie & Monique, I read enjoyed reading your post and it sounds like you have describe my style down to a tee. I hope I’m on your shortlist 😉
    In all seriousness writing a brief is a great idea, some couples who book me know instantly I’m right for them as soon as they see my work and read my blurb, which is written to attract a particular type of client. Some couples will do as you’ve done and make ever smaller short lists. Others find it a real struggle wading through the minefield and may never find the ‘one’ photographer who is perfect for them and will just end up booking the next best thing. The challenge for me also is find the right couples, they could be absolutely anywhere and is not easy covering all the bases to get myself ‘out there’ so they can find me.
    I wish you all the very best for your wedding day and the future.

    Howard

  • Brilliant tips. I’d love to get a short ‘brief’ from couples about what they want from their wedding photography as it can really help with a shared vision for how their images will reflect everything about the day. I also prefer to get as much information as possible about the practicalities like local places to stay, distance from airport etc as possible early on, so that I can price accurately if it’s outside my normal area in France. Chatting in person or on Skype is absolutely invaluable too. Then go with your gut – if you like the photographer’s style and how the photographer comes across to you as a person, then that’s the right one for you.

  • Fab post – as a wedding photographer and a bride who got married in France last August I can definitely resonate with your decision making process. If you have yet to book your photographer do check out my website and Blog – Im a Fine Art film photographer so create photographs that are artistic as well as documentary, especially the landscape and setting for your wedding. And if you have booked your photographer, Congratulations in advance for your wedding! x

  • Hi Hollie

    It can be overwhelming choosing the right photographer for most couples and when you factor in a wedding abroad it can seem even more complicated.
    I tell all my couples the same advice. Firstly do you love the images the photographer creates? We are artists, it’s our vision that people fall in love with, connect with and ultimately book. So love the images first.
    Then chat to the photographer about how they create that look, what time do they need, how do they work on the day. This can help you decide how much time you want to give to photos on the day and which photographer fits best with your vision of how your day runs.
    Build a relationship with your chosen person. This is so important, so that you trust them and they fully understand your needs. Your brief is a really good idea. Couples always set out clearly with me their priorities and how they want their photographs to reflect their day, which can be so important in building a relationship and providing a service which is impeccable. It’s my job to record their day, their memories and in a way which they absolutely love. So communication is so important.
    Trust your heart and your instinct, if you’ve done your research it won’t let you down.
    I hope this helps. Congratulations on your wedding, enjoy making all your plans and very best of luck choosing your photographer.

  • Hi Hollie,

    I’m having the same problem but worse in a way as I am a television camera operator and a wedding photographer! It’s so hard as I know my style and what I like. My mums also a wedding photographer and a lot of my friends are tv camera men & women. I also know what things cost and how much time goes into editing etc so it’s annoying when I get quoted over inflated prices. It’s driving me crazy I’d be interested to know who you go with in the end. Leila x

  • Hi Hollie

    I work with so many brides and photographers and I agree with what Cat Hepple said above, that we are all creatives and everyone has their own individual style. I have also worked with Cat on numerous occasions, her images are stunning and style is beautiful.

    Good Luck and enjoy your wedding planning!

  • Hi Hollie,

    I am quite new to Monique’s fabulous blog having been invited to take part in her recent French Stylised Shoot as the #teamamour Videographer. I can believe it is so difficult to find the right photographer. When I got married there was just magazines for inspiration and ideas. Now there’s websites, social media and blogs too. Well your search could well be over and needn’t look much further as Cat Hepple really is the most wonderful photographer. I have worked alongside her at many weddings… I sit back and film what she shoots – she directs everything so wonderfully … she really is amazing with her couples, even those who originally feel apprehensive about the photo shoot, to get the most breath-taking images… Swoon. Good luck with your wedding plans and of course your wedding. Emma x